College News

Project for Decolonization and Innovation Awarded $5 Million

ADC celebrated a decade of partnership with NAIITS at the 2022 symposium held at Acadia in June.  The gathering brought people together in Mi’kmaq’i from Indigenous lands
in Australia, Bolivia, Canada, the Philippines, and the United States in a warm Christian community of Indigenous theological scholarship.

Acadia Divinity College is thrilled to be a collaborating partner with NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community, recently awarded a grant of $5 million as Phase 3 of the Lilly Endowment Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. Together with ADC and the graduate seminaries of Ambrose and Tyndale Universities, NAIITS will establish a Canadian Learning Community for Decolonization and Innovation in Theological Education. ADC was awarded grants for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. This represents the third and final phase, and the only Phase 3 grant awarded in Canada.

Pathways for Tomorrow Grant Builds on NAIITS’ Strengths!

Indigenous Pathways US receives $5 Million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative.

Indigenous Pathways US (IP) is grateful to Lilly Endowment for this opportunity. This second grant, which Lilly Endowment made through Phase 3 of its Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, situates NAIITS, the educational member of Indigenous Pathways, as the lead in a multi-school project to increase theological educational capacity. The grant will provide the resources for NAIITS to lead this exciting multi-school partnership to:

  • Investigate our individual and collective experiences of successful approaches to theological education – approaches that take or have taken a more decolonial and contextual approach and build greater capacity for effective ministry training
  • Explore innovative ways of delivering theological education for pastoral and ministry training that is decolonial, contextual, and indigenized considering each school and the constituencies they serve
  • Provide opportunity for the worshipping communities associated with each partner to contribute to the research of the school to support and enhance one another, creating very real opportunities for change, growth, and continuity
  • Curate narratives of success for other schools to learn from and adapt to their own unique settings

In addition, the grant will:

  • Increase Indigenous Pathways and NAIITS’ visibility throughout North America as a first option for Indigenous persons seeking decolonized graduate and post-graduate theological education
  • Help to ensure NAIITS’ long-term sustainability and the accessibility to a robust theological education for Indigenous candidates within NAIITS

In collaboration with three of the largest, most respected, and innovative schools in Canada –Acadia Divinity College at Acadia University, Ambrose Seminary of Ambrose University, and Tyndale University and Seminary – NAIITS will facilitate the creation of the Canadian Learning Community for Decolonization and Innovation in Theological Education, a nation-wide learning community sharing a common ethos and mission for pastoral formation.

This Lilly Endowment grant comes at a propitious moment as NAIITS, and our partners seek to embody the spirit of the TRC while responding together to the TRC Calls to Action. As NAIITS nears twenty-five years of creative experience on this journey we are well situated to invest in strategic institutional capacity building for ourselves and others that will strengthen our ability to serve our communities – our continuing mission and reason for being.

The Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative is a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare spiritual leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.  The primary aim of its grant making in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States.

About the initial partners

NAIITS An Indigenous Learning Community (NAIITS) provides Indigenous designed, developed, delivered, and governed tertiary education with a commitment to Indigenous ideologies, values and ontologies as principal interpretative frameworks for its programs as well as in delivery and assessment. NAIITS’ vision is to see Indigenous women and men journey down the road of a living heart relationship with Jesus that does not require the rejection of their Creator-given social and cultural identity, nor the rejection of their own worldview as the foundation for that relationship. NAIITS is one of two component parts of Indigenous Pathways (IP) with iEmergence (iE) which focuses on holistic community and leadership development in Indigenous and tribal communities.


Acadia Divinity College (ADC), is the seminary of the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada (CBAC), equips Christians with knowledge and skills to interpret the realities of life today in the light of God’s Word, to speak good news and act confidently with love and justice, and to serve the mission of God in church and world with transformative impact. ADC is responsible for equipping pastors for over 400 churches and chaplaincies across Atlantic Canada and beyond. As the Faculty of Theology for Acadia University (a secular institution), ADC offers degree programs at the bachelor, master, and doctoral level, as well as continuing education programs for pastoral leaders and congregational lay ministers. ADC draws ministry students from over 20 denominations across Canada and around the world, and has formal affiliations with seminaries in Quebec, Hong Kong, and Nigeria. It is also a partnership institution of NAIITS.

Ambrose Seminary of Ambrose University, located in Calgary, AB, is aligned with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) in Canada. While serving the needs of the C&MA, the seminary is broadly evangelical and includes students from 30 denominations and five continents. Programs at all levels are ministry-focused, demonstrating that Ambrose Seminary exists first and foremost for the church. Fittingly, its four-fold mission is centered on the dynamic formation of effective and lifelong church leaders: nurture theological depth and breadth, cultivate a heart after God, foster vocational clarity and effectiveness, and inspire redemptive action.

Tyndale Seminary of Tyndale University is a trans-denominational evangelical seminary in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with students from over 70 church traditions. Tyndale is located in one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, and a majority of its student body is of non-European background. Tyndale’s beginnings reach back to 1894 as a missionary training school, and today is part of Tyndale University. The Seminary’s mission is “to provide Christ-centred graduate theological education for leaders in the church and society whose lives are marked by intellectual maturity, spiritual vigor and moral integrity, and whose witness will faithfully engage culture with the gospel.” Tyndale is a partner institution of NAIITS.

Each school brings unique strengths, denominational connections, multiculturally diverse constituencies, and a shared commitment to co-create fresh methods of ministry education and new pathways to identifying, preparing, and supporting congregational leaders for ministry in the context of diversity.

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