Magazine article Anglican Journal

Next Steps to Self-Determination Identified

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Next Steps to Self-Determination Identified

Article excerpt

Port Elgin, Ont.--In 2014, the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) released a statement entitled Where We Are Today: Twenty Years After the Covenant, A Call to the Wider Church, that spoke to the ongoing crisis in Indigenous communities. The wider church has received the statement, but the question remains: how will its urgent call for Indigenous self-determination be put into practice?

In a plenary at the eighth National Anglican Sacred Circle, held August 16-22, ACIP co-chairs the Rev. Norman Casey and Archdeacon Sidney Black, along with National Indigenous Anglican Bishop (NIAB) Mark MacDonald, presented a draft proposal for how greater self-determination might be given tangible shape.

The proposal, drafted by Casey, Black and MacDonald, suggested that the leadership circle "immediately" form a working group that would play a role for Indigenous Anglicans analogous to that played by the House of Bishops in the wider church. This group will "design the next stage of self-determination."

This next stage could include plans to streamline the process for creating Indigenous diocese-equivalents, such as the Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, and developing a proposal for the creation of a fifth, fully Indigenous province of the national church, it added. (The church currently has four ecclesiastical provinces: Canada, Rupert's Land, Ontario, and British Columbia and the Yukon.)

"There has been strong support for the idea of a fifth province," MacDonald said, noting that the General Synod's governance working group had already drawn up plans for how this might happen as far back as the 2009 Sacred Circle.

MacDonald said that a truly Indigenous fifth province would have to include all of the pockets of Indigenous people across the country.

A solution to this problem may already exist within church law, he said, noting that the church's canons (laws) allow people to come together as a religious order. "It might be possible to create a religious order of a group of First Nations within a diocese that would relate both to the diocese but also to Sacred Circle or a province body."

The proposal noted that there are significant problems with Canon 22, the church law governing national Indigenous ministry. It suggested that the working group could introduce changes to bring the canon more in line with Indigenous practices of governance--especially with respect to the three-year election terms of ACIP members and the national Indigenous bishop's nine-year election term. …

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