Journey of Reconciliation

It’s Time to Listen - by Kimberly Neuman: Interview with Chantal Stormsong Chagnon,

Cree Ojibwe Métis leader in Calgary, Alberta

As we approach September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, let us continue to acknowledge the lasting effects of the residential school system and the lives that were stolen as a result. Pain and suffering from acts of cultural genocide continues to this present day. What can be done to increase awareness around the injustices forced upon Indigenous peoples and how can allies position themselves to make amends?

Acknowledging the truth about Canada’s colonial history, abuse, and genocidal practice will help bring about change. Listen to the stories of Elders, knowledge keepers, and residential school survivors about what happened in residential schools. Ask yourself, are you an ally with a supportive orientation towards reconciliation? Or are you an accomplice to the injustices faced by Indigenous peoples today? Check out this podcast with Dr. Adam Murry, assistant professor of Indigenous psychology at the University of Calgary:

Western society tends to have a linear and colonial way of looking at things. However, by considering how we are all connected, we can begin to realize where we sit in the shared circle and see ourselves in a traditional, cyclical way of being. Colonialization removed the deep connection that Indigenous peoples had to the earth so they could no longer defend it. Consider what impact your actions have on your future generations. Are you leaving a better world for your children and their children? Are you honouring Mother Earth? Are you aware of the impacts we all face from overdeveloping our world? Supporting Indigenous peoples includes helping fight for their rights and protection of land so that a few generations from now, our grandkids won’t be saying you knew this was going to happen but you didn’t do anything to help stop it. Learn and educate yourselves about the deep-seated history of Indigenous peoples and recognize your privilege of living on this land. “Clearing the Plains” - by James Daschuk is a good, albeit unsettling, start.

Take a moment to consider your own roots. What brought you here and how many generations has your family been on this land? Ask yourself what had to happen to the people and to the land in order for your family to be here (who was here before the generations before you and who was displaced so that they could have that land?). Are your actions honouring your ancestors and the hardships they went through so that you could be where you are today?

Recognize the dark history of colonialization and what occurred during that time of forcing Indigenous families onto reservations in order for others to gain their land and build an economy. Realize that in doing so, destruction of Mother Earth ensued as did Indigenous culture and lives. Consider what has and what is happening to our world: As humans destroy and deplete resources on Mother Earth, this not only impacts Indigenous communities whose way of living revolves much around the land, but eventually there won’t be an economy for any of us because there will be nothing left. Our government is slow to recognize the urgency of this bigger picture that Indigenous peoples have known for years. Let’s take a step back and elevate Indigenous voices. We need to heal from within, that is what reconciliation is all about. Recognize your own sense of purpose, your place on this earth, and your privilege you carry as an ally.

We are all in this together. The healing that needs to occur in Indigenous communities and on Mother Earth can only happen if we help each other, learn from each other, build each other up and empower one another. We are all connected and share this earth. If we don’t work on healing together, if we don’t come to this place of Truth and Reconciliation, then our future generations will not have a world to live in. How did we get to our current situation (for example, lack of clean drinking water in a country that is water-rich)? Understand the connection between the health of the environment and the well-being of Indigenous people and how that impacts their ability to heal. Sustainability is an Indigenous way of knowing, therefore acting responsibly towards Mother Earth is supporting the healing of Indigenous peoples.

Seeking further knowledge?

Attend workshops, courses, and events to learn about Indigenous culture and how you can be a part of the healing journey.

Ideas and resources:

-free online course:

-wear an orange shirt on September 30:

-attend online events during Truth and Reconciliation week (September 27-October 1)

-churches with Truth and Reconciliation commissions help to repair and build relationships with Indigenous communities. The Calgary Unitarians offer services related to reconciliation and social justice. The United Church offers Indigenous events, including bringing in Elders and offering sharing circles open to the public.

-school curriculums that include Indigenous initiatives such as the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy Plan and programs such as the Traditional Knowledge Keepers in Residence program that offer teachings from Elders. If your school doesn’t offer these then reach out to your program and inquire about getting it.

-attend pow wows that are open to the public or watch them online:

-Learn the history of colonialization and most importantly, how we need to have a consensual relationship with Mother Earth and with each other.

-Suggested authors: Thomas King, Richard Wagamese, Robin Wall Kimmerer

-CBC offers a list of books: 48 books by Indigenous writers to read to understand residential schools – CBC News


-read the Indian Act and understand how it is still being used across the world to abolish Indigenous rights (for example, Bill PL 490 in Brazil):

-how can your organization be part of the Calls to Action:

-find ideas on how to move from being an Ally to an Activist:

-watch a video:

Indian Horse – Netflix Residential Schools – National Film Board Residential Schools – Vimeo Short Films Movies – IMDb

Much appreciation is extended to Chantal Stormsong Chagnon of Cree8 for her significant contributions to this blog and to her community. Chantal serves as a strong activist and advocate for the Indigenous community.


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