From October 31st to November 4th, 2016, our team participated in Ryerson University’s 6th Annual Social Justice Week: Decolonizing and Transforming Social Justice. We participated in a few events throughout the week that discussed climate change, Indigenous sovereignty, decolonization of community practice and a talking circle that was open to all Ryerson students and faculty.
At these events, we carried out tabling sessions and prepared a question prompt. The prompt asked participants: “What Does Reconciliation Mean to You?” This was used to gather student and faculty responses on their role in reconciliation. We gathered 26 responses, all of which were valuable perspectives on the Ryerson community’s responsibility to reconciliation.
One response: “Reconciliation means knowing about the past of colonization and residential schools, understanding that the oppression continues today and then taking that knowledge and building a new relationship of equality and respect -walk down a better path, a good path.”
We attended five sessions in total. Below are the discussions that were particularly inspiring to us.
What Will Decolonizing Community Practice Look Like?
This panel discussion highlighted what decolonization entails, and our roles as participants in the process. One of the panels mentioned that “re-centering” ought to be the focus of decolonization, a statement that has become a guiding principle for our team in planning our campus activities.
Talking Circle (Open to the Ryerson Community)
This activity really opened our eyes to a different facilitation style of dialogue and allowed us to see the fruits of a safe space being created for collective participation. What was great was that this discussion was oriented around our original question prompt “What Does Reconciliation Mean To You?”, which meant that we had the honour of hearing verbal responses from all the participants. We were particularly grateful to learn from the way the talking circle operated and allowed for a diverse range of opinions to be exchanged and discussed respectfully.This experience has also informed our UofMosaic activities and has given us a starting point for building a discussion about reconciliation on campus.
Participating at our school’s Social Justice Week provided our group a valuable opportunity to think about the appropriate attitude and approaches that we should take in bringing discussions on Indigenous issues in Canada to the Ryerson community, as outsiders who are not part of the Indigenous community ourselves. It was a chance for us to reaffirm that we need to put in extra effort and care to ensure that the voice of Indigenous peoples remain at the center of our work at all times.
By: UofMosaic Fellows at Ryerson University (Rina Afendi, Lauren Kim, Hayley Hanks and Amanda Louise Macdonald)