Joining the journey of reconciliation

It is with great pride that United Way Winnipeg adds its signature to The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action presented to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

Signing The Declaration – prepared by a group of Canada’s philanthropic organizations and stewarded by The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada – signifies support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action and the journey of reconciliation in the wake of Canada’s Indian Residential School system.

“Reconciliation isn’t a point in time we’re working towards; it’s going to be an ongoing journey,” said Angie Hutchinson, the chair of United Way’s Council for Indigenous Relations (CIR).

A copy of The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action gifted to United Way by The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada sits alongside a medicine bag given by Angie Hutchinson. Also shown are a talking stick created and gifted to United Way by former Council for Indigenous Relations chair Christine Cyr and volumes of the TRC report.

A copy of The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action gifted to United Way by The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada sits alongside a medicine bag given by Angie Hutchinson. Also shown are a talking stick created and gifted to United Way by former Council for Indigenous Relations chair Christine Cyr and volumes of the TRC report.

“To me that’s what The Declaration means – that we as a Council and United Way are willing to engage on that journey with our Indigenous population and to move forward in a good way.”

Reid Hartry, who sits on United Way’s Board of Trustees and is also a CIR member, echoed Angie in saying reconciliation is a journey.

“Reconciliation, to me, is something that we’re going to be doing for the rest of my life.”

Reid said it’s been a very positive experience “to see members of the board who are really key actors in the community – people that really make Winnipeg move – are taking in what we’re saying and seeing that it’s important for it to be incorporated into everything we do and they do.”

CIR member Cathy Woods said there is much work to be done.

“It’s just the beginning.”

She said the journey of reconciliation is one that all Canadians need to be part of.

“Everybody needs to ask themselves, ‘what does truth and reconciliation look like to you?’”

The Declaration was presented to United Way in a box representative of the red cedar TRC Bentwood Box commissioned by the TRC and used at national events around Canada.

The Declaration was presented to United Way in a box representative of the red cedar TRC Bentwood Box commissioned by the TRC and used at national events around Canada.

Reconciliation is “a spirit and intent,” says Angie.

“It’s not an action, or an end-goal that we’re working towards. We’re working in the spirit and intent of reconciliation in all that we do.”

She said the spirit and intent of reconciliation includes fostering relationships built on equality and respect.

“True relationships. True partnerships. And, you know, checking all the power imbalances at the door and coming to the table as individuals, as human beings, and addressing how we can work together in a good way.”

Angie said she often meets people who have never heard of Canada’s residential school system. She hopes people will take the lead to become informed, and build the relationships necessary to understand.

“If you’re completely unaware of what people are talking about then educate yourself. And if you’re still unclear after you read things and educate yourself, talk to somebody. And if you’re unsure after that, talk to somebody else. Ask questions. That’s how you build relationships, is you just start on an individual level.

“It’s going to take courage from all Canadians to have difficult conversations.”

United Way encourages everyone to look at the TRC reports and 94 Calls to Action – based on six years of work and more than 6000 interviews by the TRC – and make use of excellent resources like Groundwork for Change that educate and contribute to relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people that are rooted in justice and solidarity.