In understanding the story of Indigenous ministry in Alberta, it is important to look at the story within the framework of denominationalism. Although we could in theory tell about the efforts of ‘the church,’ insofar as Christianity itself is a self-contained socio-political group, this would not be entirely accurate. There are many denominations within Christianity, which each have slightly different culture and theology, and self-contained decision-making structures.²¹ What this means is that, in telling the story of ‘the church’s’ Indigenous ministry, it is in reality necessary to tell the story of each denomination’s ministry. Each denomination has its own unique history, philosophy, and chosen methods of ministry to, for, with, alongside, or by Indigenous peoples. This section details these histories, specifically emphasizing any Alberta-specific ministry, and prioritizing an assessment of what currently exists. Denominations were chosen for inclusion based on their size, self-professed status as “evangelical,” and cultural relatedness to each other.
Unfortunately, it has been difficult to unearth historical information on denominational Indigenous ministry. Although many of the denominations interviewed for this project had some sort of ministry specialized for Indigenous people that has been operating for some amount of time, few had a historical record of what had been done previously.²² Furthermore, although some denominations had a person designated as their director of Indigenous ministry, the position was often new, or the person currently in the position simply did not know what the person in the position before them had accomplished. Thus, although this is an important section to include in order to give a current picture of denominational responses, it should be noted that one of the most striking features of these profiles is that they are not fully fleshed out.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Before proceeding with the ministries of individual denominations, we begin by looking at the Indigenous ministry of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), which most evangelical denominations in Canada are affiliated with. The EFC is not a denomination in itself, but it does in some sense represent and interact with the evangelical denominations in a corporate and public sense. The uncertain landscape of evangelical perspectives on Indigenous ministry was previously discussed. In contrast, it is interesting to note that the EFC does not share the same uncertainty or timidity.
The EFC traces the beginning of its Indigenous ministry to a conference in Hull called the 1995 Sacred Assembly. At this time, Indigenous politician Elijah Harper brought together “spiritual leaders of many faiths, aboriginal leaders from coast to coast, youth, elders, political leaders, as well as guests and visitors from South Africa, Brazil, the United States and Central America,” to “[come] together in the spirit of faith and reconciliation and agree on a new vision for Canada as a whole” (Harper, 1995, para. 2, 3). From this conference, the EFC
invited Christian Indigenous leaders to form an EFC Aboriginal Task Force (later named the Aboriginal Ministries Council) that would strengthen relationships among Indigenous leaders and produce educational material for churches. This group, which operated from 1996 to 2012, developed materials related to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, for instance, and led educational sessions at the annual gatherings of EFC affiliate leaders. (EFC, n.d.-a, para. 4)
The Aboriginal Task Force was disbanded in 2012 (EFC, n.d.-a, para. 4).
Three years later, in response to the TRC’s 2015 Calls to Action, the EFC crafted a response which included a commitment to an ongoing process of learning and reconciliation (EFC, n.d.-a, para. 5, 6). Since then, the EFC has participated in reconciliation conferences in 2017, 2018, and 2019, including Symposiums held by NAIITS (EFC, n.d.-a, para. 8). At the 2019 gathering, the EFC was asked to present a paper at the next NAIITS symposium “that would address how evangelical churches will work toward right relationships with Indigenous people, both within and outside church communities” (EFC, n.d.-a, para. 8). The group that crafted the paper became known as the EFC Indigenous-Settler Relations Working Group (EFC, n.d.-a, para. 9). The paper, titled Stewarding Sacred Seeds,
recommends a number of actions to be taken by the EFC in pursuit of reconciliation and right relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. The EFC has received these recommendations and has committed, as outlined in the paper, to these seven commitments. (EFC, n.d.-a, para. 10)
The seven commitments notably include recommitment to (or, introduction of) the Reconciliation Proclamation of the 1995 Sacred Assembly by member denominations, adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the redevelopment of theology in reflection of errors the church has made against Indigenous peoples (EFC, n.d.-b, para. 3).
