Over the weekend at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre over 100 representatives from Aboriginal communities across Canada met with the leadership of the United Church of Canada – the country’s largest protestant denomination – for the National Aboriginal Spiritual Gathering, a meeting that happens every three years to provide the church with direction on how it deals with issues that affect the Aboriginal members of its congregation.
“I expect we will be hearing many different expressions of spiritual truths, spiritual longings, laments of hope, language of the heart. That is language of the spirit,” said Mardi Tindal, who is the Moderator of the United Church of Canada.
The gathering provided an opportunity for representatives from Aboriginal ministries from across The United Church of Canada to meet up and share the vision of Aboriginal Ministries Council and Circle. The people gathering at the weekend-long event will be the voice of the Aboriginal community when it comes to matters of spirituality and the ministry.
The gatherings began after the church apologized for its role in the residential school system in 1998. Since then, the United Church of Canada says it’s committed to “a journey of repentance” for the harm caused by the schools to Aboriginal children and their families. Previously the church had apologized in 1986, but made no direct reference to residential schools.
“25 years ago the then-moderator expressed the hope of the United Church by saying ‘May we walk together in the spirit of Christ, so that our peoples may be blessed and all God’s creations healed’. To walk together in the spirit of Christ means to honour as much spiritual diversity as we see demonstrated in the natural world in terms of other ways of understanding diversity,” commented Tindal.
“This is a healthy ecology, God’s ecology, where each one functions on behalf of the whole, and in return is sustained by the whole.”