A ‘walk for reconciliation’ proposed at Aboriginal Affairs Committee
Nov. 3, 2016
A proposal for a ‘walk for reconciliation’ was presented before the Aboriginal Affairs Committee on Thursday. Reconciliation Canada, a grassroots non-profit organization, held their first walk in Vancouver in 2013. They are hoping to do a second, in Toronto, in September 2017 following the City’s celebrations for Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation.
For Karen Joseph, CEO of Reconciliation Canada, the reason for the walk is personal. “My father, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, is one of the founding fathers of reconciliation and the truth and reconciliation process in this country, and he’s always been adamant that reconciliation is a Canadian issue, not an indigenous issue.”
The walk is intended to be inclusive of all backgrounds. “We try and put people through a diverse transformative experience as they progress along the course,” Joseph explains.
Committee member Blanche Meawassige’s 34-year-old daughter was at the walk for reconciliation in Vancouver to coincide with B.C.’s Reconciliation Week in September, 2013. “She was not surprised but rather encouraged, is the word, to see the tremendous amount of support the walk received from different communities.” Meawassige said her daughter went out for the walk at the closing of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Other committee members said they want to make sure a reconciliation walk includes action. “We had Idle No More, those are good impacts, but you don’t hear it any more. It seems to just mellow down; it’s gone away,” said Larry Frost, executive director of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, after the meeting. “Now, was there an impact in that? I don’t know. There may have been a small impact, but was there a major impact to the governments, the people who make those – like Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau, was there an impact on his thinking?” While a national inquiry in missing and murdered indigenous women is ongoing, Frost says he feels like he wants to see more attention from the government to the issue.
Joseph and Gina Doxtator, senior director of partnerships for Reconciliation Canada, will go on to present the idea from Reconciliation Canada at Executive Committee.
As for other support for public activities at city hall, Committee Co-chair Councillor Mike Layton would like to see an aboriginal office set up and operational in time for this walk. “As the largest population of aboriginal people in a city across Canada, a dedicated aboriginal affairs office will help us ensure we are meeting the needs of this community,” Layton said after the meeting.