Indigenizing Pilgrimage: growing, identifying and localizing transformative journey

Friday, May 8, 2015 to Saturday, May 9, 2015
Concordia University Montréal, Québec, Canada

How can one travel without acknowledging the actual ground beneath one's feet? In 2014 a group of professors and students from Concordia University's Department of Theological Studies undertook De Vieux - Montréal à Kahnawa:ké, a 32 kilometre walk between historic pilgrimage centers founded in seventeenth-century New France and on nearby Mohawk territory. Whatever their theoretical assumptions at the outset, these pilgrims walked toward the understanding that growing, identifying and localizing pilgrimage in Québec necessarily involves recognizing Turtle Island (Northeastern Woodlands Nations name for North America), with its complex and deeply problematic ongoing story of encounter between indigenous and settler peoples.

Surely, transformative journey requires an eye on the horizon, the destination. However, all over the globe, pilgrims and pilgrimage scholars are also realizing that pilgrimage moves them into relationship with the geography, history, and shared (and contested) imaginaries of the soil it crosses. This is as true of Canterbury or Galicia as it is of Kahnawa:ké or the Trail of Tears. Awareness of territory traversed opens pilgrims -- and scholars -- to questions of natural and cultural ecosystems, and to issues of identity and diversity, of sustainability and justice that might otherwise be overlooked.

Indigenizing Pilgrimage: Growing, Identifying and Localizing Transformative Journey, will take place May 8-9, 2015, at Concordia University in Montréal. Jointly sponsored by the Department of Theological Studies and the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability, it will bring together scholars and pilgrims from across disciplines to discuss this localizing imperative. One of the conference keynote addresses and at least one presentation session will focus on journey in aboriginal contexts. We would love you to join us on this journey of discovery.

We invite proposals for 20 minute presentations that explore the complexities of personal, social and/or religious pilgrimage, and the inculturation of journey-scapes. Proposals of 300-400 words are invited from all relevant disciplines; these should be submitted by February 15, 2015 to IndigenizingPilgrimage [at] Please attach CV as well. Acceptances will be sent out by March 1, 2015; registration will also open on March 1. There will be a nominal registration fee to cover refreshments costs. As places are limited, priority will be given to those who will be delivering papers. The possibility of pursuing publication of an edited volume Indigenizing Pilgrimage will be considered once the presentation proposals are finalized.

In conjunction with this conference, the Theological Studies Graduate Student Association (TSGSA) at Concordia will host undergraduate and graduate student paper sessions, performances and art installations during the day on May 8. The focus is Pilgrimage: Sacred Journeys. Papers accepted for presentation will be invited to publish in an upcoming issue of the Concordia University graduate journal of theological studies, Word in the World. Should students working in Pilgrimage Studies be interested in presenting research or art work, they are invited to contact Robin Stanford of the TSGSA at tsgsaconcordia [at] Completed papers and CVs must be submitted by February 28, 2015 for student sessions.

Keynote speakers

Simon Coleman is Chancellor Jackman Professor, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto. He is co-editor of the journal Religion and Society, and of the Ashgate Studies in Pilgrimage book series.

Raymond Aldred is Assistant Professor of Theology, Ambrose University (Calgary), and works with My People International. He is former Director for the First Nations Alliance Churches of Canada. He is status Cree.

Conference flyer