NAIITS 2021 - A Mennonite Church "virtual" delegation

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called all Canadians to remember that we are Treaty peoples who “share a responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships.” NAIITS is a Christian Indigenous Learning Community that can help us understand what this means, and how it relates to our faith.

Each year, NAIITS hosts a theological conversation intended for young and older, pastors and activists, Indigenous and Settler (see Mennonite Church Canada would like to sponsor 20 friends from across our nationwide community to attend this year’s virtual symposium — Treaty and Covenant: Creating Space for Hope, June 3 – 5, 2021. It will be a rich time of learning and relationship building. If you are interested, please read the following information from NAIITS to learn more about the Symposium. If you would like to attend, please fill out the registration form. We would love to have you join us as we seek to become a church that honours the covenants of these lands.

18th Annual Symposium

June 3 - 5, 2021

Co-hosted by  Acadia Divinity College

VIRTUAL EVENT: “Treaty and Covenant: Creating Space for Hope”

Whether it was Indigenous peoples of North America, Central and South America, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere in the globe, who received early Dutch, English, French, Spanish or other European explorers, there were well-established treaty making or similar traditions that guided their responses to the newcomers to their lands. These treaty traditions were encoded in wampum belts and the oral traditions of the various nations and served as a template for new sacred agreements with these European nations.

European explorers, in turn, came from a Christian heritage that articulated the ideas of covenant and testament, ideas akin to Indigenous treaty making traditions. Each nation, whether Indigenous or European, had their unique understandings of sacred ‘relationship-making’ institutions and ceremonies, reflecting the special genius of each nation. A recognition that treaties, covenants, and testaments are the most sacred and binding of community and individual agreements witnessed by the Creator or God, as each nation conceived of her/him/they/it, was a commonality that should have portended peaceful possibilities of new relationship. 

The failure to connect in this way, as a meeting of fundamentally differing national philosophies, spiritualties, or frames of reference underlies the failure to achieve the Haudenosaunee Kayanerekowa (Great Peace), the Māori notions of Te Tatau Pounamu (The Greenstone Door) and Hohou-rongo, the Cherokee Nvwatohiyadv (Harmony Way), the Australian Indigenous understanding of Makarrata (The Coming Together), the Lakota Cangleska Wakan (Sacred Hoop). These treaty/covenant/testament making traditions still stand as therapeutic, healing processes in today’s polarized and fractious societies. Martin Luther King Jr.’s articulation of the Christian church as the Beloved Community echoes these Indigenous concepts and practices as does the work of past. Together, they testify to the intention of the Creator of all things – that is to say the renewal of all of creation through the Christ.

Explorations, rediscoveries, and experiences of the implementation of these ancient relationship-making processes are the theme of the NAIITS 2021 Symposium.


The Symposium

For many years now NAIITS has been exploring topics of interest and concern to a wide variety of people engaged within the wider Indigenous community. At each symposium there have been clear articulations of the landscape in which we find ourselves, along with cutting edge insights about how we might more effectively engage as Indigenous people within our communities and with those from other socio-cultural backgrounds and contexts within the lived gospel of Jesus the Christ.

For more info on NAIITS, please see


Thanks so much for your desire to participate in the NAIITS’ Treaty & Covenant Symposium, June 3 – 5. NAIITS is an amazing, Indigenous-led community that Mennonite Church Canada has been in relationship with for more than 15 years. We are confident that you will enjoy being in this diverse circle, make wondering connections, and learn lots too!

Please note the following info before registering:

  • The first 20 eligible registrations will be accepted. The deadline for registration is April 23, 2021.
  • If you are new to NAIITS or if money is tight, we are more than happy to cover the cost of your registration, and encourage you to fill out the following form. No questions asked.
  • If you have been to previous NAIITS gatherings and you have the financial resources to cover the cost of registration, we encourage you to consider registering on your own through NAIITS, which you can do here—
  • One week after the symposium, we will gather all Mennonite Church participants together for a “NAIITS, Covenants and Coffee” conversation time, where we can share our learnings, questions and hopes with one another. This isn’t mandatory, so no pressure. We simply want to create a space to process as a community; where we can discern together, “What is the Spirit saying to our church?” 
  • If you have any outstanding questions, feel free to email: