This past Thanksgiving, Seventh-day Adventists in Ontario, Canada,* had a lot to be thankful for, despite a challenging 2020. One of the biggest blessings is that a Cessna 185 aircraft was obtained in collaboration with Adventist World Aviation (AWA).
The plane arrived at Oshawa Executive Airport from the U.S. and represents a new chapter in Ontario Adventist history. The Cessna was acquired to support the health and humanitarian needs of remote/isolated Indigenous communities in Northwestern Ontario. In public health reports, they are disproportionately represented as being at highest risk for lifestyle diseases.
On Friday, October 9, 2020, a dedication ceremony for the Cessna and its mission was held at the Oshawa Executive Airport. Participants included Ontario Seventh-day Adventist Church president Mansfield Edwards, executive secretary Jakov Bibulovic, Seventh-day Adventist Church of Canada president Mark Johnson, Ray Young, AWA’s Canada project manager/global operations manager, and Brian Koldyk, the Cessna’s pilot/manager. A small gathering of Ontario Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church directors, support staff, some of their family members, and a few other supporters were present, adhering to health and safety protocols put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Edwards highlighted that Ontario Adventist leaders became aware of the dismal public health records for Indigenous communities in the North six or seven years ago. Their rates of suicide, cancer, and circulatory and other diseases far exceeded the average in Ontario; their life spans were also four to five years shorter than the average. Adventists leaders found this to be unacceptable and unfair to this community and, therefore, moved to this initiative. The anticipation is that this project will facilitate health training, agricultural projects, and other humanitarian services.
*Thanksgiving Day in Canada was October 12.
— Christelle Agboka is communications director for the Ontario Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.