Honouring the Indigenous community: Ways to work toward reconciliation

"It seems important for a nation to know about its glorious achievements, but also to know where its ideals failed in order to keep that from happening again."
--George Takei
In 2021, Bill C-5 was passed, creating a statutory holiday on September 30 commemorating the tragic legacy of the residential school system in Canada. This date was picked because it signifies the time of year when Indigenous children were historically forcibly removed from their homes and taken to residential schools. 
On September 30, the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin and the Jewish Federation of Ottawa encourage you to learn and acknowledge the reality of this traumatic history, to understand the challenges faced by Indigenous people in both the past and present, and consider your next steps towards true reconciliation.  
“As a Sixties Scoop Survivor, who was adopted and raised in a Jewish family, I live with a foot in two different oppressed communities, and I can assure you that intergenerational trauma is real in both of these worlds.  For 10 years, I worked promoting social justice educational resources that were focussed around the Holocaust.  Although I would never compare two events in history, I will tell you that finding similarities between these two communities and histories has been my drive for learning and has created much empathy.  Empathy has a beautiful way of creating the perfect breeding ground for openness, which in turn creates understanding.  It is not until we are prepared to learn and understand, that true reconciliation can take place.”
Lisa Wilder speaks these powerful words as we approach a sad day of remembrance for the Indigenous community and for all of Canada. 
Lisa resides in Calgary and her story is told in the anthology Silence to Strength: Writings and Reflections on the Sixties Scoop. The“Sixties Scoop” is a period of time when the large-scale removal or “scooping” of Indigenous children from their homes, communities, and families occurred. The children were often moved into the child welfare system, in most cases without the consent of their families or bands. Please stay tuned for details about an upcoming visit by Lisa to Ottawa in late January.
The Day of Truth and Reconciliation is a time for many things, including educating ourselves about the history of the Indigenous people of our land and how we can work toward reconciliation. The Federation has many resources available on its website including the Indigenous Awareness Training program hosted by Federation and facilitated by the First People’s Group and two additional E-Bulletin articles.
Jewish Federation of Ottawa - Indigenous Awareness Training
Ottawa Jewish E-Bulletin - Resources For Indigenous Education
Ottawa Jewish E-Bulletin - A Time to Connect with Roots
In addition, a Jewish and Métis member of our community expressed her feelings around this time of year in this poem.
If you are looking for educational offerings outside of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, feel free to look at the following resources that will help you plan your acknowledgement of this day.
Resources for learning about the Day of Truth and Reconciliation:
From the Government of Canada - National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
From the Province of Ontario - National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Also, there are many actions you can take to show your allyship:
  • Wear an Orange shirt
  • Read a book by an Indigenous author or about the Indigenous community in Canada
  • Listen to a podcast. Here are some selections:
    • Unsettled: Journeys in Truth and Conciliation
    • Unreserved
    • Indigenous Human Rights
    • Telling Our Twisted Histories
  • Make sure your place of work or school uses a Land Acknowledgment at the start of meetings or events. Here is one used by the Jewish Federation of Ottawa: 
We begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin. This recognition is a key step towards reconciliation. The Jewish Federation of Ottawa and our community at large must continue to take on the responsibility to work toward meaningful healing and justice for our Indigenous community.
Reconciliation is the work of every Canadian.