When he was ordained as a deacon in 1988, the Rev. Arthur Anderson’s uncle gave him an eagle feather tied with a cross. It was a symbol of the work that Mr. Anderson was meant to do bringing together aboriginal people and the Anglican Church of Canada. Last summer, Mr. Anderson was recognized for the 21 years he has been a priest in the diocese of Qu’Appelle.
He was awarded the 2009 Regina Multifaith Individual Achievement Award given annually by the Regina Multifaith Forum to individuals whose outstanding achievements “make Regina proud.””They said I’ve been a bridge-builder between cultures that still don’t understand each other,” said Mr. Anderson, 72, who claimed he was “really awestruck” by the award. Since his ordination at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Regina, Mr. Anderson has worked in both non-aboriginal and aboriginal parishes in Saskatchewan. His experience as an indigenous priest working in non-indigenous parishes has been a positive one, he said in an interview. “I was understood, embraced and treated as an equal person in those communities. Today, they still call me and ask me to come back and be with them.
“An awful lot of our issues are similar. People just lack understanding of one another,” he added. “Once you discard your fears of difference, you get to realize that there’s no such thing as a difference. We hurt the same, we forgive the same.We’re all the same in the eyes of God.”
When the Indian residential schools issue started heating up in the 1990s, Mr. Anderson was a priest at three First Nations reserves, including Gordon, his birthplace. “What was I to do? I told them there are people that journey with you. Maybe you don’t see them, but they’re there, they’re very concerned. They [indigenous people] don’t hear that very often,” he said. Mr. Anderson was himself a former residential school student.
A veteran who spent 29 years in the military, Mr. Anderson was also appointed early this year as diocesan elder by the bishop of Qu’Appelle, Greg Kerr-Wilson.