[CBC] Albert Dumont is the new spiritual ‘teacher-in-residence’ at Christ Church Cathedral.
More than 50 years after Albert Dumont renounced Christianity, the dean of Ottawa’s Anglican diocese has welcomed him back — not as a believer, but as an Indigenous spiritual teacher-in-residence.
Dean Shane Parker, who is also the rector of Christ Church Cathedral, met Dumont in 2015 during an event connected with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“Someone came to see me to say, ‘There’s a fellow here who wants to smudge. Is that OK?’” said Parker. “I just had this strong sense of wanting to stay in the room.”
Since then, the two men have bonded over a shared belief in the importance of compassion and interfaith dialogue.
Dumont’s new role has already begun, with events including the launch of his new poetry book. It drew an audience of 100 people, Parker said, from a wide swath of the community.
“It struck me, as I looked around the room, that this was one of the positive outcomes of this new relationship — that people who would not normally rub shoulders were in the same room at the same time,” Parker said.
Shaped by childhood events
The childhood experiences of both men have shaped their ideas about the path to reconciliation.
Growing up in northern British Columbia, Parker spent time in hospital when he was about five, and recalled becoming friends there with a Dene boy.
“One day we thought we’d had enough of being in the hospital, so we ran away together,” Parker said. “We went way down the road … into the bush, before anybody knew,” he said.
“That innocent relationship of two children who didn’t judge one another is what reconciliation is all about.”