The EFC’s Perspective on Indigenous Ministry in the Evangelical Church
In their article, Stewarding Sacred Seeds, the EFC includes a report on how the evangelical denominations have or have not done their due diligence in terms of Indigenous ministry and reconciliation. Although the evangelical church has done well in establishing practical-type ministries, they don’t tend to engage in reconciliation initiatives. The EFC explains,
Although well-represented in front-line zones of service that engage many vulnerable Indigenous populations – be it at soup kitchens, youth drop-ins, homeless shelters or through prison visitation – Evangelicals as a perceived whole do not have a reputation for relational solidarity and advocacy in response to Indigenous calls to action, particularly around Indigenous rights and lands. . . There have been a few signs of growth. Some evangelical communities have developed an understanding of treaty and land rights. . . Some evangelical communities have supported Indigenous rights to self-government in public support for the TRC’s Call to Action #48 to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. The reality is, however, that broadly speaking, evangelicals are similar to the general population of Canada in their ignorance of and indifference to solemn their treaty responsibilities. (Jacobs et al., 2019, p. 8-9)
In contrast, the EFC contends that “Mainline churches, especially through the work of Kairos, have been at the forefront of public affairs advocacy and citizen education for Indigenous rights” (Jacobs et al., 2019, p. 9). They praise some specific efforts of evangelicals including “the heart learning in thousands of [evangelicals] ... brought about by the Kairos Blanket Exercise,” “popular theological dialogue and education efforts like Intotemak (Mennonite Church Canada) that encourage cross-cultural encounter, learning and solidarity action for justice,” and the “work of contextualization that is happening in evangelical communities such as The Salvation Army Pow Wows and the scholarly excellence and reconciliation community building of NAIITS” (Jacobs et al., 2019, p. 8-9).
Of the contextualization movement, the EFC had this to say:
We acknowledge that these education and action initiatives are not broadly engaged across the evangelical church. It must also be said that respect for difference in spiritual journeys and the spiritual reconciliation envisioned at the Sacred Assembly remain a challenge. The practice of contextualization of Indigenous ceremonies in Christian worship remains a matter of controversy in some evangelical circles. (Jacobs et al., 2019, p. 9)
This is of note as, as previously mentioned, the position of the EFC seems to be somewhat out of step with the actual practice of its affiliated denominations. Their position leans into reconciliation and the ‘unsettling of theology,’ a phrase that can cause concern for evangelicals, without providing a fuller discussion on this process. Of all the denominational responses, contextualization efforts such as that of the Salvation Army seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. While evangelical ministries may take a non-position on the issue of contextualization, it is uncommon to find ones that are pro-contextualization.
This is not to say that the EFC is out of step with all evangelical denominations, or that their position is incorrect. It must simply be noted that they have a very specific position which may influence the denominations they represent, but is not the same as that of the denominations they represent. Each individual denomination will vary wildly in what Indigenous ministry they may or may not offer.
The Salvation Army ministers in various areas with Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian context, including both advocacy-type ministry initiatives and practical-type social service ministries. They have appointed a Territorial Indigenous Ministries consultant at a National level, Shari Russell, who functions to create greater awareness and intentionality in their engagement with Indigenous Peoples.
According to the Salvation Army, the denomination has had Indigenous ministry for decades, but it has largely been developed in response to the TRC and its Calls to Action. This includes the Salvation Army’s main ministry, the Celebration of Culture: A Journey of Reconciliation Family Gathering and Pow Wow. This annual gathering, held at the Salvation Army’s property on Pine Lake, is meant to provide teaching about Indigenous cultures and Christian faith, and how the two can fit together. It is styled as both a learning event for non-Indigenous individuals, and a reconnection event for Indigenous individuals. Participants engage in cultural activities such as tipi building, and hear presentations on biblical and theological frameworks. They also have other, more local Indigenous ministries, including contact with Indigenous individuals through their social services ministries, an Indigenous redesign of the the Salvation Army shield, on-reserve community support initiatives, and a process of reframing, education, and the embracing of the TRC’s Calls to Action by the Salvation Army leadership.
Evangelical Missionary Church
Web review yielded two Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada (EMCC) missionary couples doing practical-type ministry with Indigenous communities in Ontario, as well as a few missionaries with Ethnos Canada, a missionary organization that specializes in outreach to unreached Indigenous peoples (EMCC, n.d.). This appears to be the only Indigenous ministry the denomination has, and none of the workers are established in Alberta. However, more ministry may have been done in the past. A woman named Alison Lefebvre appears in the list of the members of the EFC Indigenous-Settler Relations Working Group, representing the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada (Jacobs et al., 2019, p. 21), and she also appears in a video posted by the New Story Conference (see Advocacy Ministries) .²³ However, Lefebvre seems to have resigned from EMCC in June 2019. The Evangelical Missionary Church could not be reached for input.²⁴
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Historically, the Christian and Missionary Alliance’s (C&MA) Indigenous ministry has been practical-type, consisting of church planting and the existence of Indigenous churches within the denomination. Indigenous ministry was first engaged in Alberta in the 1950s by Clarence and Ruth Jaycox, who planted C&MA churches in Peerless lake, then Loon Lake, and Gifts Lake. These churches have since declined, but the C&MA has continued with their Indigenous church planting ministry. Currently, the C&MA has three Indigenous churches in Alberta, First Nations Alliance Church in Edmonton, Native Bible Fellowship in Grande Prairie, and Native Christian Fellowship in Fort McMurray. These churches make up the Alberta portion of the C&MA’s official Indigenous ministry, the First Nations Association of Alliance Churches in Canada (FNAACC).²⁵ This is an association of churches within the C&MA that are doctrinally in line with the denomination, but culturally more Indigenous. These churches are planted by First Nations people, for First Nations people, and have First Nations leadership. Anyone is welcome, but the aim is to make the church contextualized for Indigenous people specifically.
According to Ray Aldred, a previous director of the FNACC, the association’s founding came about from the activity of Harvey Towne, C&MA Superintendent for the Western Canadian District, and Vincent Yellow Old Woman, a spiritual leader in the Siksika nation who would later become Siksika Nation Chief. It was initially founded in the 1980s as the Indian Alliance, and was originally run and led by “white guys.” Over time, leadership of the association was taken over by Indigenous Christians, and at some point the group was renamed. In 1993, the C&MA began pulling funding which had sustained the churches in the association, and in 2002 began directing funds to church planting instead. In 1998, the association held a reconciliation gathering to resolve issues of systemic racism in the C&MA, wherein Indigenous leaders felt they were being treated in a paternalistic manner by their white colleagues.
It is difficult to fully ascertain the degree of importance that Indigenous ministry has in the C&MA. Historical clues point to a “profound denominational reconciliation to settle past differences between First Nation leaders and national and district leaders” (Smith, 2009, para. 6). In addition, research participants identified the C&MA as a denomination that had done Indigenous ministry very well in the past. Unfortunately, it seems like this momentum was lost over time due to leadership turnover.
Western District leadership was previously connected to modern Indigenous ministry through their relationship with Anchored Warriors cofounder Amy Flater. This notably led to a relationship between C&MA Western District/Ambrose University and Anchored Warriors/New Story Conference, which seems to have been an important networking connection between the evangelical church and the Indigenous ministry community. However, in 2019 Amy Flater passed the leadership of Anchored Warriors onto a different organization, UrbanFire, which is a ministry of InterAct Ministries, and does not have a pre-existing relationship with C&MA.²⁶
There is an individual who was identified as the lead for any Indigenous ministry their denomination would do: their Domestic Missions Catalyst, Nick Kadun. However, this position is new, and has little connection to any legacy of ministry. Nonetheless, denominational leadership is aware of the need to engage more fully in Indigenous ministry. They are currently in a place of “discerning new pathways of ministry that would seek to identify and raise up... indigenous leaders, to lead indigenous churches and ministries.” The denomination has also recognized Indigenous people in Canada as a “least reached people group,” and has a four-year mandate for the future that includes more resources being put towards Indigenous ministry.
The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
Indigenous ministry by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) first appeared in the mid-1980’s through the existence of the National Native Leadership Council (NNLC), led by James Kallapa, and sponsored by the National Home Missions Department (Mittelstadt & Sutton, 2010, p. 192). The council was composed of representatives from each district of the PAOC, and it was primarily concerned with national Indigenous ministry initiatives and church plants. According to historians Mittelstadt & Sutton (2010),
In 1986, the NNLC brought together key native leaders for a “free exchange of concerns between native people and leaders” on church leadership, education, evangelism, healing, spiritual gifts, native spirituality and pastoral issues. . . In the 1990s the NNLC was addressing not only church leadership issues but also social and political issues like native self-government, religious freedom, AIDs and family dysfunction, although there is [sic] no direct discussion of the residential school system. However, Pentecostals did participate in a “Sacred Assembly” in Ottawa in 1995 where Christians across Canada gathered to discuss and pray about how aboriginal people were treated in residential schools. (pp. 192-193)
The council came to a somewhat abrupt end in the early 2000s when Kallapa retired from his role as chairman and moved back to his home state of Washington. However, prior to the council’s disbanding, the NNLC worked closely with the Home Missions department of the PAOC. The Home Missions department itself underwent restructuring in the early 2000s, being replaced by the Missions Canada department of the PAOC in 2008. Through this process, the NNLC was essentially dissolved and reincorporated as a missional priority under the larger umbrella of Missions Canada. Missions Canada is the PAOC’s arm for all missions work in Canada that does not happen through the functioning of local churches. In order to accomplish this, they have identified five “gaps” in ministry that are not otherwise being filled, one of which is Indigenous ministry. Each gap has a guiding group that has a mandate to oversee ministry to their people group on a national level.
