In November of 2017, the then minister Jane Philpott committed to build and operate a Mercury Survivors Home and Care Centre in Grassy Narrows. Nearly 500 days later, only 1% of the cost to build the facility has flowed and the project is stalled.
Meanwhile, 94% of Grassy Narrows people get no compensation for the intense impacts of the ongoing mercury crisis on their health, culture, and livelihood. Instead of getting the support they need they face chronic denial as they live with deep poverty and severe food insecurity.
“Commitment to Meaningful Relationships with First Nations” was one of the promises Prime Minister Trudeau made.
Prime Minister Trudeau spoke at a liberal fund raising dinner in Toronto on May 9th. Across the street from the venue advocates for Grassy Narrows from several groups gathered with a poster, noise makers and chanting to once again plead for justice. Pamphlets with relevant information were also passed out.
Chrissy Swain one of the women in Grassy Narrows, who has been an activist for many years addressed the crowd via a cell phone hook up. She is now a grandmother but continues her commitment not to simply be a victim but to stand up and seek justice. The people of Grassy Narrows continue to seek the funds previously promised in 2017 to build a mercury treatment center in Grassy.
The Joint Ecological Ministry committee (JEM) hosted a two day gathering last May 22’nd and 23’rd and some OLMs were in attendance. The theme was “Decolonization & Climate Change,” and the main speakers were Sylvia McAdam Saysewahum (co-founder of Idle No More & One House, Many Nations), Deborah McGregor (Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice, York University), and Jennifer Henry (Executive Director of KAIROS).
All three women spoke from their hearts, voicing some strong challenges to those of us who are settlers on the land that is now called Canada. Sylvia mentioned that whenever she felt troubled about something she knew that there was an important learning coming. The two days did indeed leave us with much to ponder.
BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) is a peaceful action used to bring economic pressure on a government which is oppressing people. It was the very tool which brought justice to South Africa. Palestinians are now using it to build support for their cries for freedom, justice and equality.
The BDS movement seeks:
An end to Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Palestinian land
The dismantling of Israel’s wall
Equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel
Respect for the rights of Palestinian refugees
A rally was held in Toronto at Dundas Square on Saturday, May 18 with similar rallies in major cities across Canada. Speeches were given and later the group walked up Yonge Street to Bloor where the Israeli consulate is located. Here further speeches were given.
Since the recent death of Jean Vanier, people have asked how was it that Our Lady’s Missionaries gave their Richmond Hill property to him to open the first L’Arche home outside Trosly- Breuil in France.
Four of Our Lady’s Missionaries had attended Jean’s first retreat at Marylake in August, 1968. We were deeply moved by the spiritual wealth we had experienced during those days. We learned, also, of his work with people with developmental disabilities and his decision in 1964 to live in a small home with two of these men. Now he was anxious to establish a L’Arche home in Canada.
Our novitiate was in Richmond Hill. We had a large home and seven acres of land we had bought from the Basilian Fathers and we had planned on moving our novices down to our Clarendon community in the summer of 1968 so as to have access to the inter-novitiate program needed after the Vatican II Council. So we took a poll of our OLM sisters and the result was almost unanimous that we offer our Richmond Hill property to Jean Vanier for his new venture. We approached the Chancery Office for permission and Bishop Wall remarked as we were leaving, “Fools walk in where Angels fear to tread!”
L’Arche Daybreak was ‘born’ in the Fall of 1969.
The risk had been taken, and we’ve known tremendous blessings ever since.
The last vestiges of winter are always so sad and dirty looking. As the snow begins to melt, it reveals leaves and litter from the previous fall. We are tempted to clean the mess right away, but the biodegradable part, leaves and stems of plants, often have become the winter home of butterflies, bees and other pollinators. If we do the clean-up before it is warm enough for them to rise and shine (above 10⁰C), we’ll be destroying a lot of new life.
The last vestiges of a person’s life are often not the best of times either. During Lent this year, both my father and our Sr. Clarice Garvey died. Each had been experiencing some dementia towards the end of their life and we were left feeling that we had begun to lose them long before they passed on.
The day before Clarice’s funeral, I sat in the chapel of Presentation Manor and gazed on the Risen Christ figure hanging above the altar. This figure is not shiny and glorious. Instead, the artist, Timothy Schmalz, has created a figure that bears the signs of suffering and of resurrection in a way that I have never seen before.
I pondered on the lives of my father and Clarice… Both had lived good long lives. Bothwere well respected and well loved by family, friends and the wider community. As I continued to gaze on the Risen Christ figure, it struck me that it is the totality of who we are that is loved by God and rises to New Life… not just the good, pleasant bits.
