Diocese of Edmonton, Indigenous Ministries, Oskâpêwis / Aboriginal Cultural and Educational Helper – Sharon Pasula, Report for All Saints Cathedral, 2014
If you have been reading the weekly Synod Scene and/or the monthly Messenger paper lately, you will have some idea about the position of Oskâpêwis. In the spring 2014 issue of the Messenger a story was printed detailing some of Sharon’s background and qualifications. She started in April 2014 by appointment of the Bishop under the supervision of Canon Missioner for Indigenous Ministry, The Rev. Canon Travis Enright. She was given some parameters for the position and it was anticipated she would be creative and resourceful considering the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Anglican Church.
Sharon takes her lead from the Indigenous Ministries (I.M.) mandate and specifically the three Anglican pillars of Indigenous ministries: Education, Reconciliation and Mission. These are detailed in the I.M. brochure (available at www.edmonton.anglican.ca Our Ministries, Indigenous Ministry). The position is diocese wide and now focusses primarily on urban areas.
At All Saints Cathedral specifically, the Oskâpêwis was tasked to support ‘Community Day’ and the Standing Stones liturgy. Between May and November community day is every Thursday. Generally Sharon offered smudge and a prayer to everyone once before the 12:10 Eucharist service and then towards the end of the day. This was observed by some Indigenous people who commented, ‘So you do both. I saw you smudge and then go to the service’. Feedback Sharon has received from the Indigenous community is ‘pleasantly surprised’ that the Anglican Church has this position.
While the people are waiting for their tax service or the ‘free’ lunch, they often don’t have anything to do so Sharon started setting up a table with Free Literature composed mainly of Bibles, devotionals, some community service brochures, children’s books and a few puzzles for the community to access. This was well received and in order for the materials to remain accessible once community day ceased, a bookcase was placed in the triangle in consultation with The Very Rev. Neil Gordon.
Every third Sunday at 9:15 am the Standing Stones Service takes place where the Oskâpêwis participates under the direction of the Dean. Usually helping with the smudge she also researches for the Indigenous story for that day, provides suggestions for the Indigenous prayer and has presented a sermon twice (the last one was posted on the website by suggestion).
Sharon also responds to inquiries from Indigenous people who come to the cathedral asking about spirituality and Christianity. Smudge and a prayer are offered in the Indigenous chapel as well as a Bible or other Christian material. Some ask for sage to take with them. The Oskâpêwis has also started an Indigenous book shelf of mixed media in the Cathedral library area.
In the New Year, in consultation with the Rev. Neil Gordon, seminars or workshops will be hosted to educate about Treaty 6 and other topics relating to Indigenous peoples.
Respectfully submitted, Sharon Anne Pasula, Oskâpêwis / Aboriginal Cultural and Educational Helper