The urban Aboriginal population in Canada has increased dramatically in recent years, with the overwhelming majority of the country’s 1.2 million Indigenous people living off reserve. Toronto Urban Native Ministry has a heart for Indigenous people living on the margins of city life. Founded in 1996, it reaches out to Aboriginal people in precarious life situations: on the streets and in prisons, shelters, hostels, and hospitals. An ecumenical organization that integrates Christian and Aboriginal spirituality, Toronto Urban Native Ministry provides counselling and spiritual care as well as referrals to community services.
Working out of Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, it offers everything from spiritual mentorship to sharing circles for Sixties Scoop survivors—Indigenous people who were taken from their families and placed in predominately White foster homes between the 1960s and 1980s.
Worship services are held every Sunday morning and offer an opportunity for Aboriginal Christian worship. This is a time of storytelling, prayer, and sharing of a meal or activity led by an Indigenous Anglican priest or United Church of Canada minister. Chris Harper describes Sunday mornings at Council Fire as wonderfully unique: “Individuals come with such amazing, wonderful, colourful life experiences. The services are diverse and responsive rather than liturgically sequential. Every Sunday is an adventure.” Sacred gatherings like these offer connection and healing while honouring the Creator and all of creation. For urban Indigenous people living off reserve, they fill a vital need for spiritual and cultural community.
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