Truth an Reconciliation Reflection Circle

“This feels like spring — with the slow drip of melting snow and the promise of new growth”, said one person in describing how he felt at a recent gathering to read through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Sitting in a large circle at St Margaret’s Church, 26 people — Anglicans and others, indigenous and non-indigenous –took turns reading the 94 calls to action. Each reader held the special stone. There was a stillness in the room as the voices of people of different ages, sexes, accents and background read. The stone was passed and the next reader began.

The evening started with a drumming song in Inuktituk by Rev. Aigah Attagutsiak that spoke of sunrise, the beginning of a new day. Prayers for reconciliation opened and closed the session.

People read slowly and sometimes the call to action held a special meaning. For example Call to Action #21 about sustainable funding for Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual harms caused by residential schools was read by a woman who had spent 11 years in a residential school. At about the mid-point, a young man after taking his turn to read, looked up and asked ‘what does reconciliation actually mean anyway’? The responses indicated that its about a new relationship in Canada that will mean changes for both Indigenous and non-indigenous people.

After reading the calls, people were asked how the experience made them feel.

The replies included “it makes me feel hopeful”, “I am grateful to hear the voices of others reading”, “what the TRC report says is not new — this is what Indigenous people have been calling for since 1982 — it just a consolidated list”.

It was clear that this evening of reflection on the TRC’s Calls to Action resonated with people, and that they want more opportunities to share and discuss. Although there was a strong feeling that this group’s focus should be on what the church can do, other topics put forward for future gatherings included the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Algonquin land claims and other land issues, the future of Chaudiere Falls.

Written by: Debbie Grisdale.
Originally published: Crosstalk, January 2016.