The guiding group for Indigenous ministry is led by Daniel Collado, director of the Aboriginal Bible Academy, and includes representatives from each province who are pastors of Indigenous churches or oversee Indigenous ministry in their province in some capacity. Their tasks include meeting together, keeping tabs on Indigenous ministry in the country, providing initiatives, championing calls to prayer, and guiding the PAOC. This group was also involved in writing and releasing the PAOC’s Letter of Forgiveness and Reconciliation²⁷ between the PAOC and its Aboriginal leadership in 2012.
It does appear that, despite difficulties, Pentecostalism has flourished among Indigenous communities. Historian Michael Wilkinson (2009) notes,
Pentecostalism developed some strength in native communities from Quebec westward to British Columbia and it took several forms . . . In other regions the Foursquare Church or independent Pentecostal congregations took root. In even more communities the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) established congregations. By 1986, the PAOC, Canada's largest Pentecostal body, reported 108 native congregations nationwide. (p. 142)
It is commonly noted that Pentecostalism is three times as prevalent among Indigenous populations as among the general population of Canada. In addition, research interviews with leaders in Indigenous ministry acknowledged independent Charismatic or Pentecostal congregations as one of the most prevalent Christian presences on Indigenous reserves in Alberta. One research participant, with a view to history, emphasized the role of travelling tent ministries such as Max Solbrekken’s as an important element of Indigenous ministry in Alberta. Pentecostalism in general is widely noted as being a strong force in Indigenous ministry in Alberta. However, similarly to the C&MA, the PAOC seems to have lost connection to this history due to leadership turnover.
Indigenous ministry in the PAOC Alberta district is unique due to its district divisioning, which included the Northwest Territories in the same district as Alberta, with leadership based in Edmonton (the ABNWT district). The result of this was that the vast majority of PAOC Indigenous ministry in Alberta has been directed “north of 60”, in the Northwest Territories. Such ministry included various church planting and evangelistic missions established in the province. This is reflected in district leadership, where the leader that would be most responsible for “Indigenous ministry” is their director of Northern Initiatives.
It is difficult to ascertain how many of the previously mentioned 108 native congregations claimed by Wilkinson (2009, p. 142) to exist across Canada resided in Alberta. Research revealed some Indigenous PAOC churches planted in Alberta, including Indian Full Gospel Mission in Brocket, Calgary Native Pentecostal Church in Calgary, and Infuzed Ministries in Alexis. However, none of these churches are still functioning today. While there is a long history of Indigenous ministry conducted by the ABNWT district of the PAOC in the Northwest Territories, the story of Indigenous ministry in Alberta proper seems to be largely unwritten. Their leadership is not unaware of this, however, and expressed a desire to move into a new era of Indigenous ministry. They conveyed the need for strong, long-term, and Indigenous-led leadership dedicated to seeing the Indigenous peoples of Alberta come to know Christ.
Little information could be found on Indigenous ministry in the Foursquare Gospel church. Web review of the Canadian site turned up only one mention of Indigenous peoples, in an entry for a local Indigenous church. However, in Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys, Richard Twiss claims that “the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel denomination has emerged to ‘officially’ embrace, fully support and participate in contextualizing the gospel in their ministry efforts among First Nations people” (Twiss, 2015, p. 188). Accordingly, a 2013 cabinet report from the international website alludes to the existence of a Native American Ministry and Native Council (Dunahoo, 2013, p. 3). Twiss also claims that the International Foursquare Gospel Church at one point had a Native District, but that it was dissolved recently due to shrinking numbers (Twiss, 2015, p. 219).
