Imagine a Canada

Tomorrow my family and I fly to Winnipeg to participate in an event that honours younger Canadians who can imagine a Canada that practices reconciliation, specifically reconciliation between our Indigenous peoples and the country as a whole. To be connected, to be whole, to be reconciled, to understand and to celebrate there needs to be a vision of what we are living into. These young honorees will help us get there.

My daughter Lucy was asked by her Mi'kmaq studies high school teacher to create an imaginary piece of art and submit it to those organizing this gathering. Lucy hastily put something together and gave it to her teacher and thought nothing of it thereafter. One night, sitting at the dining room table she matter-of-factly told her mother, “Oh they chose me”. Her mother responded, “who chose you and for what?” At that point Kim learned all about the conference and the art. I was given the same summary much later that night. When I heard that the organizers pay for transportation and accommodation for the honoree and one parent I told Kim, “this is so exciting for you two, I know you’ll have a great time.” Kim responded, “You’re going too!” And, I am. My booked flight will put me on the same plane as Kim and Lucy but different seats. Lucy says, “It doesn’t matter, Dad and I will sleep the whole way.”

There is a large celebration of these visions on the first night of the conference, we and the other nine honorees and their families (one youth is chosen from each province) will be taken by shuttle to a feast where we will hear about the work of Truth and Reconciliation up to this point. We will also feast in customs according to our hosts. It should be a rich and memorable experience.

On Thursday we spend the day going to workshops and hearing speakers on reconciliation. Thursday night all of the honorees get to share their vision with the conference, some wrote poems, some wrote short stories and some, like Lucy, created art. Lucy has asked me for a few pointers in public speaking but reminding me she will “edit it to her own voice”. That means it will get right to the point, be precise and clear, consistent with Lucy’s character and art.

Kim and I are so proud and excited to be going and we anticipate being challenged, growing and learning so much ourselves. Neither Kim nor I received any instruction in our 13 years of public education about Canada’s Indigenous people except for rare and passing references to peoples who were displaced. We return late Saturday night, I have already put the June 3rd service together so I can focus my time and energy on this trip toward my daughter and this honour she will received.

I also look forward to seeing the art work that Lucy submitted to this conference, the art that was instrumental in Lucy being chosen to be at this gathering. I have not seen it and will not see it until Lucy takes the stage to present it and her reasons for choosing it as her vision. I can’t wait to see it.