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On a blank chalkboard, youth from Manawan rewrite the stories of their lives.
This is the second in a six part series of short films on the theme of reconciliation. These films are produced by young Indigenous filmmakers with the help of Wapikoni Mobile. For over ten years, Wapikoni Mobile has been working with Aboriginal youth in Canada to encourage expression through music and film. Their mobile studios, sometimes referred to as “youth centres on wheels”, have travelled to some of the most remote First Nations communities in the country, providing workshops and mentoring to young participants.
Reconciliation Canada sees the hope that has been generated by the announcement of an official national inquiry into the tragic numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
This is a significant act towards reconciliation. It demonstrates that there are people who lived this nightmare, and someone is listening to their story — to their lived truth. Gilakasla for listening and responding.
This issue is not foreign to our team. Janet Henry went missing in the late 1990s.
Janet was the aunt to Karen Joseph, Reconciliation Canada CEO, and her sister Shelley, Cultural & Wellness Advisor. In the beginning, Shelley and other family members walked the streets looking for Janet, and for information of her whereabouts.
For many years now Shelley has taken part in the annual march on February 14 that honours and recognizes the many women and girls who are missing and/or have been murdered. She also sits on The Coalition of Families and Organizations advocating for justice for the families.
It is in the teachings of Indigenous people around the world that our women are integral to the social structure of a healthy community; a thriving community; a strong community.
Reconciliation Canada lifts our hands up to the federal government for taking action, and more so to the thousands of people who demonstrate the power of resilience by not giving up.
Read more about the announcement of the public inquiry here (via CBC News).
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) release of the long anticipated report was celebrated with an exciting event at the Simon Fraser University Goldcorp Centre for the Arts in Downtown Vancouver. The event – a panel discussion representing a diversity of Canadian voices – was to explore and reflect on the TRC’s legacy, and future of reconciliation in Canada.
Although representing many communities, the panelists all voiced a message of hope with respect to moving forward after the close of the TRC; there was a collective vision that the lessons from the TRC can be applied across Canadian society to build stronger, more tolerant and engaged communities.
After an inspiring introduction and welcome to Coast Salish Territory by Chief Ian Campbell, each of the esteemed panelists came forward and presented their views and vision for reconciliation in Canada.
This panel event was joined by notable community leaders Linda Morris, Senior Vice President, Business Development, Member and Community Engagement, Vancity; Honorary Witness Robbie Waisman; Honorary Witness Mayor Gregor Robertson; Jodie Wilson-Reybould, former BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief; Honorary Witness David Wong; Reverend Mary Fontaine, Hummingbird Ministries and Doug White, Director, Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation, Vancouver Island University.
Jodie Wilson-Reybould was hopeful that the TRC’s work would act as a lens to help Canadians to empathize, and that it could act as a catalyst for change.
Honorary Witnesses Robbie Waisman and David Wong emphasized the importance of sharing experiences of resilience and reconciliation, and how these stories can resonate across communities.
Doug White highlighted the point that social change is not just about denouncing what we don’t want, but building and supporting the things that we do.
The event highlighted that all Canadians play a key role in reconciliation, and that reconciliation is a process which will not end with the report’s release. Many of the panelists spoke about the accomplishments of the TRC, but the there was a firm agreement that there is still a great deal left to be done, and that all Canadians can play a role.
Reconciliation Canada would like to extend our appreciation to all those who supported this event. We thank all of the attendees, sponsors, panelists, volunteers and other individuals who made this events possible. We are proud to be involved in such engaging events that foster understanding, dialogue and community building.
We offer our sincere gratitude to the sponsors who made this panel discussion possible.
It is 9am on Sunday, May 31, 2015, and a crowd has gathered at the Sheraton Wall Centre Courtyard in downtown Vancouver. More than 3000km away, the historic Walk for Reconciliation has just begun its journey from École secondaire de l’Île in Gatineau towards downtown Ottawa. The crowd in Vancouver watches in anticipation as a sacred fire is lit, unifying Canadians coast-to-coast-to-coast in support of Indian Residential Schools survivors in their ongoing journeys towards healing and reconciliation.
