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Kneading the dough, learning our truths

Tansi Nîtôtemtik, hello everyone!


If you have made sourdough, muffins, bannock, pizza, or other tasty snacks, you know what it takes to reach that warm, delicious, savoury moment: you have to put your heart into it and knead the dough.

Photo Source: CWFE fm, Tee Pee Treats event (https://www.cfweradio.ca/fun-stuff/event/taste-of-bannock-and-beats/)

Whether we're talking about baking or justice, that one crucial step is the same: sinking your hands in, sweating a little, loving the dough and preparing well if you want a good result.


For many sweet victories, you have to prepare to rise up.

So this week, we're talking about education as a part of justice. The truth that comes before reconciliation.


TRC Calls to Action 6-12 seek vital changes to education. [1] For example, #6 calls the Government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code. Section 43 is often called the spanking law, because it allows for school teachers and parents to "correct" children by using "reasonable" "force" [2]. Many of you will deeply understand the connection between residential schools, ongoing abuses, and this call. Others may not. If you are in the second group, you are also most welcome to this blog, and we invite you to learn more.


We are honoured to be able to read the words of survivors and inquirers in the TRC Reports. [3] We are honoured by the thousands of courses, books, lectures, events, artworks, and stories being shared, like the Indigenous Canada course. [4] We are honoured by the stories that brave survivors have shared and continue to share publicly so that we can learn from them. [5] As Angie Merasty said, the point is not to feel guilty, it is to "move forward in a good way." [6]


Just like dough, though, these stories cannot make change on their own. They are a gift to begin with. To raise them up into victories for children today and generations to come, many others must accept them, work with them, and grapple with our own hands and hearts.


Many, many Indigenous people are already kneading the dough. What does it take for settlers [7] to knead the dough and do the work that it will take to raise these stories up and move forward in a good way?

It is time to learn. For some, like the Honourable Chief Justice Lance S.G. Finch, that means embracing a duty to learn. [8] For some like Lindsay Borrows, it involves the practice of "courage, gratitude and humility." [9] For many, it consists of walking outside to listen. [10] Amongst all these authors is talk about changes that we must make to ourselves and our mindsets, including how we see the world and how to be open.


As we look inwards we ask: What does learning look like to you? How do you make space in your heart for new feelings and space in your mind for new ideas? What does it look like to knead your dough?


For all of you with your hearts in the work, hoping that justice will rise up from your efforts, we can smell the bread baking. Keep going! Every batch of bannock, every loaf we feed to loved ones, makes us stronger and helps us carry on.


**If this post has affected you, there are resources available for residential school survivors and family. [11]**


Kinanâskomitin, thank you for reading and take care,


Hero and the ReconciliACTION team


[1] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (2015), online: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Manitoba <https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf>.

[2] Criminal Code of Canada R.S.C, 1985, c. C-34, s. 43. Available at Government of Canada, Criminal Code of Canada (January 2022), online: Justice Laws Website <https://www.laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-43.html>.

[3] Home / Your Records / Reports (2022), online: National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Manitoba <https://nctr.ca/records/reports/#trc-reports>.

[4] Indigenous Canada (2022), online: University of Alberta <https://www.ualberta.ca/admissions-programs/online-courses/indigenous-canada/index.html>.

[5] Jonathan Chang and Mehgna Chakrabarti, Stories from Canada's Indigenous Residential School Survivors (July 28, 2021), online: WBUR <https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2021/07/28/stories-from-survivors-of-canadas-indigenous-residential-schools>. See also Brandi Morin, Residential school survivors reflect on a brutal legacy: ‘That could’ve been me.’ (June 28, 2021), online: National Geographic <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/residential-school-survivors-reflect-on-brutal-legacy-that-could-have-been-me> and The Canadian Encyclopedia, Voices from Here Voix D'Ici (2022), online: The Canadian Encyclopedia <https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/collection/voices-from-here>.

[6] Jessica R Durling, Residential school survivors tell their stories at Reconciliation Nipawin event (August 19, 2021), online: Toronto Star <https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/08/19/residential-school-survivors-tell-their-stories-at-reconciliation-nipawin-event.html>.

[7] If you are not Indigenous and you are not sure what this word means or this word is uncomfortable for you, the first chapter of Chelsea Vowel's work Indigenous Writes is one way to explore names and language used to describe Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. See Chelsea Vowel, Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Issues in Canada (Winnipeg, Manitoba / Treaty 1 Territory and Homeland of the Métis Nation: Highwater Press, 2016).

[8] Lance S.G. Finch, "The Duty to Learn: Taking Account of Indigenous Legal Orders in Practice" Indigenous Legal Orders and the Common Law Paper 2.1 (The Honourable Chief Justice Lance S.G. Finch, November 2012), online: Commission d'enquête sur les relations entre les Autochtones et certains services publics au Québec <https://www.cerp.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/Fichiers_clients/Documents_deposes_a_la_Commission/P-253.pdf>.

[9] Lindsay Borrows, "DABAADENDIZIWIN: PRACTICES OF HUMILITY IN A MULTI-JURIDICAL LEGAL LANDSCAPE" (2016) 33 Windsor Y B Access Just. at 149-165.

[10] See for example John Borrows, “Outsider Education: Indigenous Law and Land-based Learning” (2016) 33 Windsor Y B Access Just 1; Louis Bird, The Spirit Lives in the Mind: Omushkego Stories, Lives and Dreams (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2005) at xiii; and more generally, Elin Kelsey, Wild Ideas: Let Nature Inspire Your Thinking (Toronto: Owlkids, 2015).

[11] Indian Residential School Survivors Society, Indian Residential School Survivors and Family 1-800-721-0066 (2022), online: Indian Residential School Survivors Society <https://www.irsss.ca/faqs/how-do-i-reach-the-24-hour-crisis-line>.

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