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How are this week’s Pride celebrations, which commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, linked to Canada day, which marks the anniversary of the Constitution of 1867?  They share an open secret: the state’s control of sexuality/gender and the state’s control of land are two of the cornerstones of colonization.  And it’s no coincidence that the resistance movements they are connected to draw deeply from the leadership by Indigenous women, women of colour, and people whose genders don’t fit well in the binary model that is dominant today.

Photo of jia qing wilson-yang from Metonymy Press

In this interview, take a trip with award-winning, Quaker-influenced author jia qing wilson-yang as she exposes the connections between these ideas in her own life, offers suggestions for the path forward, and beautifully welcomes all of us to explore for ourselves.

As you read, here are some queries you might find fruitful.  Does this article inspire other questions for you?  Please leave them in the comments!


  1. What role has silence played in losing connection with my ancestors, or re-weaving that connection, or both?
  2. How, in my experience and for those around me, has sexuality and gender been used for colonization, or for liberation?
  3. How, if at all, do I experience the relationship between pacifism and profit-making?
  4. What works best when I am helping someone question long-standing beliefs?  What have others done to help me question mine?
  5. What is my relationship to punishment and/or penal abolition, in relation to prisoners, people of colour, people with intellectual disabilities, children, and others?
  6. When have love and faith helped me participate in healing, and when have they become “internal noise” that prevents me from hearing someone whose experience is different from mine?
  7. How have faith communities related to state control of land, of gender, of sexuality?  What is the role of today’s faith communities in moving that relationship towards justice?


“The biggest project of gender education that ever happened here is colonialism.”

That’s where the conversation ended up when I invited jia qing wilson-yang to talk with me about spiritual practice, sexuality, gender, and her experience growing up Quaker as a mixed-race trans woman.

It’s not where the conversation started. jia qing was in Wolfville, NS last fall for the launch of her book, Small Beauty, which recently won the 2017 Lambda Award for transgender fiction. She currently lives in Toronto, and her spiritual practice includes meditation, learning about Taoism, and pouring a cup of tea each morning for her ancestors. But as a child growing up outside of Hamilton, she attended Quaker Meetings and spent summers at Quaker-run Camp NeeKauNis.

My name is Mylène DiPenta. I grew up in Dartmouth, NS, a gender-unruly child in a white Catholic family where immigration was a living memory. Where jia qing moved toward the city, I moved away – to a village of 700 people in the Annapolis Valley. She drifted away from Quakerism; in my late 30s, I drifted toward it. Over three meals in October 2016, I interviewed her about connections between spiritual practice, gender, sexuality, and colonialism.

What was your experience with Quakerism like?

I remember going to Young Friends retreats at Friends House in Toronto. You’ll see it when you’re there – it looks big on the outside but it’s so much bigger on the inside. It was awesome to spend a whole weekend with your friends, run around, drink too much coffee. We had really rad Friendly Adult Presences [adults on hand who support youth retreats]. They were on board with whatever we wanted to do. [Their take on sex was] don’t have babies if you don’t want to, and be safe. We were given a long leash, as long as we cleaned up after themselves.

I wish we had more sex ed, good sex ed, consent[-based] sex ed. I found out about ways that that was lacking years later.

Youth retreats were great – we had them in Hamilton, at camp NeeKauNis, “a place for lost souls.”  You definitely feel like you’re in a place where people have had [Quaker] Meetings for a long time.  There’s a huge ironwood tree. Ironwood trees are not big, typically, and it has a huge hole in in, like it should be dead, but it’s not, and people have worship there.

I started going to camp when I was six. It was great, I loved it. It was the first time I spent time around a lot of kids. Obviously I went to school, but that sucked. The first few years, the whole family would go. As soon as I was old enough to be [hired as] staff, I was there every summer until I was 18 or 19. After that I went to the Thanksgiving retreat.  Being there in the autumn was great, to look out on the bay.  [It had that] intentional community feel that happens when you’re with a group of people [consistently over the years].

I could feel it in my body if I didn’t go for a year… It wasn’t a sense of ownership, more of a sense of belonging. I need to go somewhere I belong.

I got to hang out with my friends, feel like I had a sense of independence. I could feel it in my body if I didn’t go for a year, I felt a little out of sorts. It wasn’t a sense of ownership, more of a sense of belonging. I need to go somewhere I belong. I needed that because I was a mixed-race kid in a mostly white town, and trans and queer, but those things were not things I was aware of at the time.

Did you incorporate your Quaker experiences in your novel?

I did write about the camp in the novel. Anyone who’s been there would know. The main character in the novel breaks into the boathouse and steals a canoe. I never did that! But I definitely thought about it.

What is your spiritual practice like now?

When I started telling the world I was trans and being open about who I like to sleep with, I wasn’t so much in [touch with Quakers.]

I went back to Quaker [Meeting occasionally] and it still felt like a really white space. That’s not something I need a lot of right now. Not that I don’t love Meeting. I was part of a queer people of colour meditation group in Toronto; that was really great. Having meditation with queer folks of colour – just to hold that space was fantastic. I really crave that silence. The silence is so ingrained in my routine, being comfortable with silence [when so many others aren’t.]

The story of George Fox … How was it that he decided to do something that most white people were not doing, but lots of Buddhists were?

The story of George Fox – it was always presented to me as, [direct revelation] just occurred to him one day. But was this idea floating around? How was it that he decided to do something that most white people were not doing, but lots of Buddhists were?

It was lovely [to realize] that there’s a tradition of silence that my mother [who is white] entered. My dad [who is Chinese] went to Jesuit school as a kid in Hong Kong and didn’t have that same connection to Buddhism. But seeing the similarities [between Buddhist and Quaker practices], knowing that that was how my chingbu [grandmother] understood herself, it was a nice surprise to find these things that brought together different parts of my life. I didn’t realize that until I was spending time meditating with other folks of colour. [These days I’m] learning more about Taoism.

When I’m at home, every morning I make tea, pour a cup for my ancestors… ask for their watchful eye to continue. I try and feel [their] presence.

When I’m at home, every morning I make tea, pour a cup for my ancestors, light incense, pray to a small altar I made with their names written up and things that remind me of them, give thanks, ask for their watchful eye to continue. I try and feel some kind of presence that I don’t necessarily attribute to a god or a higher being, but more about ancestors. That feels genuine right now. My chingbu is buried in North York; I clean [her grave], light incense, leave papaya. My dad doesn’t remember tons about traditional Chinese worship, so I feel like I’m learning.

Reweaving that connection to your ancestors brings us to the connections between colonialism and spirituality. Do you want to say a bit about that?

