New bishop Adam Samson Halkett, formerly archdeacon of Saskatchewan and priest-in-charge at St. Joseph’s Anglican Church, Montreal Lake First Nations, was elected on July 28 by the diocese’s Prince Albert-based general assembly. His consecration ceremony was held at Senator Allen Bird Memorial Gymnasium, the same place where the assembly first chose him to become bishop.
“As the spirit moves in the First Nations communities, the dreams and the visions of our elders are becoming reality,” Halkett said in a speech. “As I begin my journey, I’ll use your prayers. I’ll stand with the chiefs. I’ll stand with the leadership in our communities where our youth are suffering today. But with God’s help we can get that, that key. So I give thanks for your prayers. Be here with us, and bless you. God be with you, and we’ll meet again.”
Hundreds of people showed up to witness Halkett’s consecration, including high-ranking clergy. Rev. David Ashdown, metropolitan of Rupert’s Land and archbishop of Keewatin, served as chief celebrant and consecrator. Eleven bishops from the Ecclesiastical Province of Rupert’s Land, which encompasses a vast area from Ontario to Alberta to the Arctic, were also on hand.
Halkett in his speech thanked his elders, fellow bishops and advisors for their support, and called for more indigenous bishops across Western Canada.
“We can walk together,” he said. “We’ll go a long ways. Let’s do that. Let’s walk together. Let us celebrate this occasion of an indigenous bishop … and let’s think about Manitoba, Alberta, and B.C.”
Among the presenters who delivered speeches of appreciation were Grand Chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council Ron Michel and Chief of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation Ed Henderson, who delivered congratulations on behalf of his councilors.
As the spirit moves in the First Nations communities, the dreams and the visions of our elders are becoming reality. - Adam Halkett
“Adam’s going to be a fisherman of man,” Henderson said. “He’ll share the gospel throughout the world … It’s a great honour for me to be here today to see Adam fulfill his dream.”
Halkett’s ascension to such a prestigious position actually came as a surprise to him last summer, as he had not actively pursued the role. The impetus for a diocesan indigenous bishop originally came from Saskatchewan’s First Nations elders.
“The Elders had foreseen having a leader in the church … They saw one for their kind, First Nations,” Halkett said. “That was their hope that it’d become reality.”
A series of meetings ensued as elders looked at all the First Nations clergy in the area, searching for a leader with sufficient experience. Eventually 13 names were selected, later whittled down to three candidates: Halkett, Canon Park Buck and the Rev. Beryl Whitecap, who withdrew her name before the assembly met to choose their leader.
The process was partly modeled on that of Ontario, right down to the presence of a teepee during Halkett’s consecration ceremony.
After the ceremony, audience members withdrew for a feast. Halkett believed that by the next day, he would be able to more clearly focus on his new job.
“I’m going to work in my clergy, probably sit down with them, have a meeting, also the elders, and then decide what we’ll do from there,” he said. “But we’ll still continue to preach the gospel.”