Day of reconciliation discussion during Racism Matters week

A major public symposium in Kelowna on Friday, March 20, will focus on mending the tarnished relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada – a relationship that has survived Canada’s residential school system but remains challenged by that legacy.

Reconciliation: History and Future in Our Midst is a day of events closing out Racism Matters week, which recognizes the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21.

"Indigenous peoples have inherited the residential school history by just being who they are: part of the continuum of the legacy of their ancestors right through to the few preceding generations," says Gregory Younging, assistant professor with UBC Okanagan’s Community, Culture and Global Studies unit. "Indigenous peoples also view themselves as the transition between the past and future generations, carrying the responsibility of safeguarding the rights and wellbeing of future generations."

For the grand concept of reconciliation to work, Younging says Canadian people, too, need to inherit the history of those that have gone before them.

"The present generation of Canadians needs to face up to what has been done in their name and take it on board as part of who they are and will be,” he asserts. “As we attempt to venture down the road toward reconciliation, Canadians would benefit a lot by learning from -- and viewing the world like -- Indigenous peoples, not vise-versa."

The March 20 events include a UBC Okanagan public panel discussion, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan Student Services Centre lecture theatre, SSC 026. The panel features former Supreme Court Justice and Chair of the McKenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry Thomas Berger, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, and Jonathan Dewar of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

A student and faculty panel discussion goes from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., in the UBC Okanagan Arts Building, ART 214. Panelists include Rose Caldwell, Lindsey Albrecht, Maxine Baptiste, Ethan Baptiste and Mari Tanaka.

The final event of the day is the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society Panel Discussion on Friday evening at the Kelowna Friendship Centre, 442 Leon Ave. Doors open at 5:45 p.m., food and refreshments follow at 6 p.m., and presentations are from 6:15 to 9 p.m.

This panel discussion will feature a keynote address by Thomas Berger, with panelists Gerry Oleman of the Indian Residential School Survivor’s Society, Jonathan Dewar, and local residential school survivors.

"I think that it is not only critical but incumbent upon educators to bring awareness to others about what it means to a population when you decimate their most precious treasures -- their children," says Veronica Roesler of the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, one of the organizations sponsoring the day’s events along with UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, the Indigenous Studies Program, and the Cultural Studies Program in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.

For information about the symposium events, contact Greg Younging ( 250-807-9622 or Christy Taylor ( 250-317-8153. At the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society contact Veronica Roesler 250-763-4905 ext. 207.

The organizers wish to acknowledge that these events take place on Syilx Territory, unceded territory of the Okanagan Nation.

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