Tuesday through Friday, the day begins with ICF community drop-in. The drop-in is a great place to enjoy coffee or tea with neighbors and friends, munch on a bagel or toast, read the paper, or use the phone. Volunteers lend a helping hand working the kitchen and welcoming guests into the laid-back setting. With no music, radio or television, the drop-in offers the community a tranquil sanctuary.
Every Wednesday noon, people gather at ICF to enjoy a hearty bowl of soup and bannock. Prepared by volunteers, this nourishing meal doubles as a public forum, keeping everyone up-to-date on current events and opportunities. These Wednesday lunches are also a great occasion for diverse agencies and community groups to come together and exchange ideas. Children and volunteers dine for free. For everyone else, $2 is as close as it gets to a free lunch!
From its creation, the Indian Metis Christian Fellowship was conceived with the principle of “community ownership” in mind. Today, chimatawa, a Cree word meaning “building up together” best describes the collaborative effort between ICF Council, staff, volunteers and the greater community. The chimatawa principle encourages individuals to increase their skills and self-confidence, even as they build up neighbors and friends. Without doubt, improving social and employment skills are central to the chimatawa ideal. Staff and volunteer collaborations, along with the spirit of chimatawa, help IMCFwork towards its mandate to “build an urban Aboriginal community through serving social and spiritual needs”.
ICF hosts talking circles for men and women. Each talking circle begins with a smudging prayer. Talking circles allow participants to share personal struggles and achievements in a confidential and supportive environment. Availability of talking circles depends on demand and availability of resource people.
Community members often bring their secrets and hardships to the ministry. Many approach ICF staff for assistance. Ministry staff are prepared to listen and help. Confidentiality and Privacy is respected at all times. However, when the expertise required goes beyond the staff member’s abilities or time constraints, people needing assistance are referred to appropriate service agencies and individuals.
Each Good Friday, ICF hosts a “Memorial Wake for Jesus Christ.” During this annual event, bannock and chokecherry juice are shared to symbolically observe Christ’s instructions to his disciples. Community members prepare food that is served in a traditional Aboriginal manner during an honoring ceremony. Community members adopt roles depicting the disciples, relatives and observers of Christ’s life and execution.
At 9:30 each weekday morning, ringtones are set to mute. Voicemail takes over while staff, volunteers and community members gather for a prayer circle. After a smudging prayer, a Bible reading and recitation of “Twelve Steps to Forgiveness and Healing by Christ the Creator” follows. After the proceedings and meditation, a cross is passed around the circle. Each participant is encouraged to introduce themselves and proclaim: “I am a child of the Creator.”
Every Saturday at 10am, families and friends come to share a hearty breakfast prepared by ICF volunteers and local congregations. Bread of Life Lutheran, Sonlight Christian Reformed, Our Savior’s Lutheran and Eastside United all pitch in. The nominal $1 fee for adults (children and volunteers eat free) ensures that all can take part. Following welcoming words and a brief meditation, guests enjoy oatmeal porridge followed by a full breakfast that varies from week to week.
Thanks to generous donations, on Thursdays at 2pm Indigenous Christian Fellowship distributes clothing and household goods. For a nominal $2
“chip-in” fee, community members help themselves to what they need. Volunteer drivers deliver larger items. During the school year, Luther High School Service Club students help out with deliveries
Indigenous Christian Fellowship serves people with the least resources at the socioeconomic margins of society. On request, ICF provides individuals and families with food, clothing and pastoral support. The ministry makes its hall and kitchen available to grieving families for funerals and wakes. In addition, ICFExecutive Director Bert Adema is available to lead prayers, funerals, interments and memorial services.
With the exception of Wednesday’s soup and bannock lunch, ICF doors close at noon. Staff and volunteers share a meal prepared in-house and get ready for the daily after-school Chimatawa Family Youth Program.