Aboriginal traditions link with ChristBy Nicole Bauman
The Canadian government recently offered an apology for its oppressive treatment of Aboriginal people. Mennonite Church Canada is also seeking to honor its Aboriginal members through new educational resources that include Aboriginal teachings and traditions.
Nicole Lea, the young woman who illustrated these materials, grew up on Matheson Island, Man., an Aboriginal fishing community of about 100 people. Lea, who is Cree, participated in the small chapel started by Mennonites on Matheson Island.
Although Lea has long been familiar with Christian teachings, and with her own Aboriginal heritage, it’s only recently that she’s begun exploring the ways that these two pieces of her identity can complement each other.
Native Ministry, part of MC Canada, has also been exploring how our understandings of Christian faith can be made richer through the incorporation of Aboriginal values.
Their new resource box, Reaching Up to God Our Creator, “grows out of the conviction that the wisdom of Jesus Christ, who is revealed as the wisdom of God in the New Testament, has been present in Aboriginal sacred teachings for a long time,” according to their Web site.
Included are materials for Sunday school, vacation Bible school, or other intergenerational settings, which use various Aboriginal symbols.
For example, the medicine wheel encourages the Christian and Aboriginal principles of harmony with and respect for all peoples and creation. The Aboriginal symbol of the sacred tree comes to life in many biblical teachings that highlight the meaning found in trees.
These resources are available from MC Canada’s Web site.
Lea illustrated several visuals, including the book, Maskipiton, which tells the traditional story of a Cree man who learned about the life of Jesus, left his violent past and became a respected peace chief and peace teacher. Through creating these illustrations, this story came to life for Lea, and it became part of her journey integrating her Christian beliefs and Cree traditions.
Edith and Neill von Gunten, Native Ministry co-directors, have worked in Aboriginal communities since 1969.
Comment on the article Aboriginal traditions link with Christ
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.