Denman Island United Church

Creation Time in the Season of the Pentecost – Elaine Julian, Sept. 13, 2020

As we gather for worship, we acknowledge with respect the history, spirituality, and culture of the K’omoks First Nation and the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional and unceded territory we meet. We also honour the heritage of all indigenous peoples, as we recognize the need to seek healing and reconciliation between the descendants of the settlers and those who were here before colonization.


Rev. Elaine Julian

Welcome Everyone

Please take note of the special COVID-19 protocols as we help each other stay safe and healthy.

Please follow along in this outline, noting that Bold Print is an invitation to participate

Acknowledgement of Traditional Territory and Ancestors

As we gather for worship, we acknowledge with respect the history, spirituality, and culture of the K’omoks First Nation and the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional and unceded territory we meet. We also honour the heritage of all indigenous peoples, as we recognize the need to seek healing and reconciliation between the descendants of the settlers and those who were here before colonization.


September is Creation Time in the Season of Pentecost, symbolized by the colour orange, which is also the colour for Orange Shirt Day, celebrated this year on Sept. 30.  The goal is to create awareness of the inter-generational impacts of
Indian Residential Schools and to promote the concept of “Every Child Matters”.

In Creation Time, we are invited to reflect on ways that we (as earth-beings) may be collectively separating ourselves from the rest of creation, and how we might instead work toward reconciling those relationships. When we do that, we embody the United Church’s call to honour “All My Relations.”

Since 2012, the United Church crest has included the Mohawk phrase AkweNia’Tetewá:neren, (aw gway – nyah day day wah- nay renh) translated into English as “all my relations.” This is an acknowledgement that Indigenous peoples were a part of the founding of the United Church, but it is also a statement of our connectedness to each other and to the whole created order. Today we are dramatically reminded of this interconnectedness as we see and breathe the smoke of wildfires many thousands of kilometres from here.  This understanding is key to both our work for ecological justice and for Indigenous rights and reconciliation.

One way to explore these connections is through the framework of “watershed discipleship,” or as it is coming to be known in Canada, “reconciliation in the watershed.”

Watersheds are the areas of land that drain into a single body of water. They are occupied by interconnected streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes; by flora and fauna; and by human beings. They can be big or little, from a small area drained by a tiny stream to the entire area that drains into an ocean, like the Pacific Rim.  These are our natural neighbourhoods.  How we interact in those watersheds has the potential to tell us much about reconciliation.

As we light this candle, we think of the interconnectedness of all creation, and our interconnectedness with the Creator, and we remember “All Our Relations”.

Akwenia’tetewa:neren(aw gway – nyah day day wah- nay renh)





WHERE ARE WE?Place a pitcher of water on the table.

We Simply Call It Deho: A Story from the Arctic Watershed

Written by Paul Andrew, who was born in the Mackenzie Mountains across from Tulita. He spent his early years learning the Dene traditions and language before going to school. Paul spent seven years at a residential school in the NWT. In 2012, Paul retired after many years with both CBC radio and TV. He lives in Yellowknife.

Some Dene call it Deho. To others it’sDeh Cho. Both mean “big river.” The Inuvialuktun name, Kuukpak, means “Great River,” and the Gwich’in name, Nagwichoonjik, means “river flowing through a big country.” In their own way, each of these Indigenous Peoples captures the significance and importance of the river to the animals, land, trees, and everything on the Creator’s earth. It is the longest and largest river system in Canada.

Elders say that every creek or water flowing into the big river has a story behind it. They tell stories of how certain hills or landmarks along the river were formed. Every Dene learned early in life just how important the environment, the galaxy, and especially water is to people, land, and animals. Put simply: Without water, there is no life!

One story many Dene groups share is that of Yamoria, or one who walked around Earth: the greatest medicine man who came to the Dene long ago. He brought teachings and laws to the Dene that changed their lives. These teaching stress respect, caring for one another, and living in peace and harmony. Depending on where a person lived, the story may differ a bit, but the lessons are unquestionable!

When the world was new, it is believed there was a family of giant beavers who were terrorizing the land and killing the Dene people on Sahtu or Great Bear Lake. Yamoria was asked to help. He began chasing the beavers down Sahtu de or Bear River, and caught up with them at the mouth of the river at Tulita. Yamoria killed the three giant beavers with a bow and arrow, skinned them, and stretched their hides on the Great Bear Rock.

To this day, you can still see the outline of the beaver pelts on Bear Rock. The arrows that Yamoria shot are still seen each spring where the Great Bear River and the Mackenzie River meet—the poles are still sticking out of the river. Further up the Mackenzie River, Yamoria cooked beaver meat and the beaver’s grease dripped into the fire. It is said that the fire continues to burn near Tulita.

