NAIITS exists to provide an Indigenous designed, developed, delivered, and governed tertiary theological educational program with a commitment to Indigenous ideologies, values, and ontologies as the principal interpretive frameworks for its programs as well as its frameworks for delivery and assessment.
NAIITS’ vision, is to see Indigenous women and men journey down the road of a living heart relationship with Jesus that does not require the rejection of their Creator-given social and cultural identity, nor the rejection of their own worldview as the foundation for that relationship. This is central to our purpose and mission in theological education. NAIITS’ mission, published on our website, leads us to ask, “What does a journey of faith-filled and faithful following after Jesus look like for an Indigenous person?” “What are the elements of life that characterize such a way of being in the world that has not rejected their own cultures and histories?” “How does NAIITS structure its programs and program delivery in such a way as to assist Indigenous people in achieving this vision?”
Our mission, and the critical questions arising from it related to Indigenous ideologies, values and ontologies; our quest to position them as the principal interpretive frameworks for our theology and faith, undergirds and guides our approach to student learning and formation. Traditionally, Native People did not talk about spirituality or faith, nor did they build complex theologies. They simply lived what they believed. It was expected that one would live in such a way as to acknowledge and honour their Creator. In their minds, it was clear that theology was practice!
Since colonial interaction with the church has had such an extended history, with cultural, social, and spiritual intermarriages over a prolonged period of time, we recognize that while the target for our vision and mission is Indigenous people, there are non-Indigenous people that also play a role in achieving our vision, and engaging our mission. We recognize three groups of people that we must therefore seek to reach.
First are Indigenous peoples themselves. This includes North American Indigenous as well as Indigenous peoples from around the globe whose histories parallel those experienced in North America.
Second are non-Indigenous peoples who are engaging vocationally with Indigenous people and their communities and are therefore invested in both the inputs and outcomes necessary for them to be able to assist in the achieving of our vision.
Third are those non-Indigenous people who, as they look toward Indigenous ways of knowing and being, see an alternative way to understand Christian theology and missional engagement – a way that is not Western or colonial in frame and form. This latter group comprises a smaller portion of both faculty and students, being capped at approximately 25% of the total in each.