For my university class, Treaties in the Classroom (ECCU400), we put an evening event on about having conversations on the road towards reconciliation, through reconciliACTION. Our event was located at the Orange Tree Village here in Regina. My colleagues and I set up our individual exhibits around a room and joined in on the conversation toward informing and educating the public, to raise awareness about healing and reconciliation for our former students and their families of Indigenous culture, as apart of our Canadian history; past, present, and future. It was a successful night, I would say. The exhibits that were set up were focused on: the resource Gladys We Never Knew, Walking with Our Sisters, Indigenous Rights, The Project of Heart, Modern Treaties, Understanding White Privilege, The Secret Path, and a few more.
(My ECCU400 Class)
My partner, Rashelle and I did our presentation on The Secret Path.
This resource is explained thoroughly in our presentations as:
In 1966, Chanie Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy, ran away from his residential school (Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School), accompanied by two friends. The boys stayed with relatives of the other two boys and soon Chanie felt left out and set out on his own along the railroad tracks in an attempt to get home to his family. Though he had a map, he was unable to read it. His family was over 600 miles away.
He didn’t know the distance, or how to get home but like so many kids, – more than anyone can imagine he tried to escape the horrific realities of residential schools.
Gord Downie began Secret Path as ten poems incited by the story of Chanie Wenjack, Gord was introduced to Chanie Wenjack (miscalled “Charlie” by his teachers) by Mike Downie, his brother.
The music and images are beautiful and haunting, seeking to imagine what Chanie must have been thinking and experiencing as he trudged toward home in freezing temperatures, wearing clothing that was ill-suited to the conditions.
Here is a ‘Heritage Minutes’ video narrated by Chanie’s sister, Pearl Wenjack who survived residential school…
At the end of our presentation, we put together an interactive and thought-provoking activity for the public to use as a ‘take away’. The activity outlined that before they left, they were to take a sticky note, think of a commitment (small or big scale) that they can attain toward reconciliation and stick it up for all to see, by using the famous Twitter hashtag #myreconciliationincludes… It was quite engaging and we had a lot of people comment and say how great of a way it was to end our presentation. Below is the final product of the activity, (it is a bit blurry), the responses of the commitments that were written by the individuals were:
- Be More Inclusive
- Be sure to wear an orange shirt on ‘Orange Shirt Day’ on September 30
- “I want reconciliation to cost me something, it can’t be cheap or empty… #restofmylife”
- Become familiar with the TRC (Truth & Reconciliation Commission), Calls to Action and share them with others
- Visit and support Indigenous projects to help raise awareness of injustices
- Educate my future students about residential schools
- Include reconciliation in curriculum and resources K-12
- Attend more Indigenous cultural events and activities
- “I commit to continue learning about Indigenous challenges and work to advance the cause Righting Relations”
It was so great to see such a comprehensive list of things these people were willing to commit to toward healing, respecting relationships, reconciliation, and in honouring and validating the healing and reconciliation of former students and their families. This is the beginning of a change that I am seeing in our society, which is amazing! I hope we continue to build upon these changes and further our journey to mending these respectful relationships.