'As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be': The aboriginal-baha'i encounter in British Columbia

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During the mid-twentieth century, the Baha'i community of British Columbia launched teaching efforts within Aboriginal communities throughout the province. Although relatively few of the over nine hundred Aboriginal people who enrolled in the Baha'i Faith between 1948 and 1992 ultimately became active adherents, the Aboriginal-Baha'i encounter is nevertheless of profound significance. The subtlety with which Baha'is presented the Faith to Aboriginal people challenges static conceptions of religious teaching and reveals a key disjuncture between rhetoric and practice. The experiences of Aboriginal Baha'i themselves highlight fluid processes of religious change and, coupled with Baha'i social activism, underscore the considerable role of the Baha'i Faith in encouraging processes of Aboriginal cultural regeneration. Despite such empowering impact, however, patterns of non-Aboriginal cultural dominance encountered within the Baha'i community simultaneously suggest the pervasiveness of the colonial legacy and the potency of contemporary social context; good intentions proved insufficient to fully transform intercultural interactions.

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Department of History - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)