First Canadian Native Priest, 1875 — Commemoration — April 2
The Canadian Church remembers Henry Budd, who in 1853 became the first person of the First Nations in Canada to be ordained as an Anglican priest.
He was born to a father from the Swampy Cree and a Metis mother, and was named Sa-ka-chu-wes’cum, which in the Cree language means “Going up the hill.” After his father’s death he was put into the care of an English missionary named John West, who baptized him and gave him the English name “Henry Budd.” Brought up to act like an Englishman, he eventually became a catechist for the Church Missionary Society and began to work among the Cree in northern Rupert’s Land. He proved so effective in teaching the faith and managing his isolated mission that the Society recommended his ordination to the priesthood, which took place in 1853. Budd spent the next fourteen years running a mission in Saskatchewan, then was assigned to The Pas.
He possessed a striking presence and was a superb speaker both in English and in his native Cree. But just because he was Cree, the Church Missionary Society allowed him only half the annual stipend that a married white missionary got — even though he supported his own wife and children, his mother, and his brother’s family. But he did not stint his labours in preaching the Gospel, or in seeing to the needs of his aboriginal congregations. When he died in 1875, one of his people said that he had not known what it was to lose a father until the death of Mr. Budd.