In 1972, a Conference of Elders from northern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario, sponsored by the Conference of Manitoba, was held in Norway House, Manitoba. In the words of a participant, “It was one of the most important Elders’ Conferences ever held in the North, because it was at that meeting that it was decided to ask Manitoba Conference to provide a training course for Indian elders who were prepared to enter full time ministry.” The resulting “Indian Ministry Training Program” came into effect in the summer of 1972 and by 1975 there were 4 candidates in the 4th year, 2 in the second, and three in the first.(1) The program provided theological training resulting in the ordination of indigenous leaders. Equally important, it provided one of a growing number of venues for United Church Aboriginal leaders in the Conference to gain skills and confidence in the move toward naming the culture of racism and claiming self-determination. The Indian Ministry Training Program was phased out when the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre, (now The Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre) a First Nations Theological School assumed the lead role in providing ministry preparation.
The Northern Elders’ Conference was another of the venues for strategizing and enacting change. These annual gatherings continued until the creation of Keewatin Presbytery, the first Aboriginal presbytery, in 1980.
This slide show was prepared through the Conference Office. Involved in developing communication tools in this period were Ryk Allen, the minister in Island Lake, Manitoba at the time, Stan McKay, minister at Norway House, (see slides below for a photo of Stan) and a key leader among his First Nations colleagues in the Conference, and Doug McMurty, the Superintendent of Home Missions with responsibility for the northern part of the Conference.
1 Conference of Manitoba Sub-Executive Minutes, April 3, 1975, Conference of Manitoba Record of Proceedings, 1975, p 55.
There are 15 images in the slide show. The captions are the original script written to accompany the slides. This presentation is from the Photo Collection of the All Native Circle Fonds, held by United Church Archives Winnipeg.
Click on the image to expand. Use the arrows on the expanded image to view as a slideshow.