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NHCN's Leadership Mission to Israel; Why Israel was chosen.

The following article was written by Nick Saunders, participant of the 2016 NHCN Leadership Mission to Israel

When I first heard that the Norway House Cree Nation Chief and Council would be sending a group of Norway House band members to Israel I asked myself why Israel? The benefits of broadening the horizons and life experiences of individuals who might never get the chance to leave their community or province let alone their country or continent, are self-evident. The religious significance of Israel also played a fundamental role in the mission, as Norway House is predominately a Christian community. But I did not know exactly why it was Israel, among so many other countries was chosen. 

Norway House has over the past 5 or so years taken 3 different groups on this Leadership Mission. I was able to participate in the most recent trip in March, 2016, and believe I can finally provide an answer to my initial question.

The answer is quite simple. It is that the people of Norway House can learn a great deal from the people of Israel. Despite a history (both ancient and recent) of war and hate and unimaginable suffering, the Jewish people are still here, still thriving. The country of Israel may have its issues, as it is a country divided and surrounded by hostile neighbors. But, the fact remains that it exists and stands as an example of what a people can accomplish if they stand united and persevere hard enough. It has become a successful, resilient nation with a strong education and economic system.

I (we) learned so much, and saw and experienced many incredible things while on this mission which is impossible to sum up in this article, but I can say that Israel is an amazing place. It is rich in history, culture and natural beauty. One cannot ignore the religious significance of where we were, but it never felt like it was the primary reason for why we were there. From the minefields of the Golan Heights, to the markets of Old Jerusalem, to the Yad Vashem (National Holocaust Museum), the mission was an experience unlike anything else. I would like to thank our amazing tour guide, Jules Kramer, who was with us almost every step of the way. He was a fountain of knowledge that gave texture and color to everything we saw.

The intent of the Leadership Mission is to broaden the participant's view of the world, learn about how the Israeli's have struggled and fought back. How they have succeeded and the great importance they place on education, strong values and innovation. This is why Israel was chosen for this Leadership Mission. Although the full impact of the mission was not realized for most of us until we returned, we each brought back with us knowledge and experiences that hopefully will be of value to our community; including a broader view of the world and how we as individuals and as a community can succeed in it.

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