We are now passing the Talking Stick virtually…

Reconciliation cannot be put on hold!

Circles for Reconciliation did not let the devastation of a worldwide pandemic stop our trajectory or derail our commitment to the path of reconciliation.

We had to suspend our active circles in Toronto, Winnipeg, Selkirk, Brandon and Regina. We held back on circles that were about to be launched in a number of other communities. Our dedicated Toronto staff are in temporary layoff status.

Then we came up with a plan to move forward.

We would offer circles by on-line teleconferencing – Zoom. On April 13, we contacted the people who had registered to be trained as facilitators, and we extended that reach with help from our Indigenous Recruiter. Within a week, we received 100 responses from people who wanted to participate.

On Monday, April 27, we launched seven fully booked circles, with three circles taking place on Monday mornings, one on Tuesdays, and three more on Thursday evenings. In total, we have 70 participants, who are equally divided between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, including two previously trained facilitators in each circle. The participants come from 29 communities, cities, towns and First Nations Bands that stretch from Halifax to Victoria. They have been taking turns hosting circles, and are now sharing emails, resources, insights and feelings with one another.

There are more people signed up and waiting for our next Zoom circles. Additionally, we are now seriously considering offering on-line teleconferencing circles within new communities, such as; Victoria, Ottawa, and some smaller towns. By the middle of July, we will have trained facilitators in over 60 communities across Canada, who are all eager to work towards creating circles in their communities. We also look forward to the time when we will be able to offer in-person circles once again and encourage both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to register.

This development is the result of extraordinary amounts of time, energy and expertise from volunteers across the country, and illustrates well what the TRC tells us:

“Reconciliation begins with each and every one of us. “

Photos used with permission


Significant Circle Developments
(click on the plus sign to view content)

Statistical Update

Statistical Update

Although COVID-19 led us to postpone all our active Circles in Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan nevertheless we have some important developments we can share with you:

This chart is one summary of our progress to the middle of March 2020. The total number of people hours spent in our circles is an important measure. With over 3,000 participants the 12,000 hours indicates the extent to which we are successful in engaging the same people to share with one another over a large number of hours. Our survey of our participants at the end of each ten-week Circle tells us how inspiring this sharing is.  

First Nation Reserves

  • When a chance meeting with Ry Moran, Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, occurred on the campus of the University of Manitoba in the Fall of 2019, he immediately invited me to drop in to meet the new national Advisory Council of Elders. As I explained our project, an Elder asked: “What about Reserves? Are Indigenous people on Reserves part of your project?” I can now answer “Yes indeed”. In Manitoba we have made significant inroads in creating partnerships with two First Nations Reserves: Rolling River (near Riding Mountain National Park) and Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation (near Steinbach and Altona). These community relationships complement our ongoing relationships with Indigenous individuals. In each case we have visited the reserves twice and trained facilitators, including some from local communities. Since a circle involves ten meetings, our plan is to host five meetings on the reserves and five meetings in an adjoining community, such as Minnedosa and Neepawa (partnering with Rolling River First Nation) and Altona and Steinbach (partnering with Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation). The COVID-19 pandemic delayed our plan to launch our first collaborative Circles. We believe this is a model that could be replicated across the country.

Circles in French

  • In March 2020 we are grateful to have received a grant from Francofonds Foundation. This will support our ability to offer Circles in French. This will happen because two professors from St. Boniface University are in the midst of translating all our materials pro bono. This is a very substantial gift of time. As Anne Sechin said to me:  “This is my contribution to reconciliation.” 

Media

  • We are most grateful to our volunteers: Kate Mackenzie who has established and creates content for our Instagram, Sandra Barsy who is our Webmaster, and Jimmy Thunder and Kristen Hicks who have created five videos in the past year.

Incorporation

  • On December 23, 2019 we received notice of our incorporation across Canada. We are now in the process of finalizing new by-laws and applying for charitable status. In the meantime, we remain under the aegis of the University of Manitoba for all our financial matters
Can parents (as well as their children) learn about reconciliation?
  • In Winnipeg, our partnership with River East School Division is bearing fruit. We have begun the first Circle for parents. The ten Indigenous and non-Indigenous parents plus two facilitators come to the school in the evening for the Circles. They are then able to talk to their children about reconciliation, and begin to have an impact in the community. We are optimistic this is the first of several such Circles and we believe this also is a model that could be replicated across the country.
  • MacDonald Youth Services has taken a lead in training its own staff. In addition to the four ten-week Circles for their staff, they have also started a Circle for parents who have fostered or adopted Indigenous children.

