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Fort Hope mission to foster long-term relationship

by Mike Robinson

FERGUS - This weekend, a group of local residents are heading north to create a lasting relationship with residents of Fort Hope.

On July 15, Grace Christian Fellowship hosted its first Fort Hope Golf Tournament at Victoria Park East Golf Club.

The charitable event provided golfers with a great day and sponsors a chance at strategic advertising.

The funds from the tournament are being used to support the beginning of a long-term partnership with Fort Hope, a First Nations community in Northern  Ontario.

Pastor Tony Albano of Grace Christian Fellowship said 18 members of the church are set for the mission trip from Aug. 11 to 20.

He estimated nearly $5,000 was raised at the first annual Fort Hope golf tournament.

The intent is for the tournament to help support this mission for many years.

“We want a long-term relationship with Fort Hope,” Albano said, noting there were numerous community sponsors.

He explained the group’s mission is to foster deep relationships with the Fort Hope community. The mission also aims to educate the Fergus community on Fort Hope’s history, culture and the challenges faced on a day-to-day basis.

Another part of the local mission is to connect with youth, children and families through outdoor adventures, service initiatives and activities and to help develop social and emotional bonds in both communities.

Albano said “one our guys Scott Weir, is a teacher, and had scheduled to work in Fort Hope for a year.”

As he taught there, Weir developed relationships within the community. Upon his return, Weir asked about the possibility of extending those relationships.

Albano added, “Without the proceeds of the golf tournament, this partnership would not exist.”

He explained the tournament proceeds cover almost half of the funds required to operate the partnership (including food costs and employment of First Nations tourism staff.)

“We are also going ask them to teach us fishing and how to build lean-tos. To show they have valuable skills as well,” said Albano.

“We are not just there to education them, we are going to learn about their culture.”

Albano said Fort Hope is north of Thunder Bay followed by a 45-minute plane ride to the site. He said the congregation is excited at the prospect - which is why 18 people are heading up.

“There’s probably another 10 to 15 who would like to go at some point,” he said, adding the church loves to sponsor missions “and we chose this as an annual mission.”

Albano said “we try to do trips all over the globe.”

He added there was a high interest from the local community to support the project as well.

“It’s not something you hear about every day.”

While there is a trend that projects must be overseas, “we have missions right in our own backyard - that we sometime neglect.”

As to the communities  the group travels to, Albano said “there is such a wonderful reception. They find it refreshing to hear different ideas and new ways of presenting the gospel.”

Albano said in Haiti “we were able to help build a home and feed 300 to 400 people in a village.

“We would visit the sick in the local hospital and pray for them.”

He said, “people appreciate visitors from another country and it is a heartfelt feeling that someone cares for them.”

Albano, who stressed the intent is to create a long-term relationship, noted the group will be fundraising next year.

For those who have already supported the cause, Albano offered his thanks.

To reach Grace Christian Fellowship call 519-0787-1978. Albano can also be reached at 519-994-2137.


August 10, 2018


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