Kamloops church will host conference to 'build bridges,' connect Indigenous, non-Indigenous people

Church seeks to bring unity

An upcoming conference hosted by a Kamloops church aims to build bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members, an event organizer says.

Norm McCallum — a Woodland Cree Elder and leader of the Indigenous Connections Team at Kamloops Alliance Church — said in a statement he is excited to host the inaugural Us Together conference.

“Our vision for the events and work of our Indigenous Connections Team is to build bridges with all people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, bringing unity and hope,” McCallum said.

He said the conference, to be held this coming Friday and Saturday, will feature Indigenous and non-Indigenous speakers from across Western Canada, sharing “personal and very powerful stories fuelled by their passion to move toward a brighter future together.”

“This is an opportunity for our church and extended community of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come together and be inspired,” McCallum said.

The conference’s keynote speaker is Annette Maurice, a residential school survivor from northern Saskatchewan.

According to a statement from Kamloops Alliance Church, Maurice, who now lives in B.C., experienced alcoholism in her home and community violence while growing up as one of 12 children.

“Despite a challenging start to life, Maurice later reconciled with her father and will speak on ‘Sharing Stories, Sharing Hope,'” KAC said.

Chris Throness, lead pastor of KAC, said the church hopes the event will provide an opportunity for community members to hear impactful stories from speakers, and space for discussion around how to work together for a better future.

“We invite the entire community to attend Us Together,” Throness said.

“When we better understand each other and walk together, that is how we can start to build a better future as a community of people. And we believe there’s no better time to do that work for a brighter future than right now.”

According to KAC, the Us Together conference is free to attend.

The event will be held at the church — located at 200 Leigh Rd. on the North Shore — and will run on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Those interested in attending can register through the KAC website.

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