As I’ve been learning more about ancestor worship, I’m also thinking about how my white family is implicated in colonisation. That’s just a natural connection. Who are these people I’m worshiping?  Why am I paying respect to them? It’s never been a question, that that’s what I should do. But, what did we do?

Who are these people I’m worshiping?  … It’s never been a question, that that’s what I should do. But, what did we do?

My grandmother[‘s family] came into Canada as Loyalists. They settled in Brantford, 7 or 8 generations ago, right beside Six Nations, the largest reserve in Canada, one of the largest residential schools in Canada. This is on my family[‘s heads]. They were Anglicans in Brantford. Even if they weren’t working at the school, because it was run by the Anglicans and Brantford isn’t that big, I refuse to believe that we’re not implicated. Brantford and other nearby towns have a long history of encroaching on the reserve.

[The needed] healing work has to be about spiritual practice. My partner is mixed Indigenous. We had a marriage ceremony a year ago, we’ve been together 8 years, I feel very committed to her. This person I have a great deal of love for in a very complex way, has been really negatively impacted by colonization, while my family has definitely benefited [from it] and played a role.

The times that I spent a lot of time in activist communities, most of my 20s in different cities, around a lot of anarchists, something that I always felt was lacking in our organizing was faith or love or something really positive. There’s so much anger. Justifiable anger makes a lot of sense to me; anger can be so useful as an emotion, [but it] can be toxic when not balanced — it can eat you. I’m trying to conceptualize the work that we’re doing as part of a larger healing process.

Sex and gender injustice are a big part of how colonizing gets done. What are your thoughts about that?

Targeting a gender system is a way to destabilize a society. So if we’re going to talk about gender in Canada, that means “Decolonizing transgender 101.” The biggest project of gender education that ever happened here was colonialism.

When we think about settler colonialism – Gord Hill, [a member of Kwakwaka’wakw Nation] from Vancouver, gave a great presentation. [He talked about the] brutal history of settlers, Spanish colonizers coming into California. Anything that looked like 2 men having sex, anything that is read as a transgression against masculinity is really violently punished. This is documented in paintings. They see people they’re calling “joyas,” [who they think are] men in female dress in relationships with other men. But they’re actually other genders that are maybe neither male or female. There are many different words used to describe those genders/practises, depending on what nation they’re part of.

…we talk about North America as this hub [of progressiveness but] now the Asia Pacific Transgender Network uses standards of health from the [US-based] World Professional Association for Transgender Health… Targeting a gender system is a way to destabilize a society.

So often when we’re talking about trans identities, we talk about North America as this hub [of progressiveness]. All of the words we use – trans and non-binary, are still [rooted in European ways of thinking.] Now the Asia Pacific Transgender Network uses standards of health from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health [WPATH – which is US-based and rooted in Euro-Western scholarship] to do education about trans identities in Nepal and the Philippines and Pakistan.

And we can trace it back to a boom in population in England around the time when industrialization is happening – capitalism is taking off – [because the authorities have criminalized sex that isn’t procreative.]

For Chinese folks, because of Confucius, there’s been patriarchy and a binary gender system for thousands of years. There are some small references to people born as boys raised as women to perform wu shamanistic functions, but that was thousands of years ago. Bringing that together for myself, it’s about being on the land, and thinking about what it means to be descended from the people I am. I begrudgingly don’t have another lens through which to look at it. I would love it if I did but it wouldn’t be mine.

I identify as a gay lady; I feel great about it. It feels right. I have deep respect for other trans women … that’s where I am. Such massive deep respect for older trans women. How did you survive?  What kinds things did you do? That’s amazing to me.

It could only happen in a context of colonization that I could be meeting all of these trans women.  We’re sort of mashed in together because they don’t have words for us. It’s usually problematic, but it does bring together people who have a shared experience because they’re punished by patriarchy in a very particular way. Shared experience can be grounding.

What started you on the political path you’re on?

I grew up in a [Quaker] Meeting! I had an amazing Sunday school leader – Helen Brink, who recently passed away. She would bring in articles for conversation about disarmament, environmental issues, get us thinking about social justice. I was 10 at the oldest when I remember really taking that to heart, that being a big thing. Then I was going to rallies and peace marches as a teenager because the Iraq war was happening, going to school in Guelph, getting involved in anti-capitalist organizing on campus. That’s when I started to think about violence differently – people think that being a pacifist means being against physical violence, but I was starting to think about structural violence, about poverty as a kind of violence. And thinking about decolonization and self-determination. I went to a conference in Montreal, called Land, Self Determination, and Decolonization. There were Indigenous speakers from across the country, talking about the Gustafsen Lake standoff [on Secwecmec/Shuswap territory].  They didn’t want it to be an armed conflict but felt it was necessary. I listened to Mohawk speakers talk about the Oka crisis.

[Quaker] Sunday school [got] us thinking about social justice.

I was hearing these things that seemed almost unbelievable about Canada, based on what I knew.

I was supporting Grassy Narrows through the Rainforest Action Network, trying to raise money. There were a lot of people organizing around Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Network. I helped work on a land reclamation project at Caledonia. I was listening to old Six Nations folks tell stories at night about the pass system on the reserve – what I now know as Indian Act Policies.

What inspired to you write a novel?

I wanted to be a writer since I was a small kid. Some friends started a small press and put out a call for manuscripts. I had a bunch of little bits of writing floating around on my computer.  I thought they could come together into one story that was never finished. They said yes – finish writing it. 

As a kid, it spoke to me because you could just make everything up. That’s awesome. I loved reading., and I spent a lot of time alone. I was always imagining worlds and scenarios and fights.

What’s your next writing project?

Another book is slowly emerging. I really want to think about responsible ways for settlers to be writing about colonization. I want to talk about prisons. Lots of people I love a lot have been inside at different points. A close friend was jailed for a year, and I would visit her. It wasn’t the first time I did prison support for her but it was the longest she was put away.

So many of the trans people I know have been in jail – they get arrested for sex work or possession. 

I really want to think about responsible ways for settlers to be writing about colonization. I want to talk about prisons.  So many of the trans people I know have been in jail…

There’s a course on Women, Criminalization and Madness at the Vanier Center for Women [a prison in Ontario]. The students are half social work students and half inmates. Everyone gets the same university credit. This was really problematic but I learned so much. One of the correction officers gave us a tour of the prison. We’re in someone’s personal space, they don’t have a choice, it feels very invasive, but it means I saw the whole prison.  The “yard” for maximum security is a concrete room that has a thick mesh razor wire. A concrete room with no ceiling. This isn’t one of the “Supermax” facilities, it’s one of the smaller ones. We walked past the solitary, that’s where trans people go.  In Ontario if you haven’t had bottom surgery, I asked a correction officer what happens. You can go to a women’s prison, but you go to solitary. It’s terrifying, inhumane.

