THE RIDGE, BATTLEFORD — In 1954, Father Alfred Hubenig created a mosaic titled, Our Lady of Snows, depicting an Inuit mother with a child, reminiscent of the mother of Jesus and the church’s love for her. Hubenig was a seminarian at St Charles Scholastic at the time. A replica of that artwork was inaugurated Friday in a specially built teepee shrine at The Ridge on the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
Grant Beaudry, CEO of MGBLM Economic Development Corp., officiated the ceremony, dedicating the shrine jointly with first nations leaders, Indigenous elders, and representatives from the church in memory of those who didn’t make it home and survivors of residential schools.
Beaudry said the inauguration was in the spirit of truth, reconciliation and healing. He hopes for the shrine to be a place of dialogue between Indigenous communities, the government, and the Catholic church so that the community can move forward.
Elder Alvin Baptiste and Gary Armstrong held a smudging, and Father Mike Dechant offered a blessing. Senator Jenny Spyglass prayed before the walk from the Oblates cemetery to the industrial school cemetery, saying there is a need for forgiveness. Father Michael Dechant apologized on behalf of the church and their role in Battleford’s industrial school before the Four Directions prayer.
Father Maurice Schroeder originally came up with the idea, hoping that a collaboration with the Indigenous community could bridge peace with the church and help inspire further reconciliation.
The group began their walk to the cemetery while prayers and singing took place. Later the Feast (Pahkwesikan) of Bannock and toppings was prepared by Margaret Bekkattla with hot chocolate courtesy of Tim Hortons.
Our Lady of Snows Diya (Nakoda), Kona Eskwew (Cree) mosaic was first displayed in the chapel of the original building (which burned in 2003) and was transferred to the chapel of St. Mary’s Residence until 2020, when MGBHLM, in partnership with Stoney Knoll, acquired it.
Story by MIguel Fenrich / Staff Reporter. Photos by Averil Hall / Freelance Photographer