Decolonizing Faith - Salvation Army Canada

Indigenous Ministries Resources

Indigenous Artist Series

The Indigenous Artist Series is a celebration of the culture of our First Nations peoples through gifted artists and musicians. It also provides an opportunity for us to learn about, and engage with, our indigenous heritage as we attempt to walk gently on this land.

  • Call of the Drum View

    December 13, 2021

    Call of the Drum. Indigenous artist Jonathan Maracle performs his own song.    Download Video
  • Healing in our Land View

    October 18, 2021

    Healing in our land. On this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we have partnered with Indigenous artist Jonathan Maracle to reflect on our shared history. As Jonathan minsters through word and song, we invite you to consider how you may be part of the healing in our land.   Download Video

Indigenous Ministries Resources

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We live and work on the traditional lands of Indigenous communities. While it is not mandatory to offer an acknowledgement of territory at every worship service, at the beginning of large, formal or special gatherings, an official acknowledgement of traditional territory or “welcome ceremony” may be

How do I offer this acknowledgement?

Friendship centres and local band offices can help clarify which land you are gathering on, and which protocol and welcome is most appropriate. You can locate traditional territories through The corps ministries department has also provided each divisional headquarters with basic information
about the territories, treaties and peoples that are encompassed in each division.

A sample acknowledgement

“As we gather, we begin by acknowledging the traditional territory of the Indigenous
peoples of this land. For many thousands of years, the ______ peoples have sought to walk gently on this land. We thank them for their hospitality
which they showed as they first offered assistance and shared their knowledge of how to live on this land with the first European travellers who
came to this region. We acknowledge the First Nations communities in this area, the ______, as they continue to offer hospitality to Canadians who live on this land. May we learn to walk gently with one another with deep respect and honour.”

Developed by Laurier Students’ Public Interest Research group, this link provides good basic information on the rationale and process for Land acknowledgements. It also includes a booklet on “Indigenous Allyship: An Overview” which is helpful for people wanting to journey well with Indigenous peoples in the spirit of reconciliation.

This website is a resource to help identity and learn about traditional territories of Indigenous peoples in North America. It also includes resources on the rational and process for acknowledging traditional lands.

National Indigenous History Month


Here are two Bible studies, provided by Majors Ray and Cathie Harris, focusing on Indigenous Ministries.

DOWNLOAD the studies:

Bible Study John 4 1-42-3

Bible Study John 5 1-9

Other Ideas to Recognize Indigenous History Month, submitted by Lt. Jennifer Henson from the BC Division

More Information about National Indigenous History Month:

A Journey of Reconciliation

The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda has committed to a journey of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is a journey that many churches across Canada are taking.

This booklet provides information and guidance to Salvationists on how to walk this journey of reconciliation and be part of building positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Together let us seek God’s direction and blessing as we move forward in reconciliation and relationship building.

Read all about Truth and Reconciliation:
Indigenous Ministries: A Journey of Reconciliation

Truth & Reconciliation: Call to Action Prayer GuideTruth & Reconciliation Call to Action Prayer Guide
This is a useful tool to engage in prayer and supplication focused around each of the actions called for.
Download a copy: Truth & Reconciliation Call to Action: Prayer Guide

Introduction to First Nations MinistryIntroduction to First Nations Ministry.  In this ground breaking study, Cheryl Bear-Barnetson presents an approach to First Nations ministry from the foundations of indigenous worldview and values. She begins with an overview of First Nations theology, which includes the Native views of Creator, the Holy Spirit, the Incarnation, a theology of land, and a theology of missions. Various Native practices, traditional gatherings, and ceremonies are also described. Bear-Barnetson argues that leaders who are more fully informed about Native beliefs, values, and practices will see a dramatic increase in their effectiveness in ministering to indigenous people in the United States and Canada. Furthermore, the practical missiological and theological principles discovered here can be implemented in any cross-cultural ministry context. The study concludes with specific recommendations to The Foursquare Church and the Canadian Foursquare Church for the purpose of advancing the ministry among First Nations people.


Indigenous Ally Toolkit brochure sampleIndigenous Ally Toolkit. 

What does it mean to be a good ally to Indigenous Peoples?
Content and research by Dakota Swiftwolfe, Layout and design by Leilani Shaw.

Download a free copy:
Indigenous Ally Toolkit

One Church Many TribesOne Church Many Tribes. In this captivating chronicle of the Native American story, Richard Twiss of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux sifts through myth and legend to reveal God's strategy for the nation's host people. 

