On Monday we hosted our ReconciliACTION event. I am glad that others had a powerful experience. I felt like I didn’t have exactly the same experience as others did. Our table’s theme was Roads to Connecting Languages. We did not have that many people interested to come and talk to our table, which at first made me feel like it was unsuccessful. Then, Audrey told us that we were doing great because even just by us smiling and saying good morning, would help them associate our appearance with the word, “Reconciliation”. This was very comforting. When we are advocates, sometimes our successes might not be as grand as we wish,. It might be as simple as putting a thought in someone’s head.
I had one impactful conversation with a woman that was very brief but filled me with warmth and hope. I saw the woman walking by and I asked, “Do you want Coffee? Would you like a chance to win some candy?” She asked what we were doing and I explained that our theme for the tables around the university is for strengthening and building relationships with Indigenous and settler-Canadians. She nodded and smiled, and looked at the resources and exclaimed how much she likes 100 Days of Cree by Neal McCloud and that she loves the author. I agreed. She then said, “I appreciate what you are doing here. This is the start. But also, I have one thing to say. Restoration needs to happen before Reconciliation.” I nodded and agreed with her, and thanked her for visiting the table and sharing that. I did not engage with her much, and I think it is because it brought out a newfound insecurity. I think that I struggle with having these conversations with strangers because I do not know their history, do not know of their knowledge they have, do not know their experiences, and do not know how they may respond to something that I say.
Audrey shared that in time this will get better and that this is a start. I have so much respect for people speaking their truth, and being able to have the courage to really engage in these conversations. This event was a stepping stone for me. The more I have these conversations with others, the more I will become comfortable with it.
But for now, I will embrace being uncomfortable.