Rev. Dr. William Mason Robinson
William Mason Robinson (“Bill”) was born and raised in Klemtu, and grew up working alongside his family members in the fishing industry. At a time when the village was without a resident minister, Robinson was asked by the elders to lead the Christmas service. As he told the story in later years, he was hesitant to accept the invitation but finally agreed, and this was the beginning of his ministry. He served as music leader and lay preacher for several years in his home village.
In the winter of 1954-55, he and his wife, Doreen, attended a session at Naramata, where he began his formal theological training. They moved to Union College to complete the academic training, and Robinson was ordained in 1959. He was settled in Klemtu. From Klemtu, he went on to serve Lax Kwalaams, Ahousat, Cape Mudge, and Darby Lodge in Vancouver.
Darby Lodge was an outreach ministry of the United Church, and it provided temporary homes for First Nations people coming to the city for work, school, or hospital. The Lodge filled in a gap in the system that involved the federal government arranging for First Nations students to live in the homes of lower mainland families while completing their education. The Lodge was a place of refuge, reorientation and often new beginnings. Bill Robinson was appointed to the Lodge in 1967. Doreen and Bill understood the problems caused by loneliness and loss of cultural identity. They welcomed children to the lodge, kept contact with their parents, and did all they could to educate church families in the most useful way to fulfill their role.
When the Lodge closed in 1976, the Robinsons went to Lax Kwalaams, where they spent eleven years. Much of Bill’s focus was in raising awareness in Prince Rupert Presbytery, constantly reminding it of its responsibility in serving First Nations people. He was given an honorary doctorate by VST in 1989. Bill Robinson died in 1999 at Klemtu, where he had been serving as retired supply.
Recorded: June 4, 1977
Duration: 47 minutes