FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2023
OTTAWA, ON – Indigenous Canadians are speaking out about religious faith in a new booklet aimed at helping educate all Canadians. Indigenous Voices of Faith includes interviews of 12 Indigenous Canadians from across the country talking about the relationship among their culture, heritage, and religious identities.
The booklet features stories like those of Dr. Rose-Alma McDonald, who is Mohawk and returned to Catholicism after decades away from her Catholic faith.
“I surprised everybody, including myself, in terms of embracing Catholicism after 20 years away,” Dr. McDonald recounts. “When I’m working, volunteering and doing stuff in the church, I remember that. I keep remembering I’m Catholic and I’m still Catholic. I will stay Catholic because of the way I was raised.”
Among the 12 interviews, Indigenous Voices of Faith also features Tal James, whose Indigenous name is Yum’Yom ala’thut. He is an evangelical Christian who says, “It’s a blessing to be able to be part of both cultures, the church culture and First Nations culture.”
Rev. Dr. Andrew Bennett, faith communities program director at Cardus, conducted the interviews as a way of amplifying the voices of Indigenous Canadians speaking for themselves about their religious faith, which sometimes clash with the typical public presentation of Indigenous spirituality.
“Like all other Canadians, Indigenous people have the freedom to decide for themselves what religious tradition to embrace and how to contextualize it within their culture and heritage,” Bennett says. “Indigenous Voices of Faith aims to help bring out a fuller picture of the place of religious faith among Indigenous Canadians today.”
In her interview, Melissa Mbarki, who is Cree and has embraced traditional Indigenous spirituality, called on Canadians to become better educated about the faith of Indigenous people.
“People need to stop looking at us like we’re a monolith,” Mbarki says. “People need to stop looking at us like we all hate the church.”
Indigenous Voices of Faith is freely available online on cardus.ca.