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Stanley John McKay

Culture, Heritage and Spirituality (1997)

Without the work of Stanley John McKay and many others, Canada’s Aboriginal peoples might never have heard the two simple words they had waited hundreds of years to hear from a Christian Church: we’re sorry. It happened in 1986 at the 31st General Council of the United Church of Canada, the country’s largest Protestant church. An apology to Aboriginal people was issued, thanks to the work of Reverend McKay and his partners on the National Native Council of the United Church. Six-years later, Reverend McKay became Moderator, the highest spiritual position possible in the United Church hierarchy. The prefix “Very Reverend” has been part of his name ever since. By becoming the first Aboriginal person to lead the United Church, serving from 1992-94, Reverend McKay had again made history. First ordained in 1971, this Cree from the Fisher River Reserve in Manitoba, has been at the forefront in joining Aboriginal spirituality with the teachings of Christ. He believes profoundly that the beliefs of the Carpenter’s son and those his people traditionally held, are not all together different. If you believe we are all children of the creator, then there is more to unite than divide. For 25 years, he has supported training for the ministry which enables Aboriginal peoples to study the Gospel in their own language. This has enabled Aboriginal people to become ministers of the church in their own right, an important tool in repatriating power in their own religious lives. He is co-director of the Dr. Jessie Saulteux Centre, a facility dedicated to training Aboriginals for the ministry and providing non-Aboriginals with opportunities to learn about the culture of Aboriginal peoples. The Very Reverend Stanley John McKay received a 1997 National Aboriginal Achievement Award in the category of heritage and spirituality for his efforts in finding a balance that respects the best of Aboriginal and Christian teachings.