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Hall Harris. Bock and William J. But he felt that their underlying message—that poverty was the result of a moral defect—was deeply damaging. As we passed by a mission serving lunches, he lamented the number of Indigenous people who have internalized that belief. Many businesses, fed up with the crime and poverty, have fled this neighbourhood, leaving boarded-up buildings.
There are, however, plenty of churches and faith-based charities. Indigenous beliefs were demonized, leading to deep rifts between Christians and non-Christians that continue to be a source of tension, particularly in small communities where efforts to decolonize can rub up uncomfortably against deeply held religious beliefs. Many in the community feel it was likely someone associated with an on-reserve NAR -related Pentecostal church that had shown the Transformations videos.
Up north, he felt, many people had internalized Christian values and viewed the land as a commodity rather than a vital part of their spiritual life. That is why, according to him, northern communities have struck agreements with industry to develop their territory. I n , Armbruster and Curley travelled to Fiji, where, along with other high-profile NAR affiliates, they were introduced to a spiritual-warfare technique called the Healing the Land Ceremony.
As evidence of its effectiveness, they were taken to a remote Indigenous community called Nootko that had, a couple of years earlier, carried out the ceremony. Once plagued by infighting, the tiny community, they were told, had healed.
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Even the land reacted—a stream, once polluted, now ran clean. The technique excited Armbruster. There are five principal sources: the generational disconnect between fathers and their children; the shedding of innocent blood murder ; sexual sin homosexual acts, sex out of wedlock ; the breaking of covenants promises and treaties ; and idolatry and witchcraft any non-Christian form of religion or spirituality.
On a sunny morning in the summer of , Armbruster performed the Healing the Land Ceremony on the outskirts of Clyde River, Nunavut, a community of some people. An elderly Inuk in a long black coat spoke next; an Inuk woman stood beside to him, translating his testimony. The man pointed toward the water.
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Because of these sins the earth has been defiled. James Arreak, a former pastor who now leads a major land claims organization, was at the event. I asked him why the reaction was so emotional. People get tired of being anxious and depressed, he said. Like other Inuit Christians I spoke to, Arreak believes faith in God is essential to overcoming the painful legacy of colonialism. O ne night, I joined McLean and a group from his congregation for a post-church tradition: Tim Hortons.
A while back, he explained, he had been visiting a reserve and was asked to deliver a sermon in Ojibwe. It was dark and icy, and Harold drove cautiously as the couple told me their story. Harold introduced Anne to Pentecostalism in the s, and she fell in love with it. She told me it offered something more meaningful than the Catholic Church ever did.
Smudging, feathers, and powwow dancing are okay outside of the church, they said, but they have no place within. I n the early s, Tagak Curley wanted to retire. After decades of negotiating land claims, he was tired of territorial politics, and his father-in-law was sick. But Armbruster pressed him to reconsider, telling him God wanted him back in the political sphere.
For two years, he resisted.
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Then one night—when Curley was in prayer—God questioned him. God said, Why are you keeping all these doors shut? A lot was at stake. Homosexuality, they argued, was not a part of traditional Inuit culture. On a promise to amend the legislation and oppose same-sex marriage, Curley decided to run for office. For Curley and his supporters, the issue was grafted with larger issues of identity and independence: homosexuality, they felt, was an import from the south, and the southern-educated premier, Paul Okalik, had no business normalizing it.
The election was increasingly framed as a fight between Curley, a true Inuk, and Okalik, a man whose integrity had been compromised by his time in Ottawa. In an act of defiance, Curley briefly stopped granting interviews in English.
He ran as the candidate who would preserve traditional Inuit values. Is that acceptable to God? Many of the members had also campaigned on repealing protection for gays and lesbians under the new Human Rights Act. Almost three tense weeks passed before a secret ballot was held to determine the future leader.
Inside the Controversial US Evangelical Movement Targeting Indigenous People
Finally, after a series of deal-making sessions, Okalik was re-elected. The legislation remained in place. Nunavut, he said flatly, is no theocracy. The territory has gone on to defy conservatives on hot-button issues, including same-sex marriage, bringing the legislation in line with the rest of Canada. Bell also had a theory: fundamentalist Christianity has become central to the recreation of Indigenous identity for many Inuit. And that, he suggested, is why the election got so intertwined with messy questions about identity and tradition.
Inuit Christians were asserting their culture and resisting what they perceived as a colonial overreach. He believes that the ceremony mirrors elements of Inuit shamanism, such as connecting present conditions to past events and using public disclosures to bring communities together. And, like shamanism, it is highly emotional in nature. Laugrand also feels that the popularity of the ceremony—which was practised in more than twenty communities, sometimes multiple times—owes much to political forces.