Centre for Rural Community Leadership and Ministry
Rural Issues: Aboriginal Peoples
Canada is home to over one million Aboriginal people, representing numerous and rich and unique histories, languages, and cultural traditions. Canada's Indigenous peoples have played a central role within our national history and they are prominent in our national identity.
For seven generations, many First Nation, Métis and Inuit children in Canada were taken from their families and sent to institutions called Indian residential schools. Most of these schools were government funded and church-run. The experiences of many of the children in those schools produced profound trauma and pain and loss of culture.
The traumas and losses impacted the students in numerous ways and the resulting struggles were passed on to their children and grandchildren (Ethnostress) (Complex Post Traumatic Stress in First Nations Populations). Today our Aboriginal people face many struggles in many areas. The dark legacy of residential schools has been unfolding for 150 years; it will take patience, time and effort to turn things around.
First Nations-Rural Neighbours Friendship Initiative
Today in our rural areas, there is often an invisible wall between neighbouring communities of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. The wall is characterized by many things such as economic disparities, ignorance of Canadian history, misunderstandings and fear.
Purpose of the Initiative: To help close the gap between First Nations and their neighbouring communities, using churches and others as bridges for conversation and friendship building.
Who might be interested? Churches in both First Nations and nearby towns.
Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) National Events
The TRC hosted seven national events in different regions across Canada.
The national events engaged the Canadian public and provide education about the history of the residential schools system, the experience of former students and their families and the ongoing legacies of the institutions within communities. The national events were also opportunities to celebrate regional diversity and honour those touched by residential schools.
Anglican church of Canada Indigenous Bishop Mark McDonald’s message (A Summary)
July 2012 Eastern Synod Convention, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)
“Anglican National Indigenous Bishop calls on delegates to remember baptismal call..."
Bishop Mark MacDonald preached at the closing worship service on the afternoon of Saturday, July 7. Delegates were invited to worship at neighbouring congregations on Sunday morning.
Bishop MacDonald spoke of his recent involvement at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) meetings in Saskatoon. He spoke of sitting through the many days of testimony and of hearing of the way church people treated [those speaking at the TRC] over the years.
“It was very difficult,” said Bishop MacDonald, as he reflected on his experience listening to the stories of hurt and pain. “The whole arsenal that I was offered when I was trained as a pastor seemed so meagre in the face of so much pain.”
During the middle of the TRC gathering, Bishop MacDonald was asked to offer prayer.
“This amazing thing happened,” he said. “Hundreds and hundreds of people lined up – they came, elders and children. [And] despite the pain, despite all the obstacles in Indigenous Canada, there are literally thousands of people who are putting together a new life on the basis of their faith in the gospel. It’s a powerful thing.”
“As I look at the traditional things I have done to try to respond to both pain and opportunity, I don’t really know what to do,” he continued. “It’s not the preachers, the politicians, the physiologists. It’s not the pious. It is the baptized. For us to stand in the face of the pain of the past and the present, to stand with the rich opportunities in front of us of what we have to offer, is the baptism that we have received in Jesus Christ.”