Roy Berkenbosch, a Christian Reformed pastor and professor at The King’s University College, was honored as a finalist for a ROOPH (Recognizing Outstanding Organizations and People in Housing) award.
Homeward Trust, one of the primary agencies charged with ending homelessness in Edmonton, recognized Berkenbosch for outstanding service to the Aboriginal community, especially for his leadership and engagement with the legacies of residential schools and his outreach to Aboriginal communities through interdisciplinary studies conferences at the college.
“A kairos moment for me,” explained Berkenbosch, “was in June 2008 when I heard Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologize to Canada’s Aboriginal communities for what happened in Indian residential schools.”
For more than a century, over 150,000 Aboriginal children were separated from their families and sent to these schools where their languages and cultural practices were forbidden and many experienced abuse.
Berkenbosch realized that he had a platform at King’s and decided then and there to do what he could to take the story of this “sad chapter in Canada’s history,” as Harper called it, into the classroom and the broader community, as well as contribute toward reconciliation and healing.
During the current winter semester, for example, Berkenbosch, together with King’s history professor Will Van Arragon, offered a three-credit course on the history of residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that included hearing testimony from survivors.
While students needed to register, the public was welcome to drop in at any lecture free of charge. A two-day conference recently took place in conjunction with the final national TRC event held in Edmonton. Off campus, Berkenbosch has preached—both in the CRC and in other churches—about the TRC.
In an email sent to all students, faculty, and staff, colleague Van Arragon said, “I'm sure all of us know about the superb work Roy does with our students and community through the Micah Centre, and it’s lovely to see his work recognized in our city too.”