What can Calgarians do to support Indigenous families heal from intergenerational trauma? What does putting a call to action into action, actually look like?
These were some of the questions posed by Calgarians at Reconciliation Journey: Walking a Path Together, the second of two conferences designed to help Calgarians understand the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and get connected to the reconciliation work taking place in the city. More than 160 people attended the second conference, which took place Oct. 12, hosted by the Indigenous Advisory Committee of Vibrant Communities Calgary, a non-profit organization that seeks to address the root causes of poverty in Calgary.
“I think it went really well,” says conference lead planner, Pam Beebe, Indigenous strategist at Vibrant Communities Calgary. “The whole idea for the conference was to get people to work together to address the Truth and Reconciliation’s calls to action.”
For Indigenous citizens of Calgary to be equal participants in the city’s prosperous future – a goal set by Enough for All, Calgary’s poverty reduction initiative – all Calgarians need to take action to address the TRC’s 94 calls to action, Pam says.
During the Reconciliation Journey conference, keynote speakers Eugene Brave Rock and Michelle Thrush discussed their work in the film industry, and overcoming adversity to succeed. To help Indigenous people move forward and be successful, it’s important to put more of a focus on Indigenous voices, by giving Indigenous people the space to speak, Michelle suggested.
Others who took leadership roles at the conference were emcee Hal Eagletail from Tsuu T’ina Nation; several elders; and Riel, a youth performer who entertained the audience with her guitar and singing.
Cam Stewart of the Alberta Human Rights Commission moderated the afternoon panel session, which included asking for input from participants, who compiled more than a page’s worth of questions for the panel members. A couple of examples: ‘How has your lived experience affected how you teach others about reconciliation?’ And, ‘Indigenous people see art as the person who creates it. How do we shift from buying art as a product, to actually caring for the artists so we give them space to create the art?’
The Indigenous Advisory Committee hopes to plan a follow-up event, such as a circle, for 2018, where people can discuss these and other questions, continue the conversation and come up with actions.
Reconciliation Journey was funded by the Enough for All Catalyst Fund, as well as by Suncor and the Calgary Foundation.
“As Michelle said during her presentation, it’s about creating a space,” Pam says. “It’s a safe space for people to talk. It gives them the opportunity to speak, to be heard– instead of the other way, being talked at or told to do something.”
Pam thinks that reconciliation has become a buzzword, and notes that the Indigenous Advisory Committee purposely called the conference Reconciliation Journey: Walking a Path Together, “because it’s about relationships, and taking the time to build those relationships with Indigenous people.”
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And to find out more about what happened at the conferences and to hear from the speakers directly, visit the Newscoop YYC Youtube page.