Vi Smith, a well-known elder with the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, died recently at the age of 85.
A member of the Gitksan Nation in northern British Columbia, Mrs. Smith served the church at parish, diocesan and national levels, including the national church’s Women’s Unit, Council for Native Ministries and the Primate’s Commission on Evangelism.
She represented Canada as a member of the steering committee for the Anglican Indigenous Network, and also served the diocese of Caledonia’s Anglican Church Women branch.
Earlier this year, as she lay in a coma in hospital, the Primate, Archbishop Michael Peers visited her bedside in Hazelton, B.C. to present her with the Anglican Award of Merit. This award is given to lay people who have made an outstanding contribution to the church. Mrs. Smith was wearing the medallion when she died.
In her work with the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, Mrs. Smith attended the first three of the four national native convocations and, in 1993, represented the gathering in accepting the apology of the Primate for the church’s role in the residential schools system.
In accepting the apology, Mrs. Smith said, “It was offered from his heart with sincerity, sensitivity, compassion and humility. We receive it in the same manner. We offer praise and thanks to our Creator for his courage.”
Mrs. Smith also narrated the 1995 Anglican Video documentary The Seventh Fire, which told the story of Canadian indigenous people and the covenant they drafted to build an autonomous Aboriginal church in partnership with the Anglican Church of Canada.
Mrs. Smith’s husband, John ‘Scotty’ Smith, died in 1990; she leaves nine children, 23 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.