If all goes according to plan, aboriginal parishes in the diocese of Keewatin’s Northern Ontario region will have their own area bishop by March 6.
On Jan. 5, the executive council of the eccclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land unanimously granted a request from the diocese of Keewatin to hold an election. The area bishop will work with both the Bishop of Keewatin and the National Anglican Indigenous Bishop.
The decision is a result of four years of “hard work and visioning,” said Archbishop David Ashdown, diocesan bishop of Keewatin and Metropolitan of Rupert’s Land. It’s also one that will “shape the future of not just the diocese of Keewatin but the whole of the Anglican Church of Canada,” he said.Archbishop Ashdown has repeatedly stated that changes to the diocese’s structures fulfill the diocese’s commitment to self-determination for native Anglicans.
A Council of Elders will act as a search committee for the new bishop. Nominees will be presented to the special assembly, made up of delegates from 16 communities in the region, at Wunnumin Lake First Nation, located northeast of Sioux Lookout, Ont., on March 6.
The assembly will elect its bishop using a time-honoured voting tradition: they will stand behind the nominee of their choice. The nominee with the most delegates standing behind him or her will be declared elected.
A similar proposal for an area bishop in the Northern Manitoba region, comprised of parishes from both the dioceses of Keewatin and Brandon, is awaiting final decision.