I suppose this post has been a long time coming, or maybe not. I don’t know. My lack of knowing is what is framing this and the current dialogue around reconciliation reflects this. I just don’t know, I don’t know what reconciliation is, I don’t know what it means for my family, for me personally as a mixed-Indigenous person, as a grandchild of a survivor, for my nohkum, my brother… I just don’t know.
For the most part, I think a lot of my confusion comes from not understanding what reconciliation is in whole; I know Webster’s will tell me the definition, but the definition falls short when put into action. Is reconciliation the reparation of stolen lands? is it monetary compensation to survivors? is it more recognition of rights and title? is it getting Mistahimaskwa on a five dollar bill? Is it more than an apology in parliament? is reconciliation the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a nation wide truth telling event? I hope not, because the very tragedy in my family, my nohkum’s (and her siblings) experiences in Residential School. are not recognized by the TRC or the government as being legitimate. According to them, the school my nohkum went too doesn’t exist. Apparently survivor recollection and a physical building are not enough. In this case, what does reconciliation look like for my family, when the very form of state mandated reconciliation for all does not include us?
I plan on attending the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s national event tomorrow at the PNE Forum, because, as a dear friend told me, if the survivor’s are going to be strong enough for this event, we must try to be too. This post is not about answering questions, because some questions can never be answered. This question is not about preparing myself for the TRC event tomorrow, because there is no preparation. I guess this post is a pre-reflection on something that is making me scared and nervous for, which (the same friend) said is a sign we care. And I do care, more than words can describe. I never understood how the Indian Residential School system effected me and my family, and I still do not understand fully, but I do know that there are years of intergenerational trauma that cannot be undone.
I encourage everyone who can attend to attend the TRC National Event tomorrow at the PNE forum. I encourage you to be more than an onlooker, I encourage you to listen, and listen closely. Though I am critical of the process, I would never wish to take away the importance this event holds to survivors and survivor’s families. To my Indigenous friends and family (brothers, sisters), I can only imagine the impact this event and day could have on us as individuals and a community – I am proud and astounded by the ways in which we take care of each other. Perhaps I will have more insight on what reconciliation is after the event, until then I am going to curl up with tea and a book to try to be calm before the storm.