Participatory Reading event moves reconciliation education forward
December 15, 2021
Social Justice and Peace Studies (SJPS) students will be putting their research into action to mark the sixth anniversary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada being released. The SJPS department will be hosting the 94 TRC Calls to Action: A Participatory Reading on December 15, 2021, from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. EST via webinar. * ASL Interpretation provided.
Through her research on higher education and the TRC 94 Calls to Action, Carla Dew, a third-year mature student specializing in SJPS, learned about a similar event held by the University of British Columbia (UBC).
"I decided that organizing and hosting a similar event would be a perfect way to conclude my independent study, providing a tangible way for myself and other non-Indigenous people to move forward and deepen our reconciliation education and journey,” she says. Dew, Laura Crowe, a third-year Political Science and SJPS student, Dr. Allyson Larkin, Chair of the SJPS department, and other members of SJPS have worked to organize the event, including Shawna Lewkowitz, Lecturer and Community-Based Learning Coordinator, Christal Malone, 3rd year, SJPS. Mature student and instructor at Fanshawe College Doula Studies Program and Jennifer Surerus, '21, SJPS and Instructor at Fanshawe College Doula Studies Program.
The SJPS department is committed to discovering ways to engage the community in truth-seeking and reconciliation. The Participatory Reading of the 94 TRC Calls to Action event is one of many opportunities to bring the community together and find ways to understand how we can all do the work to achieve reconciliation.
A call went out to the community, asking for 94 volunteers, each of whom would read one of the Calls to Action. The SJPS department received “an incredible response.” Members of the King’s community, including King’s President Dr. David Malloy, Vice-President and Academic Dean Dr. Gillian Balfour, Dean of Students Joe Henry, and Associate Academic Dean Dr. Laura Melnyk-Gribble will be participating. Additionally, student leaders and faculty from many departments, including Religious Studies, Sociology, Philosophy, Disability Studies, Social Justice and Peace Studies, Thanatology, and English and Modern Languages will be participating.
Other members of the community participating include:
- Lindsay Mathyssen, MP for London-Fanshawe
- Terence Kernaghan, MPP for London North-Centre
- Irene Mathyssen, former MP for London-Fanshawe
- Peggy Sattler, MPP for London West
- Arielle Kayabaga, MPP for London West
- Teresa Armstrong, MPP for London-Fanshawe
- Josh Morgan, London City Councillor for Ward 7
- Mariam Hamou, London City Councillor for Ward 6
- Scott Courtice, London InterCommunity Health Care (Executive Director)
- Yu^ta lo:sli yo' (Lisa) Jackson, Indigenous Resource Consultant for London Health Science Centre
- Céline Poirier, Indigenous Lead at École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf
- Jeff Hanks, Co-organizer of London Regional Social Forum
In addition, there will be other local and area politicians, professors and students from Western University, Huron University College, Brescia University and Fanshawe College and Indigenous individuals from various First Nations (Oneida, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Six Nations). One of the goals of this event was to bring together a wide representation of the Southwestern Ontario, but word of the event has attracted interest from Alberta, British Columbia and Northern Ontario.
Listen to the 94 TRC Calls to Action.
The motivation for this project began with the first Turtle Island Healing Walk held in London, where Carla Dew “witnessed incredible energy and a time of healing, affirming my conviction that this is a time for serious change.” She proposed an independent study, centered on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): Calls to Action to Dr. Larkin.
Dew says reading the TRC: Calls to Action during her first-year course, Introduction to Social Justice and Peace Studies, “began to plant the seeds in my mind that Indigenous people have outlined, for non-Indigenous people, every angle of every infringement and injustice and how to work towards a future that honours their rights and existence and to work towards reconciliation.”
In rereading the TRC: Calls to Action for her independent study, Dew focused on specific Calls addressing post-secondary institutions and publicly funded denominational schools. She also focused her research on the concept of truth-seeking, a key idea to the process of decolonization and reconciliation. She learned about UBC’s event, “The 94 TRC Calls to Action: A Participatory Reading”, organized and hosted by the Applied Science, Land and Food Systems, Science and Forestry departments. Organizers of the UBC event were able to share their experience and provide many resources to organize this event.
Many people want to do something to show commitment to reconciliation, but are paralyzed from not knowing what to do. Hearing about the unmarked graves at Residential schools has ignited an anger and shock within of many Canadians. I believe that when people hear about the participatory reading event, it provides an opportunity for people to act on their desire for reconciliation,” says Dew.
“It is a small step on a long journey, but an important one that will hopefully contribute to building new relationships with Indigenous peoples, and to learning more about the challenges for reconciliation,” says Dr. Larkin.