‘Reconciliation Starts with You’ promotes tolerance among non Indigenous

By Ryan Clarke

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Friday was the 2nd annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a  day Canadians honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities.

It is also a day people wear  orange shirts to represent Every Child Matters, started by Phyllis  Webstad, a residential school survivor.

Events are held all over Canada to honour these movements and events, including here in Lethbridge.

Cindy Rendall, founder of Untethered Heart Counselling, held her  workshop “Reconciliation Starts with You” Friday at the Interfaith Food  Bank, aiming to educate those in the community interested in what  reconciliation means, what to do as a non-Indigenous person, and discuss  the impacts of systemic racism.

The safe and open environment  facilitated discussions on the topic, helping with the education about  what truth and reconciliation truly is.

“It’s a workshop for  non-Indigenous people to look at the truth of what brings us to what  today is. Not only the past and present with Indigenous people, but also  our role as white settlers in this country,” said Rendall. “It is  sponsored by the City of Lethbridge and Reconciliation Lethbridge, last  year they asked me to put this together and because it was successful,  we are doing it again.”

Working through multiple methods of  teaching, Rendall uses her skills as a registered social worker, and her  Master’s in Clinical Practice, to help facilitate a learning  environment for all those that attend.

“There are two sides to  it. We need to know the history of Indigenous peoples, understanding the  impacts of colonization,”

said Rendall. “Then we also need to be able  to look at our truths as white people, and the privileges that we hold.  How does systemic racism really benefit us? And we kind of have to look  at that ugly truth, because sometimes we like to think we are nice, but  we don’t want to look at our racist tendencies, or we might even be  unaware of the things we are upholding towards that.”

Not looking  to wag a finger or use shame as a platform, Rendall instead uses open  discussion and educational videos to help encourage learning and keep an  open mind about understanding the topic.

“This is the first step  on a journey that will come to learning,” said Rendall. “This will  continue with self-reflection and looking inwards. Also looking at what  differences people can make in terms of policies towards Indigenous  people. How we speak up and be an ally.”

With a successful  presentation last year, the workshop comes with the 2nd anniversary of  Truth and Reconciliation, looking to continue the messages it started  with.

“We have a nice mix of community members and an increasing  interest in this workshop,” said Rendall. “I have been contacted by  agencies that weren’t able to be here today, interested in offering this  to their staff. It is encouraging to see people make a difference in  our community.”

Ryan Clarke is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter  who works for the LETHBRIDGE HERALD. The LJI program is federally funded. Turtle Island  News does not receive LJI funding.

 

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