The story has been passed on for generations. It teaches respect, harmony, and living in peace with land and water.

Despite the attempts to take care of the land and water, Dene notice a number of changes in the mighty Mackenzie. Pollution is affecting fish and other living creatures. Climate change is melting permafrost, causing more and more landslides into the river. But the biggest concern is water level. It has dropped to the point where there is concern for barges being able to deliver essentials to communities. Many are saying it may be time to return to the teachings of our ancestors to preserve and protect the land, sky, and water.


Let us pray:

We are grateful, Creator, for sacred waterthat flows in our bodies and through the Earth.

Water is a powerful force that both creates and destroys, sustains and erodes,

depositsand washes away;

Forgive us for all the ways that we havewasted, polluted,and ignored precious water.

And help us restore good relations, remembering that Water is Life.

Amen beautiful video on the connections between our watersheds and all that depend on them for life, made by members of our community for the Elements of Creation event at DIUC.


WHAT LIVES HERE?Place a symbol of a living thing from our area on the table.  Here are some of the symbols from our gathering today.


Thunderous Roar of the Buffalo: A Story from the Hudson Bay Watershed


As European settlers moved west across North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they cleared the land to make way for agriculture. This was not an innocuous practice—it included the removal of First Nations and Métis peoples from their traditional territories, and as a part of that, it included the mass slaughter of bison. Bison played a crucial role in the prairie ecosystem of western North America, were an important source of food, fur, and hides for Indigenous peoples, and held spiritual significance. In other words, bison were an integral part of the web of life in the Hudson Bay watershed. Today, bison are being reintroduced to the prairie, and Indigenous peoples are helping to ensure that they thrive. Recently, a group of bison from Samson Cree First Nation were reintroduced to Banff National Park, and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation took part in welcoming them back.


Let us pray:

We are grateful, Creator, to all living things,

knowing that we depend and rely on each other for survival.

Whatever we do to the water and to the life around us,
we do to you and to ourselves,

Forgive us for all the ways that we have harmed the living.

And help us restore good relations.





WHAT IS HURTING?Place a symbol of our damaged environment on the table.

Reader: Ron Wilson


Privilege Brings Responsibility: A Story from the Pacific Watershed

Written by Barbara Wilson, who lives in Vancouver and is from Skidegat, Haida Gwaii. Through deep time, she is related to Eagle clans along the Northwest coast of British Columbia through her mother’s lineage from Cumshewa Eagles and Raven families through her father’s lineage—Skedans Ravens. She is a Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) Fellow and is a Candidate–Master of Arts at Simon Fraser University.


My ancestors, the Haida, have lived on our lands and waters “since it was light and yet dark.” Our ancestors were here when the earth was covered with the ocean. “Raven flew away, and spit some of the water on the ground as he flew along. Thus originated all the rivers on Xaayda (Haida) Gwaay (Gwaii). He also made the Skeena and Stikine rivers…”

The stories of our creation, rivers, and lakes come from a time when our ancestors knew to give thanks for each gift of being. They were mindful of responsibilities and remembered to respect all things, because they knew disrespect meant the loss of privilege.

Rivers are old and very important to all people, regardless of where they live, whether along the coast, mountains, or on the plains. They are the source of fresh water to drink and food, and serve as the rearing areas for many ocean creatures where the ocean meets the rivers. Plants live and have adapted themselves to life on the flats of the estuaries and along the banks of rivers. All beings, whether rooted or free-moving, deserve to be respected, just as we feel we should be respected.

Should we allow oil tankers to deliver “condensate,” transport Liquid Natural Gas, or other oil and gas–based products along our coasts with the possibility of a spill contaminating our ocean, lakes, streams, creeks, or rivers and destroying neighbours, our food, and drinking water? We only have to look to the lasting impact of the Exxon-Valdez 1989 spill in Alaskan waters (the collapse of traditional seafood gathering) to see what might lie ahead.

Why would anyone want to risk the health of our waters? It is important to protect tidal waters, and all manner of beings, whether humans, sea creatures (whales, mollusks, fin-fish), sea and land mammals (deer, bears, mountain goats), plants for food, medicines, and fibers, and all which we appreciate when we are sitting looking out our windows, walking on beaches, or on a scenic drive. Imagine the damage and smell as oil oozes over all that we hold precious and value.

The Coastal First Nations have spent almost a decade researching to complete their report “A Review of Potential Impacts to Coastal First Nations from an Oil Tanker Spill Associated with the Northern Gateway Project.”

We watched small, unprotected communities in their attempt to save and protect the lands, foods, and creatures in the ocean when an American transport tugboat sank just north of Bella Bella in the BC central coast area in October 2016. The clam beds that the Heiltsuk Nation rely on for food were devastated. Chief Marilyn Slett said, “Our nation has been waiting for years for a robust safety plan that protects coastal waters” (Canadian Press, Nov. 7, 2016).

