December 2017 Newsletter

In this issue we have good news about growing student interest, introductions to our new Keepers of the Vision, stories and photos from our festival and feast for friends, an update on our Indigenous Family Reunification Centre plans, a poem from a young person who was moved by her visit here, a hopeful message that our students heard when they helped host a visit from the United Church Moderator, upcoming events and a donation form for making your year-end tax deductible donation. Have a read!

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Sandy-Saulteaux Takes Part in Giving Tuesday 2017

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GivingTuesday is a global day of giving. After the sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday, on November 28, is a time to celebrate and encourage activities that support charities and non-profits. Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering time, helping a neighbour or spreading the word, GivingTuesday is a movement for everyone who wants to give something back. For the second year in a row, the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre invites you to join us in taking part.

Last year’s Giving Tuesday supporters helped us insulate our fireplace chase and seal out the cold winter winds from our hall where we host learning circles, retreats, blanket exercises, sharing circles and more.

Now to install a new fireplace we’re looking for 300 friends to chip in $20 each and help us raise $6000 so we can install a new fireplace.

Click here to donate now and help #lightourfire.

Follow our progress on Facebook on Giving Tuesday and get inspired by the “fiery” quotes we’ve been sharing all week to tell our Centre’s story.

If you’ve been a regular donor to the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre – Meegwetch! Your contributions help us care for this sacred place and offer ministry training for Indigenous students and cross-cultural education for the broader community. You could make an extra contribution to this special project or share this message with a friend who’s been to Sandy-Saulteaux and might want to become a donor themselves.

Fall 2017 Newsletter

In this issue we hear about a vision for Indigenous family reunification from Keeper of the Circle Adrian Jacobs, reflections on their experiences in the Holy Land from students Murray Pruden and John Snow, a report on the All Native Circle Conference Grand Council from Rev. John R. Thomson and a report on the National Aboriginal Spiritual Gathering by Ray Jones. Have a read!
















PS: Want to read more about John Snow’s visit to Israel and Palestine?  You’ll find a longer reflection and more photos here.

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Reflection on the Come and See Tour – Palestine and Israel – May 31 – June 10, 2017

by John D. Snow Jr., M.Div. Student, Student Minister, Samson United, Maskwacis Alberta

As a United Church Indigenous clergy student, I felt uneasy traveling to Palestine and Israel because of turmoil in the Middle East. It takes courage to make an emotionally challenging Pilgrimage. In Palestinian refugee camps in Bethlehem, we witnessed Israeli soldiers harass Palestinian school children, reminding me of the Residential School Experience.

When our Palestinian hosts asked our United Church group how we are addressing our own “Indigenous refugees” in Canada, I felt a validation of my struggle. As an Indigenous person growing up on a reserve in Alberta, I related to the tension and fear inside the Palestinian camp. Issues of limiting land access and curtailing human rights of Palestinians parallels the Indigenous Peoples’ experience in Canada.

In the midst of all the chaos, a dove appeared in the form of prayers. Our tour continued in Jerusalem. Following my visit to the Garden of Gethsemane, my brother and sister back home at seminary emailed me that above the Mount of Olives is a church called Pater Noster (Our Father), where there are ceramic plaques with The Lord’s Prayer in 150 languages.

This compelled me to return the next day with my tour leader and cross through all the checkpoints again. Pater Noster was closed for lunch and we waited impatiently. Palestinian protesters arrived and marched through the streets, chanting. When the Church opened, we rushed in to search for the Indigenous prayers. Within minutes I located the Cree prayer and then the Nakota Sioux prayer, which is related to my Nakoda dialect. I felt humbled and in awe to see the Prayers of our People in Jerusalem, and validated because we know the Creator.

First Nations have holy and sacred sites in Canada and our sites are of comparable importance to those in Jerusalem. Indigenous traditional and cultural teachings, theological interpretations, fasting, prayer, vision quest and ceremonies may illuminate Christian understanding and experience.

I had a reflection from the Indigenous prayers at Pater Noster. “I have many sheep that are not of this fold, but one day I will bring them, and there will be one flock and one Shepherd” [John 10:16].

My father was one of the first indigenous clergy ordained by the United Church. This Pilgrimage has given me strength and motivates our family’s work within Indigenous Communities of Faith.

