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. Motivated by the love of our Creator, help restore relations and rebuild trust.
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 part of a multi-generational reconciliation process, with roots that were established eight years ago.
Partnering with an Indigenous ministry called Loko Koa, our aim is to facilitate the return of the buffalo back to their traditional lands of the Cote First Nation.
The goal of this project will be to build sustainable buffalo herds on First Nations land across Treaty 4, owned by First Nations. They will help restore cultural identity and provide food for their own people. It will be more than a “project,” but the start of building long-term relationships.
A partnership between:
Buffalo used to roam free in Canada and were a coveted symbol of life in the Prairies and First Nations culture. Two hundred years ago, nearly 45 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.
How it works
On December 13, 2021 twenty-four buffalo were introduced to Cote First Nation land, roaming their land for the first time in over 150 years. Many of the elders broke into tears, thinking they would never see the day when this would happen. Since then, 14 calves were born the spring of 2022.
The initiative has already improved relationships between First Nation members and settlers and learning has begun. School groups from Cote and Keesekoose First Nations as well as the Pelley and Kamsack schools have come to see the buffalo and learn about them for science and history classes.
Over the next 5 years our hope and prayer is that the herd continues to grow under the care of Cote First Nation to a healthy size at which point 22 buffalo from the herd will be gifted to another First Nation.
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.
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 Creator’s Son (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
We need your help. We are looking for Canadian individuals, groups, and churches to support this initiative as an act of love and reconciliation.
At this moment $40,000 plus 900 acres of land have been contributed by Cote First Nation along with additional gifts from people like you. You can help provide a part of the remaining amount to fully fund the initative.
It’s important to lament for past injustices and essential to pray for reconciliation. We need your prayers. Click here to download the prayer guide below to help.
All donations will help bring back the buffalo and restore relationships with the Cote First Nations.