Sep11MonIndigenous celebration of culture makes history in Alberta. September 11, 2017 by Pamela Richardson
- Filed Under:
- Territorial News
(Above) Members of the planning committee share a moment with Commissioner Susan McMillan, territorial commander. From left, Dr. Casey Church (Pokagon Band Potawatomi), director, Wiconi International; Dr. Terry LeBlanc (Mi’kmaq/Acadian), director, North American Indigenous Institute of Theological Studies; Commissioner McMillan; Mjr Shari Russell (Saulteaux from Yellow Quill First Nation), territorial Indigenous ministries consultant; Lt Crystal Porter (Mi’kmaq), CO, Labrador City/Wabush, N.L.; Damian Azak (Nisga’a), corps leader, Gitwinksihlkw, B.C.
This past weekend, The Salvation Army partnered with Indigenous Pathways to host a Celebration of Culture: A Journey of Reconciliation at Pine Lake Camp in the Alberta and Northern Territories Division. Designed to give Indigenous Salvationists and Christians from other churches the opportunity to express their faith through cultural traditions, the three-day event was also a means of educating non-Indigenous delegates in Indigenous culture, values and worldview.
“This is an unprecedented event,” said Dr. Cheryl Bear (Nadleh Whut’en from Dakelh Nation and Dumdenyoo Clan), musical guest and a founding board member of the North American Indigenous Institute of Theological Studies (NAIITS), to the more than 100 delegates who gathered at the camp. “This is the first time a pow wow has been sponsored by The Salvation Army in Canada or the United States.”
Spearheaded by Major Shari Russell (Saulteaux from Yellow Quill First Nation), territorial Indigenous ministries consultant, weekend events included workshops and cultural ceremonies with Dr. Casey Church (Pokagon Band Potawatomi), director, Wiconi International; Lora Church (Navajo), director, Indian Area Agency of Aging, New Mexico; and Dr. Terry LeBlanc (Mi’kmaq/Acadian), director, North American Indigenous Institute of Theological Studies. Commissioner Susan McMillan, territorial commander for the Canada and Bermuda Territory, and Colonel Lee Graves, chief secretary, actively participated throughout the weekend.
In her message on Sunday morning, the territorial commander shared from Romans 5, focusing on the theme of reconciliation. “God gave us the gift of the cross so that we can be reconciled to him,” she said, explaining that our reconciliation with Christ makes us his ambassadors. “It’s up to us to bring people to God so they can close the rift between them and God.” It is only as people reconcile with their heavenly Father that they can be reconciled one to another.
A highlight of the weekend was Saturday’s public pow wow which featured the Sorrel Rider Singers (drummers) from Alberta’s Siksika Nation and a colourful display of regalia and dancing from the many First Nations groups represented.
See more photos of the weekend at facebook.com/salvationistmagazine. Watch for a full report on the Celebration of Culture in the November 2017 issue of Salvationist.