Welcome back, readers! I am so excited to be writing this year’s ReconciliACTION YEG blog alongside Ajae Wilson, Siobhan Washburn, Lauren Styles, and Kate Latos. We are delighted to have you join us as we explore the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and dig deeper into what reconciliation really looks like.
My name is Sarah Johnson, and I am a young woman of Métis and Irish ancestry. On my father’s side of the family, our roots trace back to Saskatchewan and the Red River Settlement. My mother was born in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, and relocated to Canada at a young age. I grew up in rural North-Western Alberta on a small family farm outside the community of Valleyview. Like many other Métis families, we did not “advertise” our Indigeneity for fear of prejudice. When my grandmother got older, however, she wanted our family to acknowledge where we came from. Soon after, I was lucky enough to spend many afternoons sitting with her as I listened to her explain our family history.
Although I lost my grandmother when I was seventeen, I continued seeking information, craving the connection and community I felt I was missing. This desire to connect led me to my first job after university at the Métis Nation of Alberta in Youth Programming. This position gave so much to me. It allowed me to learn more about my culture and history while giving me the satisfaction of sharing that knowledge with others and became the community I desperately needed at that time in my life.
To me, reconciliation is a process that involves respect and a willingness to listen and learn. It may involve a lot of difficult conversations and uncomfortable situations as we challenge the deeply rooted beliefs of ourselves and others in an attempt to understand one another better. Since the devastating discoveries of the thousands of children buried at residential school sites, and with the resulting declaration of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I truly wonder if things will change for the better or if the disastrous effects of colonialism and the despair felt by so many will continue as it has for decades.
I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to write for this blog. I hope that I not only share my knowledge and insights of what I believe reconciliation can look like but also that I learn from other members of the blog and from you, our readers. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.
Until next time,
Team ReconciliAction YEG