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The Missionary

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Anglican Blackfoot School Christian missionaries have a long tradition of being the harbingers of Western culture to traditional societies. The missionaries who came to western Canada in the 19th century came from a world in the throws of then industrial revolution. Britain moved from the Romanic era into Victorianism, which was very much a period of awakening of a social conscience, and post revolution France was still under the reign of the Napoleons. In eastern Canada the underground railroad operated, Irish Immigrants had just arrived in large numbers, and Ottawa was the new capital of Canada. Towards the end of the century, France - in the aftermath of the Dreyfus affair - restricted the freedom of religious orders and England, in the wake of Darwin and Marx, and preoccupied with colonial politics, saw theories of racial and social difference come in vogue.

This world was also shaped by a religious culture which preached personal poverty and selfless care for those in need. The  missionaries often had seen plenty of poverty in their own surroundings.

Before/After PortraitsWhereas the essence of Christianity is selfless love for one's neighbour, the conveyance of this message in institutional form has often obscured and hindered its expression. Modern institutions, related to education and legal process, for example, are aspects of a civil society, where people of different races and backgrounds live together bound in their participation in these institutions.  However, these institutions have often fallen short in acknowledging the importance of cultural and community understandings. 

Through these institutional forms, the motivation that attempted to offer food, shelter and modern education to Aboriginal peoples displaced from their traditional lands, gave rise to residential schools. While much good was done, many of the immediate and residual effects were a sad corruption of important Christian ideals. 

Heritage Trails - Presented by CKUA  Poundmaker Lodge Near St. Albert
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Anglican Hospital InteriorHigh River Industrial School - SewingBlackfoot HockeyPicking Potatoes
All missions - Anglican, Methodist and Roman Catholic were faced with
a shortage of materials, food, medicine and help, - and the conviction
that western culture offered the answers they needed. The missionaries
relied on their personal knowledge and experience to care for, clothe
and feed those they considered their charges. This meant implementing a
western model for house keeping, teaching and nursing as well as for
community celebrations and recreation.

   

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