This was the beginning of the day-long event, Reconciliation Matters: a series of special observations organized to coincide with the closing events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United Church clergy worked in collaboration with Reconciliation Canada to host these events and to bring together Canadians from many traditions and backgrounds.
As the sacred fire burned in the Sheraton Wall Centre Courtyard, the events progressed over the street for an ecumenical service at St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church. The service focussed on confession and acknowledgment of the harms inflicted through the Indian Residential School system.
Following the service, the congregations were greeted by a community street fair in the Sheraton Wall Centre Courtyard surrounding the sacred fire. The street fair featured live music from Sister Says, a soulful genre-bending pop duo with Haida and Tsimshian roots, Indigenous artisans, and educational booths and displays from local community and cultural organizations.
Elder Ruth Adams from Tsawwassen First Nation offered a Coast Salish Welcome to the territory, and was followed by guest speakers Doug White, Director, Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation at Vancouver Island University and former Chief of Snuneymuxw First Nation, and City of Vancouver Deputy Mayor Raymond Louie. Both White and Louie reiterated the need for all Canadians to contribute meaningful action towards reconciliation.
The day culminated with the Blanket Exercise; an interactive activity that encourages participants to rethink the timeline of Canadian history through the lenses of colonialism, treaty-making and resistance. The exercise highlights significant events and demonstrates the impact of colonialism on individuals, families, and cultures.
Participants rounded off the day with an Ecumenical Prayer Service held at First Baptist Church, once again providing an opportunity for Canadians from all walks of life to come together and to learn about their role in reconciliation.
Reconciliation Canada is proud to collaborate with Vancouver’s Ecumenical community to mark the significance of the closing of the TRC. We are truly grateful for the generosity of all of the partners and organizations that made this possible.
Collaborating Partners on Reconciliation Matters: Anglican and United Church Archives, Central Presbyterian Church, Christ Church, Anglican Cathedral, City of Vancouver, First Baptist Church, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, St. Andrews-Wesley, United Church, and Reconciliation Canada.
The day following the historic Walk for Reconciliation through Downtown Ottawa, community leaders from all walks of life packed the Delta Hotel Ballroom for ‘Inspiring Reconciliaction: Creating a New Way Forward’. This event, a panel discussion that delved into the inter-generational and multi-cultural aspects of reconciliation, invited community leaders from all walks of life to reflect critically on their role in reconciliation.
Moderated by Dr. Philip Oxhorn, Professor of Political Science at McGill University, and Charlotte Hoelke, a PhD candidate in Canadian Studies at Carleton University, the panel opened with a prayer from spiritual advisor, Albert Dumont and then quickly dove into the matter at hand.
Reconciliation Canada Ambassador, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, was joined by Jessica Bolduc, Project Coordinator of the 4Rs Youth Movement; Bob Watts, former CEO of the Assembly of First Nations; Todd Khozein of Second Muse; and Mary Simon, former president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Each panelist spoke on how they saw the state of reconciliation today and their own experiences, before the floor was opened to questions and comments from the audience. The panelists heard from residential school survivors, activists and community leaders, and fielded some thought-provoking questions including a discussion on the role of self-determination in the reconciliation process.
Reconciliation Canada is proud to have had the opportunity to host such an inspiring event. We offer our sincere gratitude to the panelists and moderators who helped deliver such an important discussion, and to our funders and sponsors for their generous support.
Most of all, we would like to thank all those who joined us to listen, learn and engage in discussion. Your participation in this event made it abundantly clear that the closing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not the end; it is just the beginning and that we all have a role to play in reconciliation.
The Walk for Reconciliation was made possible through the generous support of:
We extend our sincere appreciation to our sponsors who made this panel discussion possible. Platinum Sponsor:
It’s a cool, overcast Sunday morning, and thousands have gathered at the École secondaire de l’Île in Gatineau, Quebec to participate in the Walk for Reconciliation.
