Canada turns 150 this year. This is cause for celebration, but it also reminds us the story of Canada includes colonialism and racial prejudice. We enter this year as a country in need of reconciliation.
One the one hand, 150 is just a number, with no more chance of healing, hope and reconciliation than year 149. On the other hand, commemorations offer moments of reflection. There’s no time like the present to take a long, hard look at our history as a nation of peoples (a nation of nations even), and ask how we can heal past wounds together. How can we move forward in shared strength and renewed relationships? How might we be reconciled?
Healing takes root as stories are shared.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission brought many horrific stories to light about the damage done through the residential school system over decades. I’ve been reading about Louis Reil and the dishonesty and violence involved in the expansion of Canadian territory. Last year, we highlighted the stories of thousands of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women with a public art installation called “Ni Wapataenan / We See”.
These are only some of the countless stories that lead to tears, and they all need to be heard and honoured. But these are not the only stories.
Hopeful stories of healing and reconciliation are being written, right now.
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are seeing one another, often, as if for the first time, for our strengths and our shared struggles. People are living out answers to questions that seemed impossible–impassible–a decade ago.
I want to hear more reconciliation stories. I think they will bring healing. Momentum. Change.
Maskihkîy Âcimowin / Medicine Stories will provide a context for reconciliation stories to be shared, around a great tree in the centre of a public space, over four weeks this spring.
This tree, inspired by the Mètis story The Giving Tree*, will center the installation, with gatherings planned for each of four Saturdays, leading us towards a conclusion (or beginning?) on June 21, both the summer solstice and National Aboriginal Day.
All of this is made possible by a generous grant from the Anglican Foundation of Canada, which is a wonderful story of its own.
We need your help. We need your stories.
Perhaps you have a story to share – simple as a coffee conversation that changed your perspective, or grand as a new initiative, organization or project that is bringing reconciliation. We’d love to hear your story, so please email email@example.com and let’s chat.
Perhaps you are a visual artist or craftsperson who would like to help dream up and build a wonderful, giant tree in the centre of all of this. Again, if that’s you, please send us an email.
If you are gifted in telling stories in any format, we could use your help. We need people to interview, and to produce audio stories for the installation.
Last year, I was blown away by Ni Wapataenan / We See –the way a crazy little idea with its heart in the right place can explode into something beautifully life-changing.
With Ni Wapataenan / We See, we all lived a great story of reconciliation Let’s do that again, shall we?
Find out more about the project at https://bleedingheartart.space/medicinestories/