Circles for Reconciliation
Federal government funds grassroots Reconciliation initiative in Winnipeg
The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, announced the recipients of Heritage Canada 150 awards on April 28, one of which went to a project headed by Dean Emeritus Raymond Currie.
Currie, in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, is directing the project Circles for Reconciliation, which received $45,000 from the federal government to lead discussion groups on Reconciliation. The project, which aims to establish trusting, meaningful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, has also received support from The Winnipeg Foundation.
Circles for Reconciliation is a grassroots initiative that will create 100 discussion groups in Winnipeg in the next two years; 18 are already completed – one of which was composed of undergraduate students in the Faculty of Architecture. (Learn how you can get involved by clicking here.)
Each Circle consists of 10 people: five Indigenous and five non-Indigenous people who will meet 10 times. After presenting a different theme on some dimension of Reconciliation each week, with the help of a talking stick, the participants listen and speak about their personal experiences related to the theme of the day.
After one Circle, a participant wrote to Currie, saying: “I have befriended a Circle participant as an action. Super! I have had transactional experiences with Indigenous people before, i.e. buying and selling, but this is the first time I have ever sat down face to face and shared and listened to what is near and dear to each of us.”
For Currie, this is the legacy and impact he wants this project to have.
“That statement epitomizes what we hope to achieve through our Circles,” he says. “If we can help foster meaningful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, the lost trust will be restored and in partnership we will work together toward Reconciliation.”
As President David Barnard said in a statement to Senate in 2016, “we cannot reconcile, we cannot build bridges to cooperation and collaboration, until we truly listen.”
Advancing Reconciliation and making Manitoba a centre of Indigenous excellence are institutional priorities and a pillar of the University of Manitoba’s Front and Centre campaign.
Other initiatives and events
On Thursday, May 4, Indigenous leaders from across the country will share their experiences, perspectives and lessons learned in their respective journeys toward empowering Indigenous peoples, improving education in Indigenous communities, and moving from theory to action in Reconciliation. Former Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Paul Martin, will moderate this Indigenous Leadership Roundtable.
Students can also get involved in the Indigenous Circle of Empowerment.