Kateri Jamboree held at St. Laurent
ST. LAURENT, Sask. — The First Nations Jamboree, open to all nations, with the theme of “Kateri, bring us home” took place at Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Laurent Shrine on Aug. 14 - 15 to celebrate faith and spirituality in honour of the approaching canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Organized by pastoral agents Waltera Van Gennip, Roy Wilmhoff, and the elders of Holy Cross Parish, Sturgeon Lake, the two days were filled with songs, talks and prayers.
In spite of the heavy rain, many came. Elder Henry Felix, who has attended the shrine annually for the past 60 years, said, “Each way is valuable to communicate with our Creator. We are all children of God. We need to share our similarities and shed our differences.” As a youth, he attended St. Michael’s Residential school in Duck Lake and remembers coming to the shrine to do yard work.
Elder A.J. Felix, excited about this first Native jamboree at the shrine, said, “We want this to be an annual event, to be able to sing and praise our Creator.”
A letter from Bishop Albert Thévenot, M. Afr, read by Howard Cameron from Beardy’s Reserve, was read to those present, asking everyone to open their hearts to freedom by being open to a deeper love, healing and forgiveness of self and others.
Van Gennip gave a brief account of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha’s life story. The local Cree and Dene singers as well as Objibway singers from Ontario provided Gospel music throughout the day.
Rev. Milton McWatch, an Objibway Catholic priest from Ontario, shared his personal story of residential abuses, straying from his faith and Christian values, his conversion and journey to the priesthood. He said, “I was one that no one wanted. My inability to love, job losses, attempts of suicide, and many other issues lasted for seven years.” One day he saw two drowned children’s bodies floating on a river. He said, “Right there on the riverbank, I had a Christ experience. If it weren’t for Jesus Christ, I would not be here. Christ showed me how to forgive. If we want unity, Native people need to stand together, we need to keep praying.”
Speaking to the youth, Chelsey Greyeyes shared her spiritual experiences, “My auntie and I have had a very spiritual path together since I was little.” Growing up around her grandmother and aunts, she witnessed their involvement in church and ceremonies.
“It’s important to have faith. Growing up, for anything you go through, just pray, be yourself. Prayer is just the best thing for you. My grandmother made me pray every day before bed and now when I wake up I say more prayers. I give thanks for everything.”
An anointing and healing were celebrated by McWatch, Rev. Travis Myrheim of Prince Albert and John Corston of Kateri Ministry, Ontario. McWatch commented, “When I reconcile with God, then I am able to forgive. If we want to be free, we need to allow God to heal us. Then victories are won.”