Saturday June 10, 2017

Circles for Reconciliation is reconciliation in action

Circles of reconciliation 1:31

Listen 5:36

The premise is simple: a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people meet 10 times, sit in a circle, and talk. What they talk about, however, is anything but simple. Topics like Indian residential schools, forgiveness from an Indigenous perspective, intergenerational trauma, and what reconciliation means to each person are discussed.

Everyone is welcome, and there are dozens of Circles for Reconciliation groups set up now.

"The day the interim report from the TRC was released in June 2015 I read it online. The first sentence of the last paragraph states, in bold type, 'There is no reason for anyone who wants to contribute to the reconciliation process to wait until the publication of the Commission's final reports.' I decided I wanted to do something," said Raymond Currie, the founder of Circles for Reconciliation. 


A smudge bowl with sage and offerings of tobacco and sweet grass at a Circles for Reconciliation group. (Circles for Reconcilliation)

For Currie, who is 84, doing something meant creating a grassroots movement where reconciliation — which he said is the most important issue in our country — is fostered through shared conversations.

At the start he faced some opposition. There were people in the Indigenous community who were skeptical of a white man trying to save them, but Currie took the criticism in stride.  

"Why should an Indigenous person trust me? We've had 150 years of a lack of trust," he said.

Part of what is driving Currie to do this work is his own family history. He has two adopted children, his son is First Nations, while his daughter is Métis and he has spent much of his life trying to help them connect to their culture, and advocating for them.

Circles for Reconciliation

A group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people participating in Circles for Reconciliation. (Circles for Reconciliation)

Instead of becoming defensive, he looked at the skepticism as an opportunity, and consulted with more elders. He ended up spending nine months consulting with different Indigenous groups and elders, and created a partnership of an equal mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people interested in reconciliation. 

Currie has a goal of having 100 circles going within two years.

"I think we're going to have 100 this year. We had one group going before Christmas, and now we have 18 going with another starting next week."

Listen to Currie's full interview above, and if you're interested in finding out more about Circles For Reconciliation or finding a group, click here.