When Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission wrapped up in 2015, it released 94 calls to action for government at all levels to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the reconciliation process.
But “what the call to action is really saying, is that we are calling on Canadians to do this,” says Pam Beebe, Indigenous strategist at Vibrant Communities Calgary, a non-profit organization that seeks to address the root causes of poverty in Calgary. “Governments are going to do what the people want.”
That’s why the Indigenous Advisory Committee of Vibrant Communities Calgary is hosting Reconciliation Journey: Walking a Path Together, funded by the Enough For All Catalyst Fund, as well as the Calgary Foundation and Suncor.
The second of two conferences organized by the Indigenous Advisory Committee this year, Reconciliation Journey: Walking a Path Together is designed to help Calgarians understand the 94 calls to action and get connected to the reconciliation work taking place in the city.
(For coverage of the first event checkout this video by NewScoop, Journey to Reconciliation: An Overview)
“This conference is a way to get people engaged in the work, and a huge part of that is understanding,” Pam says. “We’ve invited elders, youth, knowledge keepers and people who have been successful in the community to share their experiences.” It’s important to include non-Indigenous voices as well, she adds, and the conference, which takes place Thursday Oct. 12 in Calgary, will also include non-indigenous speakers discussing the work they are doing around reconciliation.
“Reconciliation is a journey. It’s what people are doing to include more Indigenous people in the workplace, and to help them get homes, graduate, and be successful,” Pam says.
The ultimate aim, she notes, is to help Indigenous people thrive. Indigenous people make up only 2.5 per cent of the population, yet are vastly overrepresented in the country’s institutions, including the child welfare system, homeless shelters, prisons and hospital emergency rooms. For example, Indigenous children make up approximately 70 per cent of the children in the foster care system. And when those children grow up, the challenges don’t end: “We have a real problem with those children getting out of care at age 18 and ending up in homeless shelters,” Pam says, noting that at Calgary’s only homeless shelter that helps families, 60 per cent of the clientele are Indigenous.
Pam believes that strong partnerships with a wide range of organizations in the community will further the work of Vibrant Communities Calgary’s Indigenous Advisory Committee. “It’s very important to build those partnerships with other organizations. It’s supporting those relationships to thrive,” she says.
If everything goes as hoped for, she sees a brighter future where more Indigenous families own homes, are involved in the community, and enjoy successful careers.
For Pam, the best possible outcome of this reconciliation work, would be “that people are getting paid what they’re worth, and that they’re recognized for their skills and their strengths. It’s being recognized and celebrated for who we are, what we do, and why we do what we do. It’s knowledge, understanding and respect for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.”
Approximately 225 people will attend Reconciliation Journey: Walking a Path Together. NewScoop will be on site to video the event and will share shortly afterwards.
For more information on how to become involved in the work of reconciliation and to participate in Enough for All, please visit Enoughforall.ca.