Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Indigenous youth want a more engaged church

Posted on: August 30th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Aaron Sault, from the diocese of Huron, shares his experience with Sacred Circle. Behind him (L-R) are Dixie Bird, ShebaMcKay, Melanie Wesley, Shilo Clark, Jesse Johns, and Ariana Dorie
. Photo: André Forget​

What do young Indigenous Anglicans want from their church? According to a youth panel at the eighth National Anglican Sacred Circle in Port Elgin, Ont., the answer is pretty clear: engagement with issues that matter in their own lives.

The panel, moderated by Dixie Bird, a member of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) from the diocese of Saskatchewan, gave Indigenous youth from across Canada an opportunity to share their concerns about the church, its future and its role in their own lives.

The consistent message, whether on issues of poverty, gender violence or pollution, was that young people want to see a church that is advocating on matters that affect their lives.

“[Our young people] are suffering due to the past wrongs that have been done to our people,” said Sheba McKay, an Oji-Cree woman from the Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh. “They need to know about God’s love, and you see in most places…people don’t express that toward our young people.”

Indigenous youth need to be at the forefront of showing God’s love to their peers, said McKay. “It’s going to take me and my fellow young people here to show the way, to be an example.”

For Leigh Kern, a Métis woman from the diocese of Toronto, one of the most pressing areas in which the church needs to act on is sexual violence.

“We are in a state of crisis in our communities, and we need to come to a place where we can regard each other as holy and beautiful, and other, and not as objects to be exploited and colonized,” said Kern. “We have to decolonize our bodies and our sexualities and our relationships with each other, so we can come to a place of wholeness and self-love and respect for each other.”

Kern stressed that the emphasis cannot be only on teaching women to keep themselves safe—men must be held responsible for working to put an end to sexual violence as well.

Environmental concerns were also high on the list of priorities.

Ariana Dorie, who lives on Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, a part of the Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, explained that while her grandparents can remember drinking water directly from Lake Winnipeg, due to industrial pollution the water is now unsafe if it hasn’t been treated.

“My community has been stricken with many big companies coming into our town, coming into our community and ruining the environment,” she said. “Some fishermen have even reported that if you cut open a fish, you can see cancerous lumps. Our fish are sick; our land is sick.”

The panel also touched on spiritual concerns. Melanie Wesley, a Cree woman from the diocese of Moosonee, shared her frustration with the tensions she has seen between Anglicanism and traditional spirituality within her own community.

“It’s okay to have both—to walk with the Lord of the church and also to…hold onto the roots of your ancestors in the cultural way of our people,” she said. “Let’s reclaim our culture and our traditions, and integrate them into the church as well, and be welcoming of them. That can also be a healing for our people, to finally heal and move on from the residential school era.”

Jay Waterchief, a Siksika from the diocese of Calgary, stressed that if the church really wants to reach out to Indigenous youth, it has to be willing to meet them where they are.  In Waterchief’s context, this means going beyond the walls of the church, to the “wrongfully imprisoned, the ones who’ve been turned away for just being First Nations.”

Given that “not a lot of them are into Christianity and not a lot of them are into the church,” Waterchief acknowledged that this is not an easy group to reach, but insisted that Anglicans—and especially Anglican leaders—have a responsibility to these young Indigenous people.

“If no one can be there for them, the church has to,” he said.

In addition to McKay, Kern, Dorie, Wesley and Waterchief, the panel also featured contributions from Jesse Johns and Aaron Sault, of the diocese of Huron; Theresa Halkett, Trent Bird and Jermaine Bell, from the diocese of Saskachewan; Freeman Bell, from the diocese of Caledonia; Shilo Clark and Danielle Black, from the diocese of Calgary; and Nick Kigeak, from the diocese of the Arctic.


Anglican Journal News, August 26, 2015

Free laptops to improve communication in Indigenous parishes

Posted on: August 30th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Elder Charon Spinks receives an Acer Notebook from Canon Ginny Doctor, Indigenous ministries co-ordinator, as the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, looks on. Photo: André Forget

The Anglican Church of Canada’s Indigenous ministries department has highlighted the importance of ongoing conversation by giving laptop computers to nine community leaders in order to strengthen communications among Indigenous Anglicans.

The Acer Notebooks were distributed on the final night of the eighth National Anglican Sacred Circle, held August 16-22 in Port Elgin, Ont.

The money for the computers came from a donation from an individual, who wished to remain anonymous and wanted to help Indigenous ministries “use the Internet more effectively,” said the Rev. Canon Ginny Doctor, Indigenous ministries co-ordinator.

“We realized that in order for many of our folks to use the Internet, they have to have computers,” said Doctor. “They may have an Internet connection, because a lot of the bands have Wi-Fi and other means of [using] the Internet, but they don’t have computers, or they have very old computers.”

Doctor said this was one step toward improving communications, noting that “even with putting on Sacred Circle, we had so many miscommunications.” She added, “We have to really try harder to make sure that people are getting the word.”

Interested parties were encouraged to attend a workshop on how to most effectively use a computer, which was led by General Synod web manager Brian Bukowski. Recipients were chosen based on the following criteria: they had to know how to use a computer and have access to the Internet, but personally have either no computer at all or an old computer.

Charon Spinks, who lives in Lytton, B.C., in the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, was one such recipient. “I do use a computer,” she said, “but I don’t have one in my house. I go to the employment centre to get into a computer.”

Spinks is very involved in the life of her parish, St. Mary’s and St. Paul’s Anglican Church, in Lytton, B.C., and looks forward to using her computer to keep in touch with her bishop, Barbara Andrews, as well as the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples. An elder from the Interior Coast Salish, Spinks hopes it will help her in teaching her language, Nlaka’pamuctsin, to children in the nearby communities of Boston Bar, Spence’s Bridge and Merritt.

“I really appreciate teaching my language, because it’s good for the little children, and they’re doing magnificent in the language, but the computer will help me get organized,” she said.

The other computer recipients were Isabel Dube, of the diocese of Moosonee; Frida Lepine, of the diocese of Brandon; Ron Hutchison, of the diocese of British Columbia, Canon Grace Delaney, of the diocese of Moosonee; Marjorie Mark, of the diocese of Moosonee; Melanie Wesley, of the diocese of Moosonee; the Rev. Martha Spence, of the diocese of Quebec; and Yolanda Bird, of the diocese of Saskatchewan.


Anglican Journal News, August 26, 2015

Montreal intern reflection: Amos Bohoussou

Posted on: August 30th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Amos & Rhonda

My mission project was to incorporate humour into sharing the gospel with people. I did  stand-up routines in comedy clubs and my local church, and also hosted a night of dialogue on with religious and non-religious people on the humour of God.

On the first week of June, I got the chance to do stand-up comedy at Comedy Works and Yuk Yuk’s comedy club. In both places I was entertained in the company of friends and colleagues, listening to and reflecting on the jokes of the comedians.  They have been wounded in life and in return they used their wounds, painful or hurtful events in their lives, to make their audience laugh. I even told jokes about how both of my names have been butchered.  Yet one treasured moment at Yuk Yuk’s that I shall remember is when, after the show, the host, a Christian friend, and myself had a philosophical and theological discussion in the men’s restroom (the host could not escape!). My hope, even before this encounter, was to see comedians or audience members not just laugh at jokes based on my wounds and frailties, but also hear and take in a message of healing from a representative of the risen Christ.

On Saturday June 20th, I gave, as I call it, a humorous sermon at my local church. First Baptist Church of Montreal, for the fundraiser dinner held there. The environment was different from the comedy clubs I went to during the first two days of June. I knew most of the audience members, plus I had rehearsed the material that I presented. I was glad to see one of my internship leaders there giving me encouraging feedback on my performance. I had realized that during my set that not a lot of audience members enjoyed the butt jokes. But I knew that would happen. A comedian cannot please everybody. Yet I was glad that I got different reactions (When driving home my parents told me I that I should have not joked about farting and feces after people had eaten. Funny thing, my dad laughed at those jokes as did the pastor of the church). Some said their own jokes based on my butt jokes (the piece presented did not consist of only butt jokes), one adolescent boy told me he laughed at me; a little boy spoke out in agreement with something I said during my set; I was congratulated by adults and even children.


One member of the church thanked me for talking about child-like obedience towards God. This is the parable told by Jesus to his disciples that I used to proclaim the good news after the set of jokes: ”He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Interesting enough, I still need to work on being child-like in obedience especially towards God.

Coming from a Baptist background, I was thankful to learn about the Five Marks of Mission promoted by the Anglican Church when going about doing mission work. The first (to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom) and third mark (to respond to human need by loving service) seemed to relate to my mission project. On Sunday June 28th at Yuk Yuk’s, I did another stand-up comedy routine to an audience of non-Christians and Christians. It was great opportunity to give something that they could laugh about (responding to their need of laughter or entertainment by telling jokes?) and share the joy and struggles a young Christian man like myself deals with. Boy, was I less prepared for that night! Thanks be to God I persevered through my routine. At the end of the evening, I wasn’t satisfied. I did not proclaim the Good News; but knowing that I had a limited amount of time I was able to give them something to take with them in their memories: a Christian was amongst them telling jokes.

