Forging Right Relations

Strategic Objective: Deepen Indigenization and healing in The United Church of Canada towards self-determination and the possibility of reconciliation.

Living our commitments includes enabling an autonomous Indigenous church with vibrant ministry within and alongside the United Church.  Priority activities related to Indigenous pathways include:

GC Proposal Number(s)

Priority Activities

NIC01; GS10

Build consensus towards a governance structure for the Indigenous Church.


Initiate new local Indigenous ministries, with a focus on urban communities.

Reflection on Progress in Quarter 4, 2023

As we end Q4 of the Operational Plan United Church, and within Indigenous Pathways, we have started groundwork towards key areas of focus within the Indigenous United Church. Here are the priorities from our National Indigenous Council, National Indigenous Elders Council, and Leadership Group on the Northern Manitoba State of Emergency.

National Indigenous Council (NIC)


There is a need to develop new policies for the United Church that require thoughtful consideration of how to incorporate Indigenous perspectives more effectively, such as into the climate justice discourse. NIC has been approached to help give voice for the proposed policy development on fossil fuels.

The proposed Conflict-of-Interest policy under discussion by the NIC will apply to all members of the NIC, as well as other committees falling under the NIC Umbrella, such as the Healing Fund, Real Property, Mission and Support, etc. The recommendation to include "households" in the policy was added to address situations where extended family members, not traditionally considered part of one's immediate family, share the same living space. The revised Conflict-of-Interest Policy as presented was passed Nov 2023.

National Indigenous Spiritual Gathering (NISG) Remit Video

A video from the National Indigenous Spiritual Gathering July 2023, that features the Indigenous Church speaking to its communities about the remit, has been produced. The video aims to inform Indigenous communities of faith about the remit and can also be utilized for non-Indigenous audiences. The initiative is a response to a perceived need for insights into Indigenous perspectives on the remit. This video serves as the first reflection from the NISG on the remit.

NIC & GCE Governance Relations

The Indigenous Church's vision, presented in 2022, aims to shift from a mission-based to a partnership-based relationship with the United Church. This envisions an independent Indigenous church capable of autonomous decision-making, symbolized by the Two Row Wampum model. The Remit Proposal (GS-10) aligns with the church's commitment to reconciliation, decolonization, and anti-racism. It establishes a three-court structure, introducing the National Indigenous Council as an equal and parallel entity. The NIC Autonomy placement, once established, will enable the NIC to independently manage its structural changes, eliminating the need for constant approval from the General Council. This aims to empower the NIC and allow it to evolve without seeking permission.

Both NIC and General Council Executive (GCE) share questions about future provisions and financial strategies.  It is important to acknowledge differences in operational systems and business approaches between Indigenous and non-Indigenous members, including recognition of the church's bureaucratic nature and the matriarchal system in Indigenous communities. Both NIC and GCE agree on the importance of understanding and coexisting rather than changing each other.

Discussions in the Nov 2023 meeting between GCE and NIC created understanding with emphasis on the need for collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous members and recognition of the challenges in bridging the gap between the two systems. There is need for an ongoing relationship with GCE that includes proposal for annual in-person meetings during GCE's November meeting to foster sustained connections and discussions and a mutual understanding of the role of Indigenous culture, stressing the importance of understanding Indigenous culture and mutual respect in building relationships.

National Indigenous Elders Council (NIEC)

The Bundle

Agnes Spence, elder on council, expressed her view to the group that the time has come to unveil and share the bundle to our people. She expressed a desire to share the teachings and significance of the bundle with their community. Agnes explained the meaning behind the symbols and traditions, such as the sacred star in their blankets which represents the direction towards the Creator, and the medicine wheel which symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Agnes Spence stated that when we spin our medicine wheel, we see the letter "X," which represents Jesus globally. She also emphasized the importance of understanding the context behind their traditions, rather than just performing the rituals without comprehension. She emphasized that we can no longer keep our traditions a secret. The NIEC will be looking forward to expanding our reference of the bundle within the United Church.

Northern Manitoba State of Emergency

With two key areas of focus-- the community and ministers—there has been an initiative to raise funds. For the community, they are exploring opportunities like Norway House and its spiritual centre, with further exploration led by the office of Indigenous Ministries & Justice. The need to support ministers and alleviate their workload was emphasized, with a campaign strategy under consideration. Input from ministers is vital in this process. Efforts will be initiated by the Indigenous Office of Vocation and Office of Indigenous Ministries & Justice, including ministers’ retreats. Additionally, there was a discussion about integrating existing programs like the Healing Fund into the broader objectives of the initiative. The aim is to gather more specifics for the next meetings (of the sub-group) within 2024 and plan to create a donor-based funding strategy.

For questions on the Strategic Plan, or for a summary of all 2023 Operational Plan Activities, contact .

2023 National Indigenous Spiritual Gathering Concludes on July 30

We give thanks for the opportunity to gather and give room to many strong voices.

With Strong Voices: National Indigenous Spiritual Gathering

The 2023 National Indigenous Spiritual Gathering will take place in Treaty 6 Territory in Edmonton from July 27–30.

Establishing an Autonomous National Indigenous Organization

The 44th General Council has authorized a remit on removing structural barriers so that the Indigenous Church can determine its place and structure… continue reading

Break Us and Mold Us

A prayer for the renewal of the church by the Rev. Karlene Brown-Palmer, St. Paul’s United Church, Tillsonburg, Ontario.

Bringing the Children Home

Community support regarding unmarked burial sites.