September 3, 2013

Anastasia Koutalianos

Just beyond the concrete maze of L.A.’s freeways lies a little piece of heaven. A world of imagination. Where all is possible. Maybe even the happiest place on earth. Yes, you got it: Disneyland.

A few weeks back I had the chance to visit the amusement park for the second time in my life, only this time, 28 years later. Despite the long day, I had a blast. The place was packed with little princesses and princes who readily believed in beauty, twists and turns and the inevitable happy ending. Now what’s wrong with that?

I didn’t remember much from my first visit. But as we sailed through the ride ‘It’s a Small World’, I was reminded of its catchy yet simple message: there’s so much that we share, that it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all. Originally written in 1963, the song was inspired by the Cuban Missile Crisis and soon became the theme tune for the attraction. An attraction made for the child spirit—but with a message that binds us all.

I say this as Vancouver sets to make a little magic of its own. On September 22, Reconciliation Canada —an initiative set on moving beyond past injustices and building stronger ties between Aboriginal people and all Canadians—asks everyone, big, small and tall, to walk for peace. To walk for change. To walk towards a new and brighter future.

Reconciliation is nothing new, nor is it unique to Canada. South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a model on which nations can heal from the wrongdoings of the past. Think Argentina and Bolivia as they shine a light on those who disappeared. And the Republic of Chad, on acknowledging the crime and misappropriates of former governments. In Canada, we have the legacy of Indian residential schools. And Ghana, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, South Korea, Uruguay, former Yugoslavia…the list goes on and on. The world might be small, but across the globe there are people of vision seeking to reconcile what was for the hope of what can be: greater unity and understanding.


While Reconciliation Canada’s goal is to build a bridge of understanding between Aboriginal people and all Canadians, it hopes to inspire other cultural groups that have experienced similar traumas to take part in its events and the Walk for Reconciliation, including Japanese Canadians sent to internment camps in World War II, Chinese settlers forced to pay the head tax, or Sikhs and their right to wear a turban. And the discrimination faced by other newcomers to Canada. And Holocaust survivors. And the discrimination experienced by the LGBTQ community. And you.

Maybe Disney had it right after all. There is much we share. Now is the time to join hands, acknowledge the past and walk towards a better future. Together, let’s make history during the Reconciliation Week!