I have been part of many conversations amongst arts and culture leaders around how our sector can help advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. Culture is a driver of social change and has the ablity to both celebrate the vibrancy and resiliency of Indigeneity all the while exploring the country’s complicated colonial history that is embedded into the social, political and cultural systems we live within today. Cultural expression can hold the complexity that we need to create the space for in order to fully understand where we are today and where we need to get to to arrive at more equitable futures for all of us living on this land.
But culture can also reinforce colonial relationships, regardless of best intentions. We have seen countless times where artists and arts organizations of settler ancestry create work about Indigenous folks without actually involving Indigenous folks in the telling of those stories. This serves to perpetuate exactly the kind of inequitable relationships we are trying move beyond. So how do we move forward as a sector to meaningfully advance reconciliation?
Enter the 4Rs Youth Movement - an inspiring youth-led movement exploring a new way forward for Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people to realize a changed relationship. They have produced an excellent resource that offers up their framework for cross-cultural dialogue rooted in respect, reciprocity, reconciliation and relevance - Seeding Reconciliation on Uneven Ground: The 4Rs Approach to Cross-Cultural Dialogue. It is a phenomenal resource for both individuals and organizations who want to better understand how they can be part of forging more equitable relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. I will let the document speak for itself in this invitation to readers on page 7:
"We invite you to read this document with the intention of learning from it. We urge you to think deeply about what is being shared from the perspectives of diverse Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people. You might feel challenged or unsettled by some of these ideas. You may also feel encouraged or inspired. Each of these feelings are important and are a part of our shared path. Wherever it is you are coming from, we invite you to understand reconciliation as an important and challenging process that leads all of us to
an equitable, respectful, and just co-existence."
Have you or your organization been working towards advancing reconciliation?
What resources have you found most helpful?
What advice would you give to others?
[ps I am actually on vacation right now and my incredible colleague @IOpara is hosting this hub while I’m away. He’s our actual strategy lead around all things equity, diversity & inclusion and is a wealth of knowledge on the subject!]