Executive Director and Chaplain: Keith Ross – Woodland Cree

My name is Keith Ross a Woodland Cree First Nation and the son of John Ross and Leslie Halkett who belong to the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in northern Saskatchewan, Canada.  My formative years were spent on Big Stone and Bell’s Point Indian Reservations with my family. After graduating from high school, I began to serve as a Youth Director at the Mamawintoutaan Center, and a student intern at Kinisoo Indian Reservation in the southern part of the province. When I graduated from Nipawin Bible Institute, I moved to the United States of America where I served as a Camp Counselor in New York and then worked in the student involvement program in Tempe, Arizona.  I graduated from Cook College and Theological School with an Associate of Arts in Native American studies program and attended Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to receive my Masters of Divinity.

 For the last ten years I have been actively engaged in Native American ministry in some form or another.  At Fort McDowell Presbyterian Church in Arizona, I worked closely with Native American youth to do many activities like car racing, an evening in the city and so on. In Florida I spent meaning time with a few Seminole’s Indians to learn about arts, crafts, and traditions.  When I moved to Pennsylvania and New Jersey I fell in love the art of chaplaincy, especially now that I am engaged in Native American students at Rutgers. 

 What I bring to the Native American community is my years of Native American ministry, my professional chaplain residency background, and a deep sense of support for Natives attending this prestigious university.  I am responsible to my sense of calling into this ministry by being a First Nation from an Indian Reservation.  I know what it is like is to be poor, to live and experience in both worlds, namely on and off the reservation.  I have transitioned from the reservation life to having one foot in one world and the other foot in another world, namely non-Native and being Native.  I also have lived and experienced two countries, two democracies, but one tribal identity.   It is this theme of identity that is so important to Native Americans coming from reservation, urban, and rural communities and who need support.  My support is free.  I also believe in aiding students to have a voice, namely Native concerns in a vast diverse community of all faiths who have their own identities and sacred path.  It is my opportunity to offer my services to help students in their journey of learning and growing in wisdom while attending Rutgers University.

 My wife, Kirsten, and I have been married for 13 years and are the proud parents of our 7 year old son, Kai and our 2 year old daughter, Kira. I like to travel, play RISK and card games, watch movies, read systematic theology by Paul Tillich, and visit with people from all walks of faith.