During our visit to the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree community in January, the translators shared their vision and desire to bring the Word of God and the Gospel to the younger generation of Oji-Cree speakers. They had already started a weekly Sunday School program in their community, and they asked for our assistance to help them learn to conduct a summer Vacation Bible School (VBS) event of their own.
Norma Jean met with the Oji-Cree speaking Sunday School staff, and one priority they described was the need for culturally appropriate Oji-Cree children’s Bible School materials. In the discussion that followed, the Oji-Cree staff decided to begin “in the beginning”, and start their planning with the theme of “Creation Week” (Genesis 1:1 through 2:3). The Oji-Cree translators and their Bishop also stressed the importance of weaving the Gospel message through their teaching about God’s creation.
One way to make the VBS materials relevant and appropriate to Oji-Cree children was to ensure that the things God creates on each day of Creation Week are illustrated with the plants, animals, birds and fish that the children of Kingfisher Lake in northern Canada would be familiar with, rather than the “zoo animals” that are commonly found in illustrated children’s Bible story materials.
Our daughter, Elizabeth is not only a professional artist with experience illustrating children’s books and educational materials, but she also grew up in the Naskapi First Nation community in northern Quebec. The culture, land, and animals familiar to Naskapi children would also be familiar to the Oji-Cree. Indeed, some of them even have the same names!
- ᐘᐳᐢ waapoos (Oji-Cree), and ᐛᐳᔅ waapus (Naskapi) both mean ‘rabbit’;
- ᔑᑲᐠ shikaak (Oji-Cree), and ᓯᑲᒄ sikaakw (Naskapi) both mean ‘skunk’.
We are so blessed to have Elizabeth’s help creating this new VBS material with the Oji-Cree team, and for her commitment to join the team for the VBS trip, to both participate in the Bible School and to also provide art classes to the Oji-Cree young people.
Finally, the church we attend in southern Ontario, Immanuel Church in Simcoe, has joined with us in partnership to help make the Word of God more accessible to First Nations languages, and they want to be more closely connected with the Oji-Cree church at Kingfisher Lake, St. Matthew’s Church. They are helping to pray, raise funds, and send teenage and adult VBS workers to assist the Oji-Cree team with their VBS program.
We know that many of you too will want to join us in prayer for this project, and some of you will be moved to sponsor it with your financial gifts. There are three ways that you can support this project:
1) You can sponsor the VBS workers from our church by sending a donation to:
Immanuel CRC Church
95 Oak Street
Simcoe, Ontario, Canada
You can also donate online here:
and click the “donate now” button.
Be sure to indicate that the donation is for: “Summer VBS missions trip”
2) You can help sponsor our daughter Elizabeth to work on the project and join the trip:
Visit her Etsy web page for information on how you can support her and for the creative ways that she will thank you!
3) If you are in the Norfolk County area of southern Ontario, you can participate in some of the support and preparation activities with Immanuel Church. Send Norma Jean an email for more information:
Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz