NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community is pleased to welcome Nichole Forbes as program coordinator for the NAIITS-led Canadian Learning Community for Decolonization and Innovation in Theological Education.
“Having Nichole bring together her faith, her experience as a Métis woman and her own journey of decolonizing will truly be an asset to this Community of Learning. Her personal experience and knowledge will deepen authentic conversations with partner institutions, churches and faith communities seeking to decolonize and be innovative for the future of theological education in this country,” said Shari Russell, director of NAIITS.
Earlier this year, NAIITS — through its parent organization, Indigenous Pathways — received a grant of $5 million in U.S. dollars from Phase 3 of the Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. The grant provides NAIITS with designated funds to lead a multi-school partnership exploring ways to deliver theological education that are decolonial, contextual and Indigenized.
Key members of the partnership — called the Canadian Learning Community for Decolonization and Innovation in Theological Education — include Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia; Ambrose Seminary in Calgary; and Tyndale Seminary in Toronto.
Nichole is currently finishing her Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies with NAIITS and plans to pursue a PhD. with the Learning Community. When she learned about the partnership, she said, she was excited by the opportunity to bring together brand-new pastors, old institutions and on-the-ground churches to “reimagine what good relationship can look like.”
“It's just living in a way that acknowledges each other's dignity and understands that the creativity of Creator is so expansive that we can engage with the community of God in a way that we've never imagined before and still be in a right way,” she said.
Nichole joins Mike Hogeterp, who recently was hired to lead the Canadian Learning Community for Decolonization and Innovation in Theological Education.
As program coordinator, she will work with Mike and a working group of representatives from each partner institution to support the formation and operation of the Canadian Learning Community for Decolonization and Innovation in Theological Education. Her role will include coordinating partners and related faith communities, developing resources that can be used within the consortium and beyond and planning events.
She brings experience in freelance writing, event coordination and ministry, having previously served as a pastor in the Mennonite Brethren tradition. She also brings her perspective as a Métis Christian who has sought to decolonize her own life and experience.
“God created us like this on purpose. He gave us our culture and our understanding and our way of being on purpose, and it's been taken and vilified in a way that that's not a God plan. And yet it can be restored,” Nichole said.
She added, “Despite all my deconstruction and issues with church and the way we've been hurt and treated, I do believe in faith and community, and I do believe that the church is really meant to play an important part in not only reconciliation, but also restitution of the human soul — the spirit — and it's in community that we know God better and we know ourselves better.”
Nichole will begin her new role at NAIITS on Sept. 11.