Office of Aboriginal Initiatives
Laurier Hosts Reconciliation Dialog and Discusses the Idea of Shared Healing
By Kristy Dockstader
With further understanding, support and healing we will someday live in a world where Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people have come together in a healthy and strong relationship. This dream is the goal for many and the message that the Office of Aboriginal Initiatives at Laurier and Waterloo Lutheran Church worked towards when they co-hosted a visit by Lori Ransom, a senior advisor for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). Lori’s visit on May 28, 2014 offered a dynamic opportunity for the faith community and the Aboriginal community to come together. Brice Balmer, a Professor at the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, explains the impact of the joint event, “Lori’s visit was significant for all of us as we learn to understand each other and make Laurier a safe place where everyone can learn. Her wisdom draws us together without any of us losing our identity. We can then work together to create a more open environment here at Laurier where difficult issues can be discussed or where we can enjoy each other’s company.”
Ransom’s presentation was titled, “Yesterday and Tomorrow: Reflection on Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission”. It was focused on what the TRC has learned by working with Aboriginal people in the healing process and how the TRC works reconciling the relationship between Aboriginal people and faith communities in the future. Ransom is also a member of the Presbyterian Church of Canada and the Algonquins of Pikwŕkanagŕn First Nation. Lori’s position with the TRC allows her to help residential school survivors and their families heal from the abuse suffered at the hands of residential schools and works to bridge the gaps between religious groups and Aboriginal people.
After Ransom’s presentation, the audience was broken off into groups to discuss ideas brought forward within Lori’s presentation. Discussion took place around how residential schools have impacted multiple generations both directly and indirectly. Some participants shared that there may be more than one strategy for healing and some survivors may not want to discuss their pain.
“I hope the conversations will continue. It’s about connections and people coming together” says Lori, who went on further tell of her dream for Canada to someday be a model for other countries and for Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginals to have a peaceful relationship. Lee Patterson, an attendee of the presentation and discussion believe “It’s important for both Aboriginals and Non-Aboriginals to all work towards healing together”. This idea seems to be one of the key messages and practices for the TRC. Paige Sillaby, an Aboriginal student at Laurier stated, “I was impressed with the partnership between the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary and the Aboriginal Student Centre. They really created a safe space for this difficult discussion topic and it was a great example of community dialog and how shared healing can occur if we work together”.
For more information on Lori Ransom and her visit you can visit The Cord’s website : http://www.thecord.ca/optimism-hope-and-joy-in-reconciliation-between-church-and-first-nation-peoples/
or LSPIRG’s blog