Working together to face the future

Published December 1, 2010

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, Mary Atagotaaluk and Susan Arreak. Photo: Harvey Shepherd

As parishes and dioceses in Canada’s Far North struggle with ever more scarce resources, new faces in the House of Bishops are helping the Anglican Church of Canada look to the future.

Bishop Lydia Mamakwa-consecrated May 14 as area bishop for what the diocese of Keewatin refers to as “Northern Ontario” parishes-was one of two Anglican bishops present for the first time at the joint meeting of the Anglican House of Bishops and Lutheran Conference of Bishops in Montreal.

Bishop Mamakwa’s election was described as historic, the first time an aboriginal bishop has been elected by aboriginal people using traditional methods. Bishop Mamakwa heard Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, describe her election and consecration as a “holy moment.”

Bishop Mamakwa, a member of the Ojicree people-related to both the neighbouring Ojibway and Cree people-is married to Chief James Mamakwa of the Kingfisher Lake community where they live. She was previously archdeacon of the area she still serves.

The diocese of Keewatin straddles the Ontario-Manitoba border and extends from the U.S. border to Hudson Bay. Bishop Mamakwa’s area of the diocese starts north of Kenora, where the diocesan cathedral is situated, and covers 16 communities of between 300 and 1,000 residents each.

In an interview, Bishop Mamakwa said that her election as a bishop has been an important morale-builder for the community. In addition, being able to perform confirmations in an area where travel is difficult is particularly useful, she said. She supervises 43 priests, some of whom are retired but still quite active.

Also in attendance was Bishop Thomas A. Corston, who was elected bishop of Moosonee on July 16. Bishop Corston succeeded Bishop Caleb Lawrence, who for decades was at the helm of the diocese, which wraps around James Bay, covering a large area of Ontario and Quebec. Its cathedral is in the Timmins area. Ω



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