“Reconciliation is a part of the healing process, but how can there be healing when the wounds are still being inflicted?” N. K. Jemisin
“Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice.” Nelson Mandela
How can you love those who have stolen from you, assaulted or abused you, or tried to blow you up and completely destroy you? How can you forgive those who have kidnapped, tortured and killed someone you love? Yet this is where reconciliation has to begin.
Reconciliation is about ensuring that everything we do today is aimed at that high standard of restoring balance in the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)
Evening breeze, spirit song,
sing to me when day is done.
Mother Earth, awaken me
with your heartbeat of the sea.
Turning in, turning out,
heal me true and all about.
Spirit song, sing to me
with your heartbeat of the sea.
To reconcile is to weave a stronger and more vibrant social fabric, based on the unique and diverse strengths of Canadians and their communities.
Chief Robert Joseph, Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, TRC Honorary Witness, and Residential School Survivor
We must now capture a new spirit and vision to meet the challenges of the future. As a great statesman once said, we are all part of one “garment of destiny”. The differences between us are not blood or colour and “the ties that bind us are deeper than those that separate us”. The “common road of hope” will bring us to reconciliation more than any words, laws or legal claims ever could. We still have to struggle, but now we are in this together. I reach out to all Canadians today in this spirit of reconciliation. Meegwetch.
(Note: Meegwetch is an Ojibway, an Algonquin and a Cree word that is translated into English as ‘Thank you.’)
Chief Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, in response to the Government of Canada’s Indian Residential School Statement of Apology.
We are here to derive meaning in our actions. We are here to win our power back over our areas of powerlessness. We are here to deepen our understanding of ourselves in order to strengthen self-discipline. We are here to abolish prejudice with an appreciation for our diversity and differences. We are here to feel our personal power and our capacity to affect the lives of other people. We are here to become teachers to each other. I am here to see that my singular life become a gateway to countless possibilities. When I change, the world changes.
Theresa Gustilo Garrado
The history of Indian Residential Schools in this country, and what needs to be done to address the legacy of them, is not just something for, and about, Aboriginal people. As a country, this chapter of our history belongs to all of us. As its citizens, we all own our past, just as we will all own its future. … [W]e are all called to “Witness the Future”. Not just the survivors, not just the children, but all of us. Bearing Witness to something important is spiritual work. One of our spiritual advisors recently reminded me that the ancient Greek word for Witness is martyr.
The martyr is someone who is willing to risk… though others may try to silence, weaken or distract. Witnessing such a future will also take kind hearts, willing to feel the experience of the other. Witnesses will also need wide vision, to see that Reconciliation is not about individuals.
Restoring right relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians is about the well-being of family, community and country.
Dr. Marie Wilson, Truth and Reconciliation Commissioner
To be hurt, yet forgive.
To do wrong, but forgive yourself.
To depart from this world leaving
only love, this is the reason you walk.
What is or should constitute reconciliation, is not at all clear. However, what I am convinced of is that the suffering of the survivors; the legacy of the Indian Residential School system must give rise to an equal and positive return; a legacy of hope — from the ashes of their disaster must grow the roses of success. Canada owes this to them. It owes it to us and indeed we owe it to each other and to ourselves.
Justice Harry S. Laforme (member of the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation)
The choice to follow love through to its completion is the choice to seek completion within ourselves. The point at which we shut down on others is the point at which we shut down on life.
We heal as we heal others, and we heal others by extending our perceptions past their weaknesses.
Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who that person is. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is. Forgiving others is the only way to forgive ourselves, and forgiveness is our greatest need.
We owe the Aboriginal peoples a debt that is four centuries old. It is their turn to become full partners in developing an even greater Canada. And the reconciliation required may be less a matter of legal texts than of attitudes of the heart.
Reconciliation should be accompanied by justice, otherwise it will not last. While we all hope for peace it shouldn’t be peace at any cost but peace based on principle, on justice.
Let us not be lulled into an impression that when the sun rises tomorrow morning, the pain and scars will miraculously be gone. They will not. But a new day has dawned, a new day heralded by a commitment to reconciliation and building a new relationship with Inuit, Métis and First Nations.
“The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.” Thich Nhat Hanh
“If there is to be reconciliation, first there must be truth.” Timothy B. Tyson
Consider reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Final Report released in 2015. We will have a discussion group on the report in May.
An essay on reconciliation as a spiritual practice from UU World.
From UUWorld comes a practical article with concrete steps on how to reconcile with another person.
An exploration of a journey of reconciliation between the Comanche people and a Texas university.