The Anglican diocese of Keewatin may cease to exist in 2015.
It all hinges on whether or not General Synod 2013, scheduled July 3 to 7 in Ottawa, approves the request of the area mission of northern Ontario to become an indigenous diocese.
The new diocese will cover 16 First Nations communities belonging to Treaty 9 around Kingfisher Lake, north of Sioux Lookout. The northern Ontario area mission currently has a bishop, Lydia Mamakwa, who was elected in 2010, and several local clergy.
The diocesan council of Keewatin and the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land have approved the creation of the yet-unnamed diocese, but the church’s constitution requires the agreement of General Synod, the governing body of the Anglican Church of Canada.
“We hope that the General Synod will give concurrence, so that we can move to realizing this vision that’s been in the hearts of people for over half a century,” said Archbishop David Ashdown, bishop of Keewatin and metropolitan of Rupert’s Land.
The approval will mean that parishes from the remaining two regions of Keewatin – northern Manitoba and southern Ontario – could join other neighbouring dioceses, Ashdown explained to members the Council of General Synod (CoGS), which met Nov. 15 to 18 in Mississauga, Ont.
Negotiations are underway for the transfer of the southern Ontario region to the diocese of Rupert’s Land, while the northern Manitoba region parishes are examining a move to the northern region of the diocese of Brandon, he said. Both processes require the consent of the dioceses and the provincial synod of Rupert’s Land.
From a mission perspective, “it doesn’t make sense, it’s not practical” to have two dioceses in Keewatin, said Ashdown, adding: “There are better ways of providing ministry.”
Although the new diocese will have its own canon and be self-determining, it’s not separating from the church, Ashdown emphasized.