Reconciliation Circle in Chilliwack set for next week

The timing is excellent, said organizers, on the heels of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report released last week.

Sto:lo Grand Chief Kat Pennier is helping to organize a Bright New Day Reconciliation Circle June 16-17 at  Squiala Longhouse in Chilliwack.

Sto:lo Grand Chief Kat Pennier is helping to organize a Bright New Day Reconciliation Circle June 16-17 at Squiala Longhouse in Chilliwack.

It’s billed as a way to tear down the walls of isolation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.

A Bright New Day Reconciliation Circle will be held June 16-17 at the Squiala Longhouse in Chilliwack.

Reconciliation Circles were initiated by John McCandless and Chief Robert Joseph in 2009, and McCandless will help facilitate the one in Chilliwack, with several local participants making presentations.

It comes on the heels of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report released last week.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” said McCandless. “It’s amazing.”

So who is the ideal participant for the two-day reconciliation circle?

“I don’t think there is an ideal participant. It’s everyone with an open mind or who is excited about creating a new reality,” said McCandless. “We need to get this idea of reconciliation going. We need lots of places where we can learn from one another.”

The crux of the matter is addressing the crippling isolation that has characterized the relationship between aboriginals and non-aboriginals. It’s about filling that void.

There could be laughter, tears, and even a little remorse.

The circle experience help everyone to see things in a “bright new light,” after doing the work of envisioning a better way forward, through active listening and learning.

It’s a process aimed at sharing stories of aboriginals and non-aboriginals alike.

“I don’t think we can do that until we’ve heard each others stories. We don’t spend enough time getting to know each other. There’s a vacuum there. But when we do spend the time, it’s delightful.”

The feeling of isolation tends to fall away. There’s “magic” in the process of telling one’s story.

“Maybe ideas that have been taken for granted will be questioned and looked at anew. That’s when we can finally open the doors to the sanctuary of our common humanity.”

The reconciliation circles offer “an unprecedented opportunity” to coax relationships that build stronger, healthier communities, he added.

McCandless has extensive experience with community engagement processes, with 30 years experience working directly with community organizations and First Nations.

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