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 www.checanada.ca/projects 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!