At a memorable concert broadcast across our nation on August 20, Canadian legend Gord Downie stood on stage and in front of 11 million of us watching from our homes, cottages and community gatherings, he brought light on the issues facing Indigenous communities in Canada.
“It’s going to take us 100 years to figure out what the hell went on up there but it isn’t cool, and everybody knows that. It’s really, really bad. But we’re going to figure it out. You’re going to figure it out,” Mr. Downie said to the crowd.
This moment has been reported as a reflection of the need for the Prime Minister to lead the reconciliation movement across Canada. Indeed, we will look to Prime Minister Trudeau to show leadership. But the mission of reconciliation is all of OURS, the entire nation.
For reconciliation to succeed it will require commitment from governments, corporations, non-profits, schools and individuals. Since June 2014, the Katimavik Board has recognized this and has recently developed a reconciliation framework which will guide all its programs going forward.
We have heard the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) challenge all Canadians to heed their call and look at how they can actively engage in the implementation of each TRC’s Call to Action.Our Directors support these Calls to Action and realize that reconciliation with Indigenous communities is Canada’s single greatest social, economic and political issue. If we can reach out and achieve reconciliation we will have the best Canada possible. Our Directors have agreed that alongside the traditional objectives, youthdevelopment and community service, reconciliation needs to be a key pillar of all Katimavik programs. Hopeful that federal funding will be restored, we will complete the reconciliation curriculum and programming, focused on education and action.
Every Volunteer in our programs will learn about Indigenous history. They will learn about and discuss the impacts of colonization. Equally important, they will learn about the often ignored contributions that Indigenous people have made to this land and our ways of doing things.
Katimavik volunteers will seek out and develop relationships with local Indigenous communities. They will be challenged to learn the local Indigenous history and traditions and to incorporate these into their thinking as they serve these communities.
Katimavik will shine a light on the living situations of Indigenous people today and, through our volunteer programs and our partners, Canadian youth will lead initiatives to address some of these situations.
Katimavik will build on the successful approach that over 35,000 Canadians experienced Katimavik in years past. We will have the supportive ‘K’ house as a base for learning and dialogue for all volunteers, the group dynamic that carries each individual through the program and the necessary partnerships to facilitate success for each volunteer.
Katimavik has a rich history of building bridges among communities. Most alumni will look at our approach and see it resembles how we worked with communities in English Canada and Francophone Canada. Many alumni will even see their experiences working with Indigenous communities in this approach. We are proud to have this history of contributing to nation building through volunteerism and this focus on reconciliation is the next step. Our alumni association will be fully engaged in the movement and together we will continue to serve communities and be nation builders.
Former Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chair, Senator Murray Sinclair described reconciliation as a mountain waiting to be climbed. At Katimavik, we are ready to go for it. We welcome your feedback and would be happy to hear from you.
Miigwetch, thank you, merci,
Saga Williams Vice-Chair, Katimavik Board