The 2021 fall grant cycle is one of the biggest in the AFC’s 64-year history, with close to $650,000 disbursed in grants and bursaries to 110 applicants. The grant program received a huge boost from the AFC’s Say Yes to Kids! campaign, which saw $468,000 in funding disbursed. Seven programs in the Diocese of Islands and Inlets received funding in 2021.
One of those projects is the Revitalization of Indigenous Living Languages program run by Aboriginal Neighbours in partnership with First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC). The program pairs a fluent Indigenous speaker with a non-fluent learner. Before the pandemic, the mentor-apprentice pairs would meet in person, often going out on to the land to create what Aurora Skala, who manages the mentor-apprentice program at FPCC, calls a “linguistic immersion environment.”
During a short award ceremony held on Zoom to congratulate the grant recipients, Aurora spoke of how mentor-apprentice pairs have worked together to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic. In one instance, an apprentice set up their mentor, who is legally blind, with a voice activated iPhone so that they could continue their language lessons together. Aurora thanked Aboriginal Neighbours for their fundraising on behalf of the FPCC: “Your efforts are very much appreciated and going to very deserving individuals, so thank you.”
Ruth D’Hollander also spoke on behalf of Aboriginal Neighbours about the importance of this funding and what it symbolizes: “While the money is really important, the caring, the concern, the genuine appreciation of the need for language revitalization goes along with it. It’s not just the money, it’s the thought and gesture of reconciliation that counts for so much. It is so important to use the Elders in the communities, their lifespan is short and they’re dying. That urgency has shown through, and we really appreciate the continuity that the Anglican Foundation has provided.”
Five of the programs that received funding were responses to the Say Yes to Kids! request for proposals. Comox Valley Youth (CVY) has been awarded funding during this grant cycle. CVY is a collaboration between St Peter, Comox and St George United Church, Courtenay to provide youth ages 11 to 18 with a space in which to connect and explore faith through the arts, community service and social and ecological justice, as well as connecting to Indigenous neighbours in the church’s parishes.
Alison Knowles, who helped put together the application to AFC for St Peter, expressed the church’s gratitude for the funding: “We are so grateful to the Anglican Foundation of Canada, and all the parishes and individuals who donated to it, for the funding of our youth group. The group of youth is getting bigger, and we are all growing as we explore the theme of ‘The Ways that God Moves.’”
Christ Church Cathedral has also received a grant to fund an Intercultural Day Camp that will bring together Indigenous and settler children for a week of storytelling, song, dance, games, art, food and outdoor activities. The idea for the camp came out of ongoing conversations between the cathedral and the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations and is intended to sow the seeds of friendship and empathy between the children who attend the camp, as well as addressing a deep longing for reconciliation within the community.
The other projects funded are the pilgrimage program at the University of Victoria’s Multifaith Centre, and a pilot project run by the Emmaus Community to offer spiritual direction to kids and youth ages 5 to 15.
In the spring of 2021, two grants were also awarded for infrastructure projects: the painting of St Stephen in the Parish of Central Saanich, which is believed to be the oldest continuously used place of worship in British Columbia, and the replacement of the roof at St John the Baptist, Cobble Hill.
Referring to the latter infrastructure grants during the award celebration, Scott Brubacher, executive director of the Anglican Foundation of Canada, commented: “It’s delightful and inspiring to be able to share these stories. Even putting a new roof on a church or painting the exterior, just knowing that it allows safe, meaningful, accessible and welcoming ministry and how important that is for our churches to be open and providing those safe and welcoming spaces to all.”
Faith Tides looks forward to sharing more stories with our readers about these projects as they unfold.