What does reconciliation mean to you?

It's been a year since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report, offering 94 calls to action — a general handbook on how to achieve reconciliation within Canada. But what is reconciliation?

Young people in Manitoba share their ideas for reconciliation

CBC Manitoba gathered 6 people from diverse backgrounds to have a critical discussion about reconciliation in Canada. (Tim Fontaine)

It's been a year since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report, offering 94 calls to action — a general handbook on how to achieve reconciliation within Canada.

But what is reconciliation? What does it mean to Canadians?

CBC recently brought five people from the Winnipeg area together to share their ideas for reconciliation and how move forward in this country. Here they are in their own words.

Ivana Yellowback

Ivana Yellowback is Nehinaw (Cree) from Manito Sipi Cree Nation. She is a student at the University of Winnipeg and works with youth in the child welfare system. (Tim Fontaine/CBC)
Being an Indigenous person in Canada, reconciliation is the treaties, honouring and acknowledging our treaties. The reason I say "our" is because it's all of ours. Our communities are sovereign, distinct nations. We are not minorities, we are Indigenous nations. Our nations made an agreement with Canada on a nation-to-nation basis. These were peace and friendship treaties. In these treaties, we did not cede our lands. These are still our territories, these are still our lands.

With those territories, there were agreements placed.

To talk about reconciliation, it means to learn about those treaties depending on what territory you are on.

The Canadian education system does not talk about the treaties.

Canada is an honourable nation, and we need to keep our promises and keep that respect.

Warda Ahmed

Warda Rusheeye is originally from Somalia and has been in Canada for 12 years. She works with Syrian youth as a recreation co-ordinator. (Tim Fontaine/CBC)
As someone from a community that is fairly new to Canada, it means for me that I need to learn about the history of Canada, and what happened to Indigenous peoples.

I need to continuously learn from the people rather than learn from books and institutions. I need to make sure that my people, from my ancestral country, as well as other Muslim community newcomers, would learn about it along the way. I need to make sure that the message goes across correctly. And then I need to make sure that we are standing next to Indigenous peoples while they're doing this work to make sure reconciliation is happening properly.

So I hold a responsibility of two ways — to educate myself and my community, and do the work of standing next to Indigenous people to make sure that reconciliation happens, according to their rights.

Maya Nabigon

Maya Nabigon is Anishinaabe from Sagkeeng First Nation. (Tim Fontaine/CBC)
The term reconciliation … is the healing of two nations coming together to find common ground and to move forward on any difficulties they have had.

When I think about reconciliation, as an Indigenous woman, I feel like the term has been used to pacify people. It's thrown around loosely. It kind of troubles me, and makes me realize that there's a lot of work to do on our end as Indigenous people. But I see it, I see the youth coming up and it makes me so proud. In order for us to stand as a nation and to reconcile, we need to be strong in who we are and with our identity,

Education is important. People always refer to education being the new buffalo. We need to educate ourselves and be ready.

Alexa Potashnik

Alexa Potashnik is a student at the University of Winnipeg. She is the founder of Black Space Winnipeg. (Tim Fontaine/CBC)
I like the notion of self-determination. When you rob a nation of their cultural identity for generations, then that leaves a present impact. When I hear reconciliation in modern social discourse, it often gets thrown around. I don't think it's approached with authenticity or cultural sensitivity.

We're in a time where we're seeing the aftermath of residential schools. What I really hope is that it addresses the modern genocide that Indigenous peoples are still going through today.

I like that our prime minister is addressing things like missing and murdered Indigenous women, but it's still happening.

Reconciliation is not hiding our past, because if you do, you're bound to repeat it.

If you're going to try to address such a damaging effect on what you did to people for generations, then you have to start with raw dialogue and make people feel uncomfortable.

Craig Adolphe

Craig Adolphe is Métis and lives in St. Boniface. He is editor in chief at the University of Manitoba's school newspaper, The Manitoban. (Tim Fontaine/CBC)
Right now, when people are talking about reconciliation, I see it as a bit of a moment for Indigenous people to define themselves or redefine themselves to the broader public. Not just for them [the public], but for themselves too.

I'm Métis, my experience is pretty different than other people's. I use the term Aboriginal to identify myself. But the term Indigenous, there's a political element to it, in terms of reclamation of identity and being a part of an international movement, and I never saw myself as a part of that.

Ahmad Moussa

Ahmad Moussa is originally from Palestine. He is a sessional instructor at Menno Simons College. (Tim Fontaine/CBC)
As a Palestinian, we are Indigenous people, but my presence on this territory means I'm still part of the system that is colonizing Indigenous people.

I have a responsibility as an individual and as an outsider of this territory. My role is that I stand beside the Indigenous people of this territory. Their struggle is to restore and recover their right to self-determination. It starts with respect. Respect has not been the essence of the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state.

What we need to do as individuals is to respect Indigenous peoples of this territory — respect their beliefs, their cultures, their way of life, and to stand behind them as they recover that right. That to me is reconciliation.

Participants' contributions were edited for length.


Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He was an associate producer with CBC Indigenous.