Reconciliation is a complex word, a complex idea and a complex agenda. In this heading, we deliberately spell it as (Re)Conciliation to highlight the word ‘conciliation’. It seems to us that in order to have reconciliation, there must have at one point been conciliation, as when a couple gets back together in an attempt to reconcile!
We are uncertain exactly when Indigenous peoples and settlers were ever ‘conciled’. Yet, like many folks working to heal Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations in Canada, we are reluctant to simply reject it. Since the recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission announced their 94 calls to action, there has been movement forward, however tentative, however fleeting, towards that healing.
We seek to be part of building this momentum. And in the end, it is the concrete actions that accompany whatever rhetoric is used that will make demonstrable differences in people’s lives. Reconciliation is not about a one-off statement or even a one-time project. It is a process that necessarily must move beyond shame and guilt. It will take time; it will take trust. And time to build that trust through respect and relationality.
That trust currently requires that we begin with the truth in ‘Truth and Reconciliation’. We will only get to reconciliation after a dedicated and fearless wrangling with the truth about Canada’s history of cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples. And the ongoing racist impact of colonialism in contemporary society, including the art world.
Finally it must be said clearly - reconciliation is not only the work of Indigenous people. It is the critical responsibility of anyone who now lives on the territory known as Canada. In the arts that means anyone who is part of the art system, including audience members. We affirm that this approach guides our current and ongoing work.
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