Privilege brings responsibility.


Let us pray:

We long to travel gently on the earth, Creator,

to respect all life, and to recognize water as sacred.

Forgive us for the things that we have made and done that hurt your good creation.

For the sake of creation, help us to live better.

And help us to restore good relations. Amen.


WHAT ARE SIGNS OF HOPE AND NEW LIFE?Place fruits of the harvest native to our community on the table.


Nunatsiavut: A Story from the Atlantic Watershed


Nunatsiavut (what most Canadians know as the northern part of Labrador) is one of four self-governing Inuit regions in Canada, known collectively as Inuit Nunangat (an Inuit word meaning “land, water, and ice”). Inuit Nunangat comprises 30 percent of Canada’s land mass and 50 percent of its coastline. Inuit peoples have occupied this land for time immemorial.

This was reflected in the 2005 Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement—the modern treaty that created Nunatsiavut, recognizing the deep Inuit relationship to what they call “our beautiful land.”

The establishment of self-government in Nunatsiavut was a positive move for its people, providing the opportunity for Inuit to make their own decisions about their and their land’s future. Many non-Indigenous people would see this as a significant moment in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, as a precursor of sorts to reconciliation. Yet profound issues remain unresolved in this furthest corner of the Atlantic Ocean watershed.

Two huge reconciliation issues currently face the people of Nunatsiavut.

Some are embroiled in a struggle over the hydro development at Muskrat Falls. To paraphrase a campaign around the project, how is it possible to “make Muskrat right”—to ensure economic development while also ensuring the protection of traditional hunting and fishing territories? How will the parties to the hydro development be in respectful relationship with those who are critical of it or oppose it?

Others in the region are awaiting the results of a settlement agreement recently concluded on their experience in residential schools. After years of delays, what will reconciliation look like in this context?

As we seek reconciliation, we look for signs of hope and new life. Where might we find them, and encourage their growth, in the story of Nunatsiavut?



Let us pray together:

We are grateful, Creator, for good food, drink, clothing, and shelter

that sustain us in the present while nurturing future generations.

Forgive us for the gardens, fields, and forests that we have mistreated or wasted,

and all of the broken promises they represent.

May we care well for all our relations.






WHAT ARE WE THANKFUL FOR?Place a symbol of beauty from our community on the table.


Standing Rock: A Model of Reconciliation: A Story from the Gulf of Mexico Watershed
People—Indigenous and non-Indigenous—from all the watersheds of North America came together in South Dakota (Gulf of Mexico watershed) in late 2016 to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux.

The tribe had gone to court to prevent construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on its territory, citing the need for proper environmental assessment of the impact on water and scared burial grounds. According to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Standing Rock had the right to free, prior, and informed consent on any development on its land—but in this case, that was not respected. Neither were the tribe’s treaty rights.

The Indigenous-led effort to protect the environment captured media attention for months, and drew together a broad solidarity movement, including hundreds of clergy and church representatives, many from our full-communion partner, the United Church of Christ. In December, the Department of the Army declared that the pipeline could not go ahead as planned because the treaty relationship had not been respected. But with the change in political leadership in the United States, that ruling was reversed and the pipeline was approved and constructed. Oil started to flow through it—and leak from it—in March 2017. However, the tribe challenged the permits and won. In March 2020, a US federal court struck down the permits and ordered a comprehensive environmental review.

There is much to be thankful for in this story. The persistence of Standing Rock in naming their treaty and Indigenous rights. The response of those who gathered from across the continent to support them in their struggle. The acknowledgement that Christian constructs like the Doctrine of Discovery are what have for the last 500 years justified the taking of Indigenous lands. The repudiation of such concepts as a first step in reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and the land.

The example of Standing Rock, where people came together across nations and watersheds to protect the Earth, stands as a model of what the road to reconciliation can look like.

Let us pray:


We want to be respectful tenants of your beautiful garden, God,

marvelling at the beauty and complexity of your creation.

Forgive us for all the ways that we have hurt your good creation,

and heal our relations with the stardust and water that forms us.  Amen.



We are creatively combining work and play in the Spirit, talking, dreaming, and planning for a new way of being the church and connecting with the Denman Island community. We continue to need your support through your sharing of time, talent and treasure. If you are worshipping from home and you are able to support us financially, your donations can 12 be mailed to: Denman Island United Church, 4575 Denman Road, Denman Island BC V0R 1T0





May you be blessed and strengthened by the Creator of All to move gently upon the earth, to stop when you have done enough, to rest when you are weary, and to rejoice in all creation.


Go in peace and go in love, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, to be Christ’s face and hands and feet in the world.  All my relations. Amen.

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