How Canadians can act in the spirit of reconciliation
UAlberta scholars list 150 acts of reconciliation that could be incorporated as everyday practices.
By MICHAEL BROWN
Feeling that Canada 150 festivities were taking away from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, and realizing her resistance towards the sesquicentennial was closing off potential opportunities for conversations around the plight of Canada’s Indigenous people, Crystal Fraser acted.
Now the University of Alberta history PhD student wants Canadians to act too—150 times in fact.
Fraser, in collaboration with postdoctoral history researcher Sara Komarnisky, thought up and published 150 acts of reconciliation today, one for each of the remaining 150 days of 2017.
5 of 150
Here are five of the 150 acts of reconciliation proposed by Crystal Fraser and Sara Komarnisky.
The complete list is available on ActiveHistory.ca.
“As Indigenous people, we tend to think of these things almost everyday, we kind of live with them, so I think I had a pretty solid list to begin with.”
Fraser, who is Gwichya Gwich'in from Inuvik and Dachan Choo Gèhnjik, N.W.T., is working towards her PhD in Canadian history, examining the history of residential schools and the expanding Canadian nation state in the North during the postwar years.
Komarnisky is of Ukrainian settler heritage from Holden, AB., and is currently researching art and craft made by Indigenous patients at Canadian “Indian Hospitals” from the 1940s to the 1960s.
Fraser invited Komarnisky to help develop the list not only as a fellow history researcher but as a settler Canadian.
“I thought if we could bring the perspective of an Indigenous person and a settler together on this one list—that would be fantastic,” said Fraser.
“For me as a settler Canadian,” said Komarnisky, “this list is also about challenging myself to act, and encouraging others in my network to do the same.”
Fraser said the list is designed for people who have already decided that reconciliation is important for them.
“I think what we are hoping to do is set an example for people by saying that the only way to truly tackle these problems is to do it together,” said Fraser. “I know reconciliation can be a pretty big and scary theme, I think a lot of the points on our list are looking to make suggestions on how people can do things in their everyday life, how you can incorporate reconciliation without it seeming so scary.”
That being said, the list will challenge every aspect of Canada’s history you thought you knew.
“As a historian, one of the acts that is important for me is interrupting important historical narratives, especially around John A. MacDonald’s role in the system. The point says he was an architect of genocide, recognizing that as a superintendent general of Indian Affairs, he had a role in creating the residential schooling system.”
The list also encourages people to sign up for Indigenous Canada, UAlberta’s free massive open online course, designed to explore Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.
“We were trying to find points that we could incorporate as everyday practices or everyday ethos. One is listen more and talk less. We need to all show up respectfully and put our own feelings aside to have important conversations,” said Fraser.