A Summer Intern for Circles
Circles for Reconciliation was pleased to have Peeha Luthra, a Loran Scholar, as a summer intern for a full three months in 2020.
Patricia Barford Mann, a Member of our Advisory Committee in Toronto, had recommended us to the Loran Foundation. The program contacted us to ask if we would like to host and mentor a student for the summer with no cost to our program.
Peeha Luthra, a third year undergraduate, with a double major in English Literature and Political Science at McGill University joined us after interviews. Her maturity, her skills, her creativity and her initiative were infectious and she quickly became an integral part of our small team. We profited enormously as she took advantage of every opportunity to develop her many talents. We hoped that she would learn a great deal about reconciliation and her own description describes that she certainly did.
Peeha Luthra’s Article
My name is Peeha Luthra and I worked as the intern Office Assistant of Circles for Reconciliation from May 2020 to August 2020. My main task was to assist the Project Coordinator, in addition to other staff members, in their important work of developing and offering Circles across the country, both in-person and over Zoom.
As part of the team my work included aiding with grant applications, external communications, and editing of the educational themes. With the guidance of the team, I was entrusted with the design of the organization’s annual newsletter and other promotional materials and provided data entry for the new informational database.
I loved the collaborative process that was at the heart of Circles for Reconciliation; even as an intern, I always felt that my voice had value and meaning. I could see how the organization always emphasized and upheld the importance of mutually respectful relationships, because all the staff members, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, were invested in having an ongoing exchange of ideas in order to ensure they continued to advance reconciliation in the most thoughtful way.
I also participated in one of the Circles myself and received training to become a facilitator. During my time in the Circle, I was amazed to the see how much all the participants began to connect and care for each other. It was very moving to hear Indigenous people tell their honest stories of pain, which stemmed from this country’s brutal colonization, in addition to hearing them share the love they have for their communities and cultures. It was also meaningful to see non-Indigenous people commit themselves to continuing self-education on Indigenous histories and supporting Indigenous activism. The meetings became very emotional as everyone engaged in the process of learning about Canada’s history and present-day injustices together. I realized that the most important thing about a Circle is that it is simply the beginning – participants leave with the understanding that each of them, especially non-Indigenous people, have a responsibility to continue reconciliation activities in their own community, but will be able to do so with each other’s support.
My time at Circles for Reconciliation showed me that this project is truly a labor of love – the organization depends on the volunteer work of several staff members, in addition to over 200 facilitators and organizers across Canada. People participate in and contribute to the project because they understand in the importance of reconciliation and everyone doing what they can to create an equitable society.
I feel grateful for this experience and I will be carrying the memory of this summer with me as I continue to learn more about Indigenous cultures and how to respectfully support Indigenous activism as a non-Indigenous settler in this country.