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Teaching House Receives $225,000 Grant

The Indigenous Studies Program at the Vancouver School of Theology has received this significant grant from The United Church Health Services Society Program Grant Fund at The United Church of Canada Foundation.

This grant will be utilized over the next three years to help with the delivery of Teaching House That Moves Around programs (Teaching House) for Indigenous people in the northwest BC communities of Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and Hazelton.

The Teaching House is an integral component of the Indigenous Studies Program (ISP) at VST, under the direction of Dr. Raymond Aldred. Dr. Aldred is the director of the ISP whose mission is to partner with the Indigenous Church around theological education. Dr. Aldred is status Cree, ordained with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada, and whose teaching and research specialization in narrative and systematic theology within the indigenous context. He is a frequent presenter and speaker, guest lecturer and writer.

The Teaching House involves a team of primarily Indigenous instructors and counsellors travel to Indigenous communities where support, encouragement and theological education are offered for the good of these communities, their spiritual health and the leadership of their churches. This has been an integral way in which the Indigenous Studies Program (ISP) at VST is able to deliver courses and expedite completion of degrees for its indigenous students.

The ISP is unique in North America. It was initiated by and for indigenous communities over 30 years before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did its important work in Canada. The ISP delivers theological education remotely to communities where Indigenous students live. Using a combination of online lectures and onsite mentors, Indigenous students are prepared for leadership in their communities, including ministry that suits their context.

The Indigenous Summer School, on the campus of VST, provides a once-a-year opportunity for students to travel to Vancouver where a community of support and encouragement is formed and progress in the program can be made.

The success of the Teaching House is built on the important understanding that the “House” is the basic social unit of west coast Indigenous peoples.

Integral to this program, the ISP with the local church and local Indigenous leaders will embark on a full needs assessment. This assessment will be inclusive of the spiritual, physical and emotional health of these communities, with corresponding courses, programs and services to be offered in response to local needs. The VST team come as expert counsellors to offer the requisite supports.

As part of these intensive community efforts, a specific stream will give attention to the engagement of local youth. In addition to delivering programs and services on-site, the ISP will also draw on this grant to bring youth and other local indigenous leaders to participate in the annual ISP Summer School, a two-week intensive featuring multiple courses, held at VST’s Vancouver campus.

Indigenous youth and other leaders from the communities will have further opportunities to pursue theological education at VST online under the mentorship of the ISP.

At the onset and conclusion of each year, an impact assessment will be undertaken to help ensure the program provides positive, cumulative results in response to the needs and interests of each community. Read full media release…

Contact: Ray Aldred
Director of Indigenous Studies Program
Vancouver School of Theology
6015 Walter Gage Road, Vancouver, BC Canada, V6T 1Z1 • 604-827-5726

Contact: Richard Topping
Principal and Professor of Studies in the Reformed Tradition
Vancouver School of Theology
6015 Walter Gage Road, Vancouver, BC Canada, V6T 1Z1 • 604-822-9809