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Rewriting History: First Peoples in Canada Take Their Place
The First Nations People believe that reconciliation among Canada's native people will have a positive impact on Canada and the Canadian government (See it on video.)

As Ottawa reeled from dramatic changes in the Canadian Government, First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders from across Canada descended upon the nation's capital to hold what would be an unprecedented summit of the First Peoples in Canada (see the video titled, Rewriting History: First Peoples in Canada Take Their Place).

" … This is a high level gathering."

Former deputy grand chief Kenny Blacksmith expressed the anticipation of participants in the historic event: "None of us could ever have imagined what the results of our coming together would have looked like."

The summit was packed with regional and national leaders. David Mainse, founder of Crossroads Christian Communications observed, "There are grand chiefs here … . The former national chief … council members of various bands. This is a high level gathering."

As the delegates began to tackle longstanding issues between their people groups, Inuit and First Nations representatives opened discussion and prayer on conflicts dating back to pre-Confederation times. First Nations leaders repented for their tribes' historic rejection of the Métis, a people group often ostracized because of their combined First Nations and European ancestry.

The fact that the First Nations People accepted the Métis with their French and First Nations People roots was liberating to the Métis people, according to the Métis representative Evelyn Lipke. "It really gave us our identity that we were missing," she commented.

There is optimism that the relationships established at the summit will enable the First Peoples to embrace non-native Canada. Lynda Prince, the former grand chief of the Carrier-Sekani Nations remarked, "The churches of Canada are inviting us to the table, and we didn't feel that we could just show up when we had unresolved issues—these unresolved, undiscussed issues where we've never been in the same room with one another."

Native and non-native believers are increasingly forging ground-breaking relationships. In July 2005, delegates came from across North America and overseas to attend the Gathering the Nations meetings held in the remote Cree Village of Mistissini in Northern Quebec.

"We had Israel, we also had different people from Indonesia, and just all over North America," explained Gathering Nations Founder Kenny Blacksmith. "I have always been excited to bring the nations to the First Nations in isolated, remote places and let them experience eating goose and moose and blueberry picking and feasting together."

The gathering in Mistissini saw a powerful time of reconciliation as non-native leaders asked forgiveness for their ancestors' mistreatment of First Nations people.

Joseph Waswa, pastor of Fortress of Hope Ministries, affirmed that repentance is a critical first step, "It's one thing, I think, to repent, it's one thing to be restored, but it's a totally different thing to walk in relationship."

"We're just birthing a brand new relationship," agreed Rev. Dan Goddard of Good News Ministries International, "and starting the way God intended it hundreds of years ago."

In recent months, First Peoples' issues and concerns have increasingly hit the national spotlight. As non-native Christian leaders have addressed the sins of the past, groundbreaking changes in the Canadian government's policies towards the First Peoples have occurred simultaneously. Coincidence? Or is there a spiritual dynamic at work?

The climax of the historic Ottawa meeting was the drafting of an unprecedented covenant …

"The Church of Canada, as they are repenting and being 'converted' to their own message … [and] getting their act together, it follows suit with the government of the nation," observed Lynda Prince, "because you have to fight and win in the spiritual realm before it is manifested physically on earth."

The climax of the historic Ottawa meeting was the drafting of an unprecedented covenant declaring the commitment of the First Peoples of Canada to God, each other, and the nation.

"As the First Peoples of Canada come into an agreement (a covenant) together, [and] then [join] the rest of the Church of Canada … I believe a spiritual authority will begin to speak from that moment on," stated David Demian, Director of Watchmen for the Nations. "They will hear corporately for the nation and when they decree the things (speak into the government affairs) … It is going to be backed by the authority of the Lord."

"We hold a certain key," affirmed Tagak Curley, MLA for Rankin Inlet North, "The First Nations hold a certain key for releasing a blessing even to our government."

Is Canada's history being rewritten as the First Peoples come into unity with each other and with non-native Canada? The nation may be witnessing the founding of a new spiritual government, empowered by the God-ordained authority of the ancient peoples of the land.

Alicia DesMarteau is a writer based in Toronto.

Originally published on the Acts News Network, April 2006.




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