Six Canadian indigenous Anglicans were to leave for Lihue, Hawaii in early September to join counterparts from New Zealand, Australia and the United States for the fifth meeting of the Anglican Indigenous Network.
The international network brings together indigenous Anglicans from around the world to discuss their common issues and challenges and, often, relationships with church bodies.
“The members of the network have been present in our growth, in our defining ourselves over the years,” explains Donna Bomberry, indigenous ministries co-ordinator with the Anglican Church of Canada’s Partnerships department.
The Canadian participants include Arctic suffragan bishop Paul Idlout and Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples members Rev. Iola Metuq (Diocese of the Arctic), Grace Delaney (Moosonee), Gladys Cook (Rupert’s Land), Rev. Mervin Wolfleg (Calgary) and Ms. Bomberry.
This is the second network meeting for Ms. Bomberry, who says the gathering allows indigenous people to update each other on what is happening in their ministries. The Canadians delegation, for instance, will report on its covenant, the projects which have been funded by the healing and reconciliation fund and its involvement with Keewatin Bishop Gordon Beardy’s Sacred Walk for Healing, which raised funds to help survivors of abuse.
They will also share Anglican Video’s production A Journey Begins with a Dream, which documented the last Anglican Indigenous Sacred Circle.
The attendance of indigenous bishops is very important to the gatherings, says Ms. Bomberry.
“Many of our people come from dioceses which don’t have indigenous bishops, so this is a new experience for them to see and hear them,” she says. “I think it’s so important to have our own bishops be part of our delegation because folks who come from New Zealand and Australia are strong in episcopal representation. You learn so much more about the ministry when you have that kind of leadership present.”
(Canada has four indigenous bishops: suffragans Charlie Arthurson (Diocese of Saskatchewan) Bishop Idlout and Andrew Atagotaaluk (Arctic) and Keewatin diocesan bishop Gordon Beardy.)
The delegates, says Ms. Bomberry, will learn “so much from the experience.” In fact, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples’ covenant was inspired, in part, by the council’s involvement with the indigenous people from New Zealand, who maintain one stream of a three-stream church.
The networking, says Ms. Bomberry, helps participants grow.
“That’s what our reconciliation work has been about: helping others become aware, educated about our identity in the Anglican Communion,” she says. “That’s what self determination is about. It’s not a structural thing – yet.”