This October 3-7, 17 Wing once again hosted the annual RCAF Chaplains’ exercise Phoenix Rising. Over forty chaplains representing all Wings across Canada came to Winnipeg to learn and discuss important-to-chaplaincy matters: organizational changes, strategies for ministry enhancement, and best hands-on practices.
During the scope of the exercise, participants also had a chance to reflect on CAF’s relations with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. The highlight of the week was a meeting with 17 Wing Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG) with the participation of Chaplain General BGen Belisle and RCChS Indigenous Adviser CPO2 Stevens. The DAAG community was represented by Devin Beaudry, a CAF veteran also known by his indigenous spiritual name Walking Grey Wolf, MCpl Morrison, Sgt Thompson and MCpl Laurin. At the meeting, Sgt Thompson elaborated on the evolution of collaboration between 17 Wing leadership and indigenous members, and he explained the importance of the Sweat Lodge for indigenous spirituality. 17 Wing Sweat Lodge, located on the sacred grounds of the Spiritual Well-being Center, plays a key role in teaching about indigenous cultures and in providing healing. The Lodge was introduced in 2017 and since then, according to Sgt Thompson, hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous members of the 17 Wing community have benefited from its ceremonies.
In recognition of Walking Grey Wolf’s spiritual leadership and for his championship of indigenous values among the 17 Wing Community, BGen Belisle, presented him with a Letter of Commendation and the Chaplain General’s coin. On behalf of the DAAG, Sgt Thomson presented a hand-made rattle gift to Padre (LCol) Winfield for her contribution toward promotion of awareness about indigenous cultures and spirituality within the 17 Wing community over the last several years.