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Author: Cheryl Whiskeyjack, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society  

Reconciliation…Buzz word? Action? A destination?  What makes it one or the other? It’s a place on the map called home.

A dear friend and colleague of mine has said on many occasions that as a newcomer to this land, he is appalled that not only are many of the First People of this land, landless but also homeless.

Treaty Rights confused with Freeloading.

The treaties made us “the other”.

Reparations, the making of amends for a wrong.

Restoration, the action of returning something to a former owner, place or condition.  Reconciliation, the restoration of friendly relations.

Seems to me when I look at the word “reconciliation”, I think of it more as a destination than a step. Whereas, the TRC almost made it sound like a 2-step process. First the truth and then reconcile.

So, if you look at housing sustainability, then reconciliation can be looked at through the lens of reparations, making regulatory and policy changes that cause damages or keep people stuck.

Restoration, looking at long term data to see the trends heading in a positive direction. Perhaps people need housing supports initially but graduate from the system eventually. And in a good way, not some black and white cut off point where today you get support and tomorrow you don’t.

Perhaps eventually this trends us towards a state of reconciliation, the restoration of friendly relations….

We’ve become a society that wants results fast. Do “A” and “B” will be the result. A long-term vison is the next election cycle.  In our indigenous communities the measuring stick is 7 generations (restoration). 

Our province has the settler spirit. Many Albertans can trace their settler roots to a farmhouse that had way more kids than bedrooms. To a time when we raised each other’s homes and barns (Friendly Relations).

To thrive, indigenous people must navigate and live in 2 worlds. So too, should our policies, regulations and legislation on housing sustainability.

This post was written ahead of the Edmonton Café Pracadémique on Community Housing Sustainability in the context of reconciliation.