To write historically about Canada in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report of 2015 requires grounding the story in the truths of Indigenous sovereignty and colonial dispossession. In my talk, I’ll reflect on my choices as I wrote the story of an Anglican missionary and Archbishop—who once taught on the U of T campus—whose unusual journey led him to work on Ojibwe, Ts’msyen, Nisga’a, Haida, and other Indigenous lands. Telling the story of Frederick Du Vernet and his curious late-style theory/theology of “radio mind” brought me to those lands as well, leading me to new perspectives on the intersection of Christianity, the Crown, and treaty people in the making and unmaking of Canada.
Pamela Klassen, a Senior Fellow at Massey College, is Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto, where she is also Vice-Dean, Undergraduate & International in the Faculty of Arts & Science. The author of many books and articles, her most recent publications are The Story of Radio Mind: A Missionary’s Journey on Indigenous Land (U of Chicago Press, 2018) and Ekklesia: Three Inquiries in Church and State (U of Chicago Press, 2018), co-authored with Paul Christopher Johnson and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan. Together with a team of students and consultants from Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre and the Rainy River First Nations, she recently launched a digital project called Kiinawin Kawindomowin Story Nations at storynations.utoronto.ca. She currently holds the Anneliese Maier Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation of Germany in support of a five-year collaborative project entitled “Religion and Public Memory in Multicultural Societies,” undertaken together with Prof. Dr. Monique Scheer of the University of Tübingen. For more information, please see http://projects.chass.utoronto.ca/pklassen/