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The Missionary

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Dedication of CairnLong before my people journeyed to this land your people were here, and you received from your elders an understanding of creation, and of the Mystery that surrounds us all that was deep, and rich and to be treasured. We did not hear you when you shared your vision. In our zeal to tell you the good news of Jesus Christ we were closed to the value of your spirituality. We confused western ways and culture with the depth and breadth and length and height of the gospel of Christ. We imposed our civilization as a condition of accepting the Gospel. We tried to make you like us and in doing so we helped to destroy the vision that made you what you were. As a result, you, and we, are poorer and the image of the Creator in us is twisted, blurred and we are not what we are meant by God to be. We ask you to forgive us and to walk together with us in the spirit of Christ so that our peoples may be blessed and God's creation healed. 

- The Thirty-First General Council
August, 1986
The United Church of Canada

Canadians know little about the peaceful and co-operative relationship that grew up between First Peoples and the first European visitors in the early years of contact. They know even less about how it changed, over centuries, into something less honorable . . . But there was honour in history, too; indeed, the foundations of a fair and equitable relationship were laid in our early interaction. 

- People to People, Nation to Nation -
Highlights form the Report of the
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

People living today in Western Canada have a relatively short history of association with Aboriginal peoples. Over the years the nature of that contact has changed dramatically and many times. Within the range of Christian churches, drastic shifts have taken place with respect to dialogue and cooperation. In 1873 the establishment of the Our Lady of Peace Mission by Roman Catholic missionaries on the Elbow River was not viewed as an occasion for a friendly visit by the McDougall Family from the nearby Methodist mission at Morley. Yet in 1939, when a cairn was dedicated to commemorate the work of the Catholic missionaries at the site, Mrs. McDougall, now 86 years old, heartily participated in the celebrations.

Methods and understanding related to home missions, Native ministries and Aboriginal theological education have changed with the shifting times. Support in leadership development initiatives as well as advocacy in justice issues have remained an important aspect of the United Church. The Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre has become a national centre for education in ministry as well as healing and reconciliation. The Right Rev. Bill Phipps, past moderator of the United Church of Canada, has been an outspoken advocate and supporter of the land claims of the Lubicon Lake Band, as well as a commentator on residential school issues.

SweetgrassThe Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches today jointly work toward reconciliation and healing of their relationship with Aboriginal peoples. Much of the work of redress and reconciliation takes place through channels within the churches themselves through the work of Aboriginal Christians, ministers and lay members of the church, who help in the healing process of their own community and their non-Aboriginal neighbours. 


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