Sunday, August 28, 2016

Becoming Worthy of Reconciliation: Truth and Education

A deeply disturbing event has happened in Saskatchewan. On the same day as my baby's fourteenth birthday, another woman lost her twenty-two year old son.

A deeply disturbing event has happened in Canada. While my newcomer grandparents, aunties, uncles, and parents were going to school, the ancestors of the woman who lost her son were being picked up by the RCMP, the church, the government and sent to Residential Schools.

What is missing from Canada's Truth and Reconciliation process is the confessions of the colonizers. How can we, as a society, expect to act toward reconciliation when we have not, as a society -- in very systemic ways -- acknowledged our racist past, acknowledged our racist present, the legacy of 100 years of our profit at the expense of "100 years of loss" in Indigenous communities.

We are in need of a great season of humility. We are in need of a great season of education.

I have listened to survivor after survivor model deep humility, telling stories from Residential School, often embarrassing and humiliating stories. I listened in Fort Qu'Appelle. I listened in Saskatoon. I've listened on Youtube. I've listened in the coffee shop. I've listened over the phone. Many First Nations people have spoken their truth.

Have survivors had the opportunity to hear settler-descendants, over and over, with deep humility, confess that our people's economic profit (through the clearing of the land for agriculture and other acts of colonization) has been at our Treaty partner's loss? Have survivors heard us speak out over-and-over against racism? Have survivors of colonization heard us own our past from which we have built our present? Have survivors heard us speak with deep humility, as we share embarrassing and humiliating stories of oppression? Have we spoken our systemic truth?

If we are to be worthy of reconciliation, which is being generously offered to us by First Nations peoples, we will need to offer deep humility as the beginning of our truth as we educate each other and ourselves about our shared history.

"Will truth bring reconciliation?" asks Rosanna Deerchild on CBC's unreserved. "Not without education," says the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Justice Murray Sinclair.

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