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This article was published 25/4/2020 (509 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After a long career of turning perceptions of the world upside down through stories and quirky drawings about ecology and peace, retired United Church minister Bob Haverluck now has a new audience for his creative endeavours.
For the next three years, the Winnipeg artist, storyteller, community animator, creative thinker and theologian will share his unique perspectives with some of the country’s brightest and best doctoral students during his term as a mentor with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.
"Part of the excitement is the chance to have an ongoing engagement with youth who seek vital engagement with the world," explains the 75-year-old Wolseley resident, currently writing and illustrating a book based on his play The Court Case of the Creatures: The Famous Lake Winnipeg Trial.
Haverluck joins seven other mentors, including Beverley McLachlin, former chief justice of Canada, film director Patrice Sauvé, and Denise Williams, CEO of First Nations Technology Council. The only Manitoban appointed in this cohort, Haverluck is likely also the first theologian to act in this capacity, says Tom Axworthy, former principal secretary to the late prime minster and a foundation member.
"It’s a great honour and should be fulfilling for both sides," explains Axworthy, a native of Winnipeg who knows Haverluck from his environmental advocacy.
"What really impressed the foundation was his ability to use cartooning as a way to animate social issues."
Each year the Trudeau Foundation awards scholarships to 20 doctoral students and provides them with opportunities to develop leadership skills with the help of mentors from a variety of disciplines. The mentors and students meet several times a year for workshops, seminars and creative projects around a theme, which for this cohort is technology and ethics.
A self-taught artist, Haverluck undertook doctoral studies in cultural theory, comedy and social change at the University of Lancaster in England in the early 1970s but gave up academia to pursue an eclectic career of working at retreat centres, writing books and educational materials on peacemaking and environmental themes, and travelling across Canada and internationally as a workshop leader and artist in residence. He has exhibited his pen-and-ink drawings at the University of Chicago, Riding Mountain National Park, Kenora, Dauphin and several galleries in Winnipeg.
He started his professional art career by drawing political comics for publications such as Ploughshares Monitor, Canadian Dimension and the academic journal The Arts: The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies. More recently he has employed his creativity in a series of environmental and theological workshops called Renewing Our Peace Treaty with the Earth, presented along with Cree elder Stan McKay.
"You try to use as many ways of speaking and doing as you can and each yields a different way of seeing and saying but none are identical," Haverluck says of his approach to leading workshops and seminars.
He expects to use those artistic skills, as well as his pastoral abilities to encourage the Trudeau Foundation scholars to explore their values, vision, and sense of personhood in relation to the world.
"That’s part of pastoral care if you wish," he explains.
"The language will be different, but the personal, spiritual quest is shared."
Most of all, Haverluck welcomes the opportunity to interact with young scholars from a variety of disciplines and nudge them out of their comfort zones by telling stories and making art with them.
He sees his role to encourage students to seek broader ways of seeking truth and understanding the world.
"We’re learning to speak in different ways and learning to hear in different ways and learning to listen," he says of the creative process.
"The idea of the arts is to bring voices to society that are often left out and to amplify the quiet things and to enlarge things that are put out of sight and made small."
The foundation was established in 2001 by former Prime Minster Jean Chretien as a living memorial to Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the 16th prime minister of Canada, who died in 2000.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not involved with the foundation in any capacity, but his brother Alexandre Trudeau represents his father’s estate on the foundation’s board of directors.
Brenda Suderman has been a columnist in the Saturday paper since 2000, first writing about family entertainment, and about faith and religion since 2006.