Recently, I have been challenged by my peers in how I should proclaim the Good News apart from my mission project. The key is to find words that will include the people I am speaking to without pushing them away with biblical jargon such as sin, salvation and the resurrection to name a few. On the other hand, if I do speak of these terms I should explain such terms to the listener(s). I must also listen to them and observe what the other party is communicating (verbal and body language) with me. Sometimes they are not willing to listen to what I have to say, so I have to let go and move on.

I am thankful that we had been taught about how mission is viewed in other Christian denominations or traditions, that we learned to analyze a certain community before going to do mission work there, we were able to listen to the council of our leaders and mentors, we learned ways to discern (especially when it comes to mission work), we prayed together regularly at our meetings and made sure to check-in with one another each week to know where we were at with our mission project. Christian rapper Shai Linne once said, “Remember you just don’t do missions, you are a mission.” In a similar manner, God is still doing his work in me and is not finished. Maybe Christian mission involves being internally transformed by the Good News of the Kingdom so that God can do his work of restoring this world through his children. And as my mission project will soon come to a close, I still ponder if I can continue to incorporate humour in future conversations with others that do not share the same belief as I do. Hopefully, such humour in dialogue can be the seasoning of “salt” or “flavor” to my conversations as Paul once wrote to the Colossians, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Amos Bohoussou describes himself as a “born again child of God the Father, saved by grace and faith through Jesus-Christ the Son of God, being made holy day by day through the Holy Spirit.” He was born in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and has lived in Canada since 2004. He has studied Professional Theatre at Dawson College in Montreal and is presently a fourth year student in Theology at the FTE (Faculté de Théologie Évangélique in affiliation with Acadia University).

Montreal Mission Interns

About Montreal Mission Interns

The Montreal Mission Internship aims to help young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 discern their vocation to a life of service and ministry in God’s world. Sponsored by the Montreal Diocesan Theological College and the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, the paid urban mission internship sends young adults into the city to work in the service of others as participants in God’s mission. Possible project areas can include the environment, community gardens, children or youth, interfaith or intercultural dialogue, homelessness, and the arts.

The Community, An update from The Community, August 28, 2015

Church’s knowledge of Doctrine of Discovery ‘woefully inadequate’

Posted on: August 29th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Primate’s commission members (L to R): The Rev. Ryscilla Shaw, Archbishop Terrence Finlay, Archdeacon Sidney Black, the Rev. Andrew Wesley, Verna Firth, and Dean Jonas Allooloo. Photo:  André Forget

The General Synod that met in Halifax in 2010 passed a resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, but the Anglican Church of Canada is still struggling to break free from the legacy of institutional racism that resulted from this ideology.

This was a common observation made by members from the Primate’s Commission on the Doctrine of Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice to the National Anglican Sacred Circle held last week in Port Elgin, Ont.

“Our colonial church is woefully inadequate in terms of its knowledge of the Doctrine of Discovery and the implications of it,” said Archbishop Terry Finlay, co-chair of the commission, who took part in a panel discussion. “Part of [the commission’s] mandate—and what we will have to recommend will be influenced by this—is the education of our own institution.”

The Doctrine of Discovery, a concept in international law that provided justification for European possession of already inhabited lands in North America and around the globe, has its origin in a number of papal bulls, or official pronouncements, from the 15th century. The doctrine posited that a Christian power could legally lay claim to any lands populated by non-Christians.

The doctrine has been the driving force behind some of the church’s worst abuses of Indigenous people, said National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald.

“It was the Doctrine of Discovery, and the ideas around it, that led to the residential schools because it said that the people were so savage and so primitive that they would be better off being schooled and separated from their families,” said MacDonald.

The only way to move beyond the doctrine is to address the many ways it continues to shape people’s thinking, he said. “When we talk about repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, we’re talking about all the aspects of it,” said MacDonald. “The way it’s been used in theology, the way it’s been used in teaching, the way it’s been used in controlling people’s lives, and sadly, in the way the church has been organized.”

The panel’s moderator, Verna Firth, from Inuvik in the diocese of the Arctic, solicited responses from the panellists regarding the doctrine, its ongoing legacy and how its repudiation is part of the church’s work of reconciliation.

A consensus quickly emerged that while the Anglican Church has taken steps toward addressing its colonialist past, much remains to be done for reconciliation to be fully realized.

