Submitted by Kootenay-Columbia Discovery Centre Society
On March 20, several Creston Valley non-profit organizations attended a Reconciliation Dialogue Workshop sponsored by the Kootenay-Columbia Discovery Centre Society (KCDCS).
The Board of KCDCS was joined by representatives from Kootenay Employment Services, Wildsight, Creston Museum, Valley Community Services, Trails for Creston Society, and Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority, for a half-day session led by Shelley Joseph from the Skwxwu’mesh (Squamish) First Nation.
Ms. Joseph began with a prayer and a traditional song to help participants understand the “shared history” of our country and what “reconciliation” means in principle and in practice. She discussed how the Indian Act treated Indigenous people differently from other Canadians and led to the establishment of Indian Residential Schools. She went on to talk about her own family’s experiences. Her personal story was passionate and affected all of us.
“We arranged the workshop to help local non-profits understand what ‘reconciliation’ means and how it might apply in our personal and organizational lives,” said Jim Posynick, Chair of KCDCS. “It was clear from post-workshop comments that it opened many eyes. Hearing about the impact of the Indian Act and residential schools from people who have been, and continue to be affected, was powerful and thought provoking.”
The second part of the workshop saw participants break into small groups and asked them about their own perceptions of what “reconciliation” means and what, if anything, they might do to make it happen, right here in the Creston Valley.
Participants spoke about acknowledging, respecting Indigenous people and being accepting and welcoming on a day to day basis. They also spoke of the need to be loving and non-judgmental.
“The idea that we should embrace our Indigenous friends as equal and valuable community members came through loud and clear,” said Posynick. “I believe all of us left the workshop better informed and better prepared for future interactions with First Nations people generally and the Yaqan Nukiy people in particular.”
An unexpected but welcome outcome of the workshop was the consensus by participants to meet more often and explore opportunities to learn together and discuss important matters affecting all of us in the Creston Valley.
“The Squamish Nation has a value we ought to keep in mind,” added Posynick. “The value is called ‘Namwayut’, which translates as ‘we are all one’.”