Reflections on Truth and Reconciliation

Today we observe Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a national holiday implemented in response to one of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). In the spirit of reconciliation, I would like to start this post by acknowledging that I live and work on the unceded, unsurrendered Territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation whose presence here reaches back to time immemorial. I am grateful to them for their stewardship of this beautiful land, and also deeply grateful for their resilience, their resistance to oppression, and their spiritual teachings on respect and on the circle which I have sought to incorporate into my personal and professional life.

This is a day of ceremony and reflection, and I was deeply moved by the words and prayers of the Indigenous women who spoke at the ceremony on Parliament Hill. Yet as I watched and listened, I also wondered, “What next?”

Mohawk woman and member of the Wolf Clan Jonel Beauvais this morning reminded us to “tell the truth… That is the bare minimum.” I can see a path to Truth fairly clearly: read, listen, learn, and try to understand the experiences of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people of Canada whose stories were never taught in school and whose reality our governments and religious institutions have tried to erase. I have taken steps on this path and know what to do to continue moving forward.

My path to Reconciliation, however, is not as clear. The TRC’s Calls to Action are mostly addressed to government, the churches, and other organisations and institutions. They do not directly say what I, as a Canadian citizen, should do to support Reconciliation. So, a lot of my reflection has centered on this question: “What will I do to advance Reconciliation?”. And I have found some things that I think would be helpful and on which I plan to work:

  • Contribute to campaigns that put pressure on governments and other institutions to implement the 94 TRC Calls to Action.
  • Support and promote the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in all spheres of my life.
  • Meaningfully acknowledge the unceded, sovereign lands on which I live and work, and encourage my colleagues and clients to do the same.
  • Follow Indigenous people on social media to build and maintain my awareness of the issues which concern them, and how I might help.
  • Register for Circles for Reconciliation to experience reconciliation directly with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

What about you? What ideas do you have to experience and advance Truth and Reconciliation?

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