Partnerships

  • We have developed a wonderful relationship with Immigration Partnership Winnipeg.  In addition to offering a number of circles involving new Canadians with Indigenous people, we have just created a document to be used in their curriculum development on Indigenous people in Canada. We encourage you to read the new article in our resources section: “Respect, Trust, Treaties and Reconciliation.” It reflects a bit of our opening to facilitator training, providing an historical context for the TRC. 
  • Among the many partnerships in our work, we offered a webinar organized by College of Social Workers in Manitoba which was held in September of 2019. It attracted 408 social workers from every province and territory in Canada and led to a significant number of social workers asking how to start a Circle in their community.
  • In April of 2019.  Trevor Surgenor, Director, Public Library Services Branch in Manitoba, contacted us after hearing of our grant from the Provincial government. He gave us the opportunity offer a 30-minute webinar to all 54 Directors of libraries in Manitoba. The result was that many of the libraries display our poster and brochures and several offer the use of library space as a neutral site for our 10-week Circles. Such partnerships with libraries are also occurring in Toronto.

Developing Circles across Canada

  • There has been a great deal of progress in Toronto in the past year, thanks to two part-time staff, Susan Dowan and Paula Messina. At the time of the virus lockdown, two Circles were ongoing and four others were in the advanced preparation stage, one being our first Circle at a Jewish Synagogue. In addition, Toronto has developed a large number of potential participants for future Circles. 
  • Thanks to Keith Neuman, who recently moved from Toronto to Ottawa, there are significant developments in the Ottawa region, such that Clayton Sandy and Raymond Currie are considering a trip to Ottawa after the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions are lifted.
  • We made significant progress in Saskatchewan. This year, we trained a total of 37 facilitators in separate facilitator workshops in Regina and Saskatoon, including people from Prince Albert as well. An interesting development in Regina, initiated by the local organizer Nancy Yee, is that facilitators who were trained decided to start their own ten-week Circle. We will try to replicate that idea as we do future training of facilitators. We have also begun a collaboration with the Treaty Commissioner’s Office in Saskatchewan.
  • In British Columbia, we trained facilitators in Victoria via Skype. Our local organizer in Victoria, Margaret Slade, has been very active. One of the initiatives of the Victoria group has been to identify five of our themes that need modest revisions to reflect their local Indigenous history. We expect to review the proposed revisions shortly. 
  • Ken Friesen has begun his role as volunteer Regional Coordinator for all Circles West of Manitoba. He was part of our team visits to Regina and Saskatoon to help train facilitators and will plan to travel to B.C. in the near future.
  • One of our most dedicated volunteers has assisted us in training in Winnipeg, rural Manitoba, Regina, Saskatoon, as well as on Skype with Victoria.
  • Currently, we have $195,000 in outstanding grant application requests. We have been informed by some of the agencies that there will be delays in their decision-making process, which is of great concern to us.

In the meantime, we would love to hear from you.

email us (info@circlesforreconciliation.ca) or call
Raymond Currie at 1-204-487-0512


If you would like copies of our pamphlet to distribute to other potential participants, please feel free to view, download or print it here.

Members of the Advisory Committee

Raymond F. Currie – Project Coordinator
Clayton Sandy – Indigenous Ambassador
Ingrid Dowan – Indigenous Recruiter, Event Coordinator and Project Advisor
Linda ConnorSocial Studies Curriculum Consultant, Manitoba Education and Training
Clarence Ens – Mental Health Therapist, WHRA
Katelyn Mackenzie – Office and Research Assistant, Instructor, University of Winnipeg
Jack Mercredi – Office of the Manitoba Ombudsman, recently retired
Kali Leary – Principal Consultant, Sage Solutions
Maraleigh Short – Coordinator, Newcomer Youth Wellness Program, YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg
Mary Warmbrod – Family Therapist, Aurora Family Therapy Centre


About the logo

 “I am a Wakka Wakka person living in Bundjalung Country on the east coast of Australia.  The image for me is about women’s healing and the different shades of our skin since the colonization and introduction of genocide and that no matter what we look like we still have a place in the circle.  The leaves we use when we dance to prepare an area for ceremony by cleansing”.

Belle Arnold

 

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