As Prime Minister Trudeau often says, “There is no relationship more important for our government than the one with Indigenous peoples.” The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission outlined ninety-four calls to action for governments and Indigenous leaders in Canada. Subsequently, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould produced a set of ten principles respecting the government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.
In August, Sunshine Coast Circle Keepers Nancy and John Denham approached me to see if we could host a dialogue circle together, in order to explore the ten principles outlined by Minister Wilson-Raybould. Nancy and John are experienced circle keepers and do this work in many communities as well as on the Sunshine Coast.
The preamble to the ten principles begins “The Government of Canada is committed to achieving reconciliation with indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation for transformative change.”
On October 14 at the Lutheran church in Davis Bay a group of thirty of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, came together in a dialogue circle. It was powerful to listen to one another as we took turns reading the principles, one person at a time, paragraph by paragraph. With an eagle feather passed from hand to hand, each participant also spoke from the heart, expressing deep and often very strong feelings about Canada’s past and how we can move forward together in truth and reconciliation. Participating with our Indigenous friends gave rich meaning to the experience.
The process took four hours which seemed to take just a few minutes. Generally, participants felt that the government’s intentions are good and that the principles give hope. The feeling was that as a community and country we cannot be passive about this, we must hold the government accountable and we should also take personal responsibility. Some did not trust the document and wished to see and feel a stronger Indigenous perspective. All of us valued the extraordinary opportunity for honest, respectful dialogue and we are grateful to Nancy and John for their personal commitment to leading us in truth and reconciliation in a good way.
The full document outlining the ten principles is http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/principles-principes.html.
As always, I welcome your comments and feedback on our government’s work. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, connect with us on Facebook: Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, or stop by our community office in Horseshoe Bay, 6367 Bruce Street 604-913-2660.