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The Missionary

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SelkirkAfter their long trek and gradual settlement, the Scottish community established on the shores of the Red River by Lord Selkirk searched for a Presbyterian minister. A man of the cloth was promised to them in 1818, but Selkirk died before this pledge could be fulfilled. On October 15, 1820 the first mass of the Church of England (Anglican Church) was served in the Red River Settlement by the Reverend John West.

The amalgamation of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and the North West Company in 1821 resulted in relocation and Red River Mission Churchunemployment on a large scale-many former company men joined the Red River Settlement. The Anglican church responded to a call from the HBC, which was concerned about care and housing for the many orphaned children of mixed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal parentage who were to become the responsibility of the company. Governor Bulger wrote to Rev. West:

With respect to the Orphan Children there will be some expense at first in erecting buildings, etc. But if elder Boys are employed in cultivation, and the girls and younger children at other works of industry, the expense will not be very considerable and their Religious Instruction and Education may be carried on at the same time. 

Many Aboriginal people, including Métis, were touched by the Anglican's earlyRed River Aboriginals evangelizing activity. In 1840 Henry Budd became the first Aboriginal religious teacher working in The Pas. Budd was ordained a Deacon of the Church in 1850, together with 19 other candidates, among them four Aboriginal people. Budd's son, Henry Budd "the younger" also entered the ministry field.  Budd's nephew, Peter Erasmus, was to serve as a guide and interpreter with many explorers and Methodist missionaries in the Northwest.

Fort SimpsonFrom Red River the Anglican missions gradually moved north and west. In 1851 a mission at Portage la Prairie was initiated. Lac la Ronge had been visited since 1849 without the establishment of an enduring mission. However, in 1859 a permanent mission was established at Fort Simpson in the present-day Northwest Territories, from where other remote posts, such as Fort Rae, were visited.

The 1870s saw an increase in mission posts in what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta. Aboriginal church leaders worked in the Whitefish Lake area, northwest of Fort Carlton. Edmonton received its first Anglican mission post in 1875 to serve the increasing number of white settlers and traders in the area. As well, the signing of treaties caused the initiation of mission posts on or near reserves-in 1877 in the Battleford area, and in 1881 at the Kanai (Blood) Reserve near Fort Macleod. When the Methodist mission to the Kanai people closed in 1890, their mission was sold to the Anglican church.

Anglican Missionaries BloodMissionaries of the Anglican church dedicated their efforts to education and to the early inclusion of Aboriginal people as school staff members. In 1833 the Red River Academy opened a school for children in care of the Hudson's Bay Company. At other mission posts, schooling, religious instruction and worship were part of the same program. The traditional rules and protocols of the church were lifted-the Church Missionary Society (CMS) made the recommendation to not consecrate churches or chapels as long as they were used for the purposes of missions, as "consecration would limit their use as school-rooms, places for instructing of catechumens or congregations of heathen enquirers." Special attention was given to the selection, training and mentoring of Aboriginal church leaders.


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