A traditional teaching among the First Nations of Turtle Island is that before Europeans crossed the ocean, their elders had visions of people coming from the east with messages from the Creator. This tradition inspired Bert Adema, Director of Indian Metis Christian Fellowship (IMCF) to commission Ovide Bighetty to create four unique series of paintings. Ovide Bighetty is a Cree (Missinippi-Ethiniwak) self-taught artist originally from Pukatawagan First Nation on the Missinippi River in north western Manitoba. A significant challenge was to depict the teachings in a way consistent with both Aboriginal symbolism and the Biblical sources. For each commission, Ovide consulted with elders from Pukatawagan and in the urban communities of Regina and Winnipeg where he painted the commissions.
In 2002, Ovide created a series of images depicting the Easter story, known as ‘Kisemanito Pakitinasuwin – The Creator’s Sacrifice’; this series of 17 images was painted in acrylic on canvas and framed in cedar.
In 2006, Ovide created 12 pieces illustrating the teachings known as ‘Steps Along The Red Road Following Christ The Creator’. For each image, Ovide selected an eagle feather to emphasize the sacred Aboriginal spirituality of the teachings. The images, the feathers, and the teachings are integrated in shadow boxes constructed of birch, Plexiglas, and Baltic birch plywood.
The Christmas story was illustrated by Ovide in 2007; he painted 17 images on Baltic birch plywood which were framed in maple. Elders and community members named this series of images ‘Kisê-manitow Omiyikowisiwin – The Creator’s Gift’.
In 2009, Ovide created paintings illustrating Christian Aboriginal prayers. He painted 11 images on canvas; the series was named ‘Prayers For The Creator’s Children’. The images, accompanying eagle feathers, and text were integrated in shadow boxes similar to the second commission.
The art work and related exhibition and reproduction rights belong to Indian Metis Christian Fellowship (IMCF). Revenue from the sale of reproductions contributes to the cost of the art work and fund raising for the ministry.
The efforts of various people made possible the creation, exhibit and reproductions of the art work painted by Ovide Bighetty and commissioned by Indian Metis Christian
Fellowship (IMCF). The ministry gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of the following people: Bob Anderson (Concept Media Ltd.); Don List (Birdsong Communications); Mary K. Weimar (Assiniboia Gallery); Neil Douglas, Bob Boyer, the Christian Reformed Church in North America - Canada and the many persons whose appreciation for ‘Kisê-manitow Opakitinâsowin – The Creator’s Sacrifice’ paintings encouraged the following commissions.
Indian Metis Christian Fellowship (IMCF) is an urban Aboriginal ministry building a worshipping / working ministry through serving spiritual and social needs of Indian and Metis people in Regina. Established by the Christian Reformed Church in 1978, the ministry continues to be supported by that denomination and the Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and individual congregations and individuals.
IMCF celebrates and share the Creator’s gift of healing and forgiveness in Jesus Christ; its Christian Aboriginal ministry affirms individual and cultural gifts.
An important principle for IMCF is partnership; it seeks to walk with the people who experience its ministry. This partnership approach focuses on prayer circles, counseling, self-support activities, recovery from addictions and abuse, skill development and community development. The ministry’s effectiveness is enhanced through collaborative partnerships with other agencies including: Albert Branch- Regina Public Library, All Nations Hope, Circle Project, Four Directions Community Health – Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, John Howard Society, North Central Community Association, and North Central Services – Regina Police Service. Local congregations including Bread of Life, Lutheran, Sonlight Christian Reformed, Our Savior’s Lutheran and Eastside United contribute to the delivery of a family breakfast on Saturday mornings.
Many community members begin their relationship with the ministry by participating in the week day drop-in program to share coffee and friendship, read the paper or use the phone. Daily prayer circles provide spiritual support, guidance and teachings. Each Wednesday noon community members and staff from local agencies gather to share a soup and bannock meal which has been prepared by IMCF volunteers and staff. Community members join the IMCF Computer Club through volunteer work.
Local children participate in IMCF’s Chimatawa Family Youth’s afterschool activities and in special events. Participating children gain access to computers, benefit for literacy and homework support, participate in daily devotions, learn family life skills through sharing in the preparation and sharing of a meal, increase cultural awareness through drumming and dancing activities, and attend annual camping trips. Since 1999, the ministry’s Chimatawa Bicycle Recycle Project has repaired and shared 150 to 200 bicycles annually.
IMCF developed the John School program to help address the street sex trade in Regina. This Saskatchewan Justice endorsed community justice initiative has provided an alternative option to the conventional court process since 1977. Ministry staff facilitated the development of the capacity to deliver the John School in Saskatoon. In 2011, the ministry negotiated with Saskatchewan Justice to transfer responsibility to Catholic Family Services for delivery of the John School program in Regina. This development allowed the ministry to prioritize resources for the Chimatawa Family Youth program.