This year the Edmonton Native Healing Centre in Edmonton, Alta., celebrates its 30th anniversary.
Director Harold Roscher described the center as “simply a community for people of all cultures, faiths, (and) financial standings, … a place where we can meet and grow together.”
The Centre addresses emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs as represented in the Indigenous people’s medicine wheel.
Originally launched from the basement of the home of founding director John Stellingwerff, the Centre now has its own building.
“We have now grown to a place where we can help people in all four of those (medicine wheel) quadrants,” Roscher said.
There have been opportunities to grow the ministry in all directions. The Centre now offers space to the Boyle McCauley Health Centre. This meets a practical community need and offers a safe, comfortable, and accessible location for clients.
Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wellness Wednesdays is a free exercise class run by the Centre. Each week the class is livestreamed on the center’s Facebook page.
These types of activities help the center to connect with the community and meet some of its needs, Roscher said.
Celebrations for the milestone anniversary are being planned within COVID constraints.
Ideally, Roscher said, they would be able to serve a soup and bannock meal as the Centre did regularly before closing the kitchen because of COVID. Relaunching this popular gathering would be another cause for celebration.
Ongoing support from the Christian Reformed Church allows these programs to serve the community. “It’s wonderful to have the strong Christian Reformed backing, because without it the lights don’t go on and the doors don’t open,” Roscher said. “That faithful support has been so crucial to allowing us to be a ministry.”
The growing financial support for the ministry shows how needed and appreciated the ministry is in the broader community.
Not only does Roscher want to see the ministry continue for another 30 years, but he also hopes to see the fruit of stronger bridges being formed between Indigenous communities and the CRC.
“We see historically the journey between the church and the Indigenous community has not been a good one,” he said. “I think we’re poised in the next 30 years to make some meaningful inroads into reconciliation and recognizing each other’s gifts.”
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