"In the fullfilment of an aspiration long held by indigenous Anglicans in the north, the ecclesiastical province of Rupert's Land is poised to have a new diocese by 2014. The 47th session of the provincial synod, held in Brandon, Man., June 7 to 10 , unanimously approved a resolution from the diocese of Keewatin to divide the diocese and create a fully independent indigenous diocese from the portion known as the northern Ontario region. 'We have been walking together and now we are dancing together', said the Rev. Wayne McIntosh, rector of St. John the Baptist Anglican Church in Fort Frances, Ont., after seconding the motion at the synod. The region's current bishop, the Rt. Rev. Lydia Mamakwa, will head the diocese. Two-thirds of the diocese lies in First Nations parishes, and five languages are spoken there: Cree, Oji-Cree, English, Ojibway and Dene. Many diocesan clergy and lay people speak at least two languages on a daily basis". [Text of entire article.]
At head of title: "Winter Wishes Come True Thanks to Your Generosity". "Translating Scripture does more than help Cree people encounter God. Even people of Cree heritage who may not live in isolated communities and are fluent in English benefit from reading the Word of God in their mother tongue. Scripture becomes living and real in the languages of our communities. One Cree woman reported that reading Scripture materials in her own language made her fell 'complete somehow'. Three years of funding totalling $30,000 is helping to make translation in five different Cree languages possible through the Wycliffe Bible Translators". [Text of entire article.]
"AFC [Anglican Foundation of Canada] assisted with funding for the celebration of the new Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, which encompasses over twenty-five First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario and Northern Manitoba. AFC funds were used to facilitate a gathering from across the new diocese in Kingfisher Lake. Executive Director Judy Rois attended the celebration and presented Bishop Lydia Mamakwa with a plaque to express the Foundation's generosity". [Text of entire article.]
Noting that General Synod had delegated to COGS the authority to approve a change to diocesan boundaries, Chancellor David Jones outlined the proposed changes necessary for the creation of the new Diocese of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh.
That: Exercising the authority delegated to it by General Synod, Council of General Synod approve the boundary changes to the Dioceses of Keewatin, Rupert’s Land, and Brandon occasioned by the creation of the new diocese in Northern Ontario, subject to consent being given to these changes by the Executive Council of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land as authorized by the Provincial Synod.
Bishop Lydia Mamakwa expressed gratitude for the support received on the journey of self determination. She spoke of the meaning and significance of the name of the new diocese, The Diocese of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh.
The new diocese, a member of the Council of the North, will be born on June 4th, the birth date of William Winter, and Bishop Lydia will be its first diocesan bishop. “The vision of the elders is being fulfilled.”
The Primate thanked Bishop Lydia for her leadership.
"The new diocese in northern Ontario will be known as Mishamikweesh -- a tribute to the old settlement of Big Beaver House a few miles from the Kingfisher Lake First Nation community, where the first native archdeacon of Keewatin, the late Dr. William Winter, began his ministry in 1965. 'It is symbolic and meaningful that we name the new diocese Mishamikweesh', which in Ojibway means "Big Beaver House",' announced Bishop Lydia Mamakwa to members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS), which met Nov. 14 to 17 . The new diocese will become official next year on the fourth of June -- Winter's birthday -- said Mamakwa, the current area bishop of northern Ontario, who will become the first diocesan bishop of Mishamikweesh". "The new diocese -- to be known as the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikweesh -- will cover 16 First Nations communities belonging to Treaty 9 around Kingfisher Lake, north of Sioux Lookout". "[O]n or before Dec. 31, 2014, parishes in the southern region of the diocese of Keewatin will become part of the diocese of Rupert's Land". Also, "on or before June 4, 2014, the Parish of St. James the Apostle in Thompson, Man., will become part of the diocese of Brandon".
