Three days of food, concerts, ceremonies, games, prayers—and lots of time for meeting and celebrating Native heritage—will take place June 19-21 at the Native Healing Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.
The activities will celebrate National Aboriginal Day, which is June 21. Staff at the center in Edmonton always honor this day, but this year they decided to expand and publicize the event, hoping to give people in the area a better sense of the work they do.
The Native Healing Centre provides pastoral counseling and referrals, meals, support groups, prayer and sharing circles, educational services, and information on how to weave Native practices and ceremonies into the Christian faith, says Harold Roscher, chaplain and director of the center.
“Our hope is that we can bring Christ to the many aboriginal people who don’t know Jesus,” Roscher says. “We want to draw them into the family of God.”
The Christian Reformed Church in North America has two other ministries for aboriginal people in Canada. The Indian Métis Christian Fellowship is located in Regina, Saskatchewan, and the Indian Family Centre is in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
All three centers will celebrate National Aboriginal Day with events and services.
In 1971 the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada declared June 21 as a “National Indian Day of Prayer” and requested all dioceses to commend this day to parishes and congregations throughout Canada.
In 1995 participants in the Sacred Assembly—a national meeting of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people—revived an earlier campaign for a national day to recognize the contributions of aboriginal peoples to Canada.
This year the celebration in Edmonton is called “Rise Up” and will include a range of ceremonies and activities based on long-held Native traditions but centered on Christ.
“Our hope is that these ceremonies become new and living ceremonies,” Roscher says.