Unfortunately, this is all regarding the Foursquare church on an international level; no record of anything similar existing in Canada could be found. Author Cheryl Bear does appear to have worked with the Foursquare Church in Canada to write her book Introduction to First Nations Ministry, a study on the incorporation of First Nations cultural training in churches. However, there is no other evidence of this training being implemented in the Foursquare church, or of any other Indigenous ministry. The Canadian denominational office could not be reached for input.
It is difficult to track the history of Indigenous ministry within the “Baptist denomination,” as Baptists tend to be congregationalist and thus difficult to categorize at a denominational level. As a result, there are a number of Baptist denominations within Canada that we will discuss here, each with a distinct story of Indigenous ministry. In this report, only denominations that have a large enough presence in Alberta will be included.
Canadian Baptist Ministries
The story of Indigenous ministry in the Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) denomination largely begins with the start of advocacy-type ministry in 2015. Before this, as early as the 90’s, there were local instances of practical-type ministry and fellowship between Indigenous populations and local Baptist churches, particularly in Northern Ontario and Quebec. However, the denomination as a whole first began an official initiative specific to Indigenous peoples at the conclusion of the TRC and its reports. In response to the reports, executive leadership of CBM sent a survey out to the churches in their denomination to gauge the extent to which their churches were engaging with their Indigenous neighbours.
The survey revealed that their churches were not doing enough in the light of the legacy of the church/Indigenous relationship. Very few churches even responded to the survey, and those that did could demonstrate little involvement with their Indigenous neighbours. In response, the denomination began running “mutual learning forums,” many of which have been held over the past five years. These forums were very educational, and overwhelmingly resulted in the hosting church making a resolution to do better. They also issued an official denominational apology at one of their first listening sessions in 2015, which was crafted with the input of First Nations Chiefs.
Finally, they have also enabled the work of a few individuals to do Indigenous ministry in CBM. First, they have employed Cheryl Bear, author of Introduction to First Nations Ministry, to be their Indigenous Relations Specialist for the past four years, part-time. Her work in this role involved creating resources, connecting their work internationally, and speaking at the learning forums. In terms of what CBM’s ministry with Indigenous peoples consists of, Cheryl Bear’s work was their main strategy. Unfortunately, Cheryl left her position with CBM just recently, due to personal matters. The denomination has yet to find a new direction to move in, due to the freshness of this transition.
In Eastern Canada, Danny Zacharias also works on CBM’s behalf to produce papers and learning resources on improving church relations with Indigenous peoples. Finally, on a regional level of CBM, Jodi Spargur with the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada runs a ministry in Calgary called Healing at the Wounded Place, an advocacy-type ministry that is about creating dialogue, fostering mutual understanding, and enabling healing at the place where the Indigenous community has been wounded - in the Church.
Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada
No mention of anything relating to Indigenous people could be found through web review of their website, no other research could be found showing any Indigenous ministry in the denomination, and the denomination could not be reached for input.
Canadian National Baptist Convention
At least one participant who was interviewed, a veteran in the field of Indigenous ministry, remembered that the Canadian National Baptist Convention (CNBC) had been “doing some good things” in the past, but thought they might not be engaged in Indigenous ministry anymore. Indeed, although web review turned up three first nations churches, no other record or evidence of ministry with Indigenous peoples could be found. None of the three churches are in Alberta. CNBC could not be reached for input.
North American Baptist Conference
On their website, the North American Baptist Conference (NAB) has a link to a site category on Racial Righteousness directly under their Canada/USA tab. In this category are many articles written on reconciliation and racism, including a number about First Nations peoples. In this way, the denomination does offer some advocacy-based ministry, or at least some understanding on the part of leadership as to the importance of reconciliation. However, no other ministries can be found, including any ministry in Alberta. The denomination could not be reached for input.
Baptist General Conference of Canada
No mention of anything relating to Indigenous people could be found through web review of their website, no other research could be found showing any Indigenous ministry in the denomination, and the denomination could not be reached for input.
Similarly to the Baptist denominations, there are many Mennonite denominations with distinct histories and structures of Indigenous ministry. Denominations were chosen for inclusion in this section based on their size and membership in the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Generally speaking, Mennonite denominations may not have an officially established ministry initiative, but hints of ongoing ministry and relationship with their Indigenous neighbours do appear throughout historical records.
The Mennonite Church Canada (MCC) has a well-established Indigenous ministry referred to as Indigenous-Settler Relations, an advocacy-type ministry. The Indigenous-Settler Relations ministry is spearheaded by Steve Heinrichs, who has written prolifically on decolonization, reconciliation, political activism, and liberation theology. The ministry is based around activism and awareness, and is largely political in nature. It consists mostly of publishing, including a number of books, as well as as their periodical Intotemak, which “encourage[s] cross-cultural encounter, learning and solidarity action for justice” (Jacobs et al., 2019, p. 8). Notably, Alberta is the only district of the MCC that does not have an Indigenous-Settler Relations contact person (Mennonite Church Canada, 2020, para. 1).
Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches
Web review of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (CCMBC) turned up only a few mentions of Indigenous peoples and related terms: an apology at a church planters conference,²⁸ and a link to the Statement of Anabaptist Church Leaders regarding the TRC hearings.²⁹ It appears that the denomination does not have any formal ministry with Indigenous people. There is one record of a “MB First Nations ministry,” in a prayer guide uploaded to the website,³⁰ but no other mention of this ministry could be found. CCMBC could not be reached for input.
Evangelical Mennonite Conference
Web review of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference (EMC) website turned up many incidental mentions generally acknowledging the injustices that were done to the Indigenous peoples of Canada in their theological journal, Theodidaktos. This includes at least one article that directly addressed Mennonites in calling for them to “do something about the needs we recognize among Aboriginal people” (Reimer, 2008, p. 7). In addition, a 2019 webpage on their site regarding the expansion of ministry claimed that the Conference Council had decided to begin an Indigenous ministry, and had established a committee to explore this initiative.³¹ However, no other information about this claim is publicly available.
Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference
Web review of the Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference (EMMC) turned up only a few incidental mentions of Indigenous peoples. However, they do list InterAct Ministries and NCEM as associated missions.³² It appears that, while this denomination is very missionally focused, their attentions may lie primarily overseas. They do not appear to have an official Indigenous ministry in Canada. EMMC could not be reached for input.
The Christian Reformed Church
Indigenous ministry in the Christian Reformed Church in Canada (CRC) is unique in that it is a mixture of advocacy-type and practical-type ministries. Their Indigenous Ministry is “made up of a national committee (Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee), three Urban Indigenous Ministries, and a Justice and Reconciliation Mobilizer, each using their strengths to support healing and reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous people in Canada” (Christian Reformed Church, 2020, para. 1). The Urban Indigenous ministries, their practical-type ministry, was their first initiative, beginning with the establishment of an Urban Ministry Centre in Winnipeg in 1974, with a second opening in Regina in 1978, and a third in Edmonton in 1991. These centres function primarily as drop-in centres, and exist to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the people they serve.
As for their advocacy-type ministry, the council and the Justice Mobilizer work to foster justice and reconciliation through education of CRC staff and churches. According to Justice Coordinator Shannon Perez, their focus is on “encourag[ing] people to learn of the past [in order] to understand our present reality and to advocate for change for a better now and for a better future.” This involves creating resources, highlighting books and articles to read, and organizing learning events. The council also organized an art tour featuring the work of the late Ovide Bighetty in 2011, encouraged “learning from the TRC when the national events were being held” in 2015, and is currently engaged in “understanding the value and importance of contextualizing the Gospel.” They maintain a comprehensive directory of resources for use by CRC churches as well.³³ The CRC has engaged in many statements and initiatives regarding reconciliation, including adopting UNDRIP and responding to the TRC Calls to Action.
The urban ministry in Edmonton, the Edmonton Native Healing Centre, comprises the Alberta-specific Indigenous ministry of the CRC. For more information, see the section on Practical Ministries, Edmonton Native Healing Centre.
Denominations vary wildly in the level of ministry they provide, as well as whether they engage in practical-type ministry, advocacy-type ministry, or a mixture of both. The EFC is highly advocacy-type, and tends to lean more into new and controversial ways of thinking than many of the actual denominations they are affiliated with. Denominations that have a well-established Indigenous ministry, particularly that of advocacy-type, include Canadian Baptist Ministries, the Mennonite Church Canada, the Salvation Army, and the Christian Reformed Church. The latter two of these also have well-established practical-type ministries to Indigenous peoples. The Christian & Missionary Alliance and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada have a substantial history of Indigenous ministry, but do not currently have any established in Alberta. No evidence could be found of substantial Indigenous ministry in the other denominations researched in this project, though some did show an awareness of the need for it.