Reconciliation Regina held an open forum discussion this week to give residents a chance to voice their questions and opinions surrounding reconciliation.
About 80 people were in attendance as organizers gave an overview about what steps the City of Regina has been taking with the 94 Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 to address the legacy of the residential schools system.
Then they opened the floor to community members. Emotion was evident as several of those who spoke were residential school survivors.
People are still living the trauma.– Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway
“It’s called the Truth and Reconciliation, and I think for many the truth part is the difficult part,” said Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway, a community activist.
“It’s hard to listen to for many, the emotional part of what really happened, and that’s where a lot of Indigenous people are still at. People are still living the trauma because they never had a chance or opportunity to really get over them.”
Others who spoke felt the forum was a step in the right direction.
“There is a lot of history here; a lot of people take away from that history their own personal experience,” said Bill Stevenson, a Regina resident.
“It is painful, it is hurtful. Now people are learning to live through that loss. I am happy the City of Regina is taking those steps to engage in the community.”
Starting kitchen table conversations
Olivia Gosselin, coalition co-ordinator of Reconciliation Regina, said the organization wants to provide opportunities to connect resources and “get the people of Regina to network with each other.”
“We want to be able to just start those conversations, by taking them to their kitchen tables and discussing.”
Reconciliation Regina was first launched in spring 2017 to help move forward the understanding of reconciliation in the Regina area. They are a partnership of 75 organizations that include Elders, knowledge keepers, and community organizations including Office of the Treaty Commissioner.
The non-profit group also provides help to other organizations wanting to participate in reconciliation.
“We have resources that we have put together to help people understand what consulting process they need to go through when they want to host some sort of cultural event,” said Gosselin.
“For example, even just if you were going to have an Elder come and speak at an event, what is the protocol that is needed to be respectful? We have those available at anyone’s request.”
More events are being planned by Reconciliation Regina as they want to keep the momentum going and keep reconciliation in the public eye.
The group is hosting two blanket exercises — a workshop that explores the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada — for their community partners.
There are also plans for a youth symposium in the spring of 2019.