With wit, wisdom and passion, Twiss shows God's desire to use the cultures of First Nations peoples--in all their mystery, color and beauty--to break through to those involved in New Age mysticism, Eastern religions, even Islam. 

One Church, Many Tribes is a rallying cry for the Church to work as one so that the lost may learn to walk in life with beauty, along the path of the Waymaker. 

Rescuing The GospelRescuing The Gospel from The Cowboys. The gospel of Jesus has not always been good news for Native Americans.

The history of North America is marred by atrocities committed against Native peoples. Indigenous cultures were erased in the name of Christianity. As a result, to this day few Native Americans are followers of Jesus. However, despite the far-reaching effects of colonialism, some Natives have forged culturally authentic ways to follow the way of Jesus.

In his final work, Richard Twiss provides a contextualized Indigenous expression of the Christian faith among the Native communities of North America. He surveys the painful, complicated history of Christian missions among Indigenous peoples and chronicles more hopeful visions of culturally contextual Native Christian faith. For Twiss, contextualization is not merely a formula or evangelistic strategy, but rather a relational process of theological and cultural reflection within a local community.

Shalom and the CommunityShalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision. Materialism. Greed. Loneliness. A manic pace. Abuse of the natural world. Inequality. Injustice. War. The endemic problems facing America today are staggering. We need change and restoration. But where to begin?

In Shalom and the Community of Creation Randy Woodley offers an answer: learn more about the Native American 'Harmony Way,' a concept that closely parallels biblical shalom. Doing so can bring reconciliation between Euro-Westerners and indigenous peoples, a new connectedness with the Creator and creation, an end to imperial warfare, the ability to live in the moment, justice, restoration -- and a more biblically authentic spirituality. Rooted in redemptive correction, this book calls for true partnership through the co-creation of new theological systems that foster wholeness and peace.


Living In ColorLiving in Color. Randy Woodley, a Keetowah Cherokee, casts a biblical, multiethnic vision for people of every nation, tribe and tongue to live in community together. Includes a study guide.

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  • Jun21Mon

    Decolonizing Faith

    Learning to dismantle systems of exploitation as we seek shalom. June 21, 2021
    Filed Under:
    An Indigenous Salvationist carries the Salvation Army flag
    An Indigenous Salvationist carries the Salvation Army flag
    (Above) Damian Azak (Nisga’a Nation), corps leader, Gitwinksihlkw, B.C., carries the Salvation Army flag during the Army’s Celebration of Culture: A Journey of Reconciliation in 2018

    Last fall, when The Salvation Army’s Ethics Centre hosted a four-part webinar series called “Moving Salvationists Beyond ‘I’m Not Racist,’ ” people wanted to continue learning about the barriers that need to be addressed, especially within the church. So, a group of Salvationists formed a study group to read Decolonizing Evangelicalism by Randy Woodley, an Indigenous theologian, and Bo Sanders, a United Methodist minister.

    In the conversation of Indigenous peoples, the term “decolonization”—the process of deconstructing colonial perspectives and practices—is more than a buzzword. It is a transformational experience. Throughout the study, participants wrestled with the implications of decolonization for themselves and for the church. In this article, they share what they learned and the impact it has made on their lives.

    Building Just Communities
    Photo of Captain Ashley BungayCaptain Ashley Bungay
    In the spring of 2020, when the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests around the world, it opened my eyes to the racial injustice millions of people experience. That Canada Day, as I listened to the voices of Indigenous peoples with fresh ears, I felt uncomfortable tension for the first time in my life. I had a choice: bury my head in the sand or continue listening and learning with the help of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour). Months later, when Major Shari Russell, territorial Indigenous ministries consultant, offered a study group as a space to learn, I was eager to sit at the table with her.

    As I continue to reflect on Decolonizing Evangelicalism, I keep returning to the notion that no one people group holds all the truth. In the past, I would quickly have become defensive at such a statement, not even questioning why that was. I now realize that some of that defensiveness comes from the western, white theological views I have been taught. This book helped me understand that with colonialism comes exploitation, inequality and whole communities trapped in despair, and a history of pushing its way as the right and only way. Not only have these views not brought people into a better understanding of Christ, but they have also often moved them further away from God’s intended shalom community, lived out so abundantly in the life of Jesus Christ. Does the gospel not call us to expose and work to dismantle such systems?

    Indigenous theologies understand shalom as a welcoming community that holds co-operation over competition, community above the individual and recognizes the sacredness of all creation. Reading Randy Woodley’s words, “A shalom community may not be a perfect community, but it should be a just community,” my mind immediately thought of the Canada and Bermuda Territory’s new vision statement. If we are committed to “building communities that are just” and “walking a journey of reconciliation” as an organization, what does this mean in a practical sense? How will these statements shape our future? May the Great Spirit lead us into shalom.

