A Journalism student, also host of Avocado Days a one-hour show on Calgary’s 90.9 CJSW FM Radio
Reconciliation, in it’s most basic definition, is when two opposing parties agree to an amicable truce. This is best done when both parties are open to exploring different ways of doing things. With this openness to learn, a dialogue is created, and a kind of symbiosis occurs between the two sides. They are now forming thoughts, beliefs, plans, and ideas together. They are changing. They are growing. They are becoming one.
Genuine reconciliation is best achieved through the cooperation of all, and cannot be the sole responsibility of our government, administrative heads, or “Her Majesty the Queen”.
“Each person has an important role to play in reconciliation. Reconciliation begins with oneself and then extends into our families, relationships, workplaces, and eventually into our communities,” expresses Reconciliation Canada, a First Nation-led organization that strives to build a better relationship among all Canadians. Their “Walk For Reconciliation” in Vancouver on September 24th encourages people to be as one, transforming and renewing the archaic race barriers legislated inside all treaties made by the Canadian government. These race barriers include enforcing the First Nations to be on reservations, accept rations, to abide by the laws of “Her Majesty the Queen”, and to acknowledge “Christ the Lord” as the single spiritual divinity.
All of this is still here today. The government and law enforcement mandate the use of the Bible – pledging themselves to tell the truth under “God”. Laws are enforced upon us, and we now dwell in this society riddled with rules and regulations. The First Nation reserves received rations way back when. They got food, building supplies, a promise to be educated (which took on the form of residential schooling), money, ammunition, farming assistance, freedom to hunt, and the bare minimum of essentials to live in the society that was going to be built around them.
Living in that exact society today, we receive money from past promises – for secondary education, building houses, health, and reserve operations. We also receive money as a form of apology. The government feels that each hundred they give will eventually clean the blood off their hands. This money is put into the hands of Chief and Council, whose ancestors blood it was. They take it and use it for whatever, and it never feels right. They keep doing it, anyways, because what else are they going to do? Fight about it? That’s been done. Fighting just doesn’t work. For now, they know what once was is gone forever, and it is important to move on. So we accept the money, but there’s something always missing in every cent spent, and every cent spent sedates us more and more. Today, we’ve become comfortable in this new system of wealth, and it rules our every move, and every decision. We’re a colonized nation inside Canada.
This is not to say that there aren’t positive aspects of colonization. International trade is a thing of beauty, and to travel overseas in a matter of hours is, too. Playgrounds of knowledge (universities, colleges, technical institutes) exist now – we can learn anything! We’ve got the internet, bikes, coffee, pizza, indoor plumbing, antibiotics, films, a diverse array of music, books, clothing, and art. However, we cannot be blinded by these material indulgences and conveniences. There are terrible things that have happened so we can have these things. We’ve hurt Mother Earth, used Her, abused Her, and have decided that we can pave over Her. We’ve decided that we do not need Her to make decisions, and all we need is man-made things like oil refineries, and food, clothing, and supply industries. We’ve become a nation divided by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and wealth. We abide by land borders, “Her Majesty’s” law, and westernized governing systems.
Things are getting better, though. First Nation led movements such as Idle No More, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and pipeline protests have seen a surge in media presence. This has given First Nations more visibility, and therefore more of an opportunity to speak and be heard. Non First Nation people are listening, and are becoming less and less ignorant to what has happened in the past. They hear the truth, want to learn more, and to understand how to reconcile.
It is impossible to get back all that once was, but we can accept what has happened, and move forward together. That is why education is so important. It provides all with the opportunity to learn of the effects of colonization. The good, and the bad. It allows all to understand what previous First Nation leaders meant when they signed the treaties. It was an agreement to coexist peacefully, and move forward together in partnership. It was not meant to have “Her Majesty the Queen” dictate all.
Today, we have more of an ability then ever before to reach a symbiosis of thoughts, and form new ways of peaceful coexistence. How do we do this? I think it would be through acceptance. That’s important. Education is, too. Community building, and paying mind that community matters – that’s very important. Not thinking selfishly. Not thinking you’re above Mother Earth. Not thinking you’re above anyone. Not caring so much of material possessions. Being open to learn. Opening yourself to new ways of doing things. Teaching. Listening. Communicating.
By moving forward with these things in mind, I think we will get closer to genuine reconciliation and coming to that amicable truce. It won’t have to be written or told or legislated, no. Instead, it will feel natural, swirling in the air, filling us with a sweet, warm, calming connectedness. Until then, let’s keep trying to create that air.