The presentation began with a procession of the Elders, Bishops, diocesan members and Chiefs from the Diocese of Keewatin. Archbishop David Ashdown and Bishop Lydia Mamakwa led the presentation. Rev. Joel Bighead and Rev. Eli Morris lead the Synod in prayer. The Rev. Amos Winter traced the history of the Diocese’s ministry and movements towards self-determination for Indigenous Anglicans. Kenneth Kitchikeesik spoke of how the dream of self determination had been passed down through generations, bringing the diocese to the point of having a self-determining, self-sustaining diocese in northern Ontario and Bishop Lydia Mamakwa. The Very Rev. James Dugan traced the details of the growing ministries in the three distinct regions of the diocese. Bishop Don Phillips expressed the pride and excitement of the people of Rupert’s Land in being involved in the process of moving the southern area of Keewatin into the Diocese of Rupert’s Land. Bishop Michael Hawkins emphasized that self-determination is a theological movement not a political movement.
That this General Synod in response to the unanimous request of the Synod of the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land and the Synod of the Diocese of Keewatin and in accordance with Section 107 of the Constitution of the Province of Rupert’s Land and Section 7 b) iii) of The Declaration of Principles of the General Synod gives its concurrence to the division of the Diocese of Keewatin so that the area defined as Northern Ontario Region by the Constitution of the Diocese of Keewatin may become a separate diocese.
The mover and seconder accepted the following friendly amendment moved by The Most Rev. David Ashdown and seconded by The Rt. Rev. Lydia Mamakwa to include “and authorizes COGS to give concurrence to the boundary changes.”
Mr. Peter Kitchekesik, COGS member, opened the presentation with prayer.
The Archbishop of Keewatin, David Ashdown, introduced his colleagues from the diocese, all of whom participated – Bishop Lydia Mamakwa, Dean Jim Dugan, Archdeacon Kenneth Kitchekeesik and Mr. Stanley Sainnawap. He expressed appreciation for the opportunity to share their hopes and dreams as their diocese moves into a new phase of its being. He stressed that this is not a new initiative, but a step on a journey which has already begun.
The Journey Continues
A power point presentation was viewed, detailing the actions undertaken since 1969 (which changed the Church’s relationship with indigenous people forever), up to the installation in 2010 of Bishop Lydia Mamakwa in the area of Northern Ontario.
The Vision Statement
To create an Indigenous diocese and native ministry that will provide a more meaningful and effective spiritual service delivery to the people in the Northern Ontario Region.
The Mission Statement
- Together… create an Indigenous ministry… provide better spiritual services to First Nations communities.
- Unite… into a self-determining, self-reliant church.
- Reaffirm faith in Creator and help grow in faith.
- Wholeness through healing and compassion.
- Assist First Nations communities establish churches
1. To establish an Indigenous church governance with the ultimate goal of being a self-determining and self-reliant Northern Ontario Region Native Diocese.
2. Provide effective and consistent spiritual leadership and service in the Northern Ontario Region.
3. Strengthen and restore the foundation of our First Nations traditional and spiritual principles.
4. Promote and provide wellness programs to individuals and families in our First Nations communities.
- The Diocese of Keewatin will cease to function on December 30, 2014.
- Assets to be distributed equitably between three regions.
- Archives to be transferred to General Synod.
- New governing body to be established to receive/disperse gifts and respond to legal actions.
Archbishop Ashdown responded to numerous questions, following which Archdeacon Sid Black expressed appreciation to the Archbishop and all presenters.
That the Council of General Synod support and affirm the Diocese of Keewatin’s proposal to create a new diocese and express its gratitude for the courageous and visionary leader-ship within the diocese.
The Primate expressed thanks to Archbishop Ashdown and also to Bishop Mamakwa for her extraordinary leadership. She invited COGS members to ‘join us in the dance’ and concluded with the words – May God bless COGS in its ministry. She received a lengthy standing ovation.
"Archbishop Fred Hiltz described July's  Joint Assembly as a 'spirit-filled, spirit-led' gathering that can only strengthen the full communion relationship of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada (ECLIC)". "As for General Synod, Hiltz said although it was a much shorter meeting, 'We did in fact get our work done'. The primate said he was not surprised that the resolution asking the Council of General Synod to prepare a resolution for 2016 that would change the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage 'sparked some difficult moments'". "As for what he considered to be highlights of the meeting, Hiltz noted General Synod's approval of an indigenous diocese in northern Ontario, and its passage of the resolution setting out the criteria for choosing future national indigenous Anglican bishops and members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and Sacred Circle".