Take another step toward reconciliation
You have probably heard, over the past few years, Federation staff and board members speaking about our organization’s commitment to reconciliation and resurgence. Most of you probably know that The Federation has MOU’s with the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and the Métis Nation British Columbia. This month, Riley McKenzie also joined The Federation and will be working as an Indigenous Advisor, developing, encouraging, and recommending changes to support our board’s vision of reconciliation and decolonization.
But the truth is that a lot of the work of living into that commitment happens quietly and out of the spotlight. It often occurs in the many, many meetings that our staff and board members attend as part of The Federation’s various initiatives and advocacy efforts.
Part of it involves listening and seeking opportunities to amplify Indigenous voices and raising the profile of urban Indigenous and Métis communities and organizations. Part of it requires speaking up and advocating for different approaches when opportunities conflict with our commitment to support Indigenous allies and partners and their efforts to provide social services to their communities.
But one specific initiative that has this commitment at its heart, is The Federation’s Reconciliation Book Club. And right now, we are preparing to launch into year four of the book club and we are encouraging you and your staff teams to consider signing up to participate in a year of reading and learning and growing together.
What book club is about
Three years in, it is safe to say that this is one of our favourite initiatives. But it has been a little discouraging at times when we haven’t had a bigger group participating.
However, we are thrilled to have had a few participants who have been consistent members since the inception of this program. We have been truly moved by the vulnerability of this group of people who are willing to change their way of thinking and the willingness of participants to take the lessons from these books and from our discussions and apply them to their work and personal lives.
Will this book club change the world? No. But we are each changing and learning and growing in real, meaningful ways and those changes are rippling out through our social circles and staff teams. And we think it would be great if you would join us.
“I first heard of The Federation through the Leadership 2020 program that I was able to attend through my position at the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Since doing that program, I have stayed in touch with some Leadership 2020 folks in various ways. One of those ways is the Federation’s Reconciliation Book Club.
I have been participating in the book club since its inception and what first began as a way to stay in touch with colleagues became a way to increase my knowledge and understanding of First Nations culture, history, and experiences.
I love the way that the book club stretches my mind, getting me to read books about Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit issues and to explore and discuss what we need to do to make real change in our communities. We have read some truly amazing works by Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit artists and I am learning to appreciate the likes of Richard Wagamese, Eden Robinson, and Cherie Dimaline in new and inspiring ways.
I also share these books and some of our discussion questions with my team at work and with my friends and family. And in that way, I feel I am sharing the learning and keeping the conversation going—bringing these ideas and perspectives to even more new people.
I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity and I plan to continue participating in The Federation’s Reconciliation Book Club as long as I can.”
Tanis Wiersma, Team Lead
Esquimalt/Peninsula Indigenous Team, MCFD
About book club
The book club meets every other month to discuss a piece of literature (both fiction and non-fiction) by an Indigenous author. The next year of the Reconciliation Book Club will run from September 2021 through August 2022. You can learn more and register to participate in the 2020/21 Reconciliation Book Club here.
The six books we will be reading are below. You can learn more about each of the books, see past books that we have read, and view the schedule of discussions and titles on the Reconciliation Book Club page on our website.
- Price Paid by Bev Sellers
- Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
- A History of My Brief Body by Billy Ray Belcourt
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- The Outside Circle by Patti Laboucan-Benson
- Indigenous Relations by Bob Joseph
The idea for the Reconciliation Book Club came out of The Federation’s 2017 Social Policy Forum. It was a response to the hesitation, fear, and lack of knowledge expressed by non-Indigenous members that were keeping them from doing more to radically change and decolonize social services (and society in general).
Reading and talking about Indigenous stories, histories, and ideas is one step in that direction—it’s a way to take responsibility for learning without burdening Indigenous community members with the work of teaching us. (Plus, purchasing these books is a direct way of supporting Indigenous artists and their families and communities especially if you order them from an Indigenous-owned bookstore like Iron Dog Books or Massy Books.)
Thomas King, in his book The Truth About Stories, ends each chapter with a refrain that encourages the reader to take the story and do with it what they will. It is a phrase and call to action that we often come back to when thinking about and planning Book Club events. “Don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story,” he says. “You’ve heard it now.”
Federation Events Coordinator
Book Club Host
Federation Communications Coordinator
Book Club Host
“The Reconciliation Book Club readings and conversations couldn’t have come at a better time for me. The Indigenous authors have opened a window into the beautiful, tragic, humorous, and mystical lives of people I would love to meet in real life. The honest and respectful conversations with the other readers in the Club have given me new perspectives that added to the reading. In fact, I can’t imagine reading a book again, without a post-read reflection with others like this group of wise readers.”
Lynda Edmonds, CEO
Fraserside Community Services Society