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Five radical reconciliation activities for spring

By Pieta Woolley

As United Church Moderator Gary Paterson pointed out in his recent column for the Observer, Easter is a movement, not a one-day event. So, of course, is the secular and faith-filled pan-Canadian reconciliation project – one that involves both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.  

But how to keep the momentum going once the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wraps up on June 30? Well, here are five ways:

1. Encounter

Take a road trip “pilgrimage” to your closest aboriginal community that lost children to residential schools. This spring, the Assembly of First Nations will send artist-made commemorative markers to all 139 of these places. The markers — a sculptural metal ring with a wooden stick — are the anti-plaque. Instead, they make noise, and are symbols of both grief and resilience. “Like” on Facebook for the latest on this project.

2. Seek understanding

Read John Ralston Saul’s latest — and like, super-trendy — book, The Comeback (2014), Cherokee-Greek author Thomas King’s darkly funny book, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (2012) or Sto:lo Nation’s Ernie Crey’s still-topical masterpiece, Stolen from our Embrace: The Abduction of First Nations Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities (1998).

3. Feel our collective sin, deeply.

Encounter the Witness Blanket at the University of Regina until April 10 and the Calgary Public Library from April 13 to mid-May. See Christi Belcourt’s commemorative and collaborative show, Walking with our Sisters. It features over 600 pairs of beaded moccasin uppers — each one representing a murdered or missing aboriginal Canadian woman. It’s in Whitehorse in April, Red Deer in June, Comox in August and Ottawa in September.

4. Let it be and celebrate

Plan to attend the KAIROS Intergenerational Gathering and closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ottawa between May 28 and June 3. The commissioners will officially hand over the final report with a serious celebration. Can’t make it? Go to a local reconciliation event at the same time. Read the United Church’s February 2015 final statement to the TRC or the 2014 statement to the last national gathering. You can even hit the summer 2015 opening of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, where the TRC records will be housed. It looks, frankly, amazing.

5. Take action

Keep an eye on the news. From the recent conflict of the West Coast herring fishery, to the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada’s ongoing human rights tribunal that’s fighting for equal child welfare funding for on-reserve children, opportunities to get involved in reconciliation abound.

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