It is our hope and prayer that congregations across Canada will reach out in relationship to their indigenous neighbours and begin to take responsibility for reconciliation. Through empathy, education and equipping the IET is here to help you fulfill God’s call to missions here at home.
The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of indigenous peoples: First Nations, Inuit and Metis. These are three distinct peoples with unique histories, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. 1.7 million people (5% of the population) identify themselves as Indigenous – 977,000 (58%) First Nations; 587,000 (35%) Metis; 65,000 (4%) Inuit. Approximately 50% of those identifying as First Nations live off reserve or settlement. There are more than 600 First Nations and 3,100 reserves in Canada.
If you’d like to learn more about indigenous culture and how you can reach out in relationship and take responsibility for reconciliation, please contact our IET Leader: Adam Kline
Many Voices – One Heart
One of the ways your congregation can be educated and equipped is by hosting our “Many Voices – One Heart” experience. This is an opportunity for followers of Jesus to learn about indigenous history here in Canada, and help create a common ground for the larger community to pursue reconciliation and relationship together. This experience is made possible thanks to our partnership with Jonathan Maracle of Broken Walls and our Blanket Exercise Facilitators trained and certified through KAIROS Canada.
At our 2008 General Conference the Free Methodist Church in Canada publicly confessed “a role in the oppression of First Nations people, whether by action or passive inaction, past or present.”
As members of Canadian society, Free Methodists participated in electing successive governments throughout the 20th century who contributed to oppression and injustice toward indigenous peoples. As people claiming the name “Christian,” Free Methodists also have a connection to the wider Christian community which sought to eliminate the cultural identity of First Nations peoples in the name of “Christianizing” them.
In this 2008 statement leaders in our movement said: “It is Jesus’ heart desire that their dignity, which has been destroyed through these circumstances, be rebuilt so they can recognize, then receive God’s mercy and grow in His love. The Free Methodist Church in Canada has a role to play in achieving this goal. In identifying the souls around us that are dejected, angry, hurt from lost dignity, and seeking to restore this aspect of their spiritual life, we will earn their trust. Only then can we show through our actions and words that God’s Kingdom is truly an inclusive and Eternal Nation characterized by mercy, grace and love. By seeking the well-being of others we will find greater spiritual health ourselves as individuals and churches.”
Where to Begin
“One Church Many Tribes: Following Jesus the Way God Made You” by Richard Twiss
“Living in Color: Embracing God’s Passion for Ethnic Diversity” by Randy Woodley
“Indigenous Relations: Insights, Tips and Suggestions” by Bob and Cynthia Joseph
North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies: www.naiits.com