Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation in Canada
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established in 2008 under the terms of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The Commission was mandated to reveal to Canadians the complex truth about the history and the ongoing legacy of the church-run residential schools, in a manner that fully documents the individual and collective harms perpetrated against Indigenous peoples, and honours the resilience and courage of former students, their families, and communities; and guide and inspire a process of truth and healing, leading toward reconciliation within Indigenous families, and between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous communities, churches, governments, and Canadians generally. The process was to work to renew relationships on a basis of inclusion, mutual understanding, and respect.
UUCH Congregation Invited to Blanket Exercise for Truth and Reconciliation at the Mi’Kmaw Friendship Centre
“Action has meaning only in relationship, and without understanding relationship, action on any level will only breed conflict. The understanding of relationship is infinitely more important than the search for any plan of action.” ― Jiddu Krishnamurti
Today the newspaper headlines read… “In Canada, Indigenous youth made up 46 per cent of admissions to correctional services in 2016-17 while making up only eight per cent of the youth population.”
Over the summer months, members of the UUCH Truth and Reconciliation Task Team will be preparing for the first event in a planned series of events to help us reflect on the history of relationships between indigenous peoples and settlers. As noted in the quotation above, the understanding or relationships must precede making plans of action.
In the spirit of building relationships, we are honoured to be invited to hold our first event, a Blanket Exercise, at the Mi’Kmaq Friendship Centre of Halifax. The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is an interactive learning experience that teaches the history of the relationship between indigenous peoples and settlers. Developed in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples—which recommended education on Canadian-Indigenous history as one of the key steps to reconciliation, the Blanket Exercise covers over 500 years of history in a one and a half hour participatory workshop.
Our own UUCH Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Task Group
The UU Church in Halifax formed the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Task Group in 2016, after the CUC formed the Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Task Force as a follow-up to the Canadian Unitarian Council and Unitarian Universalist Ministers of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Statement of 2014. In the Statement, the CUC committed to assemble and promote educational materials for its congregations regarding the history and impact of the Indian Residential School system. The Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guides (THRR Guides) are a result of that commitment.
Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guides (THRR Guides)
This is what the CUC website http://cuc.ca/reconciliation/ says about the THR Reflection Guides:
The THRR Guides are being developed for Unitarians to engage and learn about the true history of Canada: the colonization of Indigenous peoples and, in particular, the history of the Indian Residential Schools. In preparing this material, we recognize that each congregation and facilitator will have their own history and relationship with this work. The THRR Guides are designed to encourage further interaction and cultural awareness.
It is our sincere hope and desire that congregations and other UU groups will offer opportunities for new members and others to use these THRR Guides on an ongoing basis.
Activities of our Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Task Group
Some of the members of THR Task Group here in Halifax participated in the THRR Guides facilitator training sessions. Before we start putting our new skills to use in a pilot series of sessions here in Halifax, our THR Task Group is hoping for input from the local Mi’kmaw Communities, and for their involvement as well.
As our Task Group is meeting once a month, we are addressing our own, more local, or East Coast ideas, observations and concerns, including the issue of the Cornwallis Statue, the incredible financial needs of the Mi’kmaq Friendship Centre in view of their upcoming move, and the fate of Shannon Park.
The work of our Task Group is ever evolving. Members of our Congregation will be kept abreast of the Task Group’s thoughts, progress and reflections via articles in our Church’s Newsletter and through other activities.