Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the Canadian primate (right, pictured with Rev. Melvin Cook of Tataskweyak Cree Nation in Manitoba) has assured aboriginal people of his commitment "to help give a voice to indigenous people."
The Anglican Church of Canada must “re-establish a rapport with those who direct the affairs of the nation,” according to Archbishop Andrew Hutchison in remarks delivered during the first meeting of the newly-elected members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS), where he presided for the first time since his election as primate in May 2004.
“There needs to be some bridge building between the church and those in positions of national leadership,” he said.
Some members suggested sharing information about federal and provincial leaders who are Anglicans, as a start.
In his remarks, the primate also expressed concern over issues affecting indigenous peoples of Canada. “I ache over the indigenous problems in the country,” he said. “In my travels in the past several months I have heard from native peoples stories of drugs, suicide and depression despite billions of dollars dumped into a basket called native affairs.”
Archdeacon Larry Beardy, a Cree member of CoGS from the diocese of Keewatin, expressed his appreciation for the primate’s remarks. “What he said about instances of suicides is a very scary situation in many of our communities,” he said.
Rev. Gloria Moses, who is Salish from the Anglican Provinces of the Central Interior, also spoke of the struggles in aboriginal communities during reflections delivered in her capacity as representative of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP). “We come from very large areas and there are so very few of us and we work with limited funds,” she said. “We have political leaders but they have other interests that don’t reflect the church.”
Meanwhile, shortly after the Nov. 26-28 meeting ended, Archbishop Hutchison met with seven representatives of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation from Split Lake, Man., and assured them “of my faithfulness to commitments made by my predecessor (Archbishop Michael Peers) to help give a voice to indigenous people.”
The Tataskweyak Cree Nation is currently assessing “all of the opportunities and problems of being co-owner in a potential business development with Manitoba Hydro,” according to a presentation the delegation made to the primate.
Archbishop Hutchison accepted the group’s invitation to visit their communities sometime next year.