Sound Heritage: Now You Are My Brother (PDF)



Missionairies in British Columbia

NO. 34

Please note: This is a digital file.

The missionaries of British Columbia have often been viewed with prejudice or jaundice, among other emotions, a phenomenon common to groups whose efforts cause widespread cultural change. This issue of the Sound Heritage Series portrays missionary influence on the Indian population by presenting the memories of those who proselytized and those who were converted. Now You Are My Brother, as with previous issues, seeks to complement the historical record through oral sources; missionary activity is represented through a wide yet selective range of reminiscences.

The missionaries tell their own stories; there are no doctrines to defend and the morality of watching and participating in the conversion of the native population to a Christian way of life is a quandary readers will have to solve for themselves. There is no argument that, as with any form of contact between cultures with differing values, change occurred. Now You Are My Brother speaks of these changes but the author takes no stand on the ethical precepts involved.

The stories cover a broad period of time, from the start of the Anglican missions on the Nass and Skeena Rivers in the 1870s, as exemplified in the life of Robert Tomlinson, to the post-World War Two missionaries of the Cariboo-Chilcotin region, who, like their 19th century counterparts, served a variety of roles beyond their clerical duties within the native communities.

The author, Margaret Whitehead, has been researching and writing about British Columbia ecclesiastical history for several years. In 1981 she published The Cariboo Mission: A History of the Oblates, a narrative of St. Joseph’s Mission at Williams Lake.


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