Ven. Rosalyn Elm with Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in front of Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks in 2017.
By Ven. Rosalyn Kantlaht'ant Elm
It is true there is hope in the midst sorrow and pain. It is this hope that our Kingdom dreams are made of.
We have had a difficult 12 months and a difficult two years all around. We are no longer the same; we are a different Diocese now, more than we ever were before.
Indigenous Anglicans in this Diocese are mourning. We can no longer deny the pain. The anger is different. We are caught more than ever between who we are as spiritual people and a colonial church.
We are learning … feeling our way through a metanoia:
a change of heart and turning toward the way of the Cross,
that kenotic ethic of radical compassion,
the making of a kingdom.
Over the past four years we have been making remarks on this stage:
speaking the truth of our Indigenous communities,
discussing the very real structures of racism in our organization and country,
giving voice to those things we would rather keep buried.
I know it has been hard. It was hard to hear and it was hard to say; like any wound, we needed to clean it out so it could heal. But the process of decolonization isn’t just about learning to acknowledge Indigenous peoples, it is not about hosting events, it is not about celebrating National Indigenous Day of Prayer. It is not about celebration at all.
This process is about our liberation. And our liberation cannot happen while we are being treated like a cultural spectacle. Our ways of being Anglican are the first ways of being Anglican on these lands. We are the original church of the Diocese of Huron, and our traditional interpretations and cultural symbols should stand alongside the settler church’s British aesthetics. It is about contextualizing the unique communities, not only for our Indigenous peoples, but for all of us.
We are at a crucial point in the life of the church and when we live in these crucial points of uncertainty, it is a little scary. But in this crucial time, we are bearing witness.
These past four years we have witnessed the stories of disrespect, of negligence, of indecisiveness. But this year was different: we together have witnessed so much … from re-evaluating our uniform and what it means as an outward symbol of service to those in our contexts … whether it was school chaplaincy, LGBTQ2+ hospital and long-term care chaplaincy, addictions care in the community, housing and living advocacy, environmental advocacy, relief and refugee advocacy... and so much more.
So many of you have talked about this, stood up and been decisive about what this new commandment of “love one another” means... so simple yet so very powerful and lifechanging. YOU DID THIS colleagues and friends. YOU DID THIS.
Huron Synod, May 16, 2022: Bishop Todd invited Ven. Rosalyn Kantlaht'ant Elm to add her voice to his charge to Synod - to give her own snapshot of the situation in which Indigenous communities in the diocese find themselves and to offer her vision for the road ahead.
Martin Luther King wrote a sermon in 1956 before his trial for violating anti-boycott laws in Alabama … He recounts a conversation with someone who suggested the bus boycott was destroying race relations and peace in the community, and responds: "Yes, it is true that if the Negro [accepts] his place, accepts exploitation, and injustice, there will be peace. But it would be an obnoxious peace. The reference passage was Matthew 10:34-36, in which Jesus said: ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.’
Certainly he is not saying that he comes not to bring peace in the higher sense. What he is saying is: “I come not to bring this peace of escapism, this peace that fails to confront the real issues of life, the peace that makes for stagnant complacency.” Then he says, I come to bring a sword—not a physical sword. Whenever I come, a conflict is precipitated between the old and the new, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. “I come to declare war on evil. I come to declare war on injustice”
This text is saying in substance: Peace is not merely the absence of some negative force—war, tensions, confusion but it is the presence of some positive force—justice, goodwill, the power of the Kingdom of God.
WE are doing this. Our Diocese is doing this.
We owe this church, this church that our Bishop is speaking of … we owe it our attention. In the past our church has been blind, not because our church is bad or Christians are bad people, but because we stopped paying attention to the Kingdom … we have stopped paying attention to the new commandment to ‘love one another as I have loved you’ … we stopped paying attention, we lost touch with the realities in which we serve.
YOUR openness, YOUR ideas, YOUR service as the priesthood of believers are updating the church. You must continue to take hold of that responsibility that this charge is illuminating. I am not going to give the same synod speech of the past because, if we pay attention, we can go beyond truth and reconciliation:
Shame is not a strategy …
Guilt is not plan …
Judgement does not belong to Indigenous peoples … nor do we want it.
We need to pay attention; because peace is not the absence of tension but the presence of justice. All over this Diocese there are trajectories of Relationship and Responsibility, places and spaces where we have unpacked and unlearned old ways of knowing and grown towards the dream our ancestors held. Two nations, journeying together towards the great Kingdom of peace.
We are building that Kingdom here. We are the stones God seeks to create a foundation for generations to understand their identity as Christian, as Indigenous, as Canadian, as immigrant, as Anglican, as the Body of Christ working in the world, each part important and never the same.
Over the next year, we would like to introduce the diocese to our missions in our communities that have touched many parish communities around the diocese. We would like to track parish TRC projects of any size around the diocese. Finally provide resources that we can easily access through the diocesan website.
1) Rebuilding a Spiritual Scaffold: Ending Spiritual Violence Supporting and Sharing Indigenous Spiritual Cultures Missions
Music for the Spirit
Brightening the Spirit Breaking the Silence
Feeding the community
Finding our way back
2) Indigenous Peoples of the Diocese of Huron: (Video Projects)
Sacred Medicine: communicating the Sacrament
Sacred Objects: Understanding the Milieu of the Anglican Church of Canada ,The New England Company and Canada’s first Indigenous Anglicans.
Save the Evidence: Canada’s first residential school
Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks
Unceded Territory of the Anishinaabe
3) Facing the Challenge: A Cartography of Justice and Learning.
Ven. Rosalyn Kantlaht'ant Elm is Archdeacon for Reconciliation and Indigeonous Ministry
 “‘When Peace Becomes Obnoxious,’” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, May 24, 2021, https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/when-peace-becomes-obnoxious.