Josie Dingler was raised in a Dutch family in Shallow Lake Ontario and moved to Nawash in her late 20’s. Nawash is her mother’s First Nation and Josie moved back to learn about her culture, language and community. Josie’s father was a member of Aamjwnaang First Nation in Sarnia and she is currently a member there. Josie lives in Nawash with her 3 children and works in the community as a single mom. Her heart is for First Nations people and to see them experiencing the love of God the way she does. Josie serves as the Early Childhood Coordinator of the Journey Together program, which through the “Calls to Action” was created to bring cultural and developmental programming to families in the Nawash with children 0-6 years of age. On the Nawash Team, Josie serves as the worship leader and one of the speakers. Currently, Josie is working, doing ministry and completing her Bachelors in Ministry through Kingswood University in NB. http://nawash.ca
Chief Gerald Antoine
The Dene have existed for over 30,000 years, with one language and many dialects: Gwich’in; Sahtu; Deh Cho; Tlicho; and, Akaitcho. The Dene have always been sustained by the land. Also known as the Athapaskan peoples, the Dene Nation is a political organization in Denendeh, meaning “The Land of the People”, located in Northwest Territories, Canada. The Dene Nation covers a large geographical area — from present day Alaska to the southern-most tip of North America. Our objective is to support the Dene Territories and Dene Communities in upholding the rights and interests of the Dene, including rights and interests arising from Dene use and occupation of lands (hereinafter referred to as “Denendeh”) and Dene rights and interests arising from Treaties. http://denenation.com
Carmen was raised on the reserve by a single mother (Cheryl Jones). His life without a father was normal for him and he didn't know any difference. He was an angry child growing up. He naturally loved sports from a very young age. When he was in his 30s, he realized his need for healing in his life. Carmen discovered that God was looking for a personal relationship with him, not just religious attendance to church. As his heart began to receive healing his heart began to open up to God as a perfect Father. Carmen was able to see who the real God and the real Jesus really were. Today he works in many native communities, assisting other native youth with their passions for sports and wellness.
Grand Chief George Coté
220 years ago, in 1800 over 40 million buffalo roamed the North American prairies. This provided the foundation for the shelter, food and livelihoods of the indigenous people of the prairies. Just 70 years later - by 1870 the buffalo had disappeared. Hunted to extinction by settlers wanting indigenous lands to settle on, with the full support of governments who wanted the “Indian problem” solved, natives were forced onto reservations and children taken away from families and put in residential schools. With their livelihoods taken away, the Indians, who were traditionally hunter/gathers, faced starvation. To solve this problem, the Government of Canada made treaties with the Indians, promising them financial and technical assistance if they agreed to surrender all their lands except certain small, reserved portions to the crown. Nearly all the Indian bands agreed to this plan. September 15, 1874, Treaty #4 was made between the Crown and 34 First Nations in Fort Qu’Appelle Saskatchewan. On behalf of his people Chief Gabriel Cote, Chief George Coté’s great-great-grandfather, signed. In this treaty, they gave up 74,600 square miles of land to the crown and agreed to live on reserves. In return, they got the Coté Reserve - 56.5 square miles in eastern Saskatchewan. Over the ensuing years, the Government and railways expropriated 45% of this land for a pittance. Promises were made and immediately broken. Training in farming and cattle ranching was promised to help the people transition to this reserve. All the promises were broken. Government officials stole the grain and cattle. They took the best land and gave it to white settlers. The Coté people were starving. Local townspeople gave bribes and whiskey to the Chief and Councillors to convince them to give up more land. Under the pressure and the inducement of bribes, the Band was pressured to surrender another two-mile strip of the Reserve. Under the terms of Treaty 4, the government was obligated to provide education for children. They turned this responsibility over to the Church. Seven generations of Coté children were taken from their families and sent to St. Phillips Residential school, operated by the Catholic Church. Survivors tell stories of sexual assault, physical and mental abuse, and very little education. It has scarred everyone. The people suffered from limited education, broken families and relationships, and inadequate support systems. Hope was limited. Band leadership was troubled. Seven years ago, George Coté was elected as Chief. He was just re-elected for the second time. Chief George, a vibrant and strong Christian, has brought unprecedented progress to his people and their First Nation. http://tearfund.ca
The “Bring back the Buffalo project”, is part of a multi-generational reconciliation process. Its roots started eight years ago. It’s a proven model. The Cote herd is the fifth Loko Koa facilitated and planted on Native land. Loko Koa is a small team of Pacific Islanders, indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians based in Balcarres, Saskatchewan, who seek to honour the Creator by helping to restore indigenous culture and identity back to the First Peoples of this land. Driven by a love for Creator, for the past ten years, Loko Koa (meaning Brave Heart in Samoan) has sought to be people of reconciliation, helping restore harmony between families, tribes, communities, and people groups. They often serve as a bridge of reconciliation between First Nations and settlers. Strategically placed, they are within 100 Km of 17 First Nations. They have excellent relations with Band Council leadership and children, youth and adults of multiple bands. Lima Nanai, their leader, is married to an indigenous lady. Loko Koa is known across the region as the buffalo people because they have brought buffalo back to Canada’s First Peoples for the first time in 150 years. They dream of planting at least 10 herds of Buffalo on First Nations land in the coming years. Loko Koa has developed wonderful relationships with an Alberta buffalo rancher, Tearfund, churches and regular Christians who want to make a difference as back supporters of this initiative. http://tearfund.ca
As Christians, we recognize the need for reconciliation and the building of long-term friendship. The “Bring back the Buffalo project” is a means to support an indigenous led initiative that is working. Partnering with an Indigenous ministry called Loko Koa, our aim is to facilitate the return of the buffalo back to their traditional lands of the Cote First Nation. The goal of this project will be to build at least 10 sustainable buffalo herds on First Nations land across Treaty 4. They will help restore cultural identity and provide food for their own people. It will be more than a “project,” but the start of building long-term relationships. The Coté Buffalo Project started in December 2021 when 24 buffalo were introduced back to Cote First Nation land. For the first time in over 150 years buffalo roamed the land. This initiative has helped restore Native identity and dignity. Schools in the surrounding communities have come to see the buffalo and learn about them for science and history classes. Over the next 5 years, the herd will continue to grow under the care of the Coté First Nation, at which point 22 buffalo from the herd will be gifted to another First Nation. In the coming years, we will support Loko Koa and their team’s dignity and identity-building initiatives in “Bringing back the Buffalo”. Tearfund is not the lead on this project but the behind-the-scenes supporter. http://tearfund.ca