I was working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans youth with intellectual disabilities. Three institutions in Ontario were used as asylums for people with intellectual disabilities. Very much a prison kind of institution.  They’re also laid out in ways similar to residential schools. Kids were dropped off when they were 2, 4… and stayed their whole lives or into their 20s. There’s a laundry list of horrible abuses.  The prison, while physically very different, had similar problems. The correctional officers were complaining that there was no air conditioning… which is true, but you’re going home.

Going there and touring that institution… Lots of those youth I worked with, had circumstances been slightly different, could have ended up there.  Working with adults who were survivors, doing a lot of soul-building kind of work, walking through that institution, it was awful. Being there, being able to walk through it – the gravity of it was so different.

What’s the education work you’re doing now?

[At the time of this interview, I was working as the Training and Education Facilitator at Rainbow Health Ontario. Unfortunately, very recently I’ve had to leave that position to prioritize finishing my degree. ]

I was excited to get to work in a more focused way on education. I was interested in working on ideas of transmisogyny, colonization, racism, having those ideas sink in.

…you don’t need to understand something to respect it. I don’t expect that in our day long workshop, a group of people who haven’t considered racism and gender are going to develop this in depth analysis… My job is to make sure they give safe and responsible care to trans and gender nonconforming people.

In the trainings we do, we emphasize that you don’t need to understand something to respect it. I don’t expect that in our day long workshop, a group of people who haven’t considered racism and gender are going to develop this in depth analysis that’s going to influence the work they do. And that’s not my job.  My job is to make sure they give safe and responsible care to trans and gender nonconforming people. We give lots of example and role plays.  A lot of that means picking one or two simple ideas, [and telling someone that you can] repeat this to yourself over and over. We try to have that be a thing they can take away. That’s all we can hope for. My new boss does a bunch of evaluations and surveys before and after. Ten percent of what they learn happens during training; the rest happens after, when they develop the confidence to start [applying the ideas].

The training itself is just an introduction of an idea. After that you have to do your homework. You want them to be warmed up to the ideas so they go home and learn about it.

What advice do you have for those of us trying to do social justice education?

Find the people who want their organizations to change – find them and support them.

Find each other. Talk to each other. Talking to other trans people about what places fucked them over, what places are really good, saved me a lot of unnecessary trauma and bullshit. There’s enough of that – you don’t need more. Connect with each other. [The organization is] not going to tell you, but maybe someone else got paid a bit more [than you did] one time.

It’s harder to turn down a group of people who are saying, this is a valuable thing, than to turn aside a singular person.

What advice do you have for trans and gender-non-conforming people trying to bring that perspective into a Quaker context?

Quakers already have an understanding of truth as a changing thing – a thing that should change.  Faith and Practice gets updated because it needs it. They also have ideas about Inner Light, the importance of the personal journey, and the practice of listening to your own truth from a deep place.

Quakers already have an understanding of truth as a changing thing – a thing that should change… They also have ideas about Inner Light, the importance of the personal journey, and the practice of listening to your own truth from a deep place. But it’s scary to apply that to gender.

But it’s scary to apply that to gender. When you talk about [gender-affirming surgeries] that are permanent, that’s when it becomes real to [cisgender] people. It shakes them in a way they didn’t think they could be shaken. This is not a thought exercise, not philosophical.  Friends and family sometimes told me I was being irresponsible.

It has to do with what happens when my deep listening challenges their deep listening. Their listening tells them that there are things that shouldn’t happen. People sometimes reacted with disbelief. “Are you sure you want this? What a terrible thing. You shouldn’t do that to a healthy organ.” As if it’s a really awful thing that will damage you. Well, I’m going to make a new healthy organ. But it shakes people.

It has to do with what happens when my deep listening challenges their deep listening… They were so worried for my well being that they couldn’t hear me. That’s how love can be a kind of internal noise.

Sometimes women who were feminists seemed upset because “we gave you these examples” of how you didn’t have to have a certain kind of body to do anything.  [When people found out about my plans for medical transition], lots of Quakers approached me on their own, very sincerely.  They were so worried for my well being that they couldn’t hear me. That’s how love can be a kind of internal noise.

For Quakers new to trans issues, this is about applying old skills in new contexts. Training on trans issues can help demystify the misconceptions. But we can also reassure people: “You already know how to do this. Be there. Make a casserole.”

Looking for More from jia qing?

Check out her award-winning book Small Beauty, published by Metonymy Press!


Welcome to the second edition of “Learn and Act,” the newsletter of Annapolis Valley Monthly Meeting’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Each quarter, we plan to share ideas about how we can learn and take action together toward true reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples. Please join us in opening ourselves to the journey of reconciliation. Any questions or suggestions? Please submit your suggestions on our Committee’s page, or the committee.

You can also download the newsletter in PDF format.

Learn: Native Protocol, by Cathy Grant Gerrior

How can good intentions go wrong, when settlers try to enter into right relationship with Indigenous people? Have you ever been in a group that tried to be supportive, yet somehow ended up with an even more strained relationship than you had before?

Cathy Grant Gerrior, a Mi’kmaq Ceremony Keeper, shared an essay with specific guidance on approaching Native Protocol:

“My hope is to create some … opportunities for discussions to happen between yourselves before you even invite a native person in. I have learned that assuming everyone is on the same page can lead to disaster and then to cultures colliding rather than collaborating.”

She goes on to share concrete ideas and approaches that non-Indigenous people can consider. For example:

Many of us do not consider ourselves Canadian so please don’t assume that we do. Canada was created through racist, violent European imperialism by the dominant society/settlers. We belong to Turtle Island and there are many different territories that are recognized by our people. I believe it is a matter of truth and respect that this be stated one way or another.

As a committee, we’ve been reflecting on this document, especially the section about not introducing ourselves by asking for something, nor expecting that an offered gift will be accepted. “Many ‘gifts’ in the past, well-intentioned or not, did much harm.” You can read the full text of her essay online.

Act: Attend a Powwow This Summer

Map of First Nations in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq First Nations, from the website of NS Office of Aboriginal Affairs

A Powwow is coming-together of the nation-to-nation relationships that Indigenous Peoples have with each other and with Canada. Non-Indigenous Canadians have a role to play, rather than being spectators, of living into the peace and friendship to which our treaties pledge us. Meeting people, learning about the Indigenous People whose guests we are in Mi’kmaki, and engaging respectfully with Indigenous traditions … all are good reasons to attend a Powwow this summer. Why not choose one and mark it in your calendar now?

