Conference Reflections: Reconciliation as a way of being

Last week I was honoured and humbled to be joined by many of you for three days of intense and heartfelt dialogue, learning, and connection.

The Federation will revisit and share various themes and ideas that emerged at the conference over the coming weeks. But for now, I simply want to pause and reflect before continuing this journey.

I found Chief Dr. Robert Joseph’s keynote address inspiring. It primed the group for a series of workshops and sessions that were emotional and powerful and, at times, rather difficult. I think we all expected as much when we arrived in Richmond but experiencing these sessions first hand was very different from planning and organizing them.

This process of “living into reconciliation”—of turning this work into a way of being is not an easy one. One idea that stood out for me was the suggestion that there is no one path to reconciliation. Our speakers served as gracious guides in considering some of the ways forward and then created space for people to think about and understand their own path.

I was also thankful for the diverse group of participants—people from government, from community organizations, from Delegated Aboriginal Agencies, from Friendship Centres—that helped to create a welcomed shift in the tone and power felt within the room. The spirit that everyone brought to the tables and circles was hopeful and carried both a commitment for change and unwavering support for one another.

During his opening remarks, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph shared how much the title of the event in and of itself meant to him personally. He explained that the commitment and intention implied by the word “continuous” really stood out and encouraged him.

We chose that word with care. This event was not a box for The Federation to check off; the work is not done now that the conference is over. We will continue to explore how The Federation’s journey of reconciliation might connect with our many other priorities and projects: our other conferences, our election strategy, our Leadership 2020 program, all of it.

Our shared goal of a more sustainable and responsive system of social care requires us to pay attention and address issues of inequity and inequality in all that we do.

Whether you were at the conference or not, I encourage each of you to continue living into reconciliation. Altogether better requires all of us.

If you want to get involved, contact Rebecca at The Federation office about joining our Reconciliation Action Group. This group is helping to guide our organization and the next meeting is coming up soon.