Reflections on the National Day for Truth and ReconciliationSep 29, 2021
Karen Joseph, CEO, Reconciliation Canada
Today, on Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we are at a pivotal moment in history.
We are at a crossroads in time when each of us needs to decide how we meet the challenge of reconciliation.
When our children ask us, “What will you do?”, do we say nothing?
Or do we seize the opportunity and commit ourselves to contributing to a better future, one that recognizes the harmful past and uplifts the resilience, wisdom and gifts of Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island?
Right now, we are in a time of crisis.
COVID is challenging our ways of being and interacting with one another every single day.
Each day brings the revelation of more and more remains of Indigenous children who were forcibly removed from their communities to attend Indian Residential Schools, only to never return home.
For the first time in the history of this country, people are realizing the level of violence and abuse and terror that was perpetuated for all those years upon Indigenous children, their parents and their communities.
There is no denying something must be done.
Learning and talking about the truth of Indian Residential Schools isn’t about comparing whose trauma is worse. It’s about understanding how we build resilience. Each of us has a story to share.
I see reconciliation as the weaving together of all these resiliencies, the sharing and recognizing of going through difficult times, and choosing a new way of being as we move forward.
The questions we need to ask ourselves are:
How do we weave our resilience together to create something better than we could have alone?
How do we make lasting change that goes beyond a single day?
How do we show up as our best selves in these difficult and challenging times?
We invite you to show up by continuing to listen to and learn from Indigenous voices. Reflect on your own history and determine how you will contribute to a better today and a better tomorrow.
Here are some suggestions:
- Donate to an organization advancing reconciliation. There are many Indigenous-led organizations, including ours, that welcome your support to carry out this work.
- Learn more about the history and resilience of Indigenous Peoples. Get started with this list of learning resources we created.
- Understand the concept of all my relations, and how it applies to reconciliation, the environment, and prosperity.
- Talk about the values of reconciliation and explore any synergies it has within your own culture, values, and vision for the future.
Most important of all – challenge yourself to do more than nothing.
Reconciliation is our shared responsibility to contribute to a better today and tomorrow so that all our children can achieve their optimum potential and shared prosperity.
I lift my hands in honour of all our children, those who lived and those who perished, in Canada’s Indian Residential School system. I humbly accept my responsibility to pick up and carry forth your truth, your courage and your hope for all our relations from this day forward.
Karen Joseph is a Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw social change maker who co-founded Reconciliation Canada in 2012 to uphold her father’s dream of witnessing thousands of people walking together in support of Indian Residential School Survivors and Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In September 2013, the Walk for Reconciliation brought 50,000 people to the streets of downtown Vancouver in their commitment to revitalize the relationships among Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians. Since then, she has championed hundreds of gatherings with diverse leaders to advance individual, organizational, and societal reconciliation