An international forum for academic, religious, and political leaders, engaging with the wider public, to explore the rapidly changing roles, interaction, and impact of religions in global societies. Organized by the School of Religious Studies, McGill University; funded by the Birks Family Foundation.
The Birks Forum 2022 is pleased to announce a webinar series interrogating the history, current challenges, and opportunities at the intersection of Indigenous communities and Christianity. This series will explore specific issues in diverse global contexts: Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, and Australasia.
Over the course of the modern era, global Christian missionary outreach has often been complicit in imperial and settler-colonial projects pursuing violence towards, and assimilation of, Indigenous cultures. In Canada., the ‘Calls for Action’ (58-61) of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proposed paths to address the role played by the Christian churches in their collaboration with the federal government’s colonial projects.
In other contexts, these encounters have also challenged established forms of Christianity to expand beyond their theological and cultural limitations through a deeper engagement with Indigenous traditions and spiritualities. Both Indigenous communities and the Christianities they have encountered face a range of deeply unsettled issues in addressing past histories and charting paths forward.
The Birks Forum 2022 webinar series will explore these histories and challenges in varied global contexts. While there is significant range of issues that affect diverse Indigenous communities in their engagement with Christianity – education, environment, gender, reconciliation, peace-building – each webinar will highlight issues that have emerged as pivotal for the community under discussion. Keynote speakers are Indigenous leaders, scholars, and actors from diverse disciplinary perspectives, both within and beyond the academy.
McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and give thanks to the diverse Indigenous peoples whose presence marks this territory in which peoples of the world now gather.
In addition, we recognize the lands and waters, unceded and otherwise, that we occupy virtually as we interact across this global webinar series. We invite all participants to consider their own social and geographic locations in relation to Indigenous territories and histories.