Indigenous-Settler Relations

Indigenous-Settler Relations helps Mennonite communities grow in our awareness of host peoples and nurture justice-based friendships. Our aim is to honour the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and live into the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as we pursue the costly path of Christ.

Mennonite Church Canada's Indigenous-Settler Relations program works to support interested congregations congregations and regional working groups through prayerful dialogue, sharing of educational and financial resources, and collective action. We help connect constituent communities to Indigenous and settler persons, teachers, theological and social justice organizations that can be of help, and who are interested in pursuing peace and justice together.

Critical to this work is Indigenous theological learning - theology not simply for native peoples, but for non-natives too. The Mennonite expression of Christian faith is beautiful and has incredible strengths, but it’s been deeply impacted by colonial thinking and practices. Together, we need to re-think aspects of settler Christianity to discover a gospel that is more faithful to both host people and this “home and native” land that we share. 

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Events

Beloved Amazonia: an online bookclub

I dream of a Church that

allies with the poor,

defends Mother Earth,

and in so doing,

is transformed.

Beloved Amazonia is a remarkable text that shares the work of the Pan-Amazon Synod. It is a text that, if made flesh in Canada, could revolutionize the Church’s relationship to Indigenous peoples, Indigenous spiritualities, and Indigenous lands.

Mennonite Church Canada invites you to join Steve Heinrichs (director of Indigenous-Settler Relations) for an online book club this April as we explore Beloved Amazonia. Beginning April 8, we’ll gather by Zoom each Thursday at 1:30 p.m. (CDT) for five weeks of circle conversation, sharing with each other our hearts and hopes, our questions and learnings. Together, we will dream new paths for the Church in these lands now called Canada. Together, we will consider what roles we can play to help make this gospel dream a reality.

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NAIITS 2021 Mennonite Church Canada Virtual Delegation

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called all Canadians to remember that we are Treaty peoples who “share a responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships.” NAIITS is a Christian Indigenous Learning Community that can help us understand what this means, and how it relates to our faith.

Each year, NAIITS hosts a theological conversation intended for young and older, pastors and activists, Indigenous and Settler (see www.naiits.com). Mennonite Church Canada would like to sponsor 20 friends from across our nationwide community and the Unsettling the Word (New Leaf Network) Book Club to attend this year’s virtual symposium — Treaty and Covenant: Creating Space for Hope, June 3 – 5, 2021. It will be a rich time of learning and relationship building. If you are interested, please read the following information from NAIITS to learn more about the Symposium. If you would like to attend, please fill out the registration form. We would love to have you join us as we seek to become a church that honours the covenants of these lands.

ISR News

Courageous conversation is a big part of this work. To foster deeper understanding and break down walls that keep us apart, we explore basic, but critical questions:

  • Do we know the host people in the particular lands in which we live?
  • What kinds of histories and present relationships do we have? and why?
  • How does colonialism continue to shape and impact the Indigenous-Settler relationship?
  • How do we respectfully connect and centre the priorities of suffering peoples?
  • What are the issues – ‘our’ issues – that keep us apart and need “undoing”?
  • How can we learn from Indigenous strengths and walk in joyful solidarity?

 In all things, the hope of Indigenous-Settler Relations is reconciliation. Reconciliation is a huge word, easily used and abused by the Church. Yet through relationships of growing integrity, we hope to walk a little further towards this dream.

Ideas & feedback

Indigenous-Settler Relations would love to hear your ideas, wisdom, and dreams related to the work that we are doing, and what we could do to strengthen it. Please send your thoughts to Steve Heinrichs.

Email Steve Heinrichs