Indigenous and Inter-religious Studies Programs
Vancouver School of Theology
6000 Iona Drive, Vancouver BC, V6T 1L4
The Indigenous Studies Center at Vancouver School of Theology in 2010 continues twenty-five years of collaboration with Aboriginal partners across North America to navigate through the shoals of colonization into a post-colonial spiritual harbor. By providing both academic and communal opportunities for Aboriginal traditional religious leaders and Aboriginal Christians to meet, teach and learn together, the Center’s goal is a transformed religious and educational context that takes Aboriginal culture and spirituality seriously.
Yuuhadaax, the Center’s steering committee, is a partnership among Vancouver School of Theology, Wilp Wilxo’oskwhl Nisga’a Institute, the Native Ministries Consortium and the Center for Indian Scholars. This group both epitomizes and provides a consultative, cross-cultural focus for program planning and training between its Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal institutions in order to
• provide an environment for Aboriginal religious leaders, including Christians, to take counsel about issues facing their nations and communities
• foster, develop and encourage Aboriginal peoples to carry forward their traditions into the future so tribal nations and societies can survive and flourish
The Native Ministries Consortium Summer School provides a two-week training opportunity each July in Vancouver so students can learn practical skills for dealing with rural and urban Aboriginal contexts. Courses cover contemporary issues such as sovereignty and governance as well as spirituality, healthy community methods, youth ministry training and academic subjects.
The Consortium is a partnership comprised of:
• Anglican First Nations Council of Caledonia
• Native Ministries Council, BC Conference, United Church of Canada
• Cook Native American Ministries
• Episcopal Church in Navajoland
• Episcopal Diocese of Alaska
• Henry Budd College for Ministry
• Indigenous Theological Training Institute
• Vancouver School of Theology
The Native Ministries Program delivers a Master of Divinity degree by extension so that Aboriginal students can obtain the same accredited professional degree for ordained ministry that students in the residential seminary earn. This degree is also available to non-Aboriginal students working in Aboriginal contexts.
The Master of Arts and Master of Theology degrees in Indigenous and Inter-religious Studies are delivered in conjunction with VST’s Iona Pacific Center. These innovative degree programs are designed to:
• enhance theological academic expertise that is interdisciplinary in nature and cross-cultural in expression
• foster innovative theological research, transcending comparative study, to develop integrative faith-based knowledge and skills which address critical local and global needs in such areas as ecology, conflict, colonialism and globalization
• acknowledge the historical and contemporary role of the indigenous North American spiritual and intellectual tradition(s) as a world religion
• equip people for engagement in indigenous and inter-religious community life
The Centre for Indian Scholars has convened gatherings of North American First Nations peoples for reflection and scholarship about their aboriginal, religious, cultural and social heritage since its incorporation in 1972. It is a continuation of the work of the Indian Ecumenical conference. It has worked with Vancouver School of Theology since 1990 in a variety of ways including the holding of five Robert K. Thomas symposia.
WWNI offers degree and diploma courses in conjunction with several post secondary institutions in academic, vocational and continuing education. Currently, the WWNI has agreements with University of Northern BC, Northwest Community College, Royal Roads University and faculty cross appointments with VST. One of its primary purposes is the delivery of courses in Nisga’a culture and language.
Rev. Dr. Paula Sampson,
Director, Indigenous Studies Center
and Assistant Professor of Ethics and First Nations Studies