My blog posts revolve around my interests and vocation as a historian: the intersection of history and contemporary church life, the intersection of history and contemporary politics, serendipitous discoveries in archives or on research trips, publications and research projects, upcoming conferences, and speaking engagements.
I sometimes blog for two other organizations, the Canadian Baptist Historical Society and the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.
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During my recent tour of the NorthWind Family Ministries (NWFM) faculties in downtown Thunder Bay I made a serendipitous discovery of some original documents hanging in a hallway.
NWFM has a vibrant and critical ministry among First Nations peoples in the north, and so, on the one hand, I should not have been surprised to see such important artifacts being displayed. On the other hand, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see them because I didn’t know that such amazing documents existed.
While these documents are not a part of the official government Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, they do deal with fundamental issues related to indigenous issues. As such, they are an important part of the overall telos towards truth and reconciliation.
One document is entitled The Covenant of the First Peoples of Canada (21 June 2006).
The other is entitled The Charter of Forgiveness and Freedom (12 June 2010).
When you read them you see a remarkable depiction of a vibrant indigenous Christian identity, a vital spiritual vision, a realistic appraisal of the past, and a hopeful dream for the future. What is most striking in the light of recent reporting of unmarked graves next to residential schools is the awareness then of such problems – and a statement of forgiveness for such wrongs. For instance, the The Charter of Forgiveness and Freedom reads in part: “We gladly share this moment with you as we break the heavy yoke of the past and walk into tomorrow unfettered by its shame. Let us find wisdom together, let us renew hope together, and let us share in the life conceived in our Creator’s heart for all of us. We forgive you.”
If reconciliation and healing is to continue, the sentiments in these two documents must be remembered and nurtured.
3/25/2022 09:41:03 am
I gather that these two documents represent the initiative of two Cree Pentecostals, Kenny and Louise Blacksmith of Mistissini, Quebec, who formed "Gathering Nations International" in 1997. its goal is the healing and release of Indigenous peoples from a negative past. They wrote the "Covenant" which was signed at a meeting in Ottawa in 2006. I don't know that the signatures have all been identified, but some googling indicates a couple of names. The covenant commits the Indigenous evangelical signatories to supporting revival and transformation in Canada and elsewhere. The "forgiveness" charter was conceived as a response to Prime Minister Harper's apology of 2008 for Canada's role in the Indian residential schools, and his request for forgiveness. I've read that "Gathering Nations International" is allied with the Conservative party of Canada, but I don't know if that's true. Although the documents have dramatic titles they seem to represent a very small number of people, but this is certainly an interesting episode in itself and it would be fun to research it.
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