“I was taught to always hold true to your core values and principles and to act with integrity…I come from a long line of matriarchs, and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House. This is who I am and this is who I always will be.”
Today is International Women’s Day – this year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter, is an important recognition and reminder that gender balance is essential for communities and economies to thrive.
We honour and uphold the place of women as leaders, and as pillars of strength and resilience within our families, communities and throughout society. Without a doubt, women play an invaluable role in the growth and success of the reconciliation movement.
Today and every day, we hold up our hands in respect, gratitude and love to all the women in our lives. We continue to hope for and work towards a reality where our mothers, daughters and sisters are honoured, valued and treated as equals.
Through our work, we remain committed to honouring and upholding their innate strength and resilience. We look forward to continuing this important work through our upcoming events and initiatives – please stay tuned for updates in the coming months to see what we’re up to and how you can get involved.
Written by Tim Manuel, Cultural Advisor and Public Engagement Lead
Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have used formal protocol to acknowledge their surroundings, which is meant to honour their spiritual beliefs. This acknowledgment is often spoken in their own language. Indigenous people believed and understood that they are only one aspect in the great diversity of life on the land. They use a common expression such as “all my relations” – words that resemble an all-encompassing meaning – when acknowledging the people of the land, such as tqeltkúkwpi7 (Secwepemc version of Great Spirit). Their acknowledgement includes or specifies water, ancestors, animals and plant life, all of which are considered to be alive and therefore having a “spirit.”
Indigenous ancestors knew and believed that everything in nature is connected, that nothing exists in the environment for itself as everyone and everything depends on one other for survival. They are simply recognizing the importance of these spirits and connections in the great cycle of life. Everything Indigenous people need for survival, whether it be food or shelter, comes from the land. Indigenous people believe that they are a part of the land and it is a part of them – this forms a basis of their culture and identity. Indigenous people formally announce their intention of being on the land as though they were to speak to the ancestors, including during an acknowledgement of territory or a formal welcome.
Each Indigenous nation will have different stories to share as well as unique teachings from their ancestors from when they travelled on the land or by water. Some stories were of unity or conflict between nations, while some were regarding land or resources. During the time when travelling was a necessity, one of the most important reasons to do so was to trade goods as part of participating in the traditional economy and to establish relationships between neighbouring nations. These times are important to note because Indigenous peoples believed there is strength in unity, which is a principle element of traditional governance. There were natural boundary markers such as rivers, mountains or mythological places, which indicated to Indigenous people which territory they were on or passing through.
When arriving into another Indigenous territory, they would acknowledge being a visitor to the area: First by acknowledging the ancestors and, if there were blood ties (such as through kin or through marriage), those would be mentioned. If there were no kinship ties, then a meeting with the leadership would happen to announce one’s intent.
During an acknowledgement of the land/territory, the visitor first announces themselves by introduction, which also includes any family ties. Second, they acknowledge they are a visitor/settler and speak about their intention of being there. And lastly, they proceed to acknowledge the territory in which they stand. This helps with understanding that there are protocols in place that must be followed, mostly based on keeping good relationships and respect between people.
Meanwhile, a territorial welcome is from a Chief/political representative/elder or someone who is a descendent of the ancestral lands upon which the event is being held. This should be done with the understanding between the person and the event organizer prior to the event taking place. The importance of following this protocol is to communicate intent and show respect to the spirit of the land.
Reconciliation Canada is deeply concerned over what took place yesterday in the Unist’ot’en Camp on Wet’suwet’en Territory: heavily armed RCMP tactical squads overrunning peaceful and unarmed land defenders.
This event propagates the long-standing practice of using force, based upon a legal system that once enabled the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families.
There must be better ways and different approaches to resolving conflict.
Throughout the history of this country, we have applied the same old approaches that result in the same old outcomes.
In this time of reconciliation, we must all do better as this may very well be our last chance – our final opportunity – to become the country that we so deeply desire to be: a country that is truly equal, just and compassionate.
Without change, there can be no reconciliation.
Our country – the RCMP, the federal government, the provincial government, and the courts included – must get serious about reconciliation and live up to our common values and ideals.
If we cannot change now, then this country may never change.
We must – especially in times of conflict and disagreement – recognize our common humanity and common desire for a better country.
