The 150th Anniversary of Confederation in Canada gives us occasion to look back on our past while at the same time looking forward to new possibilities.
For Canada’s Indigenous peoples, acknowledging Canada’s 150th is deeply problematic because during this period of time more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children passed through the doors of Indian Residential Schools (IRS) designed to remove them from the cultural influences of their parents and their communities and assimilate them into mainstream Canadian society. The damaging effects of the system on IRS Survivors and the children of Survivors were brought to light by the careful work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which recently completed its work. The authors of the TRC Final Report write, “Getting to the truth was hard, but getting to reconciliation will be harder.” They go on to say, “Reconciliation is not an Aboriginal problem; it is a Canadian one.”
In this “Time of Reconciliation” pîkiskwe-speak seeks to engage host communities in Conversations of Reconciliation through ART; conversations that will explore the enduring effects of Canada’s IRS system with the aim of writing a New Chapter, painting a new vision, and creating a new protocol for Indigenous and Non-Indigenous relations in Canada.