Prince George, B.C.
The Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP), which guides Indigenous ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada, will have mostly new faces for the next three years after elections held at Sacred Circle in Prince George, B.C., Thursday, August 9.
Ten people were newly elected to ACIP, which includes members from all four of the Anglican Church of Canada’s ecclesiastical provinces: Sheba McKay, Rosie Jane Tailfeathers, Theresa Halkett, the Rev. Martha Kunuk, Mabel Brown, the Rev. Manasee Ulayuk and Canon Murray Still (Rupert’s Land); the Rev. Norm Wesley and Sandra Fox (Ontario); and Ingrid Johnson (British Columbia and Yukon).
Six members were re-elected: Freda Lepine (Rupert’s Land); Dorothy Russell-Patterson (Ontario); John Haugen and Willard Martin (British Columbia and Yukon); and the Rev. Annie Ittoshat and Cheyenne Vachon (Canada).
Under the canon (church law) governing ACIP, the National Indigenous Bishop may also appoint up to three more members: an elder, a young person and an “at large” person.
The vote was the first time that Inuit representation on ACIP was essentially mandated by the voting rules. Under new rules, three of the eight ACIP members representing the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land must be from the diocese of the Arctic. The measure, MacDonald told Sacred Circle, was intended to address the lack of Inuit representation on ACIP, which, he said, was “absolutely essential.”
Earlier at Sacred Circle, ACIP’s two current co-chairs—Sidney Black, who is also Indigenous Bishop for Treaty 7 territory in the diocese of Calgary, and Caroline Chum—had announced they would be stepping down from ACIP to allow others to continue their work.
“I will not remain young forever, and it is time for me to pass on the torch,” Black said in an address to the gathering Tuesday, August 7. Younger Indigenous people even outside the church, Black said, are now ready to replace their older leaders and “grab hold of the torch that we’re passing on to you, and continue that work of healing and reconciliation in our communities, and in the wider world.”
Black compared the transition of ACIP leadership to the transferring of the ministry of Elijah, on his death, to his disciple, Elisha, with the spirit of God overseeing both.
“As Elijah is taken up into heaven, the mantle falls on Elisha—there is a transition, ministry continues, and the spirit of God did not go, the spirit of God rested on Elisha and the spirit of the Lord rests on us today,” he said. “I feel with the election of the new council the torch is being passed on, and the story will continue.”
Chum, who has served on ACIP for 11 years, said the current Sacred Circle would be her last.
“To echo words that Bishop Sid said, yes, it is time for some of us to pass the torch on,” she said. “We need not only young people, but people with wisdom to work hard, to follow through on the work that’s been started, the work that’s been called for since the late ’60s.”
The new ACIP met for the first time a day after the elections, and chose Wesley as one of its co-chairs. The other co-chair will be named at an ACIP meeting slated for October, said Indigenous ministries co-ordinator Ginny Doctor.
1969 marked an important milestone in the establishment of the Anglican Church of Canada’s department of Indigenous ministries, when the church ended its role in the Indian residential school system and “committed to a new relationship with Indigenous peoples,” according to the Anglican Church of Canada’s website. ACIP has its origins in two resolutions of General Synod, in 1975 and 1980.
Members of ACIP are drawn from Indigenous people who are active in the Anglican Church of Canada, and serve terms of three years. The council meets at least twice per year—an in-person meeting of four to five days, and at least one teleconference. The co-chairs also attend the twice-yearly meetings of Council of General Synod.
Note: This article has been updated with new information.