Many of the Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia will have powwows this summer; wherever your summer plans take you, there is bound to be one nearby.

Note that, from August 10-13, Grand-Pré National Historic site will host Grand Pré 2017: a “celebration of peace and friendship” between the Mi’kmaq & Acadian people.  This will include both Mi’kmaq and Acadian performances and cultural demonstrations, a lecture series, artisan vendor marketplace, etc. While overall this is not a traditional annual Powwow hosted by a First Nations community, the day of August 12 is set aside for powwow activities.

Details for powwows around NS that are announced so far are below.  You can also find updates as well as dates for NB, PEI, Maine, and NL online, listed by the group Powwow Listings – Eastern Canada.  You can prepare by reading a couple of different perspectives on protocol: 5 Tips for the First Time You Attend a Powwow may be helpful, as well as Millbrook First Nation’s Powwow Protocol.

TBD……Sipekne’katik Traditional Powwow, Indian Brook, NS

Note: the dates shown below are accurate to the best of our knowledge on the date of posting; please check with the host communities/organizations to confirm.



Name and website


Contact Information

June 21


Mawita’jik: Let Us Gather

Halifax Commons

Halifax, NS

June 30 – July 2

Eskasoni 26th Annual Powwow

Eskasoni, NS

  • Michael R Denny
  • (902) 574-5624
  • Event facebook page

July 22-23

Potlotek Traditional Powwow

Chapel Island, NS


August 12

Grand Pré 2017 Traditional Powwow

Grand Pre, NS

Note: takes place during Grand Pré 2017 Peace and Friendship Gathering (Aug 10-13)

  • Michael R Denny
  • website

September 1-3

Millbrook First Nation Powwow

Millbrook, NS


Sept 9-10

Membertou Traditional Powwow

Membertou, NS


Sept 9-10

Gold River Traditional Powwow

Gold River, NS (Acadia First Nation)

Details not available – check Acadia First Nation website closer to the date

Sept 16-17

We’koqma’q Traditional Powwow

Whycocomagh, NS

  • website
  • or call 902-756-2337 for details

Sept 23-24

Paqtnkek Traditional Powwow

Paqtnkek, NS




Update June 20: All the videos, images, and other resources we used during the event are free online; you can now download the complete list in PDF form, share it on facebook, or scroll to the bottom of this post to peruse.

full-size poster PDF

What does the Canada 150 campaign celebrate?  Whose perspectives are represented? How does it affect the self-image of those of us who see ourselves as Canadians, and how does it affect relationships between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of this land?  What are your questions about what this means and what we can do, individually or together?

Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting is co-hosting a public event for discussion and reflection on these questions and more — we hope you’ll join us. 


Wednesday, June 14, 7PM


Theatre Auditorium, KC Irving Centre, Acadia University (building 32 on the campus map — then head downstairs)

33 University Ave., Wolfville 

(nearby meter and street parking is free after hours)

What Will Happen? 

Short films, radio clips, readings, responses, discussion and reflection.  

Light refreshments will be served. 

Who Is Organizing? 

This event is organized by settlers (non-Indigenous peoples) from Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting and Horizons Community Development Associates, with support from Acadia University’s Community Development Program, in order to help each other unsettle our thinking about the birth of Canada.

Have Questions or Need More Info?

Contact Horizons:

  • (902) 542-0156

Or Annapolis Valley Monthly Meeting’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee:

All are welcome. RSVPs to help us plan for the right amount of food, and donations to help cover costs, are welcome but not necessary. Any surplus will be used to support future Truth and Reconciliation-related events.  

Resource List


Canada, I Can Cite For You 150 (2:25, Christi Belcourt, 2017)

  • Published by Onaman Collective, Feb 3, 2017

Lament for Confederation (6:15, Dan George, 1967)

  • “Has Anything Changed? Revisiting Chief Dan George’s Iconic ‘Lament for Confederation’”
  • By Janet Rogers, published on CBC.ca, May 5, 2017

What Does Canada 150 Mean for Indigenous Communities? (25:31, CBC, 2017)

  • CBC Radio One, The Current, March 16, 2017 interview with Lilian Howard, Christi Belcourt, and Eric Ritskes

Wabanaki People of the Dawn (25:50)

  • Part 1 of a 3-part documentary published on the website of NS Office of Aboriginal Affairs


Mi’kmaq History and Map

Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience (Exhibition by K. Monkman)

In Halifax in October, 2018

Peace and Friendship Treaties

Originals at the NS Archives; high-resolution scans are on their website

Alternatives to Canada 150 Logo

Jay Soule’s logos are available on clothing, stickers, etc.

“Colonialism 150” logo products available from Eric Ritskes; proceeds to the Onaman Collective’s Indigenous Tattoo Gathering


United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples


Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Questioning Canada 150: Event Organizing Collective

Questioning Canada 150 was an event held on June 14, 2017  in Wolfville to discuss and reflect on Canada 150 and the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The event was organized by settlers (non-Indigenous peoples) to help us unsettle our thinking about the birth of Canada.






Tues May 16: Welcoming LGBT2IQ+ Seekers and Friends

portrait of George Fox with a rainbow filterJoin us on Tuesday May 16 for an evening of discussion and learning on welcoming seekers and Friends of all sexual orientations and gender identities in our faith community.  
Mylène DiPenta will facilitate, based partly on related work they do with the Valley Youth Project, a social group supporting youth around these issues.  Mylène’s concern is especially for those who, like them, find their identity or orientation marginalized in our society.  This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, intersex, queer, and many more people.  Although it is inadequate, sometimes the term “LGBT2IQ+” is used as a collective description. Anyone interested who is or has been connected to Quaker communities is welcome to join the conversation.
When: Tuesday, May 16, 7-9pm
Where: NSCC Kingstec Campus, Room A220, 236 Belcher St., Kentville


  • What does it take to go beyond an intention of acceptance, to an effective welcome?  What are the unintentional things that accidentally discourage LGBT2IQ+ seekers, reducing our ability to build the beloved community and weakening our solidarity with each other?
  • What are some of the barriers to the full participation of LGBT2IQ+ people in faith communities generally, and Quakers in particular?  What can we do to reduce them?
  • How can we as a faith community work toward a world without homophobia, transphobia, and related sexualized violence?
  • How can this strengthen or weaken our struggles for peace, earth-care, and transformative justice?

