Publisher’s Note: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville Couple Michelle Bateman and Travis Belanger will hold an event Thursday night called Heal The Pain & Make Things Right. The event, open to all, takes place at 6:30 p.m. in St. Jean Baptiste Park.
The couple is inviting those who attend St. Jean Baptiste Church, residents of Alexander First Nation and the broader community to “open the dialogue to the pain all sides are feeling” and begin to heal and unite as a community.
Although the recent destruction of St. Jean Baptiste Church is still under investigation, some city media and the premier have deemed the fire as arson and a hate crime. Bateman and Belanger say that pushed already high emotions over the top with finger-pointing, racism and overall negativity.
The couple, who work as transformational life coaches, says the July 15 event is a time to come together with forgiveness and reconciliation to release emotional pain, so everyone is empowered to create change.
The event takes place the day after St. Jean Baptiste Parish will hold a Community Memorial Prayer Service on July 14 that is open to all. That event starts with a gathering in St. Jean Baptiste Park at 6 p.m., the memorial service at 7 p.m. and a procession to the cemetery at 8 p.m.
Bateman explains that their event is different from the church’s in that it is non-denominational.
“We want to create something that is non-denominational and inclusive to everyone in the town and neighbouring First Nation residents and brings everyone together,” Bateman said. “It’s time to come together as a community and begin to open the dialogue to heal the pain and begin to make things right.”
The couple is hoping to fill the park with those looking to be the change they want to see in the world.
“It starts inside each and every one of us. It’s time to do better as a community and a society as a whole,” Bateman said. “Together, we can rebuild a stronger, more connected, tolerant and forgiving community and focus on moving forward to the greater good of our beautiful town. The time is now to stand together with your neighbours and make things right.”
Thursday’s event is part of #THEAPOLOGY, a social movement of forgiveness that Bateman and Belanger say allows “deep healing, the release the emotional pain to allow change empowerment” based on three core values: heal, change, empower.