Sunday February 21, 2016

An aboriginal deacon explains why he embraces Christianity despite the church's history

A clergy member places flowers on a statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Roman Catholic Church in Lagrangeville, N.Y., in 2012. Because of Canada's residential school history, many people assume today's Aboriginal Peoples want little to do with the church.

A clergy member places flowers on a statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Roman Catholic Church in Lagrangeville, N.Y., in 2012. Because of Canada's residential school history, many people assume today's Aboriginal Peoples want little to do with the church. (The Associated Press)

Listen 8:54

In Canada, the largest religion among aboriginal people is Roman Catholicism.

The 2011 National Household Survey reports that more than half a million aboriginal people in Canada affiliate themselves with the Catholic Church. However, some aboriginal people see the church as a willing partner of government in their colonization. The church has also been at the centre of court cases involving abuses at federally-mandated residential schools it managed. 

Rennie Nahanee is a deacon with St. Paul's Indian Catholic Church in North Vancouver, and he's a member of the Squamish First Nation. In this interview, he explains why he believes there are similarities between Catholicism and traditional aboriginal culture, and how faith survives the abuses of the past. 

Click the button to hear the interview.