Rev. Rosalyn Elm becomes the first Indigenous woman serving as chaplain of Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks and priest-in-charge of the Parish of Six Nations. Rev. Elm was inducted to her parish duties and installed as the new chaplain by Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls, Bishop of Huron on Sunday, November 26.
The new chaplain was greeted at the Royal Chapel of the Mohawks by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Six Nations of the Grand River Chief Ava Hill who welcomed Rosalyn to the family of Six Nations.
The Lieutenant Governor revisited the rich history of the chapel and its peoples presenting it as “a monument to the tremendous contribution the Indigenous peoples have made for many thousands of years to every aspect of life on these lands.” She welcomed Rev. Elm’s appointment marking it as a new chapter in the process of reconciliation which requires “a genuine dialogue between full partners in the atmosphere of mutual respect and recognition.”
Rev. Canon Dr. Wendy Fletcher, president and vice-chancellor of the Renison University College, where Rosalyn also serves as chaplain, gave her remarks introducing the new chaplain and priest-in-charge as the right person to lead her community in these complicated times, “in the moment of history when the harms brought to us through the actions of colonization have made deeply embedded rifts in the fabric of this land.”
The celebration of the new ministry at the Royal Chapel of the Mohawks brought together parishioners from Six Nations, representatives of Brant-Norfolk deanery, Rev. Elm’s colleagues and friends.
As she stated for the Huron Church News after the service, it was an emotional moment which marked the beginning of her journey with people who have become her family:
“Being an Indigenous person in this role is just another page in the history of the Church. It shows that we are on the move, that we are changing, that we are becoming reconciliatory partners on this faith journey”, said Rev. Elm pointing out that there is so much to discover in this process which will show how much traditional Haudenosaunee people and Christian people have in common.
Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, originally called St. Paul’s, is one of three royal chapels in North America and the only one located on a First Nation territory. It was built by the Crown in 1785 and was given to the loyalist First Nations who had supported the British during the American Revolution. In 1904 it was given Chapel Royal designation by Edward VII.
It is the first Protestant church in Upper Canada and the oldest surviving church in Ontario.
Text and photo: Davor Milicevic