FORT ERIE, Ont. (INS)— Canadians were shocked to learn late last year that the aboriginal people of Attawapiskat, in northern Ontario, were living in tragic conditions of poverty. Rev. Ross Maracle, Director of Ohahaseh Native Ministries (Camp Ohahaseh), has risen to the challenge by launching a Compassion Outreach to the children of Attawapiskat. Intercede International will host a First Nations Gateway conference April 21 featuring Maracle as the featured speaker—to raise funds for the Attawapiskat community.
Maracle, from the Mohawk First Nation in Deseronto, is former Host of the Spirit Alive television program and Founder of National Native Bible College and Camp Ohahaseh. The First Nations Gateway Missions Conference to be held in Ridgeway, Ontario at the All Nations Mission Centre on April 21 from 10 am to 3 pm. Also present will be Carolanne Lovegrove, the Christian recording artist who has appeared on Spirit Alive and Tribal Trails.
In late April or early May, Maracle, Lovegrove, Lamarche and others will be traveling to Attawapiskat to minister in a Gospel Concert there and to initiate renovations to enable a much needed Youth Centre. Funds will be collected by Intercede International for this purpose.
After reading a Toronto Star article entitled “Aboriginal Agony Must Lead to Action,” Maracle was moved to do something significant. That article and other news reports agonizingly portrayed a people in pain. It presented the misery of Attawapiskat—a remote northern community whose residents live in a continual state of emergency—some huddled against the cold in uninsulated tents. Dozens of residents live without plumbing or electricity.
Maracle, who formerly hosted the Spirit Alive Christian television program, has travelled in the north for many years, and has for too long seen First Nations people living in Third World conditions. Out of the need to respond, in December he initiated the Attawapiskat Compassion Outreach. In a matter of days, Maracle assembled a team of First Nations people who are responding to a First Nations crisis. Carolanne Lovegrove, a Mississauga of the New Credit band member, an ordained minister and the Executive Director of Little Peoples Academy, and a Chippewa recording artist, will present a Christian music concert in Attawapiskat later this spring. Terri Lamarche, a Cree elder from Attawapiskat who heads a street ministry to the homeless in Toronto, will present a children’s program.
Maracle and a team of supporters in December also sent some brand-new items to be a blessing to the people of Attawapiskat, including boots, mitten and blankets. “Our appreciation goes out to Sew On Fire ministry for these bags, prayers and generosity and their help,” said Rev. Maracle in a recent letter to Intercede.
This special shipment was sent to Attawapiskat in December. Maracle and his team plan to send more shipments to the community. Intercede International which has a long history of Christian ministry with First Nations is also helping.
Maracle’s next plan is to renovate a building in Attawapiskat to become a youth and drop in centre for that community. He and his team need to raise $70,000 to cover the cost of renovations and transport for those working on that project. Maracle would like to see the centre opened later this spring.
Maracle and others have also decided to sponsor at least seven children from Attawapiskat to attend a summer Christian camp at Circle Square Ranch in Brantford, Ontario. He would like to raise at least $220 to cover costs for seven children. “Let’s not limit it to seven children. Maybe we will be able to sponsor dozens,” Maracle declares, “On behalf of all those precious people in Attawapiskat who will receive your prayers, love and gifts because of your generous and caring contribution, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Together we can make a difference.”
For more information on the First Nations Gateway conference April 21, please check out: www.intercedenow.ca/gatewaysfocus.php.