"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.]
"Anglican Video is preparing a documentary that will tell the story of the creation of the new diocese from its beginnings as a dream of pioneering aboriginal priest Archdeacon William Winter through to its fruition. The documentary is expected to be released in early 2015 and will be available from Anglican Video and the new diocese". [Text of entire article.]
"On June 4 , I will be in Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario for the inauguration of a new diocese [Mishamikoweesh]. This occasion fulfills a vision of deeply loved and highly respected elder, the Ven. Dr. William Winter. It had been revealed to him that some day there would be a truly indigenous church with leadership from among his own people. Having founded a school of ministry, he saw a number of indigenous men and women trained to be catechists, deacons and priests". "He took great delight in the election and consecration of his niece, Lydia Mamakwa, on May 2, 2010. Lydia's ministry of building up the church in those northern communities gave the people confidence to take steps toward the creation of a new diocese". "In case you were wondering about the name of the new diocese, it's Mishamikoweesh -- meaning in Oji-Cree 'Big Beaver House'. There is a legend associated with that name, and Bishop Lydia has promised to share it at the celebration".
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.
"This past summer, from June 27 to July 1 , the Northern National Event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was held in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Marites N. Sison, senior staff writer for the 'Anglican Journal', attended the event and filed more than 20 reports. They can be viewed in full at www.anglicanjournal.com".
"Attending an Indian residential school gave Lydia Mamakwa the faith that led to her calling as an Anglican priest and later as area bishop of northern Ontario in the diocese of Keewatin. But, at one point, it left her confused about her identity as a native person. 'My experience [at residential school] was more good than bad', said Bishop Mamakwa, who attended the Poplar Hill School in northwestern Ontario, which was administered by the Mennonite-associated Northern Gospel Light Mission. 'The good thing about it was learning about the Bible .. We also learned practical stuff like sewing, knitting, cooking and home nursing', she said. The bad part was 'we were made to feel that our identity was not good', said Bishop Mamakwa, who recalled arriving at Poplar Hill in 1964, at the age of 15, and being told she could not speak Oji-Cree, her native language". [Text of entire article.]
"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".
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.
"Council of General Synod (CoGS) unanimously agreed March 12  to send to the upcoming General Synod a draft resolution prepared by the Commission on the Marriage Canon changing the Anglican Church of Canada's law to pave the way for same-sex marriage. At the same time, however, CoGS said that while it is legally obliged by General Synod's 2013 Resolution C003 to send the same-sex marriage motion to General Synod 2016, it has also considered 'the possibility of other options'. .... CoGS did not indicate what these 'other options' might be, but the message was clearly a response to an earlier statement it received from the House of Bishops that a vote to allow same-sex marriage was 'not likely to pass in the Order of Bishops'" (p. 1). "In its statement to the church, CoGS also said, 'We recommend the greatest pastoral response possible, allowing same-sex couples to be fully included in the life of our church with full and equal access to its liturgies and pastoral office. The wording of this last sentence was cause for much debate on the floor of the council when it was presented for approval" (p. 10). Among those who objected to the original draft were Bishop Larry Robertson of the Yukon and Archdeacon Terry Leer of Athabasca. "While CoGS made all of its decisions on both statements and the resolution using a consensus model, two of its members -- Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh and Bishop Adam Halkett of Missinipi, diocese of Saskatchewan -- abstained. Mamakwa and Halkett said they felt any participation in a vote about same-sex marriage would violate the trust of their communities, which they say are strongly opposed to any changes to the marriage canon" (p. 10). "Many delegates noted that the decision to hold three of the sessions discussing the marriage canon in camera -- that is privately -- had helped facilitate this process. Cynthia Haines-Turner, deputy prolocutor of General Synod, said that while in camera sessions are 'not easy' due to the suspicion they can ignite, she felt it to be helpful in this case" (p. 10).
Bishop Lydia Mamakwa says "that the church will not be kept together by its "structures and institutions", but by "the kind of love the Samaritan showed to the person who was victimized ['General Synod celebrates Indigenous Eucharist', anglicanjournal.com]. As an Aboriginal priest, I appreciate the sentiment. However, as we practice reconciliation, we need to do so as a whole body. We cannot subdivide or self-impose segregation; we need to be together to share our journey. I appreciate the efforts to support us; however, I am a Christian that happens to be Aboriginal. And if we read the parable, [we] realize that the Samaritan 'went to [the victim] -- he was not separate from him. As a church, we need to be together in order to have effective reconciliation".
"In their August 7  statement to the commission on the marriage canon, the Anglican Church of Canada's Indigenous bishops attempted to chart a course between the liberal/conservative binary on the question of whether the church should practice same-sex marriages". The statement was signed by Bishop Lydia Mamakwa (Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh), Bishop Adam Halkett (Suffragan of Missinipi, Diocese of Saskatchewan) and Mark MacDonald (National Indigenous Anglican Bishop). "The statement acknowledged that there was disagreement among elders as to what the response should be if the church were to change its canons to allow for such marriages. 'Some view this as intolerable, a few find this acceptable and many would be willing to accept that we disagree with the larger church on these matters, as long as our societies, communities and nations have the acknowledged and welcome freedom to act on their own', the bishops said". "While Canadian society at large views marriage as a 'social contract between two people' with an emphasis on individual choice and freedom, 'for our elders marriage is a ceremony of community and the primary place where we enact our understanding of Creation and the relationship of God to the universe', it said".