As we move into our celebration of Easter this year, may we name and embrace, not just the glorious and shiny parts of ourselves, but also the other parts, including the sufferings and temptations of which we might not be so proud. May we accept the totality of who we are and know that we are loved by God as we rejoice and dream of ways in which we too will rise to New Life.
MESSAGE RELEASED FROM THE CPT (Pastoral Land Commission) CEARÁ ON THE RISING TO NEW LIFE OF Sister Clarice Garvey.
BLESSINGS ON YOUR JOURNEY.
On April 1, in Toronto Canada, our beloved Sr. Clarice Garvey, OLM who was instrumental in organizing the CPT Team in the Archdiocese of Fortaleza, Ceará made her final journey to New Life.
In 1964, a group of sisters from the Congregation “Our Lady’s Missionaries” arrived in the Archdiocese of Fortaleza with the mission of working at the “Maternidade Escola Assis Chateaubriand – MEAC – UFC.”(Maternity Institute of the Federal University of Ceara). When they felt they had completed their mission, which was to train nursing staff in that hospital unit for several years, they settled in Planalto do Pici. The sisters engaged themselves in various ministries for social justice in the neighbourhood where they lived. At this point they received an invitation from Parish Priests, José Maria and Moacir Cordeiro, to work in the parishes of Aratuba, Palmácia and Mulungu.
Raimundão, a member of the CPT Team, gives us his testimony:
“We faced a great struggle to obtain land reform on the Bu farm in Palmacia. After more than four years of struggle and resistance for this land, we were still homeless, evicted from the land we had been tilling. The sisters, Clarice, Elizabeth and Paulina were very supportive of us. They welcomed us and helped us in every way they could. We started to fight again for a different piece of land, this time in the municipality of Ocara, in the town of Novas Vidas. Sister Clarice was one of the first people to enter this land on our side, always supporting our struggle. Today we have about 15 settlements in this region of Fortaleza, the fruit of our struggle and work. And we continue counting on the support of Sister Clarice. “
Luizinha Camurça, a historical figure of CPT Ceará who was a political detainee, tortured before finally being released, testifies:
“To speak about Sister Clarice is to talk about a great journey and many years of dedication and commitment in her work at Fortaleza’s CPT and also of the commitment of the sisters, especially Sr. Elizabeth (Maejanet Mac Donell) and Sister Clarice in their support for the workers in the struggle for social and land reform. This included the organizing of communal farms, the struggle for a dignified life for peasant families, the celebration of spirituality, and support for faith and discipleship. At CPT we formed a large family together with the people. In the year 2000, Sister Clarice secured financial resources from the SHARE Foundation to support organic farming. Over 19 years the Northeastern Producers met with their support, committing themselves to practicing agro-ecology (Organic Farming) in their activities, and meeting for the exchange of experiences at the northeastern level. This was a seed that she planted and has already produced much fruit.”
The Pastoral Land Commission of Ceará recognizes the great work and support of Sister Clarice, together with the peasant farmers, in the area of the Archdiocese of Fortaleza, especially in the support and formation of leadership that continues the work to date. She intercedes with God for us, the CPT workers and our mission, and for all the workers in the struggle for land. CPT Ceará echoes the words of the poet Zé Vicente: “Go, my dear Clarice, to the rest of the just.”
On April 6, 2019 OLMs, Clarice’s sister, Claire and her family, our friends and many members of the Presentation Manor community gathered with us in gratitude for Clarice’s life, for the blessings she has brought to each of us who knew her and to all with whom she shared life, faith and commitment to the reign of God. Sr. Frances Brady, OLM welcomed everyone with this story:
“Clarice was born and raised in Mayo, Quebec and educated in the Mayo area and at Immaculata High School in Ottawa. She entered Our Lady’s Missionaries in 1950 the year after the congregation was founded. Clarice was in mission in Japan, then in Vietnam and later in the Northeast of Brazil and served as the Congregational Leader of Our Lady’s Missionaries from 1991 to 1999.
In her time in Leadership and in her other missions, Clarice was a faithful advocate for the rights and dignity of all people and the need for respect for the earth. This was visible in her ministry with landless farmers in Northeast, Brazil whom she accompanied in their work for land reform. The relationship of mutual affection and respect that existed among them was evident.
We, her sisters in community have been enriched by these qualities and by her faith, sense of humour and welcoming nature. Perhaps these values so important to Clarice were planted during her early years on the family farm in Mayo.”
During the mass, Sr. Marie Clarkson, OLM closed the prayers of the faithful with the words of Clarice:
“May our God of Jubilee bless us with the forgiveness of our Brother Jesus, wisdom
of our Mother Mary, faith of our foremothers and forefathers, courage of Fr. Dan, disposition to risk of Sr. Odelia and Sr. Mary Ida, humour of Penny, generosity of the poor, fidelity of women, joy of children , fertility of the earth, freedom of nature, to accept our dying and our rising.”