Sacrificial giving in action

Parishioners at St. Paul’s Thunder Bay to walk in support of Indigenous Youth

For nearly two decades, St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Thunder Bay has exemplified sacrificial giving, having committed 100 per cent of its fundraising efforts to a wide variety of community causes. “We are a partnership-minded, community-focused church that truly believes it is better to give than to receive,” says the Ven. Deborah Kraft, Incumbent at St. Paul’s, and Archdeacon for the Thunder Bay – North Shore Deanery in the Diocese of Algoma.

This spring, as part of the parish’s ongoing community outreach, the people of St. Paul’s are taking the ‘Mini-Camino Challenge’ to raise funds for Indigenous students through the Anglican Foundation of Canada’s (AFC) Say Yes! to Kids campaign. “At St. Paul’s, we know that many Indigenous students in our community face obstacles when pursuing post-secondary education,” says Kraft. “Funds raised through our Mini-Camino pilgrimage will provide bursaries for Indigenous students so that we can ease the financial burden of their learning journey.”

From the end of April to the end of June the people of St. Paul’s will walk the Camino de Santiago in spirit with Archdeacon Kraft, her husband, Jouni, and Daniel Klein, a fellow parishioner. Thunder Bay walkers will have a shorter journey than the group headed to Spain: a mere 5 km per week around scenic Boulevard Lake. “But together we will use our feet to be the hands of Christ and do our part to grow a brighter future for Indigenous students in our community.”

This will be Deborah, Jouni & Daniel’s second Camino Pilgrimage. “Nearly 7 years ago we took a group of people from the parish to do the last 150 km of the route,” says Kraft. “It was so mystical and meaningful that it became part of my bucket list to walk the whole thing.” This time the three plan to walk 24 km per for day for 38 days. All have been training and Jouni Kraft has been breaking in new shoes. “When we went seven years ago, I was too cavalier about my shoes,” he says. “After three days I had lost four toenails. My shoes were horrible. Your feet must be well-prepared!”

Archdeacon Deborah Kraft and her husband, Jouni, on the Camino de Santiago in 2015

The three walkers are pleased to be able to bring the whole parish into their Camino experience through this Say Yes! to Kids challenge. Archdeacon Kraft says she also sees the collaborative pilgrimage as way to invite people from across the community to participate. “We hope to be joined by people from other Anglican churches in the Deanery as well as people from other Christian denominations. We are opening this walk to all! With an online fundraiser, people can join our team and walk the route of their choice from wherever they are.”

St. Paul’s fundraising goal is $3,000. The church will sponsor bursaries for five Indigenous students at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School in Thunder Bay who are preparing for post-secondary education. Kraft says if the parish exceeds its goal, they will be able to make the bursaries larger or provide more of them. “Through this effort we are doing so much more than raising money,” she says. “We are showing the Indigenous students of Thunder Bay that we truly care about their learning journey and that we are making it a priority to help close the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.”

For more information about Say Yes! to Kids 2022 and how your parish, or a youth-focused cause that you care about, can benefit from this nationwide peer-to-peer fundraising campaign visit Say Yes! to Kids – Anglican Foundation of Canada or email Michelle Hauser, AFC’s Development and Communications Consultant at [email protected].