Anglican indigenous gathering to focus on youth

The intergenerational impact of residential schools and challenges faced by youth in aboriginal communities will be a major focus at the forthcoming Sacred Circle, a gathering of indigenous Anglicans.

Children performing a traditional dance during the 3rd Sacred Circle gathering in Lethbridge, Alta.
Children performing a traditional dance during the 3rd Sacred Circle gathering in Lethbridge, Alta.

The fifth Anglican indigenous Sacred Circle, to be held at the Wilderness Edge Retreat and Conference Centre in Pinawa, Manitoba, from Aug. 7-13, is expected to bring together over 200 people — lay, ordained, youth, visitors and invited guests.

“The memory and pain of the residential schools has become intergenerational and it has rippled down generations to today’s young people,” said Archdeacon Sidney Black, co-chair of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP). “If we don’t tackle the challenges, the ripple effects will go on for generations to come—the Sacred Circle provides us with such an opportunity.”

Two keynote speakers will focus on the youth; Rev. Canon Martin Brokenleg will talk about “Reclaiming Youth at Risk,” and a youth delegate, Chris Bignell, will discuss “Empowering the Youth.”

Discussions will take place in groups called sharing circles — where participants share their personal stories and discuss specific themes.

The youth delegates will have their own “sharing circle” which will be led by Esther Wesley, indigenous healing co-ordinator of the Anglican Church of Canada’s partnerships department.

“The sharing circles play an important role in the gathering, it is a particular aboriginal way of decision-making,” said Donna Bomberry, who also works at the partnerships department as indigenous ministry co-ordinator. “In a circle every voice is respected and everyone is given a space to contribute.”

The gathering is also an opportunity to renew the group’s Covenant, signed in 1994 with the national church and to recover its members’ spiritual and cultural heritage and traditions.

In addition, the Indigenous Covenant Implementation Commission (ICIC) will raise issues for discussion at the gathering. Rev. Mervin Wolfleg of the diocese of Calgary will lead this discussion.

The commission was established to research and respond to the main goal of the New Agape: forming a self-determining indigenous Anglican community. So far the work of the commission has centred on researching different models of church governance structures internationally, said Ms. Bomberry.

One idea the commission has been considering is a national indigenous bishop and a self-determing structure within the Anglican Church of Canada.

“The gathering provides us with the opportunity to listen to the diverse voices as we embark on the process of a national bishop,” said Canon Black. “It is a long and diligent process and we need to follow it with sensitivity, hence the need to hear different voices.”

“We should note that the sacred circle gathering is not a constitutionally organised body, but a convocation that brings us together to share and celebrate our common life and acknowledging each other,” he explained.

An international guest, Canon Hone Kaa, professor at The College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand will reflect and share his experiences with the gathering.

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, will preside at the opening worship.

The ideas and stories shared will guide ACIP in responding to its role of guiding the church on issues concerning indigenous Anglicans.

Daily highlights of the Sacred Circle will be posted to the website as they come in.

For further Information please contact:
Ms. Donna Bomberry
Anglican Church of Canada
Co-ordinator, Indigenous Ministries
Tel:416-924-9199 ext.626
Or visit the website

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