indigenous

From ‘never a teacher’ to ‘why not?’

Photo courtesy of Henry Neufeld

Henry Neufeld’s first classroom in Pauingassi in 1956. (Photo courtesy of Henry Neufeld)

In northern Manitoba, winter travel in the 1960s was by snowmobile and summer travel was by boat. This early snowmobile was made by Ingham Brothers of Lanigan, Sask. The seat and steering at the front were connected to the frame and motor at the back by hinges on the runners. It was propelled by a metal cleat track. (Photo courtesy of Henry Neufeld)

Elna and Henry Neufeld are pictured in front of the Moose Lake School in 1952. (Photo courtesy of Henry Neufeld)

Henry Neufeld learned to fly this two-seater ‘bush plane,’ obtained in 1961 by the Mennonite Pioneer Mission. (Photo courtesy of Henry Neufeld)

“Never a teacher,” I declared from the time I was in public school, growing up in the Leamington district of southwestern Ontario.

Mennonites attend Indigenous theological studies symposium

During an Indigenous theological studies symposium, held in Wolfville, N.S., the presenters sang a traditional Christmas hymn in English while drumming. Many of the audience members sang along. (Photo by Kathy Thiessen)

The 20-or-so Mennonites who attended the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS) symposium were humbled by the grace of their hosts who welcomed them, without hesitation, into the conversation.

Decolonization through unsettling Scripture

Steve Heinrichs, holding the microphone, speaks during a panel discussion at the launch of Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization at Canadian Mennonite University on May 24. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Mennonite Church Canada recently released Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization, the latest of several publications that explore reconciliation and Indigenous-settler relationships.

Play confronts Doctrine of Discovery

Ted Swartz receives back the keys from Michelle Milne for her car, taken from her in a deal she didn’t understand. The vignette in the play Discovery: A Comic Lament parallels the taking of Indigenous lands in North America, where the original inhabitants do not control the land. The play was seen by four full houses in Waterloo Region, Ont., from May 31 to June 3, 2018. (Ted & Co. photo by Josh Kraybill/Ted & Co)

The Doctrine of Discovery is based on the Roman Catholic papal bull “Inter caetera.” Issued by Pope Alexander VI on May 4, 1493, it gave all the lands along a meridian west of the Cape Verde Islands, off the west coast of Africa, to the Spanish crown.

Bloodvein Reserve

Photo courtesy of the Canadian Mennonite / Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Many years ago, our archives first described this photograph as “School children at Bloodvein Reserve, ca. 1956.” The subject heading included the phrase, “Indians of North America,” correct for the time.

Ceremonies of belief

Several years ago, my Russian Mennonite grandmother told me a story about her childhood that I think about often. When she was just a young girl living somewhere southeast of Winnipeg, her parents unexpectedly lost their farmland. With no land, no money and no prospects, they packed their few belongings onto the first train out of town.

Fraught with possibility

Hereditary chief George Kingfisher, left, and Mennonite landowner Ray Funk chat during a scene in the documentary film, Reserve 107, about land rights in Saskatchewan. (Photo by Brad Leitch)

Fish is smoked over an open fire during an Aski (Cree translation for 'land') learning tour. (Photo courtesy of Lyndsay Mollins Koene)

A Sachigo First Nation grows tomatoes to provide food security for herself and her family. (Photo courtesy of Lyndsay Mollins Koene)

Long before the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or the celebrated United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), we already had a 4,000-page report w

All members of one family

Mim Harder of Rouge Valley Mennonite Church, Stouffville, Ont., and Steve Heinrichs, director of Indigenous Relations for MC Canada. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Mim Harder, left, presents Taylor Gibson, centre, and Rick Hill with quilts to thank them for hosting the retreat. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Participants dance as part of the retreat. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Dialogue between indigenous and settler peoples was a key aspect of the retreat, held at Six Nations of the Grand River, near Brantford, Ont. Six Nations is the largest first nation in Canada. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Retreat participants gather in the Mohawk Chapel. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Over a period of seven years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) heard more than 6,000 survivors of residential schools tell their painful stories of injustice and abuse. With the TRC’s work in hand, Christian churches can help write a better next chapter.

Ally or accomplice: What does the Lord require of us?

There is a popular language arising in the church when it comes to justice work, that of “being an ally.” It means to align yourself with whoever your “other” is, so to love your neighbour and serve the Lord. But what happens when words are not enough, and when having only words of an ally can make injustice? What happens when being an ally is not enough?

Blanket exercise plums the depth of injustice to aboriginals

Hilda Epp, holds a blanket symbolizing the exposure to new diseases (small pox, tuberculosis, measles) that arrived with the European settlers on Turtle Island—an aboriginal term for North America—as Diane Tiessen looks on. On the far left is Denise Bartel and on the far right is Eve Klassen. (Photo by Dick Benner)

Early relationships between European settlers and aboriginals were characterized by cooperation and interdependence, John Bartel, a farmer from Drake, Sask., and a member of Mennonite Church Saskatchewan’s Ministries Commission, told a crowd of 75 huddled on 12 blankets representing Turtle Island—an aboriginal term for Nort

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