Brief Introduction to Aboriginal Spirituality and Teachings

Compiled by Rev. Denise McCafferty and Rev. Dr. Trish McCarthy, May 2023

Although there is much diversity between First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who live in Canada, there are a few shared and cherished stories and principles in Aboriginal Spirituality. We hesitate to share this list of books, video links and articles because the only real way to learn is to come to know and walk with Aboriginal people in friendship. In sharing this list of resources, it is intended that non-aboriginal people can learn a bit about various Aboriginal Spiritualities within western Canada so that they can wisely, compassionately and respectfully interact with Indigenous peoples in their area.

The best way for Canadians to journey towards Reconciliation with First Nation, Metis and Inuit people, is to get to know Aboriginal people in their own region and to walk in true friendship in open and compassionate ways. Many Aboriginal speakers say they want non-aboriginal people to learn about the Residential School Era and Sixties Scoop in order to be understanding about the often painful journey of Aboriginal people in the last 130 years. Aboriginal leaders encourage non-aboriginal people to connect with public Reconciliation groups nearby and to accept personal invitations to ceremonies and traditional events. Aboriginal people desire that others come to a deeper appreciation for how the Creator has shaped the hearts of their people.

As many Aboriginal Elders have been and continue to be busy walking with their people as they seek and find healing, it is a challenge to have an Elder available for such talks. While interpersonal interactions are what is desired, and are the most valuable, this package includes video presentations by cherished friends.

Aboriginal Spirituality

TFP_Aboriginal_Dec2014.pdf (

Canadian National Film Board films presentation on Aboriginal Spirituality.

Rev. Sidney Black Sermon on National Indigenous Anglican Church of Canada

National Indigenous Day of Prayer: June 21 - The Anglican Church of Canada 34 minutes

Interim National Indigenous Anglican Bishop the Rt. Rev. Sidney Black delivered a sermon on Sunday, June 19, in advance of the National Indigenous Day of Prayer (June 21). He began life on the Blackfoot Nation in Alberta. Blackfoot isa hamlet in east-central Alberta, Canada within the County of Vermilion River.It is located 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) north of Highway 16, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) west of Lloydminster.

Rev. Dr. Ray Aldred: From Grande Prairie teaches at Vancouver School of Theology

"It's a Good World" - Sermon by Ray Aldred - YouTube 26 minutes

Ray Speaks for National Indigenous Day for Sunday, June 19, 2022. Rev. Dr. Ray Aldred is the Director of the Indigenous Studies Program at the Vancouver School of Theology.

Aldred's Sermon is about a Good Creator and living in a good world.

Rev. Dr. Ray Aldred: “Decolonizing Theology: Embracing and Learning from Indigenous Communal Identity” May 18, 2021 48 minutes

Rev. Denise McCafferty on Aboriginal Awareness Day 13 minutes

In this video, Rev. Denise speaks briefly during an Aboriginal Day of Prayer service in June 2019 at Holy Trinity, Saskatoon, SK

Right Reverend Bishop Chris Harper St. John's Cathedral, June 2022.

National Indigenous Day of Prayer - Sermon - YouTube 19 minutes

The Grandfather Teachings as Taught by Elder Hazel

Short Videos of Elder Hazel teaching at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, SK

Meanings Around an Indigenous Drum: British Columbia Source

The Drum: Heartbeat of our Indigenous Cultures | Indigenous Tourism BC (

Residential School Survivors on the Scars of Abuse CBC.CA 6 minutes

Residential school survivors on the scars of abuse (

Dr. Leroy Littlebear on Land-Based Learning

Learning from the Land | CASS Alberta: Although there is much diversity between First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, a deep and abiding connection to the land is common. Dr. Leroy Littlebear says that “The land is a sacred trust from the Creator. The land is the giver of life like a mother. The ecological aspect of Indigenous knowledge is all about the land. The land is a source of identity for Aboriginal People.”1Elder Bob Joseph explains that “traditional knowledge, languages, cultural practices andoral traditionsbuilt up over the millennia are all connected to the land.”2 Living in balance with the land and each other connects with Indigenous languages.3Learning from the land interconnects with learning from the natural world ,which survival is dependent upon. Indigenous cultural understandings of the natural world are embedded in language and stories connected to the land, water, air, and fire. – captured from online

Embracing Indigenous Spirituality

Blair Stonechild with First Nations University in Regina, SK

Embracing Indigenous Spirituality - YouTube 32 Minutes

Books Available

Joseph, Bob. 21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality.

