Reconciliation Canada hosts workshops in advance of national event in Vancouver

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      Aboriginal leaders, educators, former residential school students, and government representatives attended a workshop in Vancouver Wednesday, as part of a series of discussions set to take place in the lead-up to a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission event this fall.

      Chief Robert Joseph, the ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, said the workshops are aimed at “beginning a dialogue among us that leads to creating better relationships”.

      "It means that those people together are talking about how we can reconcile our differences as a society," Joseph said in a phone interview. "And it’s all triggered of course by the resident school [experiences] and what’s happened to aboriginal people in our communities."

      The workshop at the Musqueam Cultural Centre featured about 50 attendees, including Mayor Gregor Robertson, Order of Canada recipient Nancy McKinstry, deputy provincial health officer and actor Evan Adams, and Stephen Kakfwi, the president of the Dene Nation and the former premier of the Northwest Territories.

      Joseph, who is a hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, said similar workshops are being planned in the Lower Mainland and across the province, in locations including Campbell River, Port Alberni, Victoria, Prince Rupert, Prince George, Kamloops, and Kelowna.

      He explained the workshops were initially launched to help people understand the issues at the centre of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission national event in Vancouver in September. He noted that both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people are welcome to attend the workshops and the events in the fall.

      “The other really important thing that we want to happen is that Canadians come, not just aboriginal people, because it’s really between all of us that there needs to be improved understanding and better relationships,” he said.

      Joseph noted that former residential school students are present at all of the workshops. 

      "It’s important to get that context of the harm and the loss and the grief, and the need to heal and to rebuild and to reconcile," he said. 

      The national event will launch on September 17 with an All Nations Canoe Gathering featuring kayaks, canoes, and dragon boats, and will culminate with a Walk for Reconciliation on September 22. Reconciliation Canada is aiming to draw about 50,000 people for the walk. 




      May 2, 2013 at 9:07am

      We have lived together now for hundreds of years,ideas were tried and failed,schools to integrate natives were tried but no one came.
      Unless we shake hands and start anew for all of us.we can never move foreward in life together.No more holding whitees for ransom for things that happend many years ago,let go ,and move on,we are all Canadians so lets act like it.

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      Sid Tan

      May 2, 2013 at 10:51am

      Restorative justice - not sure reconciliation is the word. Acknowledge injustice with apology. Apologies should be redemptive for those giving, healing for those receiving and restorative justice at the heart of reconciliation. All with respect and consent...

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      May 2, 2013 at 1:35pm

      Reconciliation is a great sounding word. Might as well keep talking to each other. (If there is such a thing as 'other' - despite what the courts say, intermarriage over 400 years has made a farce of 'them' and 'us' thinking.)

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      May 2, 2013 at 1:41pm

      Apologies are just words. Talking is just talking. Action is what's important.

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      Andrew Johnson

      May 2, 2013 at 2:29pm

      I live in Wuikinuxv Nation. I attended the Residential School in Alert Bay. My sister Eliza Johnson ask the question if the Residential school Healing Foundation would support a Recreaction Building in our community because the Residential System took our fun away from us when we were children. So we have this old broken down hall that INAC gave us over 45 years ago and is been renovated over and over. We brought this issue to the Minister Health of Canada. We showed him what conditions we have to play in, and the children.(Mold)When you see other reserves that have the luxury of a new GYM. Our Elementry School Children don't even have a Gym to play in. They play out side. We need some to voice our issue. Are you able to help us. So we can have fun, laugh, and enjoy a nice building, a healthy building. Its like we are still in punished for been kids, and adults now. How can the Healing Foundation help our community? Thank you, Andrew Johnson. Wuikinuxv Nation.

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      Salty one

      May 2, 2013 at 2:33pm

      I don't think there'll ever be an end per se. PJ. Restitution, reconciliation and restorative justice can and will happen. But what happened, however historical that may be, was so profound that it will live on in the aboriginal psyche, just as say the Japanese experience during the internment during World War 2.

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      Greg Shea

      May 2, 2013 at 3:56pm

      When I listened to some of my Native Elder friends I realized that the word "reconciliation" is definitely the wrong word.

      Then I spent an evening researching the use of this "loaded" term and I found out for sure that it was completely inappropriate.

      I tried to contact the commission to find out who decided this term should be used, but no one "owned up".

      Here is the main problem. The word reconciliation is full of meaning, depending on the context. In the past it has been used by both political and religious groups as a way to seem to "calm the waters", when in fact it has been used to "scam" those who see its definition as something it is not.

      One of the worst definitions of reconciliation is:

      "Two groups of people get together and agree to share the blame."

      If that is how the government and religious groups responsible for the Residential Schools see it, then there is a serious problem here.

      The First Nations have no blame in this, and therefore another word is needed. I suggest "admittance".

      The Truth and Admittance Commission would actually say something. The groups responsible for this disaster need to "admit" that they were wrong and the First Nations (like many other victims) need to "admit" that they were NOT to blame for this.

      There is an old Chinese proverb: "He who defines the term wins the argument." That is very applicable here!

      One more note. We are coming close to another monumental Canadian celebration, one that honours the First Prime Minister - Sir John A. Macdonald.

      I hope it is brought up that it was this "conservative" leader that instituted the so-called "Industrial Schools" which became the Residential Schools. What a sad story.

      To learn a lot of the truth, watch "The Fallen Feather".

      Huy ch q'u

      Greg Shea (Lake Cowichan)

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      May 3, 2013 at 9:31am

      In response to Greg's comment, I believe Reconciliation is a good word. To reconcile is to bring harmony. To mend broken bridges. This isn't, however, a rhetoric debate. It's coming together, walking for peace, for collaboration, to understand the past happened but not hold onto it as a definer for the future. I would say letting go, but it's more than that. It's coming to a shared place where everyone's loads are lighter. I don't think it matter if it's reconciliation, restoration or anything else. It's a sentiment, it's an action towards something bigger.

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      May 9, 2013 at 10:27pm

      is this the one that we have to register and pay fees to attend ? bobby joe i would like you to know that the work you are doing is so important and i cannot think of anyone else because you bring alot of honor to this painful process.. gilakasla gigame ...

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      Audrey Redman

      Jul 30, 2013 at 10:01am

      First Nations need to wake up and realize they have been duped again. Canada is responsible for the loss and abuse survivors of Indian Residential Schools, therefore, as the 'Defendent' in the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada Settlement they ought not to have had the 'right' to have any control over the survivor's compensation. Many survivors died without receiving their compensation, children whose parents who were survivors who died before 2005 never received their their parents compensation, and survivors who took the compensation were subjected to questioning under the ADR a traumatic torturous event. One survivor, also an AIM member was questioned by a miliatry Major for 10 hours. Serious questions remain unanswered as to the legality of the settlement and the government's involvement in orchestrating the $2.5 billion which they have spent on government programs and services in the name of 'healing and wellness', while survivors walk with 10,20 and 30 thousand and no pensions. Those are the question the Truth & Reconciliation Commission ought to be asking.
      Audrey Redman Dakota First Nation
      Indian Residential School Opt-Out

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