The relationship between the Church and Indigenous peoples in what we now call Canada has a long and storied history. At one point, particularly in the late 20th century, Canadian evangelical Christians were passionate about sharing the Gospel with their Indigenous neighbours. However, in recent history, this momentum has somewhat lost its way. In the era of social justice, post-Christianity, contextualization, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, ministry is more complicated than it once seemed. Christians find themselves second guessing age-old philosophies and models of ministry that once seemed sure, and, in the face of passionate voices that critique and challenge the Church from inside and out, find themselves uncertain how to proceed.
This project hopes to help the church regain its footing and once again locate its place in the story. Acknowledgement of an imperfect past should not be an inhibitor of current and future ministry. Rather, it should be the force that drives such ministry, arising out of a conviction that we need to take responsibility for the past and to do better in the future, guided by better understanding. Much can be learned by engaging with the story of our past. Although the current relationship between the church and Indigenous people is charged, our current situation does not need to be as confusing as it appears. An honest look at history may not be comforting or uplifting, as mistakes have been made. However, telling the story of our past yields a clearer picture of our present, which can then open up a path to a better future in which we walk side-by-side with our Indigenous brothers and sisters.
Statement on Potentially Harmful Language
The SIMA Project aims to tell the full story of what has been said and done within the relationship between the evangelical church and Indigenous people in Alberta, in the spirit of truth and reconciliation. This means that certain material on this site relating to historical events and different personal views may be distressing or triggering for some viewers. A National Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support to former Residential School students and their families. This 24-Hour Crisis Line can be accessed at: 1-866-925-4419.
The Story is the written component of the SIMA Project, which summarizes and ties together all the information learned through research, networking, and digital heritage collection. The purpose of this part of the project is to tell the story exactly as it was, and not as we would have liked it to have been. In this, we follow the advice of Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., which is that offensive terms such as “Indian” should generally never be used, but may be permitted in certain situations such as “use in discussions of history where necessary for clarity and accuracy” (Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., 2021, p. 10). Such language is used out of necessity only where it cannot be avoided. Readers are asked to use their discretion as to whether it is good for them to be exposed to such language, as well as to other accounts of historical injustice detailed in this project, before reading The Story.
The project team strives to be honest and transparent in their treatment of such material, while still remaining sensitive and inclusive. This is a difficult balance to strike, and we welcome feedback from viewers as to how such material can be phrased better. To provide such feedback, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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ELEMENTS OF THE STORY: