Medicine Wheel Spirituality: A Gift to the Church

How Church leaders encourage Aboriginal Catholics to practice their faith in ways true to their traditional cultures. How all this contributes to the Church as a whole.



Program Three - "Medicine Wheel Spirituality: A Gift to the Church


“Directions in Aboriginal Ministry”
Building Bridges Project/ Newman College, Edmonton Alberta

“The Story of Canadian Aboriginal Spirituality”
Chapter 3, World Religions: A Canadian Catholic Perspective
By Sr. Eva Solomon, CSJ
Novalis Publishing Inc. and Nelson Education Ltd. 2011

"Medicine Wheel: A Method of Reading the Bible"
By +Sylvain Lavoie, OMI
Publisher TBA

“Drumming from Within: Tales of Hope and Faith from Canada's North.”
By +Sylvain Lavoie, OMI
Novalis Publishing Inc. 2009

"Faith Moments: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha"
By Anne Neuberger. Novalis 2009


Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Click Here

Canadian Bishops on Saint Kateri Click Here

Canadian Bishops on Canadian Indigenous Peoples Click Here

Salt and Light TV video on Saint Kateri Click Here

Jesuits of English Canada on Saint Kateri Click Here

Catholic Missions in Canada Click Here

Saint Kateri Resources
compiled by
Religious Education + Family Life
Renfrew County Catholic School Board Click Here


Study Guide


The goal of Program Three is to introduce students to the medicine wheel spirituality as a gift to Canadian Catholic Aboriginal parishioners and to the Church as a whole.

Note From the Building Bridges Team: There are a variety of definitions of culture”: “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group”, “a series of interlocking signs, held together by a set of codes and/or by a common message”, and “This should apply even to the culture of the Church itself as embodied in its many variant ‘rites.’” Inculturation is process by which Jesus takes on flesh, and his message takes on flesh in our various cultures. Throughout history, many peoples, (Jews, Greeks, Franks, Celts, Africans, etc.) have encountered Christianity and had their cultures transformed by it. All human spirituality is a gift of God, including Aboriginal spirituality.

Note From the Building Bridges Team: In Christian revelation, the Bible is the living Word of God to the Church. Christ is not just God-given, but he is God. Aboriginal spirituality and the medicine wheel teachings as a way of life can complement and fit into the teachings of the Bible.

Reflections from Archbishop Sylvain Lavoie, OMI, Archbishop of Keewatin-Le Pas (2005-2012); Founding Chair, Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops; Robert McKeon, Social Justice Department, Archdiocese of Edmonton; Rosella Kinoshameg, Odawa First Nation, Member, Aboriginal Council, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops; Sr. Eva Solomon, CSJ, Ojibway First Nation, Sister of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie, Executive Director, Building Bridges Project; Dan Kingdon, Religious Education Director, Newman Theological Collage; Maggie Hodgson, Carrier First Nation


1. Show the internet TV video - Program Three: "Medicine Wheel Spirituality: A Gift to the Church"

2. Ask students to form small groups to describe the following impressions from the video:

  • Who are the Aboriginal speakers speaking in the video and what are their main thoughts?
  • Who are the non-Aboriginal speakers speaking in the video and what are their main thoughts?
  • What did you know after viewing the video that you didn’t know before?
  • Give three reasons why Canadian Catholics should support the work of the Building Bridges Project.
  • From this video, how do you now feel Aboriginal Catholics contribute spiritually to the Church as a whole?
  • As European Catholics worship alongside Aboriginal Catholics, what have we to learn from each other?
  • What truths are there in Aboriginal spirituality that can help build up the Christian faith?
  • What specific gifts does Aboriginal spirituality have to give the body of Christ?
  • Are there any things in Aboriginal spirituality that are incompatible with the Gospel?

3. Option for Take-Home Assignment

  • Via the Internet find more facts about Canadian Native Catholic ministry across Canada.
  • Name five Canadian Aboriginal Catholic parishes and from their websites, describe some of the ways they minister to their parishioners.
  • Provide 5 important facts about the social conditions for the Catholic Aboriginal populations living in the parish areas you have chosen to look at.
  • Study the documents of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council of the CCCB and prepare a presentation on the council’s importance and/or the importance of the documents they have prepared to the Canadian Catholic Church in general.
  • In groups, make presentations to the class about any or all of the above. Include suggestions on how students could become more involved.