Tracing the historical legacy of the doctrine, Sol Sanderson, former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, argued that the doctrine’s cardinal sin was having stripped away Indigenous people’s control over their own lives.

“Because we lost that degree of control, it resulted in all those symptoms that you’re trying to treat—high suicides, mental, physical and sexual abuse, high unemployment, poor health conditions, you name it,” he said. Indigenous people need to take back control of their lives and rebuild their families and communities, he added. “That’s what [the church] needs to talk about.”

Archdeacon Sidney Black, ACIP co-chair and archdeacon of native ministries for the diocese of Calgary, followed up on this point by noting that reconciliation—while a good, biblical word—implies a “parity at the level of power,” insofar as “both sides that are estranged from each other have some equality.” However, the doctrine has put Indigenous people at a major disadvantage in terms of power, he said.

“I personally feel that it’s more than reconciliation—it’s about conciliation,” said Black. “I think that conciliation, when you’re on the same level, is our vision and our hope. And we will continue as First Nations people, as Inuit people, as Métis people, to hold that in front of us. The Doctrine of Discovery has not allowed us to do that.”

Following the panel’s presentation, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, was asked to offer a few words in response.

In addition to stressing the importance of the points made by the commission and outlining some of the steps the Anglican church has already undertaken toward reconciliation, Hiltz held up the 94 Calls to Action released earlier this year by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a challenge for the church to meet.

The Calls to Action are about moving Canada and its churches past simply acknowledging its dark history of colonial violence, to addressing the effects that violence has on the present, said Hiltz.

“The next phase of reconciliation has to be marked by this commitment to justice, by this commitment to addressing the injustices that Indigenous people continue to bear,” said Hiltz. And as the church addresses these injustices, he said, “I would hope that in that commitment people would be able to see that the apology is sincere, that the path or reconciliation is one to which we are deeply committed.”

Other members of the panel included Dean Jonas Allooloo of St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit, in the diocese of the Arctic; Canon Laverne Jacobs, elder of Walpole Island First Nation, in the diocese of Huron; the Rev. Andrew Wesley, assistant curate at the Church of the Redeemer, in the diocese of Toronto; and the Rev. Riscylla Shaw of Christ Church, Bolton, in the diocese of Toronto.

Not participating in the Sacred Circle panel but part of the primate’s commission are the Rev. Lily Bell of the diocese of Caledonia; John Bird, former General Synod co-ordinator of Aboriginal Justice and Right Relations; Jennifer Henry, executive director of ecumenical justice organization KAIROS; Ellie Johnson, former General Synod director of partnership; Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, of the Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh; the Rev. Stanley McKay, former moderator of the United Church of Canada; Graydon Nicholas, former lieutenant governor of New Brunswick; Stuart “Bud” Smith, of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior; and the Rev. Amos Winter, of the Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh.


Anglican Journal News, August 28, 2015

Montreal intern reflection: Nick Oligny

Posted on: August 25th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

**This blog post is part of a series of reflections by interns from the Montreal Mission Internship program, who are as guest writers at The Community as they wrap up their time in this program from the diocese of Montreal. The second reflection in this series is written by intern Nick Oligny.

Nick & Donaldweb

Nick Oligny (left) and his mentor Donald Boisvert, Principal of Montreal Diocesan Theological College


I was nervous starting this internship. I have no religious background and minimal knowledge of scripture. In academia or the workforce, I had a losing hand. But the welcome I received from the Montreal Mission Internship leaders and participants was unwaveringly warm and patient. I felt like a welcome guest. I can hear you: “Yeah, duh. We’re the Anglican Church. Obvi.”

But as a neophyte, I was fully ignorant of this. To give you an idea, I still sometimes confuse ‘Christian’ and ‘Catholic’. I didn’t know whether preachiness would outweigh compassion (it didn’t) or if I could bite the wafer (I can (right???)). My insight prior to immersion was made up of snippets of poorly informed sources. I had no cohesive image of what I was getting myself into, and I want to thank you. Thank you for taking me in. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for taking an interest in me and the others, so selflessly, and wanting to see us work thoughtfully and compassionately.

Thank you for putting values first, and teaching me to love others more broadly and openly, and to find comfort in vulnerability.

Oh, and thanks for the free lunch. [The MMI community ate a vegetarian lunch together every Wednesday]


A detail from Nick’s work in progress on the Cardinal Virtues


My project has been to draw wisdom from the Church in order to inculcate positive values to myself and others who might be wary of the baggage affixed to certain world views or symbols. I can understand why some want to distance themselves from one faith or another, for whatever reason; but there are universal values which I find important to hold onto: compassion, diligence, reason and temperance (shout-out to Thomas Aquinas for the Cardinal Virtues).

