Terry Dance-Bennink reports:
What can you do concretely to support reconciliation with indigenous peoples in Canada? Here are some great suggestions from Quaker leader Jennifer Preston who spoke to 130 people at Esquimalt United last Thursday.
* read and discuss the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People & the 94 Calls to action.
* organize a ‘book study’ of the beautifully written Truth & Reconciliation Report.
* ask your local school board if it’s introduced curriculum on the residential schools tragedy.
* get to know local aboriginal people by visiting your local Friendship Centre. Relationships are key.
* urge Canada’s Senators to pass Bill C 62 before June. This bill will ensure Canada’s laws comply with UNDRIP. Write letters NOW!
* set up a fund in your local church or community org to support reconciliation initiatives.
* don’t just thank local First Nations for meeting on their territory - consider “paying rent” even if symbolic (an Australian initiative).
* support First Nations’ right to self-determination, even if you disagree with their decisions.
* urge the B.C. government to honour in practice its commitment to “free, prior and informed consent.”
Esquimalt United thanks its co-sponsors for this inspiring evening: Aboriginal Neighbours, Kairos, and the CCFS (Quakers). And special thanks to Eddie Charley, a local residential school survivor and leader of the Orange Shirt movement, who closed our gathering with an impassioned plea to just LISTEN.
“150,000 children, survivors of the residential schools, are still out there suffering,” he reminded us. Reconciliation is not a spectator sport!