Your ideas, concerns, and questions are welcome.  There will be opportunities for individual reflection, small-group conversation, and whole-group discussion.  If you have never attended a Quaker meeting for worship but you are interested in this topic, please contact us — we would love to hear from you.  We can also help organize carpooling if desired.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Resources We Might Use

  1. Participant Handout
  2. Assigned Male Comics, a webcomic about gender non-conforming children by Sophie Labelle (NOTE: the facebook page is down as of May 17, 2017 due to a co-ordinated attack by white supremacists who filled it with neo-nazi imagery and death threats, and published her home address online.  You can still find Assigned Male Comics on her Tumblr page)
  3. Women and Honour: Some Notes on Lying, by Adrienne Rich
  4. Using the F-Word (Fascism), from Shifting Phases
  5. Maintaining Personal Boundaries in Relationships, by David Richo
  6. Spiritual Destiny vs. Psychological Task, by David Richo
  7. Sex, Gender, and Mental Health: with a history of 2SLGBTQ+ social control
  8. The Lie of Entitlement, by Terrence Crowley
  9. A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, by Milton J. Bennett (see also Summary Poster)
  10. Excerpt on “Accountable Communities” from The Revolution Starts at Home (Chen, Peipzna-Samarasinha eds.)

Welcome to the inaugural “Learn and Act” newsletter of Annapolis Valley Monthly Meeting’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee.  Each quarter, we plan to share ideas about how we can learn and take action together toward true reconciliation between Friends, others in Canada, and Indigenous Peoples. Please join us in opening ourselves to the journey of reconciliation.  Any questions or suggestions?  Please submit your suggestions on our Committee’s page, or  the committee.

Learn: Decolonization and Land Acknowledgements

One of our favourite resources this month is a 2016 interview with Anishinaabe comedian and writer Ryan McMahon.   In this 7-minute segment on CBC’s “The 180”, McMahon talks about the relationship between decolonization and reconciliation, how well-intentioned kindness can distract us from hard questions about land, and why land acknowledgements are a bit like telling someone you stole their truck.

Act: Discrimination in Child Welfare

Looking for a simple action you can take right now to fight discrimination against First Nations children? This Sunday’s event in Wolfville includes a film screening, talk, and petition to the Canadian government.

“SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 12 1 p.m. Room 241, Beveridge Arts Centre, Acadia University, Wolfville.  Film, speaker. 

Have a Heart! Join the fight to end discrimination against First Nations’ children. Watch Alanis Obomsawin’s compelling documentary HI HO MISTAHEY that explores education as a basic human right. In support of national “Have a Heart Day” guest speaker Darlene Copeland Peters, Prevention Co-ordinator for Mi’kmaw Family and Children’s Services, will share local conditions for Indigenous children. Room 241, Beveridge Arts Centre, 1 pm, Free.  A petition that calls upon the Government of Canada to comply with recent Human Rights Tribunal ruling regarding the systemic shortfalls in First Nations child welfare will be available for signing.  INFO: ”  The event is also on facebook.


Edited: Mar 27 to reflect change to a quarterly schedule (from original monthly plan)


Truth and Reconciliation Committee Formed

The newly-formed Truth and Reconciliation Committee (currently made up of Marilyn, Mylène, and Penni) is pleased to announce that we held our first meeting in January.

Last summer, at Canadian Yearly Meeting‘s national gathering, Quakers across Canada were challenged by Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) to take action for “a paradigm shift, moving from colonialism to a new reality based on respect for Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights.”

They guide us specifically to
  • Educate Meeting members and attenders
  • Acknowledge traditional territories
  • Support local Indigenous communities
  • Support spiritually the Friends working on this issue
  • Report to CFSC annually

We have begun by educating ourselves and each other.  Two weeks ago we attended Walking With Our Sisters, the art installation commemorating missing and murdered Indigenous women that was hosted by Mount Saint Vincent University.  We are reading, watching and sharing educational resources, which we are excited to share with you in an upcoming newsletter.  We are also educating ourselves about how best to acknowledge the unceded traditional territory of Mi’kma’ki on which our Meeting is located.

We look forward to working with other individuals and organizations that share our purpose.  If you would like to learn more, receive our newsletter, or share your knowledge, please , or contact Annapolis Valley Monthly Meeting.


One of our members, who was called to work with the Indigenous Rights Committee  of Canadian Friends Service Committee, writes:

“This is from  the Ennis family. Dan Ennis lives in Tobique First Nation, near Woodstock, NB. He was one of the first Indigenous elders I encountered on my journey of working with Indigenous peoples as a Quaker. One major learning for me is the explanation and implication of the term ‘all my relations’ — the term he uses to end this correspondence. As is stated here, it is a world view that recognizes ALL are connected, not just all humans, but all including the animals and the earth – water, rock,  the rest of the universe, etc.

Please feel free to pass it on – including all as is intended.”


The Peace of Spirit

Once again it is the time when our Mosums (Grandfather) Sun stops his journey south and turns to begin his journey north. It is Winter Solstice. Winter Solstice is the point upon the Great Hoop of Life where the sacred relationship between the Great Mother, and the Great Father becomes more observable to the People. Our original instructions teach The People that we should make special observances of this natural phenomenon through ceremony and through passing on those Original Instructions, which are our Traditional Teachings. We learn through this sacred relationship about how we are to create and maintain similar sacred relationships.

Relationships that are in balance and in harmony and that are loving, equal, respectful and nurturing. Winter Solstice is when our People slow down all of our activities and sit quietly in order to be in the Present, in the Now, in the Beginning.  It is also a time for remembering and honoring our sacred oneness with all of Great Creator’s Creation and our oneness with the Love and the Peace and the Joy that is Great Creator.

The love, joy, peace and compassion which is evident at this time is ever so good for our hearts; and what is good for our hearts is good for our Earth Mother.

To all of our relatives (and we are all related) we send you strong, loving and healing energy so that today your heart, your home, your lives and your spirit are filled with love, peace, joy and forgiveness.

We send strong healing energy to our relatives who are suffering, in pain, in turmoil, or are otherwise in need of love and healing. May the sacred life force of Love bring healing and may it lift heavy hearts.

We share your love, peace, joy and laughter. Your joy and happiness lifts the hearts of Grandmother and Grandfather.

Whenever we are in ceremony you are all carried within the light of our hearts and are lovingly remembered through spirit, through light, through peace and through love.

