The Story of Native Canadians
The Plight of the Natives After the American Revolution, thousands of British loyalists moved to Canada. Initially, relations between the Indians and the White settlers was good, but as the British and Americans fought over territory, the Indians found themselves caught in the middle.
Chief Pazhekezhikquashkum described the two governments to be like the two blades of a scissor which slice down at each other, cutting what comes between them -- the Native people. “They only cut what comes between them. And thus the English and Americans do when they go to war against one another. It is not each other that they want to destroy, but us, poor Indians, that are between them. By this means, they get our land, and, when that is obtained, the scissors are closed again, and laid aside for further use." *
The Rise of the Church The stories of exploitation grew as the Natives and Whites wrestled with sharing the same land. In the midst of this brokenness, God raised up Christian leaders from among the Native peoples to begin the hard work of helping people to forgive and reconcile. One such leader in Ontario was Kahkewaquonaby (Sacred Feathers).
Chief Kahkewaquonaby was part Indian and part Welsh and spent the first fourteen years of his life living with his mother’s tribe learning the skills and traditions of the Native peoples. Later, he moved to his father’s farm, received a formal education, was baptized as a Christian and ordained as Rev. Peter Jones. Rev. Jones (Chief Kahkewaquonaby) went on to partner with Methodist missionary Egerton Ryerson to introduce Natives to the Spirit of Christ which helped them heal, forgive, and succeed.**
The Role of the Natives Rev. RoxAnne describes the Native peoples as border keepers who can help non-Natives understand how to use land without exploiting it and how to share resources instead of compete for them.
"God showed it to me like a chain. We’re all supposed to be interconnected. But if the Native people aren’t in there, then you have a broken chain. No wonder there are problems in the economy and the ozone!" she says, laughing and leaning back in her chair. "I believe that since this has happened (the Summit), huge things have happened in the heavenlies and we are going to see a difference here on Earth. A shift. The Native people are now going to be put in a position where they can do what God created them to do.
Native people will now be the missionaries going out into other countries and healing the nations." She sits back and folds her hands in her lap and says definitively: "That’s where I stand.”
Inheriting a Mantle Nearly a century after the ministry of Rev. Peter Jones comes the emergence of the ministry of Rev. RoxAnne and Greg Canivet. "Our church is going to be built on reconciliation and forgiveness. It is going to be a healing church (and) a bridge between all the non-Native people and the Native people. But first, we have to heal up all the Native people," says Rev. Canivet.
Turning to face a framed print on her wall of a treaty signed recently in Ottawa, she adds, "What happened in Ottawa at the Summit is all about healing up the Native person -- from both the Christian schools that pulled them away from their families and abused them, and from the government taking their land."
Rev. RoxAnne explains how one of the greatest tragedies in the breakdown of community between Natives and Non-Natives is that the Natives lost their place among the nations as ambassadors of stewardship rather than ownership.
"Native people have always believed that God put us on this earth to take care of it, not to own it or put up fences. Whenever you take something away from the earth, you put something back as a thank you unto the Lord who they call the Creator and we know as Yahweh. Without Natives being there, our country (has experienced) much dismay. It knows something is wrong."
The story of the North American Natives is one of tragedy and triumph and of a Great Creator who reached out to His beloved tribes to guide them in His ancient ways of wisdom and forgiveness, and bestow upon them the secret to healing hearts and leading the nations with a kinder understanding of power.
* The quote is from Rev. John Heckewelder, a Morovian minister in Ohio who reported the words and story of Pazhekezhikquashkum. Direct quotation from the book Sacred Feathers by Donald Smith (page 109). Published by University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 1999.
** This summary is based on the information in the book Sacred Feathers by Donald Smith (click here). Published by University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 1999. The book is available for purchase through Chapters.ca