We Are All Treaty People

OTC provides safe space for Reconciliation

  