This isn't the end for me, it is the beginning.
It is hard for me to believe that today I am writing my final article for the ReconciliACTION YEG blog.
When I was first accepted into the Law and Social Media course last spring, I downloaded the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and began highlighting ones that related to law and justice, brainstorming ideas and envisioning articles.
From the first planning meeting, I realised that my view was too narrow. Reconciliation does not, and cannot, exist only in the legal sphere. Reconciliation requires action in all aspects of life- social, cultural, historical, legal, and more. From Halloween, to Remembrance Day, to the environment, to the courtroom, there is action that every person can, and must, take to promote reconciliation.
In the beginning, I was questioning my role in the blog- whether it was appropriate for me, a white settler Canadian, to be writing on reconciliation. But after eight months of writing, I believe more than ever that reconciliation must be done by everyone. And non-Indigenous folks cannot leave it to First Nation, Métis, and Inuit people to educate others. We have to put in the work, to do the learning on our own. And then we have to take what we have learned and share it with those in our lives. And for us law students, in our professional lives.
Reading the summarized Calls to Action and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Calls for Justice was a good start, but there is so much more information in the Final Reports from both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. These two documents should be mandatory reading for all Canadians, to understand the history, culture, and origins of the calls for change. They are not short reads, and they are not easy reads. But they are necessary. We must understand the history if we want to make the future better.
In addition to the knowledge and perspectives I have gained on reconciliation, I have also come to appreciate the power of social media in raising awareness on issues. We saw our posts that were relevant to current events gain a lot of views, and while reconciliation should not be confined to “what is trending,” it was interesting to see the power and impact of timely articles.
When the Law Society of Alberta was holding a vote on the future of The Path, the Indigenous cultural competency program, our blog took to Twitter and Instagram to share posts from earlier in the year when we discussed Call to Action 27. In a few days, some of our posts saw over 1000 new views. The power of social media is real.
Although our time writing for the blog is coming to an end, the stories we wrote will live on forever. I hope that when one of the issues addressed in the blog is raised, our readers will remember a post, and share it widely. Action cannot and should not end by re-posting an article read, or a social media post, but even that is an action. Raising awareness is part of reconciliation.
I am infinitely grateful to the 2022-2023 ReconciliACTION YEG team. It has been an honour working with you. Each week I learned so much from your work, and I cannot wait to see where your legal journeys take you. Your passion and perspective gave me so much and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
As I was walking through Churchill Square on my way to the courthouse today, I came across some art exhibits.
One of the pieces, which is also pictured at the beginning of the article, is titled “POWER, PEACE AND PRESENCE + KISKISIWIN ᑭᐢᑭᓯᐃᐧᐣ: REMEMBERING” by Métis artist Rebecca Pickard. I was drawn by the description:
“As the white bison signals, the birth of a new earth looms. We are undeniably living in times of great change. Where we stand in Treaty 6 territory, on the plains of amiskwaciy-wâskahikan, the peaceful and powerful bison once roamed in millions. Like all living beings, they were born from the stars. Cleared away to make room for towering colonial structures, the bison persisted through generations of death. Now, under the guidance of constellations like spirit markers, they thrive once again. With the fortitude of the bison, steadfast to the knowing rhythms of nature, we must usher in a new world. We are called to walk this earth. We carry all the medicine we need within our very beings. We must remember that we came from the stars. We carry the wisdom of the cosmos in our bodies.”
My journey to usher in a new world has only just begun, and I hope that others will join me in a lifelong commitment to reconciliation in every aspect of life.
Forever grateful for this opportunity,