The IP Community Grieves a Great Loss - Wendy Lynn Beauchemin Peterson

It is with the deepest sadness and an overwhelming sense of loss that the board of NAIITS, together with the rest of the Indigenous Learning Community who knew and loved her, announce the passing from this life into the next of our dear sister, friend, and colleague in Indigenous life and education, Wendy Lynn Beauchemin Peterson. Wendy left us September 28th while celebrating friendship and birthdays with a number of friends in Paris, France. Her death, while sudden to all of us, will have come as no surprise to the one who formed her at the beginning of the world, instilling in her all the raw materials that would become the person we all knew and loved. She has now been welcomed by her creator into the next steps of life's journey beyond this world.

While we are all devastated, and in our own ways, according to our own relationship with Wendy, will experience her loss in the days to come, the deepest loss will lie with Ed, Melanie, Chad, Cory, their spouses and Wendy’s many grandchildren. As we have already begun to do, and invite you to do also, we continue to pray for all of the immediate and extended family in this time of separation and loss.

Wendy was not only a founder of NAIITS’, but a continuous member of NAIITS board of directors up until her passing. She was so very central to NAIITS’ formation that she has been referred to on many occasions as NAIITS’ mother. From NAIITS’ inception, Wendy was also its journal editor, devoting her time to its continued improvement and ultimately overseeing its welcome into the indexed volumes of the American Theological Libraries Association (ATLA).

Wendy survived a bout with cancer, to finish writing her Ph.D. dissertation, and successfully defend A Gifting of Sweetgrass: The Reclamation of Culture Movement and NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community this past May. She was hooded as Dr. Wendy Lynn Beauchemin Peterson on June 7, 2018 in the company of the NAIITS community to which she had devoted so much energy and passion over the years.

Wendy’s heart for people was obvious to all who met her. She was a combination of deep compassion, boldness in speech (wrapped in her inimitable humour), accompanied by actions that consistently named discrimination wherever she saw it. She was passionate about justice for all people but especially for Indigenous peoples at home and around the globe. As a Red River Métis woman, she was a role model to all who met her and came to know her, but she was especially concerned for the nurture and development of Indigenous women, of all ages.

Journey well our dear sister, aunt, and friend into the life that lies beyond this one; into the place where he who made you has waited for your return and now welcomes you into his warm and strong embrace. We will deeply miss you!

The family has asked that in lieu of other gifts, donations be made to Indigenous Pathways. To Donate Click Here.

More IP Connecting: Sioux Falls Seminary

After 15 years of ongoing partnership through an initial symposium and then 10 years of the Wiconi immersion program, Indigenous Pathways has taken another step in ministry partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary. September 13-15. Terry LeBlanc and Casey Church, together with Sioux Falls Seminary faculty Doug Anderson, Larry Caldwell, and Corky Alexander, delivered a mini-symposium on Indigenous mission and ministry to a receptive audience of about 35 practitioners. By all accounts, the event was a huge success!

According to one participant, “My commitment to seeing Indigenous peoples become whole followers of Jesus was ramped-up even more than ever! I fully support Indigenous Pathways’ efforts in ministry and training. You are a unique group of people! Count me in!”

Thank you to our readership and supporters for making this possible.

NAIITS “Down Under” and Whitley College

We are thrilled to announce our newest partnership with the Australian Indigenous community, and Whitley College at the University of Melbourne, to deliver a Masters In Theological Studies Indigenous and to begin to offer an Indigenous PhD program supervised in partnership with NAIITS.

The mission of Whitley College is to equip men and women for leadership and service in the church and society. We have adopted the tag line: ‘Equipping leaders for a different world’.

Our vision is for each person to make a contribution, within the College and in their life beyond university studies, towards a different world—and whilst on this journey, form lasting friendships and make the most of every opportunity.

The Baptist heritage of Whitley College stresses the integrity and freedom of each person, a respect for all and a challenge to all to contribute to a just, peaceful society. Baptist faith emphasizes a personal response to God, as we understand the expression of God in Jesus Christ and in the witness of the Bible. While Baptists hold to this personal faith, they also uphold the religious freedom of all and seek to a respectful relationship with people of all faiths and of none.

