Why Everyone Has a Role to Play in Reconciliation

Whether you are a first, second, or third generation Canadian, or maybe you lost count, you and your family settled on the traditional lands of Turtle Island’s many Indigenous Nations. Canada’s identity is built on welcoming immigrants and refugees, and this means that non-Indigenous Canadians are largely unaware of the country’s colonial past and its impact on Indigenous Peoples and racialized groups. According to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, only 15% of non-Indigenous Canadians are familiar with the culture and history of Indigenous Nations. This means that many of us are unaware of the inequalities Indigenous communities face because of colonialism.

What is Reconciliation?

You may have heard the term reconciliation on the news, in school or at work. But what does reconciliation actually mean? In the broad sense of the term, reconciliation is the establishment of a respectful relationship between two nations. In Canada, reconciliation means the recognition and acknowledgement of how colonialism has affected and continues to affect Indigenous Peoples. Reconciliation is often mistaken as a government-only issue. But if you live in Canada and you are not Indigenous, you have a role to play in reconciliation. At the individual level, reconciliation starts with education and here are just a few things you can do to get started.

Whose Land Are You on?

There are many ways to learn whose traditional Indigenous lands you live on. Here are just a few:

  • Native Land provides an interactive map of Turtle Island that allows users to search by address, city, or area. 
  • Whose Land is an interactive map that allows users to explore the many Indigenous Nations of Turtle Island.

Land Acknowledgements

Now that you know the traditional Indigenous lands you live on, what can you do next? Land acknowledgements are a respectful and honest way to recognize First Nations, Inuit, and Métis territories. In formal and informal conversations, they provide an opportunity to bring awareness to Indigenous presence and land rights. Here is a great resource for finding the appropriate land acknowledgement or writing your own:

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

In 2008, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established to learn the truth about what happened in residential schools, listen to testimonies from Survivors, and educate Canadians on this dark history. In response to findings, the Commission released 94 Calls to Action urging all levels of governments and institutions to repair the intergenerational damage caused by residential schools.  Learn more about the work of the Commission, Calls to Action and whether you lived in proximity to a residential school:

Learn the History

Calls to Action, specifically 62-65, ask for increased education and awareness of Indigenous history and culture. Reading books by Indigenous authors are a great way to start! Check out the following reading lists to get started:

Books by Indigenous Authors

List created by selenamann

A collection of interesting fiction and nonfiction eBooks by Indigenous authors. These books focus on Indigenous issues and story lines.

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Indigenous Peoples' History

List created by selenamann

A collection of eBooks to learn more about Indigenous Peoples' history and culture. This list features non-fiction books about current and historic issues affecting the Indigenous community.

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Indigenous Reading: Residential Schools, Decolonization and Reconciliation

List created by selenamann

This list includes books on colonization, decolonization, and reconciliation. It includes books on residential schools, which started in the 1870s, and existed until 1996, when the last one closed. These schools are where many Indigenous children lived, suffered and died, after they were taken from their parents. This list is a great way to start learning about the history of Indigenous Peoples, the first people of this land, we now call Canada.

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