Photo courtesy: CTV
Today an estimated 70,000 people attended the Reconciliation Walk, which wraps up Reconciliation Week in Vancouver, Canada. The walk was a symbolic and beautiful gesture as was the entire week. It was a time to share, learn and start to heal from the abuses committed against First Nations people. I am proud of the stories I have heard, of perseverance and survival in the face of what can only be called by its correct name- evil. I am also very hopeful for the future of First Nations and all Canadians as we work to remember our past and build strong and just institutions so that we can truly believe it when we say those words “never again”.
But it seems we still have a very long road to walk. How do we take this shared hope and will for a better collective future and translate it into sustained action? And even on a more personal level, how do we find a way to talk to each other? To look each other in the eye and talk as equals? As a descendant of the settler population and as a privileged member of society in many ways, I find it difficult to talk about First Nations history. I stumble over my words, afraid to perpetuate any stereotypes or risk patronizing or belittling. “First Nations”, “Native”, “Aboriginal”, “Indigenous”…the plethora of words really shows how difficult it is for our society to talk about these peoples, our shared history and the steps we should take for a better future. But here’s the thing, we need to start talking. And we need to start now.
I want to live in a world where First Nations people walk tall, proud, equal and successful. I want the rest of Canadians to know the rich cultures that we have been deprived of knowing, of the true history of Canada. And with this knowledge I hope will come a flood of compassion, understanding and action, together. To make us all proud of who we are and the country we are a part of creating.
I guess reconciliation week is not over, it has really just started.