The original document as signed by the creators of the Covenant.

Walking the past into the future: 30 years of the Covenant

This article was contributed by the Office of the National Indigenous Archbishop.

“Any prayerfully articulated covenant comes from a generation and voice that had a vision, hope and faith. The generation of the present, holding the covenant like a banner, must look to, uphold and enact the voice of the covenant. It is for those who follow to defend and make it part of the identity of the peoples by examination and review, through vision seeking, hope in faith, and prayers to the Almighty One. This is then our collective prayerful offering of a Covenantal voice of the peoples.”

(National Indigenous Archbishop Chris Harper, June 2024)

Thirty years ago, a small group of Indigenous Anglicans met with a singular purpose. Following the 1993 apology offered by then Primate Michael Peers on behalf of the Anglican Church, twenty-one indigenous peoples from across Canada met in Winnipeg in April of 1994. This meeting was prompted by the daunting request made by the Anglican Church of Canada to build the essential foundation of finding a collaborative direction and plan for the Indigenous Anglicans of Turtle Island.

The birth of the Covenant began with the steadfast hope of this committee to have the multiple Nations and their experiences combined into a single-page document that spoke a unified truth. Bearing an overwhelming amount of fruit propagated by the discussions during this time, six people broke off from the original group in the spirit of faith and with a dream of walking together as one church. They came back with the Covenant as we know it today.

The signing of the Covenant by the original Indigenous Committee in April 1994.

In July of 1997, this document was proposed to the third Sacred Circle gathering held in Lethbridge, Alberta, to be ratified on a larger scale by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglicans as whole. This signing of the Covenant was the first step in walking together in a mindful manner on a path of healing and mutual understanding and respect.

The inaugural signing of the Covenant in the third Sacred Circle in July 1997.

The Covenant reads as follows:

“A Covenant

We, representatives of the Indigenous people of the Anglican Church of Canada, meeting in Winnipeg from the 23 to 26 of April 1994, pledge ourselves to this covenant for the sake of our people and in trust of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ:

Under the guidance of God’s spirit, we agree to do all we can to call our people into unity in a new, self-determining community within The Anglican Church of Canada.

To this end, we extend the hand of partnership to all those who will help us build a truly Anglican Indigenous Church in Canada.

May God bless this new vision and give us grace to accomplish it. Amen.”

The signatures in the document ratified at the third Sacred Circle in 1997.

For the last eight Sacred Circles, this Covenant has been revisited and agreed upon. This practice will continue to occur. In this manner, we will continue to honor and seek to hold the same belief and sense of spiritual hope in our hearts and minds for generations to come. By walking in our predecessors’ intentions, we hope to continue to strive to uphold the same conviction that their experiences and knowledge gave them—to walk the past into the future.

In keeping with tradition, the eleventh Sacred Circle signing in 2023.


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