Yet I’ve come to suspect that my project is almost secondary to my mentors. They want to help us grow and broaden our spiritual selves. They want to nourish our faith. What I think, and they seem certain of, is that when my beliefs and actions are joined to my daily praxis, I may do the most good through my little deeds (I’ve figured out what the Kingdom of God means, guys!). The end doesn’t justify the means, but rather decent means lead to decent ends.

As far as take-aways, I am grateful for several new experiences. Prayer figures very high on the list: counting your blessings, feeling for those around you, and taking a step back. The belief in a cognizant, compassionate God is difficult and secondary for me, but the action of praying is revelatory. Qualms and quabbles are reduced to dust, leaving more room for others in our hearts. Praying in the morning and praying before a meal change the angle from which a day gets viewed, away from the self.

You guys are cool, and it’s been a true pleasure spending these weeks with you. Thanks again!

Nick1Nick Oligny, born and raised in Montreal, is an artist whose work focuses on the constructs that define communities and questions the practice of dissecting socio-cultural constructs: “Artists tear down monuments and their hierarchical meaning yet do not replace them, leaving us on our own when we attempt to relate to one another. How can community be consolidated where culture is divided?” During the internship, Nick examined and re-contextualized four symbols–the four Cardinal Virtues–which, in his words, “evade hierarchical structures and help us understand how different personal histories create a rich cultural soil whence a better future may arise.” To read more reflections by Nick, visit the Montreal Mission Internship blog here.

Montreal Mission Interns

About Montreal Mission Interns

The Montreal Mission Internship aims to help young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 discern their vocation to a life of service and ministry in God’s world. Sponsored by the Montreal Diocesan Theological College and the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, the paid urban mission internship sends young adults into the city to work in the service of others as participants in God’s mission. Possible project areas can include the environment, community gardens, children or youth, interfaith or intercultural dialogue, homelessness, and the arts.


Montreal intern reflection: Ben Stuchbery

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Ben & JJsmall

The three aspects of my internship this summer have been guided by an understanding of mission that seeks primarily to uphold the sanctity of human life. It is the thread that holds them together. The three aspects are as follows: fair trade, French bible study, and pastoral care. Each of these witnesses to care for human dignity in progressively smaller dimensions, namely: global, local/parish, individual. Yet there is always a dialogue to be had in relating each of these back to the church.


Fair trade as a global movement that seeks to establish supportive partnerships between producers and consumers needs, in the context of Christian concern for upholding human life, a theological framework that articulates the reasons our faith moves us to address this particular issue. That has been part of my role in relation to fair trade. In the course of aiding in creating a fair trade support network within the church in Montreal, I have been exploring the theology of relationship as something fundamental to the Christian vision of life and that the call to right relationship with God, the earth and each other is a call to sustainable and dignified ways of relating. I careful study of the creation narrative is, I think, a good place to start!

The French bible study group is a group of parishioners who attend the French service on Sundays at Christ Church Cathedral. They come together bi-weekly to share a meal, personal reflections and study of scripture. The focus here for me has been on mission as nurturing the already present and active community within the church. There is an imperative for us to continue providing nourishment for those who call the Anglican Church there Christian ‘home.’ As with fair trade, there is work to be done on articulating the theological reasons for sustaining relationships. The particular angle with which I have been approaching this idea is through the lens of, as mentioned, upholding the sanctity of life. This is important for the church because, I believe, the church is essentially the gathered body of Christ. And just as we would expect to care for our own bodies, so to must we care for the gathered body. Similarly, thinking globally, working with the principles of the fair trade movement one sees a similar concern for ensuring the healthy vitality of global human relationships.


Finally, the third aspect: pastoral care. Over the course of the internship I have been visiting an individual in her home to provide companionship and spiritual support. The focus on a single human life has been the most rewarding part of my work. It is a privilege to be invited into that intimacy of relationship that is such a major part of ministry. It has been an opportunity for me try out for myself what the role of a minister in this intimate context looks like. ‘When do I speak?’ ‘When do I keep silent?’ My experience has taught me at least one very important truth, namely, that more than anything the ministry of one in pastoral care is one of presence and witness. Presence, in the sense of ‘beholding’ the other person and moving alongside them in conversation, and witness to the conviction that if I believe God is at work in this person and in our conversation, that it is not my job to control so much as it is to facilitate the work of God. And to tie this all up neatly, I would say that the theological work to be done here is to articulate the call for Christians to witness God’s care for humanity through, in this case, individual loving attention. If the individual feels cared for, the community is stronger. And if I have accomplished anything in this internship it is, I hope, that I have made those bonds a little stronger. If that is the case, then I have can say I managed to uphold the sanctity of human life.

