Gathering Theme: Getting To Know You

Download a printable pdf file of the theme from this link.

Gathering Theme: First Gathering

Getting to Know You


Documents and Materials to bring (Facilitator’s checklist)
 Opening statement
 Seven Sacred Teachings of the Anishinaabe
 6 copies of the closing protocol
 Talking stick
 Smudging tobacco, etc., or invocation (If desired)
 Refreshments
 Kleenex
 Small pads of paper and pencils for participants (if necessary)
 Other items unique to your group
 Materials on the Theme of the meeting


Introducing the circle format

Our meetings are usually an hour and fifteen minutes, unless we agree to extend them. In that way those who wish to leave can do so without feeling they are disrupting anything. If others want to stay and discuss a bit longer, that is possible (as long as the facility does not have to be locked up). We ask you to be very conscious of your sharing time. We will be meeting many times, you will have many opportunities to share your thoughts and feelings.

There are five parts to a circle:

  1. Opening statement (Facilitator reads)
  2. The Seven Sacred Teachings (To be read aloud by one of the participants)
  3. Presentation of a theme (12 to 15 minutes)
  4. Passing the talking stick (45 to 50 minutes)
  5. Closing protocol (To be read aloud by participants)


As we begin, there are some housekeeping things to discuss:

  1. “In this first gathering we want to establish a climate of “mutual recognition and mutual respect” to use the words of the Truth and Reconciliation Report. No matter what your background and life experiences we want to respect you, by listening to you and by recognizing the value of you as a person and what you have to bring to our gathering. It is important that we agree on this respect for one another at the outset. When a participant has the talking stick it is important that we all listen and not interrupt.
  2. Themes: Over the course of our gatherings we will tackle a number of issues. There are 21 themes we have identified. The first four weeks we will address the following themes:
    Week 1) Getting to know you
    Week 2) Misconceptions about Indigenous People
    Week 3) What is Reconciliation?
    Week 4) Intergenerational Trauma
  3. As a group we will be able to choose the next themes we want to address. For example:
    The history and impact of residential schools.
    The meaning of land for Indigenous people.
    The sixties scoop and its ongoing reality.
    The justice system and Indigenous people.
    Métis Identity and Nationhood.
    The Pass System
  4. We urge you to plan to attend all meetings. The rhythm of the circle is disrupted if people come and go. Sometimes it is unavoidable but we ask you to recognize the value of coming regularly.
  5. We encourage you to go on the website ( It changes virtually every week.
  6. If you decide the theme for the following week people can read it on the website before coming to the meeting if they wish. Also there are all kinds of resources on our website, including short and long videos.
  7.  Does anyone need transportation either to come or to get home?
  8. If we wish, we can take a private guided tour of the Exhibit on Treaties at the Manitoba Museum free of charge. The circles who have gone already have found it really interesting and educational. We will raise this possibility at a later meeting.

Today’s Theme: Getting to Know You

(facilitator reads)
We are calling this first session, a “getting to know you” session, where each of us can tell a bit about ourselves.
(Facilitators can google “Icebreakers for groups” and be free to choose the one best suited for their group. There are many choices.)

Here is the most common icebreaker for Getting to Know You:

“I suggest that we go around the group and in about 3-4 minutes each, share the following: a) Our name,  b) where are you from,  c) our cultural identity/background,  d) why we decided to take part in these gatherings, e) what we hope to bring to our life from these gatherings.  Let me begin…”

(The facilitator would begin by taking about 3 or 4 minutes (about 40 minutes in total) to share so that participants would have a sense of the expectations.)

Setting the tone
(Facilitator reads)
“I would like to ask you how you think we can set a “tone” for our discussions so that they are respectful of one another as persons and in our use of time. Are there any thoughts you have on setting a respectful tone? We don’t have to have rules as such, but it would be helpful if we agreed on how we will conduct ourselves.

For example:

  1. It is very important that we all recognize that the feelings of an individual are neither right nor wrong. They are real and need to be respected.
  2. In accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, the four guiding principles for the new relationship are “mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing, and mutual responsibility.” (Interim Report, page 23)
  3. We ask you to be conscious of your sharing time so that everyone has a chance to participate. Because we have a number of gatherings you will have ample opportunity to share your ideas and feelings.


Are there any other suggestions about setting the tone for our meetings?

Pass the talking stick
At this point we are going to pass the talking stick around the circle. You are free to pass if you wish. Think about 3 to 4 minutes for sharing. Remember that you have a number of meetings upcoming when you will also have time to share.

Closing Protocol
Each of our meetings will end with a closing protocol.

Five of the participants will now read one sentence from the Closing and all will join the 6th person in reading the last sentence of the closing.