Stonechild, Blair. The Knowledge Seeker, 2016

Stonechild, Blair. Loss of Indigenous Eden, 2020

Rogers, Sheilagh of CBC with others compiled: Speaking My Truth: Reflections on Reconciliation and Residential School, 2013. Editors: Shelagh Rogers, Mike DeGagné, Jonathan Dewar, Glen Lowry gathered this collection of stories that looks at the history of Residential School and possibilities for reconciliation from the perspective First Nation, Inuitand Metis. peoples.

Wagamese, Richard with his 2014 novel, 'Medicine Walk' as heard on CBC Radio.

As it Happened: The Archive Edition - Richard Wagamese on his 2014 novel Medicine Walk | CBC Radio Richard Wagamese (October 14, 1955 – March 10, 2017, Ojibwe) was an authorand journalist from the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in Northwestern Ontario. He was best known for his novel Indian Horse (2012), which won the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature in 2013, and was a competing title in the 2013 edition of Canada Reads.

Video Presentation by Richard Wagamese by MacEwan University Dec 19, 2014: 70 minutes

94 Calls to Action by Truth and Reconciliation Commission

calls_to_action_english2.pdf (

Senator Murray Sinclair

Chancellor Murray Sinclair on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation - YouTube

The Honourable Murray Sinclair, Queen's University Chancellor and former chair of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, shares his thoughts on Indigenous history and experiences in Canada, the commission's work and recommendations, and what must be done to advance truth and reconciliation. He shares these remarks ahead of September 30, 2021, which marks Canada's first annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 11 minutes

A Few Other Important Facts

Aboriginal Sharing Circles provide opportunities for each voice to be heard, respected, and valued.They are a traditional practice in some Indigenous communities from various parts of North America, and are designed to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to share their opinions and ideas. Participants in the sharing circle are reminded to share their own opinions and speak their own voice. They are also reminded to not comment on what anyone else has said, but to focus on expressing their own feelings. Throughout the sharing circle, only the person with the talking piece (an object used specifically for the purpose of identifying who is sharing) has the opportunity to speak. The participants in the circle are encouraged to listen to the thoughts and ideas being shared by each of the other participants. While listening, participants are encouraged not to judge what people are sharing. Instead, participants listen to the ideas and opinions of their co-participants and are open to learning from each person in the circle. Many Aboriginal people do not blame contemporary Canadian Christian people for the actions of their ancestors and the government during the times of the Residential Schools. – captured and adapted from online

The Blanket Exercise is an interactive walk through the history of the land we now call Canada – focusing on the historic interactions between the First Peoples of this land and European settlers up to the present day. (There is also an American version.) In this interactive exercise, participants are invited to walk in the shoes of the First Peoples and see history from a perspective that is often different than their own. At the end of the Blanket Exercise, as we do for every Blanket Exercise, I invited the participants to sit in a sharing circle where they would have an opportunity to reflect on how they felt throughout the activity as well present any questions they were left with after participating. As the talking stone passed from one participant to the next, each person shared a personal story or some strong emotions expressing how they felt about the past as well as present relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. Kairos Canada has one version of the Blanket Exercise.

As Christians, we believe that all people are made in the image of God. We often failed to recognize this. While none of us were there hundreds of years ago, we are here today and there is work to be done. The effects of the Doctrine of Discovery, residential schools, and genocide are evident in the division between our communities and the social ills that face Native Americans--let's partner together to live into a better story.

The Blanket Exercise gives us the opportunity to hear and absorb a fuller story. The Blanket Exercise can open the hearts of other Canadians to Indigenous voices. Let us hope that the blanket exercise will catalyze and reshape our nation's story “so that future generations will learn the full truth of what happened.” When the fuller story is shared, then authentic reconciliation can happen between Aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people. – captured and adapted from online

May this brief description inspire you to engage in the journey

of Reconciliation. May we be guided in this journey together!

September 5, 2023 | Trish McCarthy