Reconciliation - What does it mean in today's Canada?

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

With the recent discovery of 215 children's bodies in an unmarked grave at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, many are asking, what does this mean for reconciliation?

Reconciliation has become somewhat of a buzzword in Canadian discourse over the last few years. Many view it as an empty word with empty promises. Other's view it as a way forward. How do we, as a collective, even reconcile these two views of the word?

Well, for starters, we need to educate those around us. We need to educate the young and the old on the true history of 'Canada' and specifically, the true history of Canada and Indigenous peoples. This means we can no longer hide parts of history, or sugarcoat them. We need to tell them as they truly were and are; we have to tell the truth. Only then can we even begin to understand the truth of our current history. Then, finally, we can start to build towards a better, reconciliatory future. One that isn't empty. One that everyone agrees is a way forward.

As a business owner - of any means - that means taking on the responsibility of educating yourself and your employees, properly. It means recognizing how education will not only better Indigenous peoples, employees and clients, but yourself, your employees, your business, and Canada as a whole.

I wrote a poem a few days after hearing of the 215 children, babies, found. For me, it was a way of grieving. I want to share it with you:

To the babies

Who never got to come home

Who never knew what home was

Know the land kept you safe

To the babies

Who had to bury the others

Who had to dig into the ground and into their being

Know we honour you

To the babies

Who grew up without their kin

Who went home without knowing what home meant

Know you are loved

To the babies

Who were raised never knowing themselves

Who were never allowed to smell the sweetgrass

Know you are our kin

And to the babies

Who are only learning of our pains now

Who were lied to and fed stories of hope

Know, now, of the work that must be done

One of the most painful parts of the learning of these children's remains was the 'shock' that so many Canadians felt. To those of us who have lived this reality, who work in this reality, knew of unmarked graves, of the atrocities of Residential Schools. The thing is, you did too. Survivors, descendants of survivors, and allies have been speaking of graves and abuses for many, many years. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission wrote about these truths and made them publicly available in 2015. Six years ago, at a minimum, every Canadian could have learned this.

“And to the babies Who are only learning of our pains now Who were lied to and fed stories of hope Know, now, of the work that must be done”

This is why Indigenous specific diversity training and consulting is so, so important. There is a unique history and lived reality being an Indigenous person in Canada, and that needs to be conveyed and understood by all.

A support line has been set up to provide support for former Residential School students and those affected by the schools and the news. You can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1 866 925-4419.

If you have questions on how you can make your business a better, Indigenous-first place, and how to implement Indigenous specific education and training, contact us:

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