Benjamin Stuchbery is a student at the Faculty of Religious studies at McGill University. He is an active parishioner at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal and an associate of the Montreal Diocesan Theological College. Having grown up in British Columbia, he has been living in Montreal for the past two years. This summer he has been a participant in the Montreal Mission Internship program, a program that seeks to provide young adults with the opportunity of creating and implementing their own projects that participate in and speak to the mission of the church. Benjamin is also an accomplished flutist and drummer.

Montreal Mission Interns

About Montreal Mission Interns

The Montreal Mission Internship aims to help young adults between the ages of 18 and 26 discern their vocation to a life of service and ministry in God’s world. Sponsored by the Montreal Diocesan Theological College and the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, the paid urban mission internship sends young adults into the city to work in the service of others as participants in God’s mission. Possible project areas can include the environment, community gardens, children or youth, interfaith or intercultural dialogue, homelessness, and the arts.

The Community, An update from The Community, August 14, 2015

Bishop suggests ELCIC-Sacred Circle partnership

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

“In Canada you cannot separate discussions about poverty or discussions about climate change without also talking about Indigenous rights,” says ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson. Photo: André Forget

Port Elgin, Ont.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) may not have the same residential school history that the Anglican Church of Canada does, but its national bishop, Susan Johnson,  has committed her church to walking together in partnership with Indigenous Anglicans.

“We’re still trying to figure out what it means for us to be a basically non-Indigenous church in Canada. But [as] Canadian citizens…trying to build reconciliation and relationships with Indigenous people in Canada — What might that look like?” she asked. “We’re trying to figure that out.”

To that end, in a keynote delivered August 20 to the 8th National Anglican Sacred Circle, held here August 16-22, Johnson asked Sacred Circle members to consider whether or not they would be interested in entering into a more intentional relationship with the ELCIC.

“We’d like to request partnership with you, Sacred Circle, and you, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples [ACIP], to walk with you on this journey of discovery, and to serve as our helpers and as our advisors…and to make sure we don’t stray onto paths that look more colonial than they should,” said Johnson.

Johnson noted that the Lutheran church in Canada is a church of immigrants, which is why it was not involved in the residential school system. The ELCIC General Convention adopted a resolution on right relationships in 2011, but because there are very few Indigenous people in the Lutheran church itself, Lutherans rarely find themselves meeting or interacting with Indigenous people.

Johnson explained that since the ELCIC and the Anglican Church entered into full communion partnership in 2001, there have been more occasions for interaction. She spoke of how significant the Joint Assembly of the Lutheran and Anglican churches in 2013 was from this perspective.

“For  [Lutherans], that was the first time to listen to and to meet Indigenous people. And that’s just the reality of my church,” she said. “There are many places in Canada where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people don’t cross paths very easily, that meant that was a huge, huge thing for us. It really helped my people recognize how important it is to listen to you about working on this path toward reconciliation.”

Johnson also noted that closer relations with Indigenous peoples should be an integral part of her church’s commitment to fight poverty and climate change.

“In Canada you cannot separate discussions about poverty or discussions about climate change without also talking about Indigenous rights,” she said. “Those three issues, in Canada, are inseparable at this point.”

Johnson’s speech was received with applause, but no public discussion of what partnership would mean has taken place just yet. Rather, the bishop encouraged ACIP and Sacred Circle to take their time and consider whether or not such a partnership would be of interest to them at this time.


Anglican Journal News, August 24, 2015

Sacred Circle elects new members to ACIP

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Provincial caucus of Rupert’s Land prepares to  elect new members to the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP). Photo: André Forget

Port Elgin, Ont.
On August 21, the provincial caucuses of the eighth National Anglican Sacred Circle appointed four new members to the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), and reappointed four members currently serving.

From the ecclesiastical province of Canada, Cheyenne Vachom of the diocese of Quebec was elected to join Ruby Sandy-Robinson of the diocese of Quebec.

Dorothy Russell-Patterson of the diocese of Huron was elected to join Caroline Chum of the diocese of Moosonee in representing the province of Ontario.

The Rev. Nancy Bruyere of the Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh will be the new representative of the province of Rupert’s Land alongside returning representative the Rev. Larry Beardy, also of Mishamikoweesh.

