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Canada: First Aboriginal Diocesan Bishop

Posted on: November 6, 1996 2:34 PM
Related Categories: Canada

Canada's first aboriginal person to become a diocesan bishop is the Right Reverend Gordon Beardy. Bishop Beardy, 46 is a former Oji-Cree chief who has been suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Keewatin since September, 1993. His election as the diocesan, or senior bishop, will be seen as significant by the Church, especially by native Anglicans who make up a majority of the diocese.

"My first priority will be to listen to the people of the diocese, to hear what they have to say about the future of Keewatin. We will continue to work together as the Body of Christ," says Bishop Beardy.

The Diocese of Keewatin covers about 300,000 square miles in northern Ontario and Manitoba. It stretches from Rainy River and Fort Frances, in the south, up to Fort Severn and Churchill on the shores of Hudson's Bay. There are more than 50 parishes in the diocese, about 3/5 of them dotted across its northern regions, and served by non-stipendiary (unpaid), locally raised and educated, indigenous priests.

Bishop Beardy is among those who have given leadership to the training of native clergy. As a young man, he assisted his father, the Reverend Eliezer Beardy, with the translation of study materials from English into native languages. Later he became an instructor with the "Train an Indian Priest" (TAIP) programme.

He was a Band Counsellor and, from 1983 to 1987, Band Chief, at Muskrat Dam, Ontario. A skilled political leader, together with the First Nations Council, he initiated economic development programmes so successful that the small community was forced to begin importing workers from neighbouring to settlements.

In the Church, Bishop Beardy has served in several capacities beyond parish and diocesan boundaries. He has been a member of the Church's national executive council, and has served on the Primate's commission on evangelism.

Article from: Anglican Church of Canada