Face to Face with Terry LeBlanc

David Peck, founder of SoChange, a social enterprise that works with the corporate and NGO community in leadership development, innovation and entrepreneurship, interviewed Terry LeBlanc in his podcast called Face2Face. In this episode, Terry talks about “weaponized” religion, compound worldviews, about living in a “both/and” world, and unpacks notions of interdependence, integration and inter-relationship.

Listen to the podcast HERE.

Director of NAIITS to be honored by Acadia Divinity College

The Board of Governors, Senate, and Faculty of Acadia University, Wolfville, NS conferred on Rev. Dr. Terry LeBlanc a Doctor of Divinity Honorary May 10, 2015.

Terry is Mi’kmaq and Acadian in his 43rd year of marriage to Bev. He is the father of twin daughters and one son. Jeanine (married to Dan) and Jennifer are actively involved in the Indigenous community through their educational studies, vocations and churches. From his residence in the Philippines, Matt directs a community development framed ministry to Indigenous youth and young adults that is active in various regions of the globe including through his colleagues and fellow staff in Canada.

The founding Chair and current Director of Indigenous Pathways, and Director of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS). Terry also oversees iEmergence and My People, both of which are focused on building capacity with Indigenous people. In addition to 37 years of grassroots work in the Native North American and global Indigenous context, Terry has taught at various colleges, seminaries and universities. Reflecting his commitment to Christian education from an Indigenous perspective, Terry also serves as a sessional or adjunct faculty member at George Fox University and Evangelical Seminary, Acadia Divinity College and Tyndale University College and Seminary.

Author of numerous articles, theological papers and assorted book chapters, Terry has won several awards for his varied writings. In June 2010, for his work on the creation of NAIITS, Terry became the 28th recipient of the Dr. E.H. Johnson Memorial Award for Innovation in Mission.

Indigenous Peoples & Christian Higher Education: a Consultation

Over 25 people from nine institutions took part in a follow-up session to an initial symposium that took place at Booth Univ. College in Winnipeg, MB, in May 2013. This second event was sponsored by NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community, and CHEC (Christian Higher Education Canada). Its focus was on the development of cooperativeways of supporting Indigenous students in their pursuit of distinctive, Biblically sound, and academically rigorous programs of study, respectful of Indigenous worldviews.

Highlights from the symposium include a commitment to:

  • Develop a vision statement guiding efforts at greater Indigenization on CHEC campuses;
  • Create a web-based platform for sharing online courses and other resources with an Indigenous focus; and
  • Explore the creation of a Circle for Indigenous Studies to benefit joint programs being developed by NAIITS in cooperation with CHEC schools and other campuses.

Terry, LeBlanc, Executive Director of NAIITS, was encouraged by the emergence of concrete steps that would build on the work NAIITS is already doing in cooperation with CHEC members. CHEC’s Executive Director, Dr. Justin Cooper, expressed appreciation for the cooperative spirit present during the meetings as well as the commitment to move forward in cooperative efforts in Indigenous education.

NAIITS currently offers three graduate programs with an Indigenous focus In cooperation with existing Christian institutions: an MAIS with George Fox University and Seminary, an MTS (I) with Tyndale University College & Seminary, and a PhD with William Carey University. Also under development are two new programs in asset-based community development with an Indigenous focus: a BA program with Providence University College, and an MA program with Acadia University and Divinity College. CHEC includes 35 accredited Christian colleges, universities and seminaries across Canada, serving over 17,500 students.

For more information see for a summary and for an overview of these programs.

Elijah Harper - March 3, 1949 - May 17, 2013

He was known for his quiet scuttling of the Meech Lake Accord in the Manitoba legislature in 1990 – an agreement that, if passed, would have left Indigenous peoples out of Canadian history once again. But, Elijah Harper was also well known – perhaps most widely known – for his deep commitment to family, and friends, for his gentle manner of speaking, and for his amazing passion for reconciliation of the peoples in Canada.