The province of British Columbia and the Yukon chose John Haugen from the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior as its new representative and Willard Martin of the diocese of Caledonia as a returning representative.

While Canon 22, which governs the national Indigenous ministry, does not require that one representative from each province be re-elected at each Sacred Circle, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald encouraged provinces to adopt this practice to ensure continuity.

As national Indigenous bishop, MacDonald is also required to appoint three further members to ACIP—one youth, one elder and one member at large—and ACIP itself has the right to appoint further members as it chooses, which MacDonald encouraged the representatives to exercise.

“I hope that ACIP will meet to consider adding new members,” he said, “and I will consider my own three appointments once I see who has been chosen.”


Anglican Journal News, August 24, 2015

Planting the seeds of an Anglican Indigenous Church

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa (foreground, right) speaks before the planting of a symbolic evergreen tree at the end of the 2015 Sacred Circle, as Diocesan Bishop of Missinipi Adam Halkett (foreground, left) and Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples co-chair Sid Black (foreground, centre) listen.

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa (foreground, right) speaks before the planting of a symbolic evergreen tree at the end of the 2015 Sacred Circle, as Diocesan Bishop of Missinipi Adam Halkett (foreground, left) and Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples co-chair Sid Black (foreground, centre) listen.

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As the cool evening air settled, Sacred Circle participants congregated around a small evergreen tree ready to be planted as part of a tradition at the end of the gathering.

Before the tree was planted, Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh offered a few words.

“Planting a tree is an occasion for us to learn from,” Bishop Lydia said. “This kind of tree, it never loses its branches. It’s always green.”

“Our God wants us to be like this tree,” she added. “He wants us to always be growing … May this be an illustration for our lives that we may be like this tree in our spiritual lives—that the life may never leave us, the life that our Creator who died on the Cross for us gives us.”

It was a fitting end to a momentous day, when Sacred Circle delegates planted the seeds for a historic move towards self-determination by endorsing a draft plan to establish a fifth province and structure for the Indigenous Anglican Church as part of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The mood of the hall was electric that afternoon as Sol Sanderson, a member of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice, presented a draft statement outlining the proposed structure for a fifth ecclesiastical province.

Sol with chart - cropped

Sol Sanderson uses a chart to explain the interface of jurisdiction for the House of Bishops between the proposed National Anglican Indigenous Church of Canada and the existing national structure of the Anglican Church of Canada.


In this draft proposal, the province’s offices would include a National Anglican Indigenous Primate—retaining the office of National Indigenous Anglican Bishop—as well as regional bishops, area mission bishops and ministry at the community level.

The National Indigenous Anglican Church would have both shared and separate areas of jurisdiction with the existing structure of the Anglican Church of Canada, Canon XXII being amended to accommodate the transition.

Excitement surrounding the draft statement was palpable. One Sacred Circle delegate noted his trepidation at the prospect, due to the fact that it was a challenge that took delegates out of their comfort zone.

But, he added, “It’s only when we step out of our comfort zone that we grow,” and expressed his strong willingness to support the document. Others also spoke in favour, and a consensus among delegates resulted in the draft statement being forwarded to the new membership of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples.

Reflections on the Port Elgin statement

As an official listener and reporter of the 2015 Sacred Circle, the draft statement appeared to me as the appropriate culmination of a week during which I had experienced first-hand the pride, faith and strength of Indigenous Anglicans continuing their journey towards self-determination, as well as the inspiring solidarity of non-Indigenous Anglican delegates in support of that goal embodied by the Primate’s sermon during the opening Eucharist.

Endorsement of the Port Elgin statement built on decades’ of work and momentum towards self-determination, while marking a qualitative change in the ever-evolving relationship between Indigenous people and the Anglican Church of Canada. Delegates at the 2015 Sacred Circle have thrown down the gauntlet and endorsed a concrete vision for Indigenous self-determination within the wider church, and the prospect of its realization is tremendously exciting.

Fear of change is a common sentiment among human beings. We often gravitate towards the familiar, even when that change is likely to be positive. Some Anglicans might experience trepidation at major changes to a church structure they have grown accustomed to.

Yet no worries could be more misplaced. What I saw in Port Elgin over the last week was a bond between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglicans that had never been stronger, a mutual understanding that had never been greater, and an unprecedented will and resolve for Indigenous Anglicans to express their faith in a manner rooted in their own rich cultural traditions.

