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A Call from the Saskatchewan.

From Church Missionary Intelligencer, London, June, 1876, pp. 371-372.

The great Plain of the Saskatchewan extends from Lake Winnipeg a thousand miles westward to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Through it flow the two rivers called the North and South Saskatchewan, until the unite their waters a little above Nepowewin, and thence flow on to the Lake in one mighty stream. The greater part of this wide territory is included in the newly-formed Diocese of Saskatchewan, which also comprises the English River district to the north; and from the zealous first Bishop, Dr. McLean, there now comes a call for help which demands, and we trust will meet with, an immediate response.

Over the Plain there still roam many thousands of heathen Indians. Both Bishop McLean and the Bishop of Rupert's Land estimate that they equal in number all the other Indians in British America (this side the Rocky Mountains) put together. So that while we rejoice over the fact alluded to by Archdeacon Cowley at the Society's Anniversary, that in some of the more easterly districts, and especially in the extensive country worked by Bishop Horden of Moose, there is now scarcely a non-Christian Indian to be met with, and while we thank God for the rapid spread of the Gospel in the Mackenzie and Youcon districts of the far North under Bishop Bompas and Archdeacon R. McDonald, we must not forget that one-half of the whole Native population is as yet untouched. For the Blackfeet, Assinoboines, and Plain Crees of [371/372] the Saskatchewan have for the most part been as yet unvisited by any Protestant Missionary. The three stations in Bishop McLean's diocese which the C.M.S. has occupied, and of which an account is given at page 364 of our present number, do not at all meet the requirements of the case. Nepowewin is but on the verge of the territory; White Fish Lake is in the midst of the Wood Crees, a different set of people; and Stanley is far away on English River.

It is important that whatever is done should be done quickly. Immigrants from Canada and from Europe are beginning to pour into the country, which is a most inviting field for settlers; and if they come in contact with the Red Man in an unevangelized state, we know by sad experience what will be the result. A very favourable opportunity of gaining a good influence over the Indians will be presented in August next, when thousands of them will assemble at Fort Carlton and Fort Pitt to meet the Government Commissioners, who are prepared to treat with them for the purchase of land and the settlement of reserves. It is proposed by the Bishop to transfer the able country-born clergyman, the Rev. J.A. Mackay, from Stanley, and to entrust to his charge the conveyance of the message of Divine love to them and the Saskatchewan tribes generally; and other men are earnestly sought for. The Committee are not likely to divert in that direction any of the young missionaries about to be designated to India and China, nor would it be right, in view of the paramount claims of those great fields, to do so. Moreover, Bishop McLean asks for men of a peculiar stamp--not those whose education would be thrown away upon the simple-minded Red Man, but such as are willing to "rough it," and who can do what Mr. Hines is doing at White Fish Lake (see p. 365), viz., combine the training of the Indians in agricultural pursuits with the preaching of Christ to their souls. Mr. Mackay has come over on a flying visit to England, to lay these plans before the Committee; but he must return in time for the great gathering in August, and he would much like to be accompanied by one or two practical Englishmen willing to spend and be spent for those "few poor sheep in the wilderness."

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