The Lord's Prayer in Nakota at Pater Noster.

The Lord’s Prayer in Nakota at Pater Noster.

The Lord's Prayer in Cree at Pater Noster.

The Lord’s Prayer in Cree at Pater Noster.


146: Pathways to Treaty Relations

The videos from this important gathering are now online! Were you there and want to listen to some of the presentations again? They are so rich with much to reflect on! Or perhaps you’d like to share these with a friend, or even a group, a discussion circle, a prayer group or a book club. If you missed being there, now you can share in the stories shared at this event to mark 146 years since Treaty 1 was signed  at Lower Fort Garry. Treaty is an invitation into sharing land for the benefit of all living things. Listen and learn about the ways this sacred commitment can breathe new life into our relationships with one another and the world around us.

See videos below of Allen Sutherland and Jennifer Preston’s main addresses. Then enjoy watching the prayer flags be hung, and some sharing from Henry Neufeld and the new Treaty Commissioner: Loretta Ross.

Allen Sutherland – Focusing on the oral tradition of Treaty 1 and its spiritual foundations, this presentation will utilize a historical timeline to draw connections between historical events and present day issues that affect our understanding of treaty, social and legal issues, and ultimately our relationships.

Jennifer Preston – In 2015 Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released their Final Report and 94 Calls to Action, related to the legacy of Indian Residential Schools. The TRC called the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “the framework for reconciliation”. This presentation will provide an opportunity for people of Faith to find their place in understanding both the TRC and the UN Declaration and the role of Settlers in the journey of reconciliation.

Winter 2017 Newsletter

Indigenous ministry in the United Church has been shaped by many caring and courageous individuals. On the passing of Honoured Elder Rev.J. Douglas McMurtry in December 2016, we’ve gathered stories and photos from his life that help tell the history of the ministry we carry out today as the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre. Have a read!


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Remembering Doug McMurtry

Today friends and family are gathering to mark theimg_1264-2 passing and celebrate the life of Rev. Doug McMurtry, a dear friend of the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre. Doug was an elder at many classes here and spent a lot of time with our students over the years. He was always at the graduations to celebrate with our students. We are so grateful for the time and knowledge he shared with our students and staff. He will be greatly missed.

You can read about his life in his obituary.

Doug worked in many northern communities. Elders there gifted him with these banners. In 2014, Doug wrote, in a letter gifting these banners to the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, “Some of the squares, as you will see, are of home-tanned moose hide and some of are of split cow hide. All speak of my love of Aboriginal people and I can think of no better place to give them[.]”

Thank you Doug, for these, and the many gifts your shared with us.

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Jessie of the Morning Star



We’re just (re)discovering the song “Jessie of the Morning Star” that songwriter Chuck Kroeker composed about Jessie Saulteaux. He visited the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre (one of the founding Centres of SSSC) in the 90s and was inspired to write this song by Dr. Jessie’s personal example of spirituality and respect for Creation. Chuck started his musical project “Carlos and the Suspiroes” in 2014.  You can hear his album at and find more of his music on Youtube.

Have a listen. Click here for the lyrics.

words and music Chuck Kroeker
lead vocal Nancy Finlay
harmonies Erica Fennell and Laura McAlpine
guitar Chuck Kroeker
piano Blair Dalgleish
bass Larry Whitney
drums Ian Fennell
trumpet Steve Wiwchar


Fall 2016 Newsletter

Our latest newsletter tells the story of why Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre is a special place. Students, staff and supporters write about their answer to the question “WHY?” Why does SSSC exist? Why is it important to you? Why are you here? Have a read!



SSSC Takes Part in Giving Tuesday

GivingTuesday is a global day of giving. After the sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday, on November 29, is a time to celebrate and encourage activities that support charities and non profits. Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering time, helping a neighbour or spreading the word, GivingTuesday is a movement for everyone who wants to give something back.

This Giving Tuesday, Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre invites you to help us raise $1000  to fix our fireplace. We’re looking for 100 friends to chip in $10 each for the first step of these repairs to keep the chilly winter wind out of our centre. Follow us on Facebook as we share photos of some of the many friends who’ve gathered in front of the fireplace here.fireplace-002