The final, closing event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has officially begun. The theme of the opening day is “we are all in this together,” an idea perfectly symbolized by this diverse and well-attended gathering.
As anyone who has ever run the Ottawa marathon will tell you, Gatineau is a rippled terrain of hills. Just north of the Ottawa River, it was once the border where Lower and Upper Canada met. Jaques Cartier Park, the Macdonald–Cartier Bridge, and numerous other nearby landmarks recall the figures of Canada’s early history. From the northern shore of the river, where the Metis architect Douglas Cardinal’s Museum of Civilization sits, you can gaze upward to the commanding presence of Parliament Hill. In this part of the country, History is inscribed into every brick, bench, and boulevard.
“It was absolutely exhilarating,” says Chief Dr. Robert Joseph of the day. The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he notes, has been six years in the making. Many years before there even was a TRC, survivors were working toward this day. It’s been almost twenty-five years, for example, since Phil Fontaine told his story to a reporter from the Globe and Mail. Roughly twenty-five years since the Royal Commission on Indigenous Peoples released its final report. At that time, Chief Joseph was involved in the dialogues which would give rise to Canada’s Alternative Dispute Resolution process—the precusors to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.
At the end of the Walk for Reconciliation, in the plaza of Ottawa City Hill, Chief Joseph is looking forward. He has been looking forward for decades now, dreaming of the day when survivors stories have been heard across Canada. It was “so moving to be there,” he says. “So powerful and compelling. The TRC report has laid bare the truth of the residential schools and legitimized the truth that we’ve all been taking about.”
The media are all here. So are Canadians from all walks of life. The mood of the participants is positive and hopeful. Chief Joseph gives a speech which concludes by saying that reconciliation “begins with you—so the call goes out to you this day to join in the journey of reconciliation.” His brief but powerful speech is followed by music and dancing. Inside Ottawa’s city hall, the residential school Witness Blanket has been installed. People gather around it, sharing their stories.
The first Walk for Reconciliation took place in Vancouver in September 2013 to coincide with the TRC British Columbia National Event. It’s purpose was to transform and renew the very essence of relationships among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians—to find a new way forward in our relationships with each other. Following the success of this walk, co-hosted by Reconciliation Canada and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, discussions were undertaken with the TRC Commissioners to have a similar event in Ottawa. Everyone agreed that this was a great idea.
Reconciliation Canada is honoured to have had this opportunity. We express our gratitude to the many people of goodwill who participated, and who also joined survivors in gestures of solidarity all across Canada. The walk was a simple but profound expression of caring for one another. “I was just really moved,” reflected Chief Joseph. “All of this work has culminated in something that will allow us to redefine this country, hopefully with other Canadians.”
A sincere heartfelt Thank-you to everyone who participated! We at Reconciliation Canada acknowledge and honour the courage and resilience of survivors whose unwavering commitment to truth, healing and reconciliation made the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission possible.
Reconciliation will mean many things to many people. It will be big. It will be small. It will be simple. It will be complex. But remember this—that it all begins with you.
The Walk for Reconciliation was made possible through the generous support of:
The TRC’s Findings and Recommendations confront the disparity between typical Canadian historical perspectives and Aboriginal reality, bringing light to the Aboriginal truth in Canada – a truth of harm experienced for generations in the Indian residential school system.
Canada owes the TRC commissioners a huge debt of gratitude. The Findings and Recommendations create an opportunity for real change for all Canadians. It provides the potential to educate and provide context for dialogue among governments, private institutions and citizens alike. Moreover, the Findings and Recommendations provide a strong foundation upon which any organization can move forward on reconciliation.
For Reconciliation Canada, the TRC Findings and Recommendations highlight the importance of continuing the work we began three years ago. Our initiatives support the TRC Recommendations in many areas, including education, training and public awareness. Reconciliation is a long journey and there is much work to do.
Through partnership building and working with community organizations, faith-based groups, businesses and governments, we will continue to create a safe space for Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians to engage in meaningful dialogue.