As human beings, and as the designated protectors of the land, we have a responsibility to all living things, all of creation: the two-legged, the four-legged, those creatures that fly, all creatures that swim, all plant life, the trees, the water, the air, the land – every living thing. It is our responsibility to love, honour, respect and protect all of creation. In doing this we honour our birth rights. We also honour the Ancestors who kept our traditional teachings alive and we honour the Seventh Generation yet to come.

We conclude by recognizing, acknowledging and respecting our sacred relationship to all other living things – past, present and future. Our sacred Earth Mother requires our love and respect if she is to continue to sustain us.

From our lodge to yours we send you light, love, peace and healing.

All My Relations,

The Ennis‘s


Can You Support Annapolis Valley Monthly Meeting?

Posted on behalf of clerk Carol Bradley

Dear Friends of Annapolis Valley Monthly Meeting,

What first interested you about Quakers? What do you receive from your involvement with local Quakers?

These questions came up for me in about 1990 when I moved to Wolfville. I noticed that the folks who were doing interesting and important things in the community were often also Quakers, and that drew me to attend my first meetings. I became deeply interested in the inclusive and caring approach that these folks took, and the history of Quakerism over 350 years.

I discovered Quakers weren’t too quiet: they had resisted wars, cared for displaced people, spoken to government about abuse of power – and were still doing these things locally, nationally and internationally. I found new friends, new processes and new clarity in my spiritual quest.

I became a member in 1994 and have supported Quakers with my ‘time, treasure, and talents’ since.

The Annapolis Valley Quaker meeting supports inter-church work, the Food Bank, and refugees, and plays a major role in the work of Canadian Yearly Meeting. We created a banner and hosted ‘Meet the Quakers’ at Acadia on October 2 as part of a renewed focus on outreach. We ask for your assistance in meeting our budget so we can continue our work.

Can you donate $20 this once? Every month? Every three months? $50?

Our annual budget is only $3500 but our numbers are few, and we could do more if we received more.  We are less than half way to meeting that budget for 2016. We are happy to accept cash or cheques, to Co-treasurer, Penni Burrell (please contact us for mailing details or to arrange for pickup of your donation).  Also you can find us on CanadaHelps which accepts credit cards and Paypal accounts.

We thank you for your consideration! You can keep track of our events at annapolisvalley.quaker.ca, and we are also present on Facebook.

In Friendship,

Carol Bradley, Clerk.

Meet the Quakers poster

Click for print-quality version of poster

On World Quaker Day 2016, Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting invites you to join us for an introduction to the faith and practice of the Religious Society of Friends.


  • October 2, 2016, 3pm – 5pm
  • Manning Memorial Chapel, Acadia University Campus, 45 Acadia St., Wolfville, NS

What’s Happening?

3PM — 4PM: Introduction to unprogrammed Meeting for Worship “in the manner of Friends

4PM — 5PM: Tea, coffee and snacks; time for conversation and questions

Why Go?

Would you like to know more about how Quakers can have a service with no appointed minister? Or what it’s like to be part of a spiritual community that has a 350-year tradition of gender equality, is queer and trans positive, and works to end war, colonialism, and climate change?

Join us to talk about the role of spiritual community, and ask all those questions about religion you’ve never asked — or never gotten a satisfactory answer to. We may not have the answers, but we welcome inquiring spirits to ask those questions together.

Resource people will be available to speak on various topics of concern to Quakers, in keeping with our traditional testimonies:

  • Simplicity
  • Peace
  • Integrity
  • Community
  • Equality
  • Sustainability

You’re welcome to come for either part if you can’t stay for both. Bring snacks to share, or just bring yourself.

If transportation or childcare would be helpful, please contact us to make arrangements.

See or share the event on Facebook

Mylene standing at the Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting's table during the Club Extravaganza

Mylene standing at the Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting’s table during the Club Extravaganza

Bruce Dienes and Mylene DiPenta set up a table at Acadia Student Union’s Club Extravaganza last Wednesday night. The event was well attended, and a number of people stopped by our table to chat. Our new banner was finished in time for the event — you can see it in the photos (photo credits are to Bruce, naturally…). We also have a fresh batch of information packages for new attenders. If you’re a member of attender and would like to have some on hand to give away, contact the . If you’re a seeker or newcomer and you’d like one for yourself… well, contact the !

Our display table, complete with brand new banner.

Our display table, complete with brand new banner… and snacks.


Canadian Yearly Meeting is fast approaching, this year extending from Aug. 5-13.  The full programme is up: as always, there will be time to share the experience of Spirit in our lives, games, singing, community service, children’s activities, an LGBTQ-themed evening, a family-themed variety show, and of course Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business.  As well, Special Interest and Activity Groups spring up spontaneously or can be proposed in advance by anyone who feels led to organize one. In the programme document, you’ll also find details about financial support, especially (but not only) for families and those 35 and under. To register, fill out and submit this registration form.

Featured presenters and other highlights are below; keep an eye on the CYM 2016 web page for developments.

Aug 5-6: Nurturing Our Community

Retreat: Beverly Shepard (Hamilton Monthly Meeting)

In 2017 we will have a “fallow year”, not holding Yearly Meeting sessions.  We all know how valuable the week of Yearly Meeting is for building and fostering our community from across this vast country.  What will we do when the sessions aren’t happening?  What do we do the rest of any year?  We will explore ways that community is built and fostered and how we can continue to do this even though we won’t be physically together. Bring your ideas as well as your questions! 

Aug. 7: Continuing Revelation: Quaking with Grace and Joy in Modern Times

Sunderland P. Gardner Lecture: Maggie Knight (Vancouver Island Monthly Meeting

MaggieMaggie will explore continuing revelation and the choices Quakers in Canada face as we navigate the second decade of the 21st century. How do we…

  • navigate the opportunities and challenges of new technologies?
  • support Friends of all ages as society’s understanding of consent in sexual and romantic relationships evolves?
  • approach renewal amongst Friends without feeling driven by scarcity?
  • meet the challenges of our time, including climate change and reconciliation with Indigenous communities?
  • choose how busy to be and leave the space we need for reflection and discernment?

Maggie grew up on unceded Coast Salish territory in Victoria, BC. She’s a member of Vancouver Island Monthly Meeting and has sojourned with Meetings in Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver. A third generation Quaker of British extraction… she has worked on restorative justice and Indigenous rights, and served with organizations including Canadian Friends Service Committee, Canadian Young Friends Yearly Meeting, CYM Determining Priorities and Envisioning Change Working Group, McGill’s undergraduate student union during the 2011-2012 Quebec student strike, Leadnow.ca, and currently RADIUS at Simon Fraser University and the interfaith Fossil Free Faith Fellowship.

