The “Truth” in Truth and Reconciliation is a fundamental component and starting point to move forward.
Understanding Canada’s past – and present – is essential to moving forward into Reconciliation. Although the education system is changing now, most of us grew up not understanding how Indigenous people have been (and in many cases, still are) treated by governments, their policies, and their agents and others- and the intergenerational impacts of those actions. Learning about the realities of what has happened and is happening now is key to understanding why things need to change and why things are the way they are now.
As just one example, as we have all seen this year with the confirmation of thousands of unmarked graves at residential schools across Canada, there is a lot that non-Indigenous citizens of Canada have not been aware of from the past.
Systemic racism has far reaching impacts, but we can all take steps to change systems and eliminate racism. As has been seen in recent months, there are unfortunately many examples of injustice and systemic racism, and growing calls for change.
As co-operatives, our values and principles embed concern for community, equity, equality, and solidarity in everything we do. It just makes sense that co-operatives would want to take action on Truth and Reconciliation as part of these values and principles.
Where to get started on your learning journey?
There are more and more options available to people and organizations looking to learn about Truth and Reconciliation, and how to take action on Reconciliation. Below are some suggestions of learning resources, courses, and organizations. I have participated/viewed/read/experienced some of these, and some I have just heard of from others. There are many more resources and learning materials out there, these are just a few I know of, to give you some options to get started:
COURSES and TRAINING
- The Office of the Treaty Commissioner has many educational resources and offers learning events and presentations to educate people about Reconciliation, within the framework of our Treaty relationships. They also are working to support local action on Reconciliation throughout Saskatchewan.
We also partner with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner to host events for co-operatives and credit unions to learn more about Truth and Reconciliation, and to help co-ops and credit unions with their Reconciliation journeys. We will be holding another event and online series this Fall, so watch for more information about these events!
- The University of Alberta also has a free online course, called Indigenous Canada. This course examines the historical and contemporary lives, identities, cultural expressions, rights, and goals of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
- The First Nations University of Canada also has an online course, called the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation, that can be taken as an individual or as part of an organization.
- The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce also has an Indigenous Engagement training program, charter, and as well as other resources they offer for businesses.
- Indigenous Corporate Training offers several resources and one place to start is their list of 21 things you may not have known about the Indian Act.
REPORTS and RECOMMENDATIONS
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada/The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s website houses many reports related to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Here you can also find the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. There are 94 Calls to Action, and several that connect to business. Familiarizing yourself with these Calls to Action is a great starting point to think about where your organization can take action.
- Another important resource is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada used this Declaration as the framework for Reconciliation. You can also find a summary about the Declaration and what it’s about on the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation’s website.
- Another important learning tool is the National Inquiry’s Final Report into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This report documents the truth of thousands of family members, and survivors of violence, experts, and Knowledge Keepers and outlines 231 Calls for Justice directed at governments, institutions, social service providers, industries, and all Canadians.
- The Pass System is a documentary about the Pass System – “The system kept First Nations parents from their children in residential schools, from visiting relatives, from access to towns and cities, and from enjoying the basic freedom of mobility that every settler Canadian took for granted.”
- Canadian Residential School History, by the Orange Shirt Society
- Honourable Murray Sinclair talks about the Impact of Residential Schools, from the Orange Shirt Society
- If you have Netflix and haven't seen it yet, Indian Horse is "an adaptation of Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese’s award-winning novel, this moving and important drama sheds light on the dark history of Canada’s boarding schools or Indigenous Residential Schools and the indomitable spirit of aboriginal people."
- The City of Saskatoon, in partnership with the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner has developed a practical resource, ayisiyiniwak [a/yi/see/ni/wak, Cree for ‘the people’]: A Communications Guide , to help people better understand Indigenous culture and practices.
- ConnectR is a website developed by Reconciliation Saskatoon. It helps people choose next steps toward Reconciliation. The website helps people find calls to action to learn more about, and encouraging people to action on something that interests them.
- The Government of Canada also offers some learning resources as well.
- Orange Shirt Day is a growing movement, and legacy of residential school commemorative events, inspired by the story of Phylllis (Jack) Webstad’s first day at residential school, when her orange shirt was taken from her.
Now that we’ve explored some ideas and resources for learning more of the Truth…
What exactly IS Reconciliation?
There are a lot of definitions of Reconciliation. Here are a couple of them:
As the Co-op Housing Federation of Canada says in their Reconciliation Toolkit:
“At its core, Reconciliation is about relationship.The TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) explains that Reconciliation means ‘establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people in this country.’ … Reconciliation is not about guilt, shame, or blame. It is about acknowledging the destructive systems and harm of our collective past. It’s also about understanding how those destructive systems operate today and then creating new systems, news ways of relating, and understanding based on respect.Reconciliation is about healing the past and creating a new, more honourable future.”
ConnectR offers this summary of what Reconciliation is to them:
“While Reconciliation will mean something different to everyone, we believe Reconciliation is about Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians working together to create a new, shared future based on:
a shared understanding of Canada’s history,
strong, thriving cultures, and
social and economic systems that represent us all.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada also developed some Principles of Reconciliation, as part of the work of the Commission, which you may find helpful to review as well.
There are a lot of learning materials out there. I hope the resources listed in this blog post are useful for you. In my next Truth and Reconciliation themed blog post, I’ll share some ideas of what I’ve seen work well for organizations developing a strategy to take action on Reconciliation, as well as some action ideas and examples of what other co-operatives are doing.
In the mean time, if you are inspired to want to take action now, here's a list of 150 Acts of Reconciliation (some of which are listed in this blog post, but there's lots more not covered here. This is an older list, but lots of it is still relevant) that you may find helpful to get started. And the folks involved with the Indian Horse film have also launched the #Next150Challenge, so you might want to check that out too.
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