Truth and reconciliation about mending a long-time dysfunctional relationship

In a healthy relationship, happiness abounds when there is respectful treatment, kindness, support, loyalty, and utmost consideration. Two partners give and take these things to one another in equal measure.

Relationships that are respectful naturally bring us, as humans, the most happiness and fulfilment in life. If you think of it, living a truly good life is about our relationships with others. Getting along with one another is the best experience we can have.

The relationship between Canadians and Indigenous people is one example. Misunderstandings and lack of consideration that currently exist have a lot of power in affecting this relationship.

You may have heard about the comedians at the Humbolt bus accident fundraiser who made the controversial joke. American comedians Bruce Williams and Terry Ree were criticized for their performance from the evening, which included an ill-timed “pow-wow” performance and a moment when Williams sang a song to Ree with the line “shake it for the Indian with the STDs.”

This act was controversial because we are at a time in Saskatchewan and Canada that Indigenous people are calling for the end to misunderstandings and prejudicial attitudes that lead to racist treatment. We want to be treated with respect: we want to be treated as equals and not as inferior. This recent act shows that a lot more can be done to build accurate understandings about Indigenous people in Canada.

Truth and Reconciliation is about beginning to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation. The 94 Calls to Action urge governments, educational and religious institutions, civil society groups and all Canadians to take action. Part of Truth and Reconciliation is getting rid of stereotypes about First Nations people by becoming more aware of a history that has led to current circumstances and the on-going plight we face as Indigenous people.

Suggestions to non-Indigenous individuals right now in encouraging calls to action are to read and view movies. A movie came out in theatres last month that allows any person in our community and country to take action on Truth & Reconciliation. Indian Horse is a story that speaks to the First Nations experiences of individuals – relatives, parents, and grandparents who attended residential schools. It is based on the novel Indian Horse by Ojibway author Richard Wagamese. Any non-First Nations person who wants to take action on truth and reconciliation can go with an open heart and mind and watch the movie.

At Free the Spirit Consulting, we can help with those efforts at Truth & Reconciliation. Through our presentations and workshops, we educate people on residential schools and colonialism, stereotypes and barriers faced by Indigenous men and women, and recognizing and responding to acts of discrimination and inequality.

As Indigenous and non-Indigenous people none of us are going anywhere, and our survival going into the future depends on mending this long-time dysfunctional relationship.

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