Aug. 8-12: Biblical Justification and Biblical Disagreement with Friends’ Original Testimonies

Bible Study: Kate Johnson (Thousand Islands Monthly Meeting)

Drawing on a combination of her favourite scholarly Biblical research and lived experiences, Kate will discuss how the Bible justifies, encourages and challenges all of us to live out our testimonies. There will be a particular focus on how the Bible tells many stories of God using “outsiders” to do “His good will”. 

After working in corrections and mental health social work, Kate earned a Master of Divinity with a Concentration in Restorative Justice. She then served for five years as the Chaplain to a federal correctional institution on behalf of Canadian Yearly Meeting. In 2013, Kate was appointed Chaplain to Queen’s University. Her ministry there includes care for the marginalized populations on campus, encouraging equitable practices on and off campus and the fostering of effective inter-faith dialogue.


AFG's 40th birthday cake

Soy milk, organic peanut butter, and sugary, chocolatey cake with frosting. It must be a Quaker potluck…

Atlantic Friends Gathering wrapped up yesterday for another year.  Annapolis Valley members and attenders were in the thick of it, as always!  Mandalas were created, generous amounts of food were shared, and activities ranged from structured workshops to naps on the beach to the ever popular “Friends and Family Night” variety show.

Rachel and Penni telling stories and showing a slide show about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Rachel, visiting from Canadian Friends Service Committee, and local Friend Penni lead us in considering action to support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Kamila on melodica, Daniel on interpretive dance, Marilyn and Jupiter watching with unbridled joy

Daniel, from Hamilton Monthly Meeting, and Annapolis Valley Quakers Kamila, Marilyn, and Jupiter commune with the Lord of the Dance during family night.

See the full slide show on the AFG website.


Quaker Ed: Roots and Fruits of Our Faith


For this month’s Quaker Education session, Friend Bruce Dienes created a workshop called “Roots and Fruits of our Quaker Faith.”  We started by creating individual statements of faith, inspired by John Woolman’s statement about his belief.  According to Woolman,

“There is a Principle which is pure, placed in the human Mind, which in different Places and Ages hath had different Names; it is, however, pure, and proceeds from God. It is deep, and inward, confined to no Forms of Religion, nor excluded from any, where the Heart stands in perfect Sincerity. In whomsoever this takes Root and grows, of what Nation soever, they become Brethren.”

We considered a number of other inspirational sources too — from Descartes to Nellie McClung.

Bruce asked us to consider if there was a root of our faith — the bottom line, the origin of other beliefs, the most basic idea we stand on. He then invited us to consider what nourishes that root, and what springs forth from it — in other words, what parts of our lives grow out of that principle.  He also provided a variety of supplies we were invited to use to manifest our own “plant” in the Quaker “garden.”  From blank paper and words and colouring pages and pipe cleaners, the components of our spiritual “ecosystem” became visible.

Think you might enjoy this workshop?  Consider joining us at AFG, where Bruce will present a version of this workshop on Saturday, May 21.

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AFG: New Session Added, Program Leaders Announced

Joe Michael (guest speaker) and John Houston (facilitator) have been confirmed as presenters for AFG.  Annapolis Valley’s own Penni Burrell has also added a late-breaking additional session to Saturday’s schedule, called “You’re Quakers… STAND UP”:

“Penni Burrell will give a presentation looking at examining three steps in order to respond to the call as a Quaker to injustice we witness directly. How do we decide what, if anything we can and should do when we encounter something that is clearly contradictory to our values – such as a racist comment? This process is primarily based on the wisdom and guidance of Monica Walters-Field, and the Quaker process of eldering, as voiced most relevantly and recently by Keith Maddock.”

The full schedule and registration info are available on the AFG website

Presenters, Program Leaders, and Assistants

Joe Michaels photo

Guest Speaker:  Joe Michael

A respected Elder of the Indian Brook, Nova Scotia, Mi’kmaq nation,  Joe Michael is a retired RCMP member who worked for 25 years to advance restorative justice and healing circle principles throughout Nova Scotia. Since his retirement, Joe Michael has been active in advancing aboriginal culture and tradition as a Mi’kmaq Elder & Pipe Carrier.


Facilitator:  John Houston

John Houston was born in 1954 and spent the first years of his life in the Canadian Arctic in Cape Dorset on Baffin Island. His early involvement in Inuktitut and Inuit culture has influenced his entire life.He served for five years as Art Advisor to the Pangnirtung Cooperative printmaking project. With his mother, the late Alma Houston, he founded the Houston North Gallery in Lunenburg,and the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Society.As a film director and producer, Houston has specialized in films showcasing indigenous stories and culture.


Guest Speaker: Rachel Singleton-Polster

Rachel grew up on Vancouver Island in a Quaker family active in Western Half Yearly Meetings and other Friends’ gatherings. Since her youth on the west coast, Rachel attended university at Mount Allison in New Brunswick, and enjoyed worshiping with Sackville Friends there. After her studies in Human Geography there, she worked for Friends at the Quaker United Nations Office in New York. Presently, Rachel serves the Canadian Friends Service Committee out of Toronto, where she assists on programs related to Indigenous Rights, Peace, and Justice.


Carol Bradley

Carol is a member of Annapolis  Valley Friends Meeting and lives in Windsor, Nova Scotia.   She is a professional appraiser and community developer.  Her interests include sustainable community, the environment, and climate adaptation.  She is active in municipal and provincial politics. Carol enjoys pets, and arts and crafts.


Bruce Dienes

Bruce has three areas of specialty: Computer consultation,  Photography,  and Community Psychology. Earning his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Illinois, Bruce has extensive experience with community development and has worked with agencies such as Chrysalis House, Juniper House, and Apple Tree Landing Children’s Centre. He currently teaches part-time at Mt. St. Vincent University, and is a trainer of peer  counselors. He is a member of Annapolis Valley Friends Meeting.


Maida Barton Follini

Maida is a member of Halifax Friends Meeting. Born in Connecticut, she is  a dual U.S./Canadian citizen. Receiving her Ph.D. from Clark University in Clinical and Rehabilitation Psychology,  Maida worked with deaf and blind students. Retiring from the Atlantic Provinces Resource Centre for the Hearing Impaired in Amherst, NS, she moved to Dartmouth. Her avocation is writing, and she is a member of the Evergreen Writers Group.


Sara avMaat

Sara grew up in New Brunswick, Canada, and now lives in Lakeville, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia.  She is a member of the Antigonish Worship Group of Halifax Friends Meeting. Sara is a physiotherapist who works with children and the elderly.   In 2010 she spent three months in Palestine and Israel as a volunteer accompanier. Sara is also an artist with a degree from NSCAD.