Elijah left this part of the journey of life Friday May 17th from complications due to diabetes. Elijah Harper was our friend – he was my friend.

On many occasions in a host of different venues throughout the country and around the world, I had opportunity to watch Elijah present the best possible image of Indigenous people living in reconciliation with non-Indigenous people in Canada. And, whether we were in Taiwan, New Zealand, Africa, or here at home, he was always the same – passionately committed to Indigenous rights, and to seeking to realize those rights within a strong Canada. His vision was of a nation of nations founded on spiritual healing for all.

In pursuing this vision, Elijah became a great spokesperson and powerful ambassador – not just for Canadian Indigenous people, but also for Jesus. He will be missed on this side of life’s journey.

Our prayers go out for Elijah’s widow, Anita Olsen Harper, and the rest of the Harper family. Our thoughts are also with them as they wrestle through the next weeks and months without him.

Journey well my friend!

Idle No More: NAIITS Perspective

The breadth and depth of support Idle No More has attained is powerfully evident. Many thousands of people—elders, youth, professionals, traditional people and Christians—have convened in hundreds of rallies in many locations, now around the globe. We were recently in Portland, Oregon for our annual board retreat and joined several hundred people for a rally held in the city's central square.

Idle No More is a grassroots response to Native Canadians' sense of, "Here we go again." The movement is a pent-up response to policies and practices of governments, past and present.

Though the attitudes conveyed in the 1969 White Paper (which, among other things, proposed the rejection of land claims and the assimilation of First Nations people into the Canadian population with the status of other ethnic minorities rather than a distinct group) resurrected by the current government play prominently, the attitude has been the same with governments of all stripes and times.

Duncan Campbell Scott's 1920 appeal, rooted in the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 to "kill the Indian in the child," has been replaced by: "kill the idea of communal land and livelihood the Indian has," thus continuing the centuries-old agenda of legislated assimilation "for our benefit."

Bill C-45 and Bill C-38 (the federal omnibus budget), replicate the "we know what's best for you" attitude of previous Canadian governments. This is the very approach that implemented the residential school system for which Primer Minister Stephen Harper apologized in 2008.

Clearly the problems faced by First Peoples in Canada are not unique. Indigenous peoples in the Philippines, North East India, New Zealand, and Australia, to name a few, face the same social consequences of colonization—high suicide rates, addiction problems, violence, community implosion, poverty, and more. This should alert any thinking person to the fact that equivalent problems across such wide geographic and ethnic diversity are rooted in and result from similar circumstances.

We applaud the dedication of Chief Theresa Spence, but as she makes clear, the movement is not about a hunger strike; it is about just treatment and respect. When the dignity of a people is subjected to relentless pressure to conform to foreign values; when agreements are pushed aside time and again with contempt; when division among First Nations is introduced to ensure economic prosperity for others, it is like the abusive spouse who, having apologized, repeats the abuse yet again.

When Christians hear the word "treaty" they must recognize that the Old Testament perspective of "covenant" is invoked in Indigenous people's understanding. These are not business contracts, promises that can be set aside when a signatory defaults, changes her mind, or in the case of recent and infamous business fiascos, bankrupt the company. Nor can these treaties be unilaterally legislated out of existence.

As Christians, we ought to be clear: the rule of law is wholly inadequate for governance if justice is absent. Omnibus legislation is not the place to deal with treaty–related issues let alone the other important considerations within its many pages that impact all Canadians. Such an approach is the stuff of U.S. politics, and provides adequate evidence that government claims of concern for "all Canadians" are vacuous.

For every one of us the call is clear: let's be #IdleNoMore.

This article was written for ChristianWeek by the Indigenous leadership of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies: Terry LeBlanc (Mi’kmaq/Acadian), Adrian Jacobs (Cayuga), Wendy Peterson (Metis) Shari Russell (Saulteaux), Ray Aldred (Cree), Richard Twiss (Lakota), Randy Woodley (Keetoowah) and Andrea Smith (Cherokee).