KAIROS gathering ignites conversations on reconciliation

OTTAWA, ON-Indigenous and non-Indigenous people engaged in powerful conversations at KAIROS events, leading up to and complementing the close of the historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and the release of its findings and recommendations after six years of research on the impacts of Indian Residential Schools.

KAIROS Canada's Time for Reconciliation inter-generational gathering brought together more than 400 people from across Canada, primarily from church and Indigenous communities, on May 29–30 and June 1 at Carleton University and Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa, the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

KAIROS is a social justice organization of eleven Canadian Christian churches and religious organizations. Its work focuses on Indigenous rights, human rights and ecological justice.

Time for Reconciliation events featured interactive workshops and panel discussions by leading thinkers on Indigenous rights. Workshops covered the history of residential schools and Indigenous peoples, youth engagement, hands-on learning based on Indigenous wisdom, and the impacts of colonization abroad, particularly on women.

"Recognition is the first step to reconciliation," said Gabrielle Fayant, Co-founder of the Indigenous youth-led organization Assembly of Seven Generations and moderator of the first panel on May 29. "Recognition means recognizing that we have a long way to go. It means recognizing each other as we are with differences but with the potential to collaborate for real change, and I truly believe that real change is in front of our eyes right now."

In a discussion on decolonization, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald said that colonization, particularly residential schools, is "a moral wound that impacts our lives."

"People are waking up, but a large number do not understand the large wound inflicted on Indigenous peoples," said Bishop MacDonald. "We are in a period of awakening on Turtle Island."

KAIROS' program manager, Ed Bianchi spearheaded Time for Reconciliation to start a conversation about how to move forward following the release of the TRC's recommendations on June 2.

"We are encouraged by how many people want to be part of that conversation," said Bianchi. "Many feel so inspired by what they've heard that they want to get involved."

KAIROS is continuing the conversation through its Wings of Change campaign, which launches this fall. The campaign invites all people in Canada to advance the TRC's 94 recommendations, learn more about the watersheds and traditional Indigenous territories they live on, educate themselves about the history of colonization, and advocate for change in their communities, provinces and country.

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