Today is National Aboriginal Day and for Canada, it can be a fraught term. Although we are a nation of immigrants and Indigenous peoples, our brutal colonial history has been coming to light. We have walked a path of displacement, uncaring, ignored treaties, forced assimilation, mistreatment of Indigenous children in residential schools including physical, sexual abuse and even murder culminating in what the TRC has referenced as the key historical damage undertaken by Canada over 150 years. This cultural genocide must be confronted.
We have been called to action by our Truth and Reconciliation Commission to set a new path, and it is our responsibility as Canadians to think carefully about how we can use what we have to build a stronger Canada, one founded on cooperation and mutual respect.
Remember that, apart from Canada’s Indigenous people, we are all immigrants from a wide ranging number of diasporas. Some have been here for generations, while others are newcomers.
The Mosaic Institute specialises in creating spaces for dialogue among diverse Canadian communities. It stands the test of our mandate to embrace Indigenous communities, welcoming them into the Mosaic family and work with them towards reconciliation with Canadians through an understanding of shared experiences.
We leverage our research and dialogue projects through public engagement initiatives that informs discourse and influences policy matters relating to diverse Canadian communities. Our Indigenous initiatives, like all of our work, emphasize our Model for Social Change: 1) Dialogue 2) Research 3) Action.
We are therefore very proud to announce our three initiatives, in partnership with Professor David MacDonald at the University of Guelph and the Chiefs of Ontario, focusing on important Indigenous issues:
1) New Beginnings: Survivors’ Stories (Dialogue)
Engaging in indigenous/non-Indigenous reconciliation by exploring intergenerational trauma among Indigenous peoples and other survivor groups in Canada
With the number of survivors of genocide in Canada from various communities ageing and dwindling, there is an arising challenge to the memorialization of acts of genocide, the legacy of survivors and genocide prevention. There is a long overdue need for a conversation to take place between these groups in order to preserve these perspectives and record them.
The timing is right for such a conversation given the recent conclusion of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the numerous calls to action generated by the TRC. Call to action 66 of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission states: “We call upon the federal government to establish multiyear funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation, and establish a national network to share information and best practices.”
The call to action of the TRC falls under the Mosaic Institute’s “New Beginnings” model. The framework of this call to action, the Mosaic Institute, in partnership with the Chiefs of Ontario Youth Council, is uniquely positioned to bring youth (age 18 – 30) from these groups together and form a Steering Committee in order to collaboratively gather testimony, while also turning that testimony and survivor stories into publishable narratives for the community at large.
2) With Professor David MacDonald, University of Guelph (Research)
Contributing to research about how people of colour can contribute to the reconciliation process, and also to consider what impediments are present that need to be overcome to make this possible.
Professor MacDonald’s SSHRC project aims to gain a sense of what people of colour understand about the reconciliation process, what they may be getting out of it, and whether the reconciliation process is perceived as a white Settler and Indigenous issue exclusively with other people sitting on the sidelines. The Mosaic Institute and Professor MacDonald have complementary interests in engaging diverse Canadian communities to discuss the reconciliation process and the perception(s) of indigenous Canadians. Based on our past research models and using our Model of Dialogue, the Mosaic Institute will engage specific Canadian communities about these issues.
3) The Responsibility to Protect Culture (Action)
Producing policy notes about the Repatriation of First Nations Artifacts and Historical Items.
The Mosaic Institute, in partnership with the Chiefs of Ontario, the Chiefs of Ontario Young People’s Council and Ontario-based university students, will facilitate and participate in a research-working group. The working group will draft a policy brief to be presented to the Canadian government via the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs the Hon Carolyn Bennett MP. The brief will include speaking points that could be implemented in to a Canadian-led UN address or speech.
The policy brief will provide a framework regarding how the Canadian government can advocate and accept the need to repatriate First Nations artifacts and historical items to their rightful owners. The repatriation of artifacts has been highlighted as a call to action by the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and, through this policy brief; Canada could present itself as a thought leader at the United Nations regarding indigenous rights.
Image from the Government of Canada https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100013248/1100100013249