Wellbeing Waterloo Region (Wellbeing WR) has made a commitment to develop meaningful relationships and to work toward reconciliation with local Indigenous communities.
As part of this commitment, in the Winter and Fall of 2021 Wellbeing WR provided two opportunities for network and community members to participate in a Renison College, University of Waterloo non-credit Reconciliation: Implications for Settler Peoples course facilitated by Kelly Laurila. Each 10-week course provided a journey of sharing and discussing how Indigenous and Settler peoples know each other through the stories that have been told of each other in the past, and which continue in the present.
On April 13, 2022, Kelly Laurila invited everyone who has ever taken the course (from 2018 -2021) to participate in a collective virtual gathering. The gathering was truly inspiring! Many people located in Waterloo Region (with some from the Wellbeing WR network) and across Canada participated in the gathering to share where they are now with taking their learnings from the course and creating actions towards Reconciliation.
Some of the course participants noted that the course was life changing for them. The following examples of actions are some of the ways that Settler peoples are acknowledging the implications of their identities and ancestral roots and picking up their responsibilities of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The examples highlight that each person’s journey with reconciliation is unique and emphasize that:
- Two individuals moved to British Columbia and are working with Indigenous communities
- Joined church related Truth and Reconciliation Action Groups
- A partnership formed to publish an article on Rethinking Freedom: A Framework for the Implementation of Ethical Space in the Academy
- Professors changing their Pedagogy. For example, an Engineering Professor is planning to discuss the Ring of Firewith the first year Chemistry students.
- Participating in book studies
- Joined an annual paddle – Two Row on the Grand
- Enrolled in Law School to practice Indigenous Law.
- Trying to have organizational conversations that heal and educate rather than create divide.
- Special Collections and Archive staff at the University of Waterloo have discussed how to balance upholding the context of records with putting principles of equity and reconciliation into action. A decision was made to move beyond blanket ‘language of its time’ statements to identifying instances of problematic language or imagery. See Language in archival descriptions changesfor more info.
- Continued learnings with reading and videos
These examples of actions that individuals are taking as part of their journeys to reconciliation are impactful and highlight that each person’s journey to reconciliation is unique, and emphasize that reconciliation is about “courageous conversations, listening and learning from one another, opening our hearts and creating a new Canada together.”
We invite you to reflect on where you are in your journey to reconciliation and to choose an action you can take as a next step in your journey. To learn more, visit our Indigenous Focus webpage and subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter that provides a Learn, Reflect and Practice piece in every issue.
For additional help, visit ConnectR to help choose your next steps towards reconciliation.