Manitoba

Manitoba increases funding for program that fosters dialogue between Indigenous, non-Indigenous people

A national campaign to encourage reconciliation through conversation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians has been given a funding boost from the Manitoba government.

$167K from province will cover 3 years of staff salaries at Circles for Reconciliation

An older woman is speaking at a podium, wearing a purple shirt with ribbons across it.
Elder Amanda Wallen participated in a circle in 2021. (CBC)

A national campaign to encourage reconciliation through conversation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians has been given a funding boost from the Manitoba government.

Manitoba announced it is providing $167,000 toward the operation of Circles for Reconciliation. The national organization, based in Winnipeg, has fostered more than 100 small group gatherings across the country since it began in 2016.

At an announcement on Tuesday, elder Amanda Wallen spoke about her experience after reaching out to the group in 2020, and receiving a response from co-founder and retired University of Manitoba professor Richard Currie.

"Throughout our whole conversation I felt the Creator's presence, and I could hear and feel the sincerity, the want in his voice, to bring real reconciliation to all people," she said.

Each circle consists of 10 participants — five Indigenous and five non-Indigenous, along with two trained facilitators — who commit to 10 meetings. 

Discussion topics include dispelling misconceptions about Indigenous people, impacts of residential schools, the meaning of land for Indigenous people, Métis identity, and the spirit of the treaties.

Everyone in the circle learned from each other during the 10 weeks they were gathering, Wallen said.

"I was able to let go of a resentment that was buried so deep I didn't realize I had it," she said.

The Manitoba government has been funding the organization since 2018, when it committed $25,000. 

The latest round of funding will cover staff salaries for 2021 to 2023.

This new funding marks an increase from previous years, and is needed to meet growing demand, said Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere.

"Huge demand for this across Manitoba, from non-Indigenous and Indigenous groups, to get these groups together and build that understanding, those respectful relationships," he said.

In Manitoba, circles have been held in Winnipeg, Brandon, Flin Flon, Selkirk and Thompson.

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