Who We Are


Rugged Tree is a gathering place for a diversity of people, organizations, communities and churches who are committed to pursuing peace, justice and reconciliation among Canada’s First Peoples. As a community, we are committed to learning, serving and walking in a way that reflects truth.


Rugged Tree’s story began on the streets in Toronto, Canada. Derek and Tiffani Parenteau spent almost a decade there, working with young people involved in gangs, prostitution and homelessness. During this time Derek and Tiffani met many First Peoples coming from all across Canada who had become trapped on Toronto’s streets. These many friendships and the stories that came with them began to transform how they understood Canada’s history and their place within that.

As followers of Jesus, Derek and Tiffani struggled to understand how the Christian church had come to be so closely tied with the historical oppression experienced by Canada’s First Nations. Over time, through the process of searching out hard answers to hard questions, they began to discern a calling to serve First People’s in a way that would better reflect the good news of the Christian faith.

In 2012, Derek became a pastor with the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and the whole family moved to the Georgian Bay region in Ontario. Rugged Tree represents their best efforts to respond to all that they have learned so far. A work in progress, Rugged Tree is now comprised of many people, partners and programs who are pursuing peace, justice and reconciliation with Canada’s First People.


As an organization we are guided by our core values as we seek to accomplish our vision. Rugged Tree values…

We believe in the inherent worth and equality of all people. Communities, families and individuals lay the foundation for our programs, policies and objectives.

Hearing the voices of the local communities is essential to us as we form the relationships and gain the knowledge necessary to move forward as an organization in a helpful way.

A circle of partners makes us stronger. We will avoid duplicating existing programs and will develop meaningful relationships with community partners.

It is important to us that we earn the integrity that comes from being transparent, being authentic and following through on our commitments.

We acknowledge that we have been given diverse resources that can benefit the community and are committed to using them in the most helpful way possible.

Despite the many painful stories in our lives and in our world today we are excited about the potential for those stories to continue unfolding in a restorative and healing way.