Marie Welton

Marie was born in Ontario and moved in her teens to Vancouver.  She is an X-Ray technologist who has worked in Canada and Nigeria, as well as being a coordinator in a wide  range of volunteer bases.  She is a mother, grandmother and feminist who has been taking courses in religious studies at Dalhousie University.  Marie has been attending Halifax Friends Meeting since 1997.


Edith Hoisington Miller

Edith lived in Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and New York before moving to Canada with her husband Michael R. Miller.  Joining Quakers while living in Montreal, the Millers were among the founding members of New Brunswick Friends Meeting. As a long-time Friend, Edith has been involved with many aspects of Quakerism, helping to organize Gatherings, attending Yearly Meetings, and participating in advocacy for First Nations. Edith is a free-lance writer, with articles in Performing Arts & Entertainment,as well as other publications. She also writes poetry, and enjoys jazz and jazz dancing.

Michael R. Miller

Michael is a composer & pianist and professor emeritus of music at Mt. Allison University.  Among his many compositions are “A Mass for Peace”  and “A Peace Cantata”. Now living in Fredericton, Michael  is a member of New Brunswick Friends Meeting. Active in Quaker affairs, he has been a facilitator in the Alternatives to Violence program, helping men in prison, and has volunteered in the John Howard Society.


Kenna Creer Manos

Kenna grew up in Vancouver, received a PhD from Dalhousie University, and then taught for four decades at the remarkable Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.  She now teaches, as a volunteer, at the Friends School in Costa Rica, where she belongs to the Monteverde Monthly Meeting.  In Halifax for six months every year, she attends the Halifax Monthly meeting, and enjoys her five grandchildren, especially in the garden.  Kenna’s poetry has appeared in many Canadian and American journals.


John Calder

John is a member of New Brunswick Friends Meeting.  He retired after many years of teaching high school English in the public schools.  John has served Friends in many roles – as Clerk of Canadian Yearly Meeting; as board member of the Quaker United Nations Office in New York City; and as an onsite coordinator in Pendle Hill, the Quaker study centre in Pennsylvania. John lives in Long Reach, New Brunswick.  


Nancy Turniawan

Nancy is a community artist who works with multi-generational groups and uses natural materials to create mandalas and other forms to inspire people, and foster group cohesiveness. “My creative energy springs from the awe I experience immersed in the natural world. I enjoy nature’s materials, seasons, and light as my  inspiration.  I search for ways to integrate environmental stewardship into the materials and processes use to create art. I delight in multi-generational, collaborative art making.” 


Ellen and Keith Helmuth

Ellen is clerk of New Brunswick Monthly Meeting. She and her husband Keith ran a farm near Woodstock for many years. After retiring from farming, they lived in Philadelphia for ten years where Ellen was the Administrative Assistant at Friends General Conference and Keith managed a bookstore. On returning to Woodstock, NB, they have established a small publishing company, Chapel Street Editions. As clerk of New Brunswick Monthly Meeting, Ellen has worked to ensure communication and fellowship among the 7 groups in three provinces that make up the Monthly Meeting.


Barbara Aikman

Barbara has worked for the past 20 + years as a coordinator for adults with intellectual and mental health disabilities living in the community.  She served the Friends World Committee of Consultation (FWCC) for 10 years, and was clerk of the program committee and served on the naming committee, was on the search committee for the recent executive secretary of the section of the Americas. She  attended the World Gathering in New Zealand in 2005. Barbara has worshiped with many Meetings in the USA from all traditions. She is spiritually renewed with time in nature.


Mylène DiPenta

“My earliest organizing work was against sexual violence and globalization. I was active for 10 years with a Halifax-based coalition mobilizing white people against white privilege and racism. These days, I teach my trade (electronics repair) to community college students in the Annapolis Valley, which is also the home of the Meeting I attend. My current passions include supporting the empowerment of rural queer and trans youth via the Valley Youth Project and building cross-issue alliances of reconciliation & solidarity. I use gender neutral pronouns (they, them). For fun, I walk away into the woods for days at a time, carrying as little as possible.”


Marilyn Manzer

With an M.A. from McGill U. and a Bachelor of Music Education from Acadia U. plus decades of experience in performing, teaching and organizing music productions, Marilyn has made notable contributions to the musical arts in Nova Scotia. Along side of her music career, she has taken leadership roles in the Religious Society of Friends, serving as Recording Clerk for Canadian Yearly Meeting, and giving the Sunderland P. Gardener Lecture at the 2011 CYM. Marilyn is a member of Annapolis Valley Friends Meeting.


Penni Burrell

Penni was born in Toronto and has lived in a wide variety of locations. Engaging with social justice issues as a social worker and community member. She moved to Nova Scotia 12 years ago, and considers the Annapolis Valley to be her long sought ‘home’. Her interest in social action sprang from her white parents’ example as they testified against racism. Penni finds following Spirit through Quakerism allows her to follow social justice in an authentic manner that she has found missing with many other groups. For six years Penni was a member of the Quaker Indigenous Rights Committee, engaging with Wabanaki regional events. She represents Quakers nationally on KAIROS’ national Indigenous Rights Circle. Locally she is a member of the Community Health Board, focusing on food security/local hunger.


Mel Earley

Mel, who was born and raised in Ireland, emigrated to Canada in 1975. He was in the marine insurance business before retiring in 2009.  Mel has gone on extensive volunteer expeditions with Habitat for Humanity, building houses in Latin America & Ethiopia, and taking a leadership position supervising groups of volunteers.  He has also visited Palestine as a volunteer accompanier. Mel is a member of Halifax Friends Meeting, and has served as Halifax’s delegate to Canadian Yearly Meeting and Representative Meeting, as well as being a member of CYM committees.

Come for the weekend, or for the day.
See you at AFG May 20-23


We have arranged a full program including guest speakers, and members from our three Atlantic Friends Meetings.  Interspersed with programmed sessions are meal breaks, stretch breaks and longer free times. Sunday evening will be a cheerful noisy talent show for young and old. Enjoy sessions at your own choice, or enjoy your own communing with nature or Friends. Please feel free to enjoy the Weekend in your own way!

Location and Dates

Camp Geddie: a Church camp near Merigomish, NS
about 18 kms from exit 27 of Hwy 104.
Victoria Day Weekend, May 20 to 23, 2016
Friday Evening – Monday at Noon

Directions, details and registration at http://atlantic.quaker.ca/afg

Hope to see you there!