National consultation on Indigenous self-determination planned for 2017

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Archbishop Fred Hiltz (centre) says the time has come for a "renewed covenant" between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglicans. Photo: André Forget
Archbishop Fred Hiltz (centre) says the time has come for a "renewed covenant" between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglicans. Photo: André Forget

In 2017, the Anglican Church of Canada will hold a national consultation to discuss the current status of relations between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people within the Anglican Church of Canada.

“I’ve been thinking for some time that it is time for us as the whole church to take a pause, take a breath, and come together and see where we are on this long journey [toward self-determination],” Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Canadian Anglican church, told Council of General Synod (CoGS) November 19. “My hope is that we might, all together as the whole church, move toward some kind of a renewed covenant for the whole church.”

Hiltz said the consultation would be co-convened by himself and National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald. While a date has not yet been settled, Hiltz said the event might take place in conjunction with National Aboriginal Day on June 21.

The consultation would bring together 50-60 Indigenous and non-Indigenous representatives from across the Canadian Anglican church to share their experiences with reconciliation and their efforts to establish self-determining Indigenous ministries.

He noted this would include elders, youth, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) representatives, diocesan archdeacons for Indigenous ministry and people involved in urban Indigenous ministry.

Hiltz said the consultation would be a time for “stories, songs, prayers, a sacred fire…talking circles and healing circles.” But it would also be an opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglicans from across Canada to discern together what has been successful and what needs more work.

“What are the good news stories? And what have we learned as we’ve moved forward in certain locales in the spirit of self-determination? What is it that we still lament? What still remains a significant challenge?” said Hiltz. “What might some next significant big steps be, as we move forward together in the spirit of building a truly Indigenous church?”

In the 23 years since Indigenous Anglicans first signalled their desire to become a self-determining church within the Anglican Church of Canada in the 1994 covenant, there have been significant changes in the way Indigenous ministry in the Canadian Anglican church is structured, such as the creation of the position of National Indigenous Bishop, Hiltz noted.

However, while self-determination is often discussed at the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), at CoGS and in the House of Bishops, Hiltz said the issue must be engaged “by the whole church.”

Hiltz said he and MacDonald hoped to have a planning team in place by mid-December.

Money was not set aside to cover the costs of a gathering such as this in the national church’s 2017 budget, but Hiltz said he was “optimistic” funds would come in to cover it. According to Hiltz, the diocese of Ottawa has already pledged $20,000 to “help get this thing launched.”

André Forget

André Forget

André Forget was a staff writer for the Anglican Journal from 2014 to 2017.

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