Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre is a place of spirit where both Indigenous and Christian spiritual beliefs are respected, shared and understood. We are located on 36 peaceful acres of wooded parkland beside the Brokenhead River, one mile east of Beausejour, Manitoba, Canada. From the strength of our Elder’s wisdom, SSSC fosters teachings of respect, healing, and wholeness among all peoples and with all of creation. We are a non-profit organization involved in theological and cross-cultural training. “The Earth is Our Faculty” describes our orientation in education. The earth produces our language, our elders read the lessons of the earth and create our cultures. We have lived well for many millennia in this land.The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples guides our work in leadership development and connection to the land. The educational mandates contained in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action are taken seriously and are embedded in our curriculum and program work. Our learning circle and community-based education model has led the way in providing an Indigenous approach to learning and has fostered respect and engagement of non-Indigenous people, churches, schools and social agencies.
SSSC trains Indigenous community lay leaders in helping and healing capacities. We also train people for Indigenous leadership roles in The United Church of Canada and other churches. We affirm a style of leadership appropriate to Indigenous culture and the Indigenous church experience. We are constantly testing curricula and approaches to increase our effectiveness in our Indigenous context.
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Keepers of the Vision
R-W Hoekstra: "I am a fluent Dutch speaking, full blood adopted Mohawk, Haudenasoune Iroquois Confederacy Six Nations on the Grand, Niizh Maandoowag (2 Spirit). Snapping Turtle clan. Fire keeper, Elder helper, Keeper of the ceremonies, worship committee member of St. Paul's UCC Edmonton. Waabskiiki-Gah-Bo is my spirit name. I am a son, brother, uncle, 4th generation ministers family whose great grandfather, grandfather, father and sister are/have stood in congregations in the Netherlands , Suriname SA, Canada and Bermuda in my lifetime. I am a recovered alcoholic (28 yrs), inter-generational residential school survivor, possible scoop child. I am entrenched in the teachings of the 3 Fires Midewiin Ojibway beginning my homecoming journey (1991) to the best of my ability. I became involved in TRC worship services and gatherings and subsequently was invited to attend the 2016 Aboriginal Spiritual Gathering as an urban Indigenous UCC member. It was an incredible honour to be asked to be part of our past Moderator Jordan Cantwell's ongoing reconciliation dialogue delegation to Australia in 2018. Being part of the Caretakers Circle allows me to be aware of the needs of the many to be part of the UCC and to ensure a safe space for all within the restructuring and rebirth of the United Church of Canada. Gchi-miigwetch"
Ken Thomas: "I am both a certified professional accountant and an ordained United Church minister. I have served on the executive of numerous church and non-profit organizations including chairing the Conference committee for learning sites, committed to the education of clergy. So as Treasurer, I am blessed to be able to use these skills while gaining insight into and supporting the healing and restorative work of the indigenous church."
Steve Willey: "I am a retired United Church minister and I live in Bracebridge, Ontario with my partner in marriage, Carol Hancock. I spent the first third of my life in British Columbia, and then served communities across Canada including Xai'xais (Klemtu, B.C.) where I was a student minister. For 9 years I worked for General Council, first in the area of intercultural ministry, and then as the church's bridge to its theological schools. In this capacity, I participated in the Wabung process that gave birth to the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, and sat with the Keepers of the Vision as an ex officio member of their circle. I am honoured, and humbled, to be invited to return to this circle."
Joyce Johnston: "I am from Neyaashiinigmiing (in Ontario) where I serve my community as the Student Minister with Cape Croker United Church. I entered the ministry training program at Sandy-Saulteaux in January 2019 and represent the students to the Keepers of the Vision. I enjoy life and raising my great granddaughter Meadow who I consult regularly about technical matters."
Jamie Scott: "I am a retired United Church minister, raised in Toronto and ordained in 1976. Following pastoral ministry in Saskatchewan, my ministry has focused on conflict resolution and restorative justice. From 2003-2015, I served as the General Council Officer for Residential Schools where I sought to live out the United Church's 1986 and 1998 apologies in the negotiation of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement and the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I live near Ottawa."
Rob Murray: "I'm a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Canada who has been serving an Anglican, Mennonite, Presbyterian, and United Church Ecumenical Shared Ministry in Pinawa Manitoba, for the last 21 years. Pinawa is just down the road from SSSC and we have had many personal connections over the years (including our mutual friend, Rob Smith, Keeper of the Centre, who is a member of our congregation). I'm very pleased to join the Keepers of the Vision as an expression of our congregation's solidarity with the ministry of Indigenous people. I'm also on my own personal journey along the road of reconciliation and hope to build new friendships as we serve together."
Ray Jones: Ray is a member of the United Church of Canada's National Elders Council. He has been a member of the Vancouver School of Theology Board of Governors, active in the Native Ministries Consortium and its Summer School, chaired the Gitsegukla United Church Board, chaired the Aboriginal Ministries Council and been active in a variety of ways with B.C. Conference and the B.C. Native Ministry.
The Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre is an amalgamation of the Francis Sandy Theological Centre and the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre.
The Sandy – Saulteaux Spiritual Centre is a place of spirit where First Nation, Métis, and Inuit and Christian spiritual beliefs are respected, shared and understood. In the circle, First Nation, Métis, and Inuit women and men are nurtured for leadership roles in The United Church of Canada, other denominations, and in First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities as lay, diaconal and ordained ministers. From the strength of Elders’ wisdom, the Sandy – Saulteaux Spiritual Centre will foster teachings of respect, healing, and connectedness to be shared: for the benefit of individuals: for restoring balance and wholeness among peoples and with all of creation; and for nurturing a prophetic voice.
- To uphold and teach the liberating gospel of Jesus, the Christ.
- To provide culturally specific theological education and preparation for both lay and ordered ministry that respects both Christian beliefs and traditional First Nation, Métis, and Inuit spirituality and values
- To warmly welcome people from other denominations into this educational program of the United Church of Canada; to build partnerships with other denominations, and encourage ecumenical participation at the school.
- To honour the diversity of cultures, languages and traditions of the communities.
- To develop a strong focus on ministry with, and in, urban First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities.
- To honour and carry out traditional ceremonies.
- To honour Elders rooted in community who bring special spiritual gifts.
- To use a community-based model for First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Christian ministry preparation in changing contexts.
- To honour a learning circle model that enables everyone to have a voice, be respected and included, bring their particular experience and perspective, and to listen.
- To find opportunities for students to serve in a pastoral ministry setting in First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities – both urban and rural - during their studies.
- To provide a learning context that addresses healing from the effects of racism, colonization, the inequitable attribution of cultural value, residential schools legacy, and the “60's scoop”.
- to promote right relations through cross-cultural healing and learning between First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples of diverse identities and non-Aboriginal* peoples and communities.
- To deepen local, regional, national, and global ecumenical and interfaith relations, particularly with Indigenous peoples.
- To support ministry personnel serving First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities, with continuing education and support.
- To provide a retreat and educational facility for organizations and individuals desiring time on the land.