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How Communities Define Reconciliation

Tansi Nîtôtemtik


What does reconciliation mean to you? Based on relationships, community presence, independent and communally learned knowledge, reconciliation takes on a variety of different meanings. So how can we learn about ‘reconciliation’ if it takes on various forms? Well, one way is from learning through other peoples’ experiences based on their lived experiences in their geographical location.


Hilda Hope is a Liidlii Kue First Nation band member, and lifelong resident of the Dehcho in the Northwest Territories. When asked about her perspective on what reconciliation means, she said it’s quite hard to explain, and that some people like herself have tried to push away from being involved in reconciliation because it brings with it hard conversations a lot of people aren’t ready to face yet; and that is okay. Reconciliation is not a race and everyone needs their time to be ready to figure out what it can mean to them.


Ms. Hope had additional comments on what reconciliation could target, “The world today, these young people grew up… [and] are taken away from their culture. Moosehide tanning is dying out.” We discussed how the government can fix relationships with these smaller northern communities by restoring ‘on the land’ programs, making language programs accessible to the remote communities, and helping fund ceremonies. Ms. Hope and I discussed how the government took away so much of our culture, that they have a duty to restore and revitalize our culture, language, and practices if they want to make relations good again with the people of the north; we are often forgotten about.



As someone with relations and connection to the Dehcho I asked if the government is doing enough for everyone back home in the smaller communities, where Ms. Hope said “Not yet. Elders have a lot of stories, and should be documented and recorded. Fund language programs, make them online so younger generations can keep in touch.”



In closing, I asked Ms. Hope what she would like to say about reconciliation and what that can look like mean for people in the north but also across the country, and she said “To the younger generation, start visiting elders, sit with them, listen, get back to traditional ways of the Dene people. Learn to be on the land, trapping, fishing. Learn to sew from your parents, aunties, sisters, and neices. Don’t give up on your language. Once the grandparents and parents get old, who will care for them? Learn now while you are still young.”



Robert Kakakaway, a residential school survivor, told CTV News in an interview about the upcoming National Day for Truth and Reconciliation “... we must never forget, or we end up repeating our mistakes."[1] Robert’s comment makes me think that we also can’t forget the relationships we need to restore with our elders as younger generations, or we risk repeating the mistake of losing stories, culture, and traditions as time goes on.


So to conclude today’s post, how are you going to never forget the importance of reconciliation? Perhaps you will share the stories you learn of, or perhaps you will share your own story. Maybe you will reestablish relationships with community elders, or those who carry with them integral information of your culture and history. Either way, let us all share our perspectives, as they will contribute to the larger story of reconciliation as a nation.



Until next time,


Team ReconciliAction YEG


[1] Anthony Vasquez-Peddie, “National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is Sept. 30, but some provinces won't make it a stat holiday”, CTV News (Sept. 18, 2021) online: <www.CTVnews.ca> https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/national-day-for-truth-and-reconciliation-is-sept-30-but-some-provinces-won-t-make-it-a-stat-holiday-1.5591361.


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