Moderator leads return visit to Indigenous church in Australia, as part of mutual journey toward self-determination and reconciliation

Group shot of the delegation outdoors; under sign "National Centre of Indigenous Excellence"
Canada-Australia Reconciliation Dialogue delegation
Credit: The United Church of Canada
Published On: March 12, 2018

In 2016, Moderator Jordan Cantwell proposed a Dialogue on Reconciliation with the Uniting Church in Australia, citing our nations’ and churches’ similar—yet distinct—histories of colonization and journeys toward self-determination and reconciliation.

In July 2017, the first phase of the dialogue took place, with a visit from the Uniting Church in Australia and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. It included time with urban Indigenous ministries and the Vancouver School of Theology Native Ministry Consortium; visits to the Regina Indian Industrial School graveyard, Peepeekisis First Nation, and Carry the Kettle First Nation; and participation in the All Native Circle Conference Grand Council and the National Aboriginal Spiritual Gathering. The visit was a time of rich learning, where we discovered that we had much in common; that we are all relatives.

In return, a United Church team is visiting Australia, March 11–26. The team, pictured above, is Indigenous and non-Indigenous, and includes youth and young adults; residential school, intergenerational, and 60s scoop survivors; traditional knowledge keepers; community activists; theology students; people in active ministry; and General Council Office staff.

  • Beverly Brown is from Squamish Nation and Heiltsuk Nation. She serves on a number of committees for The United Church of Canada, is co-chair of BC Native Ministries, and attends Longhouse Church in downtown Vancouver. She looks forward to contributing to the reconciliation dialogue with other faith-based communities.
  • Jordan Cantwell is the 42nd Moderator of The United Church of Canada. Prior to becoming Moderator, she served at Oak Table outreach ministry in Winnipeg and the congregation of Delisle-Vanscoy United Church, SK. Her ministry is characterized by a passion for justice and ecumenical engagement. Reconciliation and right relationship have been a primary focus of her term as Moderator, which ends this July.
  • Maggie Dieter is Cree and has served as Executive Minister, Aboriginal Ministries and Indigenous Justice at The United Church of Canada's General Council Office since 2009. She previously served 15 years in Indigenous congregational ministry. She describes herself as a bridge-builder. Maggie notes that the Indigenous Church is "a vital part of The United Church of Canada. Over the past several decades Indigenous worldview has profoundly enriched the whole church."
  • Ronald Wayne (RW) Hoekstra is a 2-Spirited man born into a Six Nations family from Oshweken (ON) and adopted at a young age into a Dutch minister's family. He is a Dutch and English speaking full blood born Mohawk, and a member of the Snapping Turtle Clan. He follows to the best of his ability the Midewiwin teachings and is a proud and grateful member of St. Paul's United Church in Edmonton.
  • Kenji Marui is an ordained minister working with Calvary United Church in London, ON, and past president of London Conference. He has experience with rural multi-point charges and urban multi-staff ministries.
  • Nicky McKay is 19 years old and from Berens River, MB. Her interests include sports and art. She wants to be heard within the church as an Indigenous person, and to help make a name for Indigenous youth across Canada.
  • Sam Miller is an athletic, questioning person. She enjoys watching hockey and values the teachings of her Ancestors and Elders. She grew up speaking the Kanien'kéha (Mohawk) language. She is strongminded when her culture is misrepresented or treated unjustly. Sam volunteers widely within and beyond her community, and has created artwork and media projects about the realities of her people.
  • Dave Moors lives in Treaty 6 and the Homeland of the Metis people—also known as Saskatoon, SK. He is originally from Nova Scotia (with ancestry from the UK and Ireland). He has been serving in ministry with the people of Mayfair United Church for the past 15 years. He was a member of the Regional Planning Team for Canada's Truth and Reconciliation National event in Saskatoon (2012) and is currently a member of Reconciliation Saskatoon.
  • Lorna Standingready is a 73-year-old Cree Kokum (grandmother) originally from Peepeekisis First Nation, Treaty Four, and presently from White Bear First Nation, Treaty Two. Lorna is a 10-year Indian Residential School survivor. She is also the Past Leading Elder of the All Native Circle Conference of The United Church of Canada.
  • Mathew Stevens is of Kanien'kehá:ka heritage from his mother and Irish from his father, who came to Canada as an indentured servant at age eight. Both taught him to treasure each and every moment granted by Creator, and he tries to live that teaching through in every opportunity that presents itself.
  • Sara Stratton is a settler whose family arrived in Newfoundland from Devon beginning in the 1700s. A historian by training, she is committed to understanding and undoing structures of colonization. As Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator at The United Church of Canada, her work involves helping the church live out its Apologies to Indigenous Peoples and to contribute to Canada’s fulfillment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action.
  • Alexandra Vancaeyzeele is a delegate from Toronto Conference. She is currently finishing her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Sociology at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. Alex is looking forward to this new experience and hopes to bring new knowledge back to Canada that she can use in her future studies and continuation with ministry in The United Church of Canada.

Plans for Australia include meeting with the Human Rights Commissioner; visits to the Wollotuka Institute and the Centre for the History of Violence at the University of Newcastle; a conference on the meeting of Christianity and Indigenous spiritualties; “walking on country” with Indigenous peoples of the Flinders ranges; time with the Uniting Church of Australia Assembly Standing Committee and local churches; and participation in Palm Sunday peace events.

Follow the group on Twitter (@JustWatershed) and Facebook.

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