Reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations
Bring Back the Buffalo
Over 150 years of mistreatment and abuse has hurt and broken trust with First Nations people. Help restore relations and rebuild trust through Christian love.
Residential schools, unmarked graves, abuse. For decades the unfortunate reality is that instead of displaying love, the church has been a deep source of pain for many First Nations people. As Christians, we recognize the need for reconciliation and the building of long-term friendship.
Tearfund’s “Bring back the Buffalo project” is a new project that is part of a multi-generational reconciliation process. Its roots are based in a project that started 8 years ago.
Partnering with a small Indigenous ministry of Youth With a Mission (YWAM), called Loko Koa, our aim is to facilitate the return of the buffalo back to their traditional lands of the Cote First Nations.
Buffalo used to roam free in Canada and were a coveted symbol of life in the Prairies and to First Nations culture. Two hundred years ago, nearly 70 million buffalo roamed North America. As the lands were colonized, the massive herds of buffalo were decimated to near extinction. American and Canadian governments believed that by wiping out the buffalo and taking them away as a food source, the First Nations could also be wiped out.
The goal of this project will be to build sustainable buffalo herds on First Nations land, owned by First Nations. They will help restore cultural identity and to provide food for their own people. It will be more than a “project” but the start of building long-term relationships. Over the past 8 years, one of the by-products of this has been a high acceptance of Jesus followers on the local reserves.
Can reconciliation really happen?
From Pastor Bill Desnomie – First Nation Pastor of LOV Ministries & former Peepeekisis First Nation Band Council member
“…I’m the Pastor of LOV Ministries, and my congregation comes from 6 reserves in the area including Peepeekisis, which is my First Nation. Until recently I have served on the Peepeekisis Band Council.
Because of many past hurts, Christians have been disrespected on reserves making it very difficult for us to live out and share faith, and there has been a harshness against us. You could call this an anti-Christian hatred. But things have changed.
Seven years ago, a herd of 22 buffalo were given by Loko Koa and a group of non-native Christians to the Peepeekisis people. This really softened people to hearing the message of Jesus. And has opened doors.
At first, I thought this would not be that important, but the buffalo have become a tangible symbol of reconciliation for our people. We have a sense of pride. The buffalo are back on our land. It has given our people, both young and old a sense of pride. It has helped us lift our heads up. We are appreciated.
As a Christian, they are a symbol of the majestic splendor of God’s creation.
How You Can Help
The new Cote buffalo herd will be the 3rd herd planted by the Loko Koa since 2014. In November, 22 buffalo (20 cows and 2 bulls) will be introduced to the land which over the next few years will grow to 100.
The total project cost is $180,000. At this moment, $40,000 plus 900 acres of land have been contributed by the Cote First Nation.
We need your help. We are looking for Canadian individuals, groups, and churches to support this initiative as an act of love and reconciliation.
All donations will help bring back the buffalo and restore relationships with the Cote First Nations.