Is there something fundamentally incompatible between Indigenous Canadians and Christianity or other faiths? Some might say so, but many Indigenous Canadians would strongly disagree. As part of the Indigenous Voices of Faith project, Cardus has interviewed 12 Indigenous Canadians about their religious faith and its interaction with their culture. Those interviews are now collected in a new booklet that you can download or read online:
The booklet features stories like those of Dr. Rose-Alma McDonald, who is Mohawk and returned to Catholicism after decades away from her Catholic faith.
“I surprised everybody, including myself, in terms of embracing Catholicism after twenty years away," Dr. McDonald recounts. "When I’m working, volunteering and doing stuff in the church, I remember that. I keep remembering I’m Catholic and I’m still Catholic. I will stay Catholic because of the way I was raised.”
Among the 12 interviews, Indigenous Voices of Faith also features Tal James, whose Indigenous name is Yum’Yom ala’thut. He is a Reformed Protestant who says, “It’s a blessing to be able to be part of both cultures, the church culture and First Nations culture.”
Or, consider the story of Professor John Borrows, who is Anishinaabe, a committed Latter-day Saint, and the Loveland Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law.
“I’m walking in a world that’s both Anishinaabe and Christian, and I feel whole, I feel complete,” says Borrows. “I feel like they are challenging me to do the same thing, which is to love God and love creation, love our fellow beings and all that’s given us.”
Cardus conducted these interviews as a way of amplifying the voices of Indigenous Canadians speaking for themselves about their religious commitments, which sometimes clash with the typical public presentation of Indigenous spirituality.
Like all other Canadians, Indigenous people have the freedom to decide for themselves what religious tradition to embrace and how to contextualize it within their culture and heritage. The Indigenous Voices of Faith booklet aims to help bring out a fuller picture of the place of religious faith among Indigenous Canadians today.