A recent National Post report states that, in less than a decade, seniors will outnumber children in Canada. In 15 years, deaths may outnumber births.
It’s another world in Canada’s Aboriginal community where the population is growing and is proportionally much younger.
Young people are to be valued (Prov. 17:6, etc.) and are every society’s future. And it is to young families that we must bring the message that each person is individually loved by God and needs to be born again.
Yes, this young and growing population presents special challenges for us in Native missions … but really they are special opportunities! That is why most of our missionaries include children’s and teen outreaches on their fields, and why our Mission runs Bible camps in several locations.
And it is why we have published the Eagle Feather series — one more way to bring the Gospel into the world of First Nations youth.
On this page, however, we’re bringing a bit of their world to you! Please sit back and take in a couple excerpts from our latest book, The Nature of Things at Angel Lake:
Robert Yazzie sat in the front passenger seat of his friend’s 1978 Cordoba. The long rusted body of the dark blue car sailed ahead on the northern Saskatchewan road. Aspen trees towered beside the road. Narrow ditches separated the forest from the snake of gravel they traveled on.
“Angel Lake 76 kms,” Robert read out loud off the green road marker. “Kinda makes you wonder what we’ll find when we get there, eh?” Robert laughed.
“Oh well,” his muscular friend, Allen Moosehunter, replied with a cheerful shrug. “If nothing else, at least we can say we’ve been within spitting range of the north pole.”
At this, the two girls in the back seat looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Robert’s 14 year-old sister, Tawana, knew better than to respond to the older boy’s comment. Having two brothers had taught her, if nothing else, that a girl’s reaction is just what it takes to spur male mouths on. Tawana’s friend, Tanya L’Hereux, was not so clever yet. At least Tawana hadn’t thought so. She was surprised when Tanya stayed quiet and resumed the thoughtful look on her face. Tawana shrugged and went back to her book.
Tanya was almost 16 – the same age as Tawana’s older brother, Robert. In the last few years she had been through a string of difficult experiences. The latest was the suicide of her cousin, Scott Daigneault. Scott had been a drug dealer on Big Lake Reserve, north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where all four teens in the car were from. Scott had come clean about five months ago. In his suicide note last month Scott had written:”Using drugs kept me from thinking too much, but during those low times I realized I was on a road going nowhere. I thought if I quit drugs everything would fall into place – I’d know what my life was about. Well, it’s been almost half a year and, sure, I’m not a druggie anymore. But I still don’t know what I am. Is this what life is? Going through each day just glad to be empty instead of full of drugs? Shouldn’t life leave you full of something good – some reason for plugging through each day?
Well, I haven’t found a reason. And I’m not willing to go through a long life looking for one and never finding it. At least now you won’t have to bury a druggie.”Scott’s death had been enough to shock Tanya into staying clean for a few weeks at least … Tawana had persuaded Tanya to join her in attending Angel Lake Bible Camp. Tanya wasn’t sure what good it would do, but she admired Tawana. Besides, she had promised herself one thing for sure – a year. A year to try and find what Scottie couldn’t. (from Chapter 1)
(and from Chapter 12)
“He stuffed his sleeping bag to make it look like he was still in it. I woke up during the night when they said they were going to the bathroom, but I fell back asleep.” When Robert finished, it was obvious that he felt he was partly to blame for his friend’s disappearance.
“Did you check his stuff to see what’s missing?”
“Not really. I just saw that his bag is still here.”
“Well, I don’t really want to ask the other guys about it just yet. The more we keep things normal, the less chance anyone’s going to panic.” The Camp director took a deep breath as he walked around the cabin, checking the ground and the surrounding bush.
“How about you come with me, Robert,” the older man said. “We’ll let Dean stay with the rest of the guys while you and I go check to see if there’re any boats or quads missing. That worried look on your face is gonna get everyone else worried, too.”
Robert rubbed an arm across his face and tried to relax.
“I don’t know what’s up, but Ryan Jack’s been making me nervous all week.”
Adapted from our Northern Lights magazine (Issue #495). Note: some of the locations and involvements of our missionaries may have changed since the original publishing of this article.