Toward a Decolonizing Faith

Public Lecture/Panel Discussion
October 18 & 19, 2018
7pm in the SSU Red Room
Featuring faculty and friends of SSU who have been a part of research and activism in “decolonizing our thinking”:

David Moore, Matt Balcarras, Joel Mason, Laurens van Esch, Kathy Moorhead Thiessen and Kanatiio (Allen Gabriel)

Religious traditions have often been a part of the oppression of others, in spite of their potential to bring freedom and inspire love. Christianity is an example of a faith that has been used to undergird systems of exploitation and colonization. Yet we know that Jesus often spoke of liberation from such systems. Perhaps what is worst about this mixed potential is that significant evil can be cloaked in a pretense of caring motivations to “save.”

Can SSU be a place in which conversations can inspire and imagine a lived faith that is emerging from its colonial past? Can settlers hear the truth of the mistakes in a colonizing past and present, and respond to the invitations from Indigenous, African-American and global neighbours?

This event is an exploration of how to begin. We hope that subsequent explorations will grow more organically, yet intentionally, from among our relationships: settlers with varying degrees of privilege, Indigenous peoples, first and second generation refugees, and African-Americans. Of course, in one way or another, and in ways not equal to each other, we have all been affected. Can we unlearn and imagine together?

Check out the quotes and questions below:

We call upon the church parties… and all other faith groups and interfaith social justice groups in Canada who have not already done so, to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. This would include...: ii. Respecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination in spiritual matters, including the right to practise, develop, and teach their own spiritual and religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies, consistent with Article 12:1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Truth and Reconciliation CommissionCalls to Action #48 (2015)

Decolonization is a dramatic reimagining of relationships with land, people and the state. Much of this requires study. It requires conversation. It is a practice; it is an unlearning.

Syed Hussan (Toronto-based activist)in Harsha Walia, “Decolonizing Together”

Decolonization disrupts and critiques the idea that European modes of thought and ways of being are the “best” or the “only” way and actively engages in opening space for
multiple cultural identities, practices, and ways of thinking/being (particularly indigenous

Lucy DuncanQuaker activist

Settler populations can begin by decolonizing their thinking.

Jeff Corntassel (2006)
Focus Questions:
  • Can we see times and places where we (individually, communally) have been a part of a colonizing faith? How might that have affected others/us?
  • Is a belief in exclusive salvation (the experience of being saved as only possible through one’s own cultural narrative) colonizing by definition? What are the implications of the answer to this question for the Christian faith?
  • How can the practice and embodiment of faith embrace true hospitality toward the faith/narratives/meanings of others? How can I imagine practicing and embodying a decolonizing faith in my own life?
  • Can we imagine new relationships between faith and power in our social
    relationships at all levels? What would we need to make such reimagining and reimagined relationships a normal part of our cultures?
  • What does it mean that “decolonization is a practice”?
  • What are the limits to practicing decolonization as an individual?