Engage for Change Talking Circle
“The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a City of Kingston relationship protocol between Indigenous/First Peoples and non-Indigenous people in Kingston – especially as it relates to history, knowledge and culture.”
The Community Foundation for Kingston & Area hosted the first of ten planned Talking Circles being organized by the City of Kingston over the coming months.
It was a day of sharing as part of Engage for Change, Kingston’s Reconciliation Journey Project, funded by the City and Canada. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a City of Kingston relationship protocol (to be adopted by City Council in June 2018) between Indigenous/First Peoples and non-Indigenous people in Kingston – especially as it relates to history, knowledge and culture.
This Talking Circle was designed with input from the local Indigenous community (including the Katarokwi Grandmother’s Council) and was facilitated by Three Things Consulting, an Indigenous owned company who works nationally on reconciliation projects and calls Kingston home.
This Talking Circle is part of a larger process being facilitated by the City of Kingston that supports professionals, community members and specific populations, (youth, newcomers, seniors, business leaders etc.) as an opportunity to build their awareness, understanding and competency as they walk towards the path of reconciliation.
Each Talking Circle is designed to provide participants with an awareness of Indigenous cultures and beliefs, history of Indigenous peoples’ movements prior to European settlement and encouraging the development of mutual awareness, understanding and appreciation among all participants.
With nearly 40 participants with diverse backgrounds (including settlers, Grandmothers and five facilitators from Three Things Consulting representing Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunne, Miqmaq, Cree, Métis and Inuk identities, we commenced our day on Saturday January 28, 2017 shortly after 9:00 AM with the Haudenosaunne Thanksgiving Address and traditional prayer.
We all participated in a smudging ceremony to clear ourselves of any negativity and open our minds and hearts to welcome new and diverse ideas::
- Yes, and as a precaution, the Marriott’s air circulation system was turned off and (fortunately) the hotel’s fire alarms remained silent.
Each participant shared what Reconciliation means to them.
The facilitators discussed the importance of language, culture and land. Not honouring Treaties was identified as the very core of the systemic challenges we face together with the lack of equity with health, education and justice.
A traditional feast was served for lunch including bannock, salad, samples of bear meat, wild rice, a delicious stew with moose meat, pumpkin mouse and an amazing drink composed of strawberries, tree sap and ice.
The diversity of the Indigenous community in Kingston (estimated at over 7,000 in 2014) and the significance of Belle Island (where Indigenous remains and artifacts were initially uncovered in 1988 and repatriated in 2003) was discussed. And we talked about the collective model of Indigenous people where (as an example) foods are shared amongst the community.
We were introduced to the Seven Sacred Grandfather Teachings – Humility, Honesty, Courage, Truth, Wisdom, Love and Respect – which guide all activities in life and to the Medicine Wheel to assist in providing balance to one’s life. We then broke into small groups to discuss how each of the Seven Teachings relate to what Kingston can do toward reconciliation.
Each participant provided their one word conclusion on the day and an Anishinaabe prayer closed the session. We then departed with gifts of tobacco, a beaded bracelet, medicine wheel lapel pin and photograph of traditional medicines feeling hopeful, thankful, grateful, and optimistic.
Additional information on the Engage for Change Project can be reviewed at https://www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/culture-history/history/engage-for-change
Our thanks to all attendees for their participation, and to the Residence Inn by Marriott Kingston Water’s Edge for hosting the event.