    Captain Ashley Bungay is the divisional youth secretary and divisional secretary for candidates in the Newfoundland and Labrador Division.

    Photo of Lieutenant Jennifer HensonLieutenant Jennifer Henson
    The Gift of Creation
    I was drawn to this book club because I feel a particular invitation to pay attention to marginalized voices. The more I listen, the more I realize there is so much of God and the kingdom of heaven that I’ve missed, because I grew up with a Eurocentric lens. This new-tome perspective is enriching my relationship with God and helping me to know more about him and his ways and to grow deeper in my relationship with all he has created.

    As I listened to the authors converse about the interconnectedness of all creation, particularly how one thing is not above or below the other, it stirred me to the core. They shared how God created all things in perfect harmony, “and God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:10). It was a perfect symbiosis of all things. But when humans chose to put themselves above God and went their own way, shalom was lost. All relationships were broken—our relationship with God, with creation, with ourselves and with others. For those who follow Jesus, we are called to live as citizens of the kingdom and part of that means choosing to live in the harmony way.

    One way we can honour God and live this harmony way is by caring for and protecting the land. I’m a gardener and over the past few years I have been finding that I connect deeply with God when I’m in my garden. When my hands are in the dirt and I’m tending to plants I feel a connectedness to God that I rarely feel elsewhere. I feel like I’m in a place of co-sustaining creation, caring for it as it richly cares for me. One thing that stands out from the book is where the author says something along the lines of: Creation cared for you today far more than you cared for it. Isn’t that so true? God cares for us through his gift of creation, which sustains our lives. I want to acknowledge that gift and worship God by caring for this earth and all that is in it.

    Lieutenant Jennifer Henson is the corps officer at The Salvation Army’s Renew Church in West Kelowna, B.C.

    Photo of Mandy MarslandMandy Marsland
    Listening Bestows Dignity
    In my work with The Salvation Army in downtown Winnipeg, we serve a large Indigenous population, and I wanted to understand the historical trauma that many of our clients bring to their interactions with us today. Reading this book made me, in turns, sad, angry, embarrassed and remorseful. I came to realize that what I was taught about how Europeans settled North America was a sanitized narrative, and that the formal end of colonialism didn’t undo the harms of colonization. The ripple effects still impact the people I work with every day, and these harms can’t be remedied by simply thinking, “It’s over—just move on.” Being trauma-informed is as vital to our work as teaching literacy or employment skills.

    The biggest takeaway for me was that it’s not good enough to just feel bad or upset about the crimes of the past, or about the racial harms that I see occurring today, and not get involved. I have learned from this book that “listening bestows dignity,” especially when the listening is hard, when it hurts my feelings, when I want to interrupt with a “Yes, but.…” We all have the power for change, regardless of where we live, what we do or how small we think our sphere of influence may be. We can all learn to really listen.

    Finally, the authors discuss the concept of shalom, demonstrating how the Indigenous culture is much closer to this concept than modern western culture. The shalom that God intended includes co-operation, respect, tolerance, understanding of diversity and a spirit of consensus-making. These are pillars of Indigenous culture. In contrast, western culture is characterized by a more competitive spirit, where many people put themselves and their own well-being above others.

    The authors conclude their book with this quote: “The exploitation of the poor and the marginalized, is the very opposite of the shalom empire of love.” I pray that my life and my work will recognize, understand and not recreate the trauma of the past. May my life provide shalom to those with whom I am blessed to share this land.

    Mandy Marsland is a program supervisor at The Salvation Army’s Weetamah Corps and Community Services in Winnipeg.

    Photo of Cadet Nathanael HoeftCadet Nathanael Hoeft
    Doctrine of Discovery
    While reading and discussing this book, I learned some of the ways that a settler mindset can put our Creator into a box and perhaps limit the ways we perceive him. I have also been reminded of all the times that the Bible speaks against the ways of empire. Alongside this, I was challenged by the question asked in the book: “Has your denomination benefited from its relationship with colonial powers?” In response to this question, it is hard not to notice Salvation Army history pointing to a colonial expansion largely across the British territories of the world. This is not to say that our entire structure needs to be upended and started from scratch. Through discussion and reflection, I believe there are many ways for our movement to continue forward in a process of decolonization.