A Reading Circle for Reconciliation
Starts January 8, 2019
From 2010 to 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission listened to and documented the experiences of survivors, families, communities and anyone personally affected by the Indian Residential School Experience. In June 2015 they published their final report, which outlined 94 Calls to Actions for Canadians. Okanagan Regional Library will be hosting an opportunity for folks to continue the climb up Reconciliation Mountain. Please join us at a five session reading circle where we will read together the Executive Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Caroline MacKay, Debbie Hubbard and Nan Shearing will facilitate the Circle. The first session will be scheduled for Tuesday January 8. We will meet the second Tuesday of each month for a total of five months: February 12, March 12, April 9 and May 14. The sessions will run from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Pre-registration prior to January 8 is required.
Soup & Bannock: Lunch & Learn Series
January 8, 2019
This event is open to Everyone. Registration is optional – tickets are not needed for event. This speaker’s series is held by Services for Aboriginal Students at Vancouver Island University and sponsored by various VIU departments. These talks are Tuesday over the lunch hour once a month in Shq’apthut – A Gathering Place and provide the opportunity for students, staff, faculty and community to expand their experience and awareness in current Indigenous topics and various aspects of Aboriginal Ways of Being and Knowing. Click on the link above for more information.
Lunch & Learn Series: Indigenous Women’s Health
January 9, 2019 (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
The Indigenous Health Lunch & Learn Series hosted by the Local Officers of Indigenous Health (Medical Students Association) and the Indigenous Health Initiatives Program in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry is pleased to announce the first of three engaging and informative sessions to help build awareness and understanding of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous Peoples’ health. The first session will focus on issues specific to Indigenous women’s health and will be led by Dr Cassandra Felske-Durksen.
Dance Allsorts: Iskwêwak Osihtâwak | The Women are Making It
January 13, 2019 (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
Iskwêwak Osihtâwak (Cree) is a mixed program featuring Indigenous dance practices shared by Salia Joseph, Jeanette Kotowich and Jessica McMann, with excerpts from Spirit and Tradition by the Dancers of Damelahamid. The dance performance starts at 2:00 p.m. followed by a free dance workshop at 3:15 p.m. Pay-what-you-can at the door: First come, first seated.
Community Dialogue: Conservation through an Indigenous Human Rights Lens
Thunder Bay, ON
January 14, 2019 (5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.)
Ontario Nature and the David Suzuki Foundation are hosting a Community Dialogue in Thunder Bay. Join environmental, Indigenous and grassroots activists to discuss how we can protect Mother Earth and its inhabitants in a way that respects Indigenous rights and responsibilities, and honours the interconnection of all life. Guest speakers include federal MP, Romeo Saganash (Critic for Reconciliation and Critic for Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), and Grassy Narrows First Nations’ community elder and distinguished activist, Judy Da Silva. The event is free, but please register to help us plan for refreshments and seating.
Squamish Cultural Competency Training
January 16, 2019 (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.)
Camp Fircom invites you to join us for a workshop on Squamish Cultural Competency led by Jackie Gonzales and Stewart Gonzales from the Ayas Men Men (Children & Family Services) of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nation. This workshop is an opportunity to learn more about the Squamish people, their history, their lands, and their truth. We’re inviting the other camps who are on Squamish lands to join us as we seek to be in right relationship with Indigenous peoples.
RISE Blanket Exercise
January 19, 2019 (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
The Blanket Exercise is an interactive learning experience that teaches the Indigenous rights history we’re rarely taught. Join us on Monday, January 21 from 6-8 PM for this interactive workshop, organized by RISE – Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton, to help further your understanding of Indigenous issues.This workshop is free; space is limited. Donations to support the ongoing work of RISE will gladly be accepted.
The Honourable Senator Murray Sinclair with Shelagh Rogers
January 22, 2019 (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
Island Health is pleased to present the Honourable Senator Murray Sinclair for a speaking event on cultural safety, truth, and reconciliation in health care. A national leader in truth and reconciliation, Senator Sinclair will advise, inspire, and share his wisdom to help us understand what Truth and Reconciliation truly is, and to deepen our cultural safety and humility learning journey. Journalist and radio host Shelagh Rogers will join the Senator for this conversation, as will invited guests from the First Nations Health Authority, Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, and Island Health. This event will be held in the He’Was Hall at the Songhees Wellness Centre. This is a free event but you must secure a free ticket as space is limited.
Indigenous Knowledges Wikimedia Workshop
January 28-29, 2019
This workshop is being convened to engage the professional community in discussions and practice-based initiatives to work on the ways that Wikimedia platforms will be used to support the work related to Indigenous knowledges and languages in Canada. The Wikimedia project platforms such as Wikipedia, Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons are increasingly being used to enable grassroots initiatives to support language and cultural reclaimation around the world. The platforms are also being used to increase the visibility of marginalized communities and languages. The platforms are also being used to document traditional practices. Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website in the world. The platforms taken together impact the internet, playing a major role in Google search results. Increasing the visibility and accessibility of information about Indigenous peoples and culture show the world know we are here.
