Southend-Birch Narrows – Onion Lake Update 2018

February 6th, 2018 – Report by Beverly Hadland, Crossroads Ambassador to First Peoples

I want to first say a big thank you to all our partners who make these trips possible.  Crossroads could not do it without your support and prayers.  We are in this together so please rejoice with me.

This trip was one of the most exciting I have experienced due to its varied elements.  From my starting point at Southend on the Manitoba border, to Onion Lake on the Alberta border, there were no dull moments!  My roles ran the gamut from assisting with media, switching to missions and preparing meals as team members planned interviews and videography.

Next came, what I am pleased to report, were productive meetings such as that with Southend Band Council and House of Prayer. We reviewed the fresh produce shipment from South Western Ontario Gleaners on how to refine the process to where it functions at peak efficiency. We also discussed plans for future shipments to Lac Brochet in Manitoba.

It’s wonderful to work along-side Tommy Bird, George and Karen Bird and Debra Olson, all actively involved in their communities. I can report that the fresh produce, mentioned earlier, was more than well received.  South Western Ontario Gleaners confirms they can ship two transport loads of fresh produce a year, likely in August and late November.  Future shipments of dehydrated soup, will now include several recipe ideas.

We also discussed the special project of delivering food to Lac Brochet. Tommy Bird approached me in December asking if Crossroads would help this community in northern Manitoba. The caribou did not pass through as usual for the trappers to hunt, leaving residents desperate without food. They depend on the caribou coming twice a year to fill their pantries. Food at the Northern Store is so expensive that most families eat caribou three times a day!

Crossroads agreed to match House of Prayer in Southend up to $1000. That challenge was all Tommy needed! Southend not only met the challenge, but other churches, individuals and air shippers, Perimeter Cargo in Thompson, Manitoba joined in to help. One farmer even donated two cows! Other items, purchased in Saskatoon, were sorted by volunteers from All Nations Church and then driven to Southend for delivery. The winter road failed to open thus necessitating trucking everything to Thompson Manitoba (eleven hours away) where it was flown to Lac Brochet.

True North Aid also stepped up and shipped eight skids of dehydrated soup mix to help meet the need.

This is merely a stop gap to a serious problem.  Lord willing, I will visit the community soon to learn more. I believe God will direct us in ways to best help Lac Brochet become self-sustainable.  Over $25,000 worth of goods and services is in the process of getting to this community.  Over one thousand pounds of meat, eight pallets of soup mix and additional food staples are on route.

I love how the body of Christ is responding to the call and assisting the First People to support each other. I believe this is what ‘reconciliation’ truly looks like.

Lastly our meeting focused on how Crossroads can help Southend become a redistribution depot for food, clothing and other necessities. Most needed items include coats, blankets, socks, sports equipment (mainly baseball and hockey), sweaters, all snowmobile specific clothing, indoor shoes, diapers, formula and of course non-perishable food items. Southend will aid Black Lake, Walliston, Stoney, Lac Brochet and Tadoule Lake First Nations communities.  Crossroads will partner with True North Aid to make this happen.

While travelling to Saskatchewan, I was invited to visit Birch Narrows community to determine how Crossroads could render assistance to that community. In accordance with the best laid plans of mice and men, a snow storm changed a visit into a conference call. I had a great exchange with Chief Jonathan Sylvestre, seven council members and two nurses.  Lord willing, I will visit Birch Narrows at the end of March.  Approximately 700 people live in this community.  Beyond a group that meets for prayer and Bible Study there is no active church.

In Onion Lake, Crystal and I attended a scheduled meeting at Log Community Church. Plans are being made to have the I Am Compelled team minister in the schools and at the church March 28th to April 1st. Crossroads introduced the team to the Chief and Council last fall.

Gideon’s will provide New Testament Bibles for everyone and Crossroads will give away resource packages to the youth leaders who attend.

The next meeting was with Linda Naistus who runs the church food and clothing bank.  Crossroads partnered with True North Aid last June in supplying dehydrated food to Onion Lake and five other northern First Nation communities.  True North Aid also donated a twenty-foot storage container filled with five pallets of snowsuits, 25 quilts, van loads of hockey equipment, 700 gift parcels and 2,600 dried food packages. The container will remain at the church to become another distribution center.

Crossroads sees Onion Lake as being the distribution center for the north-western side of Saskatchewan and Alberta. This includes Kehewin, Frog Lake, Thunderchild, Moosomin, Big Island, Ministkwin and Loon Lake.

The last scheduled meeting was with the Women’s Ministry team that has invited Belma Vardy to lead their conference Nov. 16-18/2018.  I attended their last two conferences in a supportive role and witnessed the benefit women from the surrounding reserves received.

Finally, I had a last unscheduled meeting but certainly God ordained it.  It was with Kevin Lall, a business consultant for Community & Economic Development. Kevin spends most of his time working for First Nation Band Councils.  He has developed an impressive twenty-year vision to get communities out of welfare and move them to full sustainability.

I believe this is the last piece of the puzzle needed for Crossroads to move forward with purpose and vision.  I see Crossroads as the facilitator between current crisis needs and those who can help bring resolution in whatever form that takes. I also see Crossroads meeting spiritual needs or serving to encourage existing First People’s pastors until a permanent ministry is on the ground.  The end goal must be to move a community out of poverty and welfare into self-determination and self-sustainability.  We won’t do the work but rather facilitate the delivery of resources and people to partner with each community. Making those connections is a crucial part of reconciliation.

In less than a year, Crossroads’ First Peoples Voices Mission now has direct connections to northern communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

We have covered transportation costs for one thousand pounds of new material for sewing classes, several hundred Indigenous Bibles, several hundred thousand servings of dehydrated food, $50,000 worth of fresh food, one hundred pairs of running shoes donated by Adidas as well as almost eight hundred DVD’s of ‘Inside Teen Suicide’, four hundred key chains with our prayer phone number and over one hundred Sunday School kits of ‘Louis Says’.

Last year, 2017, was a year of great advancement following the launch of First Peoples Voices Media and Mission.  Let us take the established momentum and do an even greater work in 2018.  We need your help now more than ever.  Come and be part of this incredible work to help the First Peoples of this land fulfill their destiny as our Lord intended.

Bev Hadland
Crossroads Ambassador to the First People
Cell phone:  289-838-5687

[email protected]