All Canadians have a critical role to play in advancing reconciliation in ways that honour and revitalize the nation-to-nation Treaty relationships.Truth and Reconciliation Commission5
Màmawi Together: Youth for Reconciliation Day was a full-day event that took place at the University of Ottawa, co-organized by the Faculty of Education’s Urban Communities Cohort. The authors were either lead co-organizers or lead facilitators at the Youth for Reconciliation Day event. The event was attended by approximately 250 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth leaders in Grades 7-12 from Ottawa’s various public schooling systems. The youth leaders participated in wide-ranging lectures and workshops, a large group Project of Heart session, and then small group sessions including wampum belt making, blanket exercise, introductory Inuit and Métis cultural presentations, and then reflected on the entirety of their event experiences in school teams in a digital video recording shared with other attendees. Before leaving the event, youth leaders committed to developing reconciliation legacy projects to consolidate what they learned from the day’s speakers and workshops and share their insights with others.
- How did students experience events around 2019’s Youth for Reconciliation Day in regards to school community, citizenship, and related teacher and teacher candidate activities?
- What did students experience both emotionally and intellectually by participating in Màmawi Together?
- How did they develop their proposed reconciliation project, how was it carried out, or altered afterwards?
- What connections did students make to reconciliation, treaty relations and citizenship through the event and project?
Participants were encouraged to offer interpretations and explanations of their experiences both at the event and following the event under the framework of considering Indigenous and non-Indigenous reconciliation and digital citizenship.
Since the event occurred a year earlier, youth leaders understandably had difficulty recalling specific details regarding the Màmawi Together: Youth for Reconciliation Day speakers and workshops and their post-event reconciliation legacy projects. However, all were able to clearly describe their emotional impressions about the event overall, especially the stories of the residential school survivor and her daughter who spoke to them. Most importantly, all focus group participants expressed that the event was a positive experience that furthered their education about reconciliation and Indigenous affairs, and motivated their desire to engage more deeply with Indigenous issues in the classroom.
I remember leaving the event in a really good mood… I like that everyone could come together and be the first step in making a difference, and actually bringing the issues into the light. Which I think is big.
I remember leaving the event a little more knowledgeable. There are a lot of things that I didn’t know about Indigenous culture before. It wasn’t taught to me, it wasn’t told to me at home. My mom doesn’t really talk about what she had to go through being Indigenous and stuff like that.
In school, when we were taught about the residential schools and things like that, it’s kind of like learning from a textbook, from a teacher. You learn the information, but it doesn’t really stick as what really happened… but when we went to the event, it kind of helped me realize the severity of everything.
Walking out of [the event], I want[ed] to learn more… there was a purpose for me being there. Not just absorbing information, but absorbing kind of like an emotion… This also helped me in other subjects, because I actually changed my way of learning through that… I had a feeling that if I had not gone to this, I actually probably wouldn’t have cared… not recognized this is something that’s actually important.
[Residential schools] kind of felt like fiction. Until I went and saw real people talking about it, because you know what happened, but in your brain, it doesn’t really, at least for me, it doesn’t really click, that it happened, like real people who are still alive, who still walk around, actually experience these things. So when you go there and you see real people talking about their real experiences, it just helps you connect how real it is and how lasting of an impact it actually had on people.
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