Indigenous Storyteller in Residence: Launch Event
January 30, 2o19 (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
Celebrate and get to know the 2019 Indigenous Storyteller in Residence! Discover how the residency will support cross-cultural communication and honour storytelling in its many forms through exciting events, workshops and more. Additional details to be announced in January.
Pathways to Truth and Reconciliation: Creating Space for New Success with Jean Teillet
January 31, 2019 (7 p.m.)
In our second season of the Truth and Reconciliation Speaker Series we will be exploring the “Pathways to Truth and Reconciliation”, asking speakers to share what they have learned about the Action of Reconciliation through their own journey, case studies and successes and barriers encountered along the way. We believe that the path to reconciliation must always be grounded in the truth before we advance to reconciliation and along the path, intent and implementation may differ. These are the stories we have invited our speakers to share with us this season.
Our thoughts, prayers and love go out to all the family and friends of the 11 sacred lives taken so ruthlessly at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
What occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27, 2018 is an expression of hatred in its most violent form. These unspeakable acts must stop. We must all stand up to and speak out against anti-Semitism, and against prejudice and discrimination.
Now more than ever, we must uphold our shared values of humanity, dignity, equality, hope and peace. Let us honour the courage of those whose lives were taken by being the purveyors of love.
Thank you for all the inquiries about the Walk for Reconciliation.
While we will not be hosting a Walk for Reconciliation this year (2018), we offer Reconciliation Dialogue Workshops, Lunch and Learns, and speaking engagements that build awareness of our shared history, engage people in meaningful dialogue and inspire community-based action.
These initiatives and services also help us work towards achieving funding stability, so that we may expand our programs and organize more large-scale community events like the Walk for Reconciliation.
Please click below to make a donation to help us deliver our work, move reconciliation forward, and create lasting change.
Thank you for your support and continued commitment to reconciliation!
June is National Indigenous History Month – a recognition and celebration of the richness of First Nations, Inuit and Métis heritage, cultures and achievements. It is a great opportunity to learn more about Indigenous cultures and histories as we continue to find a new way forward together.
National Indigenous Peoples Day is on the 21st of this month – a date that was chosen as it coincides with the summer solstice, which holds great significance in Indigenous cultures.
In addition to the events listed in our May 2018 newsletter, here are more events and gatherings taking place this National Indigenous History Month. If you know of more reconciliation-focused events happening this June that are not on the list, please e-mail us at [email protected].
Indigenous Persons Day at Quaaout Lodge
Indigenous Day Pow Wow
National Aboriginal Day Celebration
Pukaskwa National Park NIPD Celebration
Pukaska National Park, ON
National Aboriginal Day Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay, ON
Victoria Indigenous Cultural Festival
Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival
Indigenous History Month Celebration
June 29 – July 5
Adäka Cultural Festival
Reconciliation Canada honours the memory of the six courageous Tsilhqot’in Chiefs exonerated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons yesterday, March 26, 2018.
These courageous Chiefs were wrongfully hanged some 150 years ago for defending their homelands from encroachment. Amid what is referred to as the Tsilhqot’in War, these Chiefs acted in what they believed to be a defense of their territories and sovereignty.
The colonial authorities acknowledged this by extending an invitation to the Chiefs to engage in peace talks. The Chiefs agreed to the peace talks, but were instead imprisoned, tried and hanged.
History has a way of baring the truth and, thus, the exoneration. These acts can become pillars and foundations for discovering peace, harmony and reconciliation. The exoneration holds huge promise for our pluralistic society.
We urge all Canadians to learn more about our shared history and about each other.
The Tsilhqot’in are open to new ways forward with all Canadians. The recent Surpeme Court of Canada decision granting them 1,700 square kilometers of land only emboldens their desire to create new relationships through a lens of Reconciliation based on mutual respect and trust.
Today is International Women’s Day. Reconciliation Canada strongly believes that the role of women in reconciliation is a key to success. So on this day and everyday, we ask you to join us in holding our hands up to all the women in our lives. We ask you to join us in honouring their worth and valuable contributions to society. We hold the hope that through reconciliation, all of our mothers, daughters and sisters will be able to experience a new reality where they are honoured, valued and treated as equals.
Women are truly integral to the reconciliation movement; this will continue to guide and be embedded in all our initiatives. Stay tuned for announcements throughout the year to see how you can get involved.
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