Self-determination for Indigenous Anglicans can only lead to a stronger Anglican Church of Canada. May the strengthening of bonds between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglicans lead to new life and a growing evergreen church rooted in that mutual understanding and respect.


Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, August 22, 2015

Indigenous youth point the way forward

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Indigenous Anglican youth and young adults perform The Women's Warrior Song at Sacred Circle.

Indigenous Anglican youth and young adults perform The Women’s Warrior Song at Sacred Circle.

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“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”—Romans 8:18

The tribulations of the past and present intermingled with hope for the future at Sacred Circle on Thursday, Aug. 19, as a new generation of Indigenous Anglicans stepped forward to address the ongoing issues faced by Indigenous communities across Canada.

While naturally focused on the more acute nature of these crises in Indigenous communities due to the impacts of residential schools and other colonial policies, such challenges are by no means restricted to Canada’s Indigenous populationunderscoring the shared interests between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in building a better future.

The severity of conditions in many Indigenous communities was laid bare by the focus of the morning’s presentations—suicide prevention. A number of pamphlets available at the back of the room outlined the stark statistics on high rates of suicide among Aboriginal youth compared to non-Aboriginal youth.

One of the speakers discussing successful models of suicide prevention was Dorothy Russell-Patterson from the Anglican Parishes of Six Nations. She recounted how her cousin took his own life and her own attempted suicide before finding her way to healing.

Ms. Russell-Patterson highlighted the importance of love, faith in Jesus and Indigenous traditions in helping create the kind of bonds that prevent suicide. She also discussed the need to organize events to share gifts and strengths, particularly on Sept. 10, World Suicide Prevention Day.

Illustrating the link between suicide prevention and wider efforts at cultural restoration and social change, she noted, “We need healing for our people … I thank God for the people that are dealing with issues such as missing and murdered Indigenous women.”

Those issues came to the fore at the youth and young adult presentation during the afternoon, in which young Sacred Circle participants answered questions on some of the most pressing challenges.

Calgary participant Jeffrey Waterchief pointed to continued discrimination against Indigenous people in the legal system, schools and colleges.

“Somebody has to speak up for them,” he said, urging youth to get involved by networking with those most affected—the wrongly imprisoned and those turned away from institutions due to their Indigenous background, as well young people and mistreated members of the general population.

While many may not have an interest in Christianity or the church, he added, “If no one can be there for them, the church has to be.”

Responding to a query about the importance of education on sexual violence, sexual harassment and suicide connected to sexual violence, Leigh Kern pointed to sacredness of the body as described in the Scriptures, which is too often violated—particularly for women, people of colour and Indigenous people.

“We’re living in this time where we’ve inherited this legacy of violence which has been used by colonizers invading Turtle Island,” Leigh said.

Besides the self-harm and feelings of shame that often come from sexual abuse, so prevalent in residential schools, she noted the disregard for missing and murdered Indigenous women by law enforcement and government.

“We need to have better education on sex, sexuality and consent, so youth can de-colonize their bodies, reclaim sexuality … so we don’t see each other as objects to be exploited and used, but as whole, unique beings created by God.”

Sacred Fire song
Young Indigenous Anglicans sing a traditional song around the Sacred Fire.

Hailing from the diocese of Moosonee, Melanie Wesley-Hardisty discussed the need to revitalize church structures in a way that would appeal to Indigenous youth through greater openness, reclaiming Indigenous culture and traditions and further integrating them into the church.

“I find that [Indigenous traditions] can also be a healing for our people, especially to finally heal and move on from the residential school era and not be stuck looking back,” Melanie said. “I find that for so many years, our people have been really brainwashed and made to believe that our culture and our traditions were made out to be evil … There’s still that belief today.”

Addressing the urgency of environmental problems, Ariana Dorie, 18, spoke of the harm caused to her small rural community in southern Manitoba by encroaching companies, such as a nearby paper mill, that had despoiled the local environment by dumping waste on the ground or into the lake.

“Some fishermen have recorded that if you cut open a fish, you see cancerous lumps,” Ariana lamented. “Our fish are sick. Our land is sick.”

She pointed to the need to raise greater awareness of the stakes involved.

“Things need to change in my community,” she added. “And not just in my community, but for surrounding communities in Manitoba and all over Canada.”

Following the discussion, the youth performed The Women’s Warrior Song, once more channelling the energy and spirit of participants through the power of music.

Such inspiration is necessary to address the enormity of the challenges ahead. Yet the eloquence of the young speakers on the stage that day, and the warm reception they received from all participants in the Sacred Circle, provided much ground for optimism.

 __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, August 21, 2015