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Leaving home to find it

A BIC family moves from suburbs to rural reaches of Canada to serve First Nations community

by Lisa Brown

As Janet and John Reynolds say, anything less than a call from God wouldn’t have persuaded them and their sons, Conwell and Jesse, to exchange their sprawling suburban home in Toronto for a small “bit of a dump” in the rural reaches of northern Ontario. But while attending The Meeting House (Oakville, ON) in 2004, the Reynoldses found that they couldn’t “continue [to hear] about communities with high rates of suicide, high unemployment, crime, and other problems, without actually trying to help.”

So the Reynoldses sold their home; moved to Nakina, ON; and became a foster family through Tikinagan, a First Nation child-care agency. “Although we didn’t really feel that fostering was our strength,” John shares honestly, “we were told that there was a great need because of the number of kids that nobody else would take.”

“We want them to experience life with us,” Janet adds.

Outside their home, the Reyn­oldses have countered the widespread sense of hopelessness on the Reserve by building “The Shack,” a 16´ x 40´ workshop/community center that has become a popular gathering place for area teens and community members. John and Janet also spend time with youth by taking them on wilderness journeys and organizing summer camps.

When asked if following God’s call to Nakina has been worth it, both John and Janet reply with a resounding “yes.” “Our ancestors literally shattered the lives and communities of the First Nation people, and we need to be willing to stand up and ask what we can do to make amends,” John says.

For more about the Reynoldses’ ministry, go to www.peopleservingpeople.ca.

This article originally appeared in the winter 2007 issue of In Part magazine.

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