Voices 4 (re)Conciliation

Team members: Stephanie Duran (SFU Community Capacity Building Program) and Shahira Sakiyama (SFU Alumni)

Voices 4 (re)Conciliation is a project that aims to bring inter-generational Canadians from faith-based communities together to reflect on the history of Residential Schools (RS) through learning and music. As the horrendous news of unmarked RS graves grew, so too did strong acts against churches. Young Catholics were frustrated that there was no space or support to actively hold this news, let alone conduct conversations to unpack conflicting feelings. Their frustration was an inspiration for this project.

As non-indigenous women of color, we believe addressing the impacts of RS should not continue to fall on the shoulders of Indigenous communities. We aim to honour Indigenous knowledge and methodologies to help guide this process, but to ensure this work is not their emotional labor. Many hands make light work and all Canadians need to unpack this weight in Canada's history.

We will invite two groups of up to 20 people with one spiritual leader of their choice to participate in Voices 4 (re)Conciliation. Each group will meet at least three times. The first session will be to experience the KAIROS Blanket Exercise*; the second gathering will be with a music facilitator who will support participants to process the emotions the Blanket exercise has surfaced. How has music – the prayers of cultures – supported healing?; the third meeting will ask participants to gather their thoughts and reflections for Pope Francis’ upcoming visit. The whole process will be supported by qualified counselors, a spiritual leader for the group, and the Voices 4 (re)Conciliation team.

*Developed in collaboration with Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers and educators, the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE) is an interactive and experiential teaching tool that explores the historic and contemporary relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the land we now know as Canada.

Gratitude to Yvonne Rigsby-Jones for consulting on the direction of Voices for (re)Conciliation