Centre for Religion and Public Life Research Seminar with Dr Suzanne Owen

Loss and Reconciliation: The Extinction of the Beothuk in Newfoundland

By Dr Suzanne Owen, Reader in Religious Studies, Leeds Trinity University


When I first went to Newfoundland, I was studying the sharing of ceremonies among the Mi'kmaq but was confronted by romantic references to the extinct Beothuk Indians everywhere I went, which obscured the presence of living indigenous people. Since then, my research has been more focused on this issue and, in collaboration with Rev'd Dr Joanne Mercer, we received support from the Anglican Church in Canada to investigate the role of an Anglican missionary in the kidnap of one of the last Beothuk, which we argue marked a turning point in settler-indigenous relations in Newfoundland. Also, through this research, we hope to make this an act of truth-telling in connection to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation process addressing historic abuses against First Nations. For Newfoundland, it is a truth and reconciliation with its own past in recognising the role of settlers in the extinction of the Beothuk and the continued harm to First Nations brought about by romanticisations of the past.

The seminar is open to anyone with an interest in the subject.