The Barnetson family’s motor home pulled into Lake Cowichan last week, to help spread the good news at the Lake Cowichan Christian Fellowship Church.
During their brief stop in Lake Cowichan, spiritual singer/songwriter Cheryl Barnetson – whose stage name is Cheryl Bear – was the most vocal family member, and spent her time in the spotlight speaking to the importance of being proud of one’s self.
A proud native from the community of Nadleh Whut’en Carrier Nation near Prince George, Bear said that there’s been a long-standing negative feeling between First Nations communities and Christianity.
“The gospel wasn’t always brought out in a good way,” she said, citing the residential school system as a prime example.
The residential school nearest her community while growing up was on Fraser Lake, which was torn down by the community in 1974.
“My whole family went to that school,” she said, of the residential school.
“If you ever have someone telling a story about these schools, please listen. It’ll open your eyes to hear the bad things that happened.”
Despite the hardships they lived through with the residential school system, Bear said that her family managed to find Jesus, and thereafter consider themselves residential school survivors.
“I’m so thankful that Jesus pursued us,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much healing I needed until he healed me.”
Not everyone’s interpretation of Christianity is a good thing, she said.
“They got a gospel wrapped in European ways,” she said.
This misconception that a Christian can’t be First Nations isn’t true, she said.
“Jesus can enter into any culture and look like the people,” she said.
“The creator” was in Canadian First Nations’ lives far before the gospel story came across the ocean with the European settlers, she said.
With Cheryl came her husband Randy Barnetson and two of their kids.
The family has been travelling around the world in an attempt to visit all of the First Nations communities.
Having set out on their travels a a few years ago, they’ve already visited 400.
During their travels, they have been living in a motor home.
During their Wednesday, February 23 performance at the Lake Cowichan Christian Fellowship Church, the family played traditional-sounding First Nations songs, mixed with contemporary Christian lyrics.
Notable guest Cyril Livingstone, chief of the Lake Cowichan First Nations, was in attendance with members of his family.