In September the current Moderator of the General Assembly, Rev. Harvey Self, paid a visit to the Kenora Fellowship Centre. I met him there and showed him a Bible I had received 56 years ago which bore three signatures I thought he might find interesting.
In 1953 I was 19 years old, just out of high school and offered the challenge of my first job. I was a member of St. John’s, Toronto, in the choir there and the young people’s group. The Women’s Missionary Society asked me to teach Industrial Arts at the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ont.
Of course the service I provided the church at the school, along with that of my sister who was there for a while as a nurse and many friends who also worked there, has been tarnished. We find ourselves in a very unenviable position. Less than honorable, to be sure. For many of us there is a festering hurt as a result of being lumped into what at times sounds like a cesspool of abuse and cruelty.
The Bible I showed the moderator has this inscription on the opening page:
To George McMillan
Cecilia Jeffrey School
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” II Timothy 2:15
With Christian Love:
Grace A. Self
Christine G. Self
Stanley D. Self
I asked Harvey if he recognized the signatures. He said, “I do, they are my parents and my aunt Grace!” He quickly made a copy of the page and could hardly wait to get home so he could show it to his mother. One could say that it was people like these and their message to me that set my course for Kenora. After 33 years of successfully teaching Industrial Arts I am now retired.
I have to say that Bible has kept my spirits and my faith strong in spite of the bad press around the Indian residential schools that continues. It is to be hoped that others may find their peace and solace in the word of God, as they try to cope with their inner feelings regarding the uneasiness and bitterness that is part of their lives.