Rural Indigenous Communities Liaison

Fiona Brownlee

Fiona Brownlee

Email: f.brownlee@edmonton.anglican.ca

Fiona Brownlee was appointed November 1, 2014, to the Indigenous Ministry team as a liaison for rural parishes and indigenous communities. Read her story below.

My name is Fiona, which in Gaelic (the language of some of my ancestors) means fair and white. When you look at my picture you will see that my parents did a good job in naming me. Some of you might wonder how it is that a woman who obviously doesn’t have any indigenous ancestry is now a part of the Indigenous Ministry Initiative for the Diocese of Edmonton? Good question.
 
I have lived in rural Canada for most of my life. I love living in towns and small cities where you know the land is all about you. I love being part of the church that is called rural and all that comes with that. I have also lived in isolated parts of Canada, places that aren’t always easy to get to, places where my neighbours are indigenous. I know the struggle that rural churches have had to connect with these neighbours and to become friends with them.
 
When I lived in northwestern Ontario I was given the privilege of working for the Council of the North. This council is made up of the dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada across northern Canada. They are dioceses with small populations, big geography, extraordinary travel costs and isolated parishes. They also have more indigenous parishes in them than anywhere else in the church. I learned much in my time of working for that council and from the indigenous leadership of those dioceses. I made a lot of good friends who shared with me many hard and true stories about life as an indigenous person in this country.
 
At the root of everything I am is my faith. Faith in God our creator, Jesus our redeemer and the Spirit our sustainer. I know that this same faith is found in both indigenous and non-indigenous communities and it is here that we can have conversation, find healing, renew relationships, become the neighbours that God wants us to be for each other.
 
I am at the beginning of a new position in our diocese, that of liaison for rural parishes for the Indigenous Ministry team. I am looking forward to getting know the rural parishes in our diocese; getting to know the indigenous community of our diocese. My hope and dream is that we can explore together what neighbourly reconciliation might look like in rural communities, remembering that Jesus calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves.