Reconciliation might be like spring after a long winter

Posted in the Two Cents Blog on April 7, 2017.

It was a long winter for some, the snow and cold seemed to last forever. But spring is almost here.

Perhaps this is how change happens. Perhaps this is how reconciliation might happen.

Canada has been through a long dark winter – the history of colonization of Indigenous peoples, the original peoples of the land which is now known as Canada. The historical facts include the racism against Indigenous peoples as “uncivilized”, the forced residential schools as a means to eliminate “the Indian problem”, and the 60’s Scoop in which Indigenous babies and children were removed by child welfare workers from their families, sometimes for the only reason that they were Indigenous.

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) reviewed much of this history in the 1990s. In the past ten years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission documented and told the story of the abuses which occurred in residential schools. The facts and the truth have been documented.

So now we are in a period of reconciliation. But what does it mean, reconciliation?   Ask five Canadians, and you might hear five different ideas. Perhaps this is not such a bad thing, perspectives.

How do we start the conversation on reconciliation? It starts in relationship. It happens when we build enough safety to hear each other’s perspectives. It starts when we choose to sit around the fire, and share our stories.

How do we “action” reconciliation? Reconciliation gets its energy from vision, a sense of hope that we can make things better, together. Reconciliation is about resolving the inequities for Indigenous families, for sure. We need to address the inequities in health outcomes.  But let’s go a step further.

It’s about vision. It’s time to change the narrative – let’s start talking about wellbeing. The hope of reconciliation is about Indigenous achieving wellness, and accessing similar opportunities as any Canadian.   If that is our goal, then the current inequities will be addressed as a matter of course.

What would happen if we chose a goal which changes everything…let’s start talking about a Canada which prides itself on being Indigenous. A country in which Indigenous contribution and knowledge are cherished. And then, as a matter of course, Indigenous youth will feel included, that their identity and culture are valued, that they belong. Isn’t this what we want for all our children?

How might we know when we’re well on our way towards achieving reconciliation? When we are learning from each other and celebrating each other. In relationship. With relentless hope.

It has been a long winter, but I can feel spring coming.

Rose LeMay