    There are different parts of life to decolonize, including our personal past, our organizational structure and our theology. There must be an active effort on our part since change will not happen without putting in the work and time and being willing to sit in the resulting discomfort. The more people who engage in this difficult process, the more widespread the impact will be. Our theology, and our God, for that matter, transcend our methods of understanding. So when we decolonize our theological systems, we start to find answers to our theological questions in places we didn’t expect and in people who the colonizers thought of as “savage” and “heathen,” and yet whose beliefs are more connected to our Creator than the “Doctrine of Discovery” (the legal framework that justified the colonization of lands outside Europe) ever was.

    My personal process of decolonizing is just beginning, and I recognize that this process will challenge my preconceived framework of belief. Participating in this book study helped in moving me along in what I am sure will be a lifelong process.

    Cadet Nathanael Hoeft is a member of the Messengers of Reconciliation Session at the College for Officer Training in Winnipeg.

    Photo of Ruth MoultonRuth Moulton
    The Way Forward
    In 2018, Heritage Park Temple in Winnipeg sent delegates to a lay leadership conference, where they attended a session led by Major Shari Russell. Afterwards, they expressed a strong desire to learn more about the history, culture and beliefs of Indigenous peoples, and put together a team to plan a weekend (since deferred due to the pandemic). When I learned through the Indigenous ministries Facebook page that Major Shari would be leading a book club, it seemed like a great way for me to personally keep this vision alive.

    One of the significant things I learned is that the opposite of love is not hate, but rather indifference and disconnectedness. There is a real danger of repeating the past if those who have been oppressed and marginalized are not part of charting the way forward. Their experiences and desires must be heard with open minds and hearts.

    Another thing that will stay with me is Woodley’s assertion that if power is used in an unjust way, both those wielding the power and those being treated unjustly suffer, as we understand ourselves as less than we were created to be.

    Finally, I learned more about the deep connectedness that Indigenous peoples have to land. As Woodley so beautifully describes: “For Indigenous people, land gives us identity but is also part of the covenant story between the people and the Creator. It is seen as both a gift and a responsibility for co-sustaining. Indigenous peoples believe that if the divine spirit is in everything, everything is sacred. Every place. The land itself. Given this, one cannot abuse the land or the people on the land without violating its sacredness.”

    This book has taught me that shalom is more than a greeting, as I previously understood it. It is about expressing practical love through structures and systems and creating room for the marginalized to be empowered. It’s about expressing tangible love through hospitality and getting rid of imbalances of power that create and recreate injustices. If justice doesn’t exist, shalom is shallow. Shalom is real, concrete and practical.

    Ruth Moulton attends Heritage Park Temple in Winnipeg.

    June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada. Although it’s important to learn about the experience of Indigenous peoples, it’s even more important to learn from Indigenous peoples, because they have much to teach us. For further resources, including an introduction to First Nations theology, guidelines on land acknowledgments and ceremonies, and how to build positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, visit:

    This story is from:


    On Thursday, April 28, 2022, Clarence Colp said:

    I sure look forward to have a printed copy of Salvationist in my hands again.

    On Friday, June 25, 2021, Pamela Pinksen said:

    I can hardly believe that a series written on this topic at this time can be criticized in the way that it has by the commenters on this thread. Resorting to minimizing this critical conversation at this point in our history to divisive categorizations such as liberal v conservative and the other trigger words mentioned, is disturbing and dangerous. Are we not able to use any other lens to discuss the important issues of our day? Be alert brothers and sisters, the Enemy is prowling like a roaring lion. When we fall into this polarizing trap, we allow the enemy to divide us. Worse still - it subtly allows us to demonize the “other. “ Do you recognize this evil trick? This categorization can lead to the same dehumanization that allowed “well-intentioned” Christians to literally wipe out hundreds upon thousands of first peoples of this land in the name of “evangelism.” I am a preacher of the gospel and have given my life to spreading the good news that, in Christ, God is creating one family. On that count, we agree. But as Salvationists, we are motivated by William Booth’s vision of salvation for both worlds - Saving souls for eternity and saving persons from their suffering in this world - that includes the work of fighting injustice. Justice (a so-called buzz word) has everything to do with the gospel. And yes, we ought to speak the language of sin and salvation. But let’s start with our own sin in disregarding the imageo dei in the precious first peoples of this land and literally discarding them as if they were worth nothing. Not to mention the abomination of doing it with the name of Jesus upon our lips. We sanctified Genocide! How do we ever begin to make that right? It is a horrible blight on our church history (one of many unfortunately). To attempt to politicize or rationalize or become defensive when this is highlighted is absolutely unacceptable. It is completely tone deaf to state that we ought simply to preach the gospel and read the Bible, without humbly repenting of the fact that the mishandling of both of those things by our ancestors caused untold trauma and loss and frankly, worked against the salvation of souls by the harm inflicted in the process. It has grieved the heart of God. In view of that, it ought to break our hearts as well. Yes we need to talk about sin. The church must repent of its sin. Yes we need to talk salvation. Salvation properly understood from the mouth of Jesus spoken to those he encountered in the gospels is harmony, peace, shalom - with God, with others, with creation. It takes righteousness (right relationship). It means works of reconciliation as an outflow of our repentance and faith. Decolonization means acknowledging the sin of the church, righting the wrongs as best we can, walking in truth, and tending to the wounds of those we have harmed. It also means stripping the white, western, Anglo, patriarchy that have become additives to the gospel over the centuries. Then we can return to the way of Jesus - the pure gospel. Any resistance to this is ungodly and anti-Jesus. Do you know what does look like Jesus however? The glorious beauty of holiness that I have seen reflected in the faces of my indigenous brothers and sisters. In spite of how western colonizers literally plundered and murdered them….Leaving them traumatized by a sense of internalized worthlessness for generations - I have been amazed at being welcomed into their circles and finding in them, the power of breathtaking grace.

