Anglican bishop of Indigenous people tells of long, challenging journey

Mark MacDonald’s journey through Anglican church has followed a long, and sometimes challenging path.

‘The idea that you could go with Jesus into the sweat lodge is a strange idea'

Reverend Mark MacDonald, shown here with CBC host Waubgeshig Rice, says the idea that he is encouraged by the spiritual strength of the reconciliation movement. (Wendy Bird/CBC)

Mark MacDonald's journey through the Anglican church has followed a long, and sometimes challenging path.

The Anglican bishop was awarded an honorary doctorate from Thorneloe University in Sudbury Wednesday night for his role within the church, and his efforts at incorporating spiritual elements into the reconciliation movement in Canada.

MacDonald, the Anglican Church of Canada's first National Indigenous Bishop, spoke with CBC's Up North about the challenges facing Indigenous people not only in the structure of the church, but society as a whole. 

"We have tried to become an Indigenous church with an Indigenous identity within the larger church," MacDonald said. "That's been difficult for most Anglicans…[where some say] there's only one way to be Anglican, the way I do it."

"The idea that you could go with Jesus into the sweat lodge, so to speak, is a strange idea to many, but welcome to Indigenous people."

MacDonald said he considers society is at a "spiritual crossroads."

"We are really trying to decide if reconciliation is a good word or a bad word," he said. "For some it means, you've had your chance, now shut up."

"But it's really talking about a fundamental change in the structure of society and structure of culture."

MacDonald added that he feels the spiritual force behind reconciliation has "been unleashed," which will continue to change and challenge contemporary society, despite what he says is an opposition to the movement.

"I happen to believe it can't be stopped. It won't be stopped," he said.  

"It will fundamentally change the reality that we know as Canada."

To hear the full interview with Mark MacDonald, click the audio clip below. 

Sudbury's Thorneloe University will be honouring a special guest at its convocation ceremony tonight. The National Indigenous Bishop for the Anglican Church of Canada, the Right Reverend Mark MacDonald is in Sudbury for the event. He's had a long journey in the church, and has spent recent years focused on reconciliation efforts. He spoke with Up North host Waubgeshig Rice about his life, and receiving this special honour. 9:15