The new diocese in northern Ontario will be known as Mishamikweesh, a tribute to the old settlement of Big Beaver House a few miles from the Kingfisher Lake First Nation community, where the first native archdeacon of Keewatin, the late Dr. William Winter, began his ministry in 1965.
“It is symbolic and meaningful that we name the new diocese Mishamikweesh,” which in Ojibway means ‘Big Beaver House,’ ” announced Bishop Lydia Mamakwa to members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS), which met here Nov. 14 to 17.
The new diocese will become official next year on the fourth of June-Winter’s birthday-said Mamakwa, the current area bishop of northern Ontario, who will become the first diocesan bishop of Mishamikweesh.
Last July, General Synod-the church’s governing body-approved the request of the area mission of northern Ontario to become an indigenous diocese. The new diocese-to be known as the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikweesh-will cover 16 First Nations communities belonging to Treaty 9 around Kingfisher Lake, north of Sioux Lookout.
Also at CoGS, members approved a resolution approving boundary changes to the dioceses of Keewatin, Rupert’s Land and Brandon, which resulted from the creation of the new northern Ontario diocese. CoGS gave its approval “subject to consent being given to these changes by the Executive Council of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land as authorized by the Provincial Synod.”
The province of Rupert’s Land executive council is scheduled to meet Nov. 22 to 23 to consider two petitions relating to these boundary changes.
It will consider a joint petition by the diocese of Keewatin and the diocese of Rupert’s Land to realign current boundaries, so that on or before Dec. 31, 2014, parishes in the southern region of the diocese of Keewatin will become part of the diocese of Rupert’s Land. It will also consider a joint petition by the diocese of Keewatin and the diocese of Brandon to realign current boundaries, so that on or before June 4, 2014, the Parish of St. James the Apostle in Thompson, Man., will become part of the diocese of Brandon.
“It is anticipated that both these resolutions will be approved,” Chancellor David Jones told CoGS.
James Sweeney, a lay member of CoGS from the province of Canada, said that while he was “overjoyed” that General Synod had given its approval to the creation of the new diocese, he wondered why CoGS was acting on the boundary changes ahead of the province of Rupert Land’s executive council decision.
Jones said that CoGS was being asked to give “an operational approval” and also, there was no order required between CoGS and the province as to when consents could be given.
If and when the executive council approves the petitions, the diocese of Keewatin will cease to function on Dec. 31, 2014, but will exist for legal purposes.