    They have shown me Jesus.

    The hope of the gospel is that God came in Jesus to destroy the work of the enemy and to enact God’s plan of redeeming the whole cosmos. This ugly twisted broken world will be healed and will be fully liberated from the evil one. Are we going to answer the Spirit’s invitation to join in that work or are we going to resist the will of God in this? My heart is broken for the indigenous community as more graves have been discovered this week. Lord forgive us for what was done in your name. Lord forgive us for what is still said and done in your name. Mighty Comforter, Heal their hearts. Amen


    On Thursday, June 24, 2021, Natalia DeBoer DeBoer said:

    This is so exciting. Feeling empowered to enter shalom with each other. This is inspiring.


    On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Concerned said:

    I could not agree more with these two comments. For an officer to ask " the great spirit to lead us into Shalom" is highly questionable. And, unlike the other writer I have more than enough to read and learn about in my Bible to have time to consider a "personal process of decolonizing" I'll pass.


    On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Jesse Oldham said:

    Shalom and harmony comes for individuals as a result of salvation through Christ. The Salvation Army's 2nd greatest strength is our ethic/national diversity. Our number 1 greatest strength is that our identity is in Christ alone and not our ethnic/national diversity. Regardless of our background, ethnicity, whether it be indigenous, Asian, African, European, Middle Eastern, Jewish, Arabian, Persian, Indian, Pakistani, Pacific Islander, South or Central American, we all bring something to the table in our identity in Christ. I'm tired and fed up with those who work to divide us based on our differences instead of celebrating our oneness in Christ. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus". This is not "colonization", this is salvation! We are all grafted into the body of Christ. Yes, we absolutely have much we can learn from each other. I believe Heaven rejoices when we worship together as one. Satan works hard to divide us into different categories be it ethnicity, nationality, class, rich, poor, or caste; to sow dissention and conflict in our body. We are now missing "The One Thing". Our calling of bringing Salvation and winning the world for Jesus! We have lost the Great Commission and replaced it with "other things" in our echo chamber world.


    On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Andrew Gilliam said:

    I am sure that conservative and differing viewpoints will not make the light of day in the comments section here but I'll share my thoughts regardless of that possibility. As followers of Christ we are called to love inclusively. This call is neither conservative or liberal. It needs no segmentation. We are also called to evangelize. Paul exhorts us to do the work of an evangelist. The term Evangelical has been demonized by the liberal left and it is a shame that a Biblical mandate is equated with something that is wrong or out of sync with God's plan. Using buzz word terms like Privilege, Colonization, and Inequality when referring to an entire people, faith, or race, is in itself inheritantly wrong. All of the above viewpoints are the same. There is no discussion. It's lopsided. It's liberal globalism wrapped in a nice bow. Demonize what you disagree with so that your viewpoint comes across as the only true viewpoint. The above writers (and secular liberal thought in general) want to create division where it doesn't exist. They want to manufacture crisis. The ultimate question is why is The Salvation Army spending such vast amounts of it resources on issues that derail it from it's original purpose: The saving of souls. Injustice is such a popular word these days. Here's the REAL injustice: we've become consumed with any effort other than the Great Commission. We've abandoned sharing the Gospel and Christ's redemptive work on the Cross and spend all our energy doing "busy work". Doing good is a great thing but it is always secondary to our prime directive. If you are sharing a cup of water to a poor thirsty person but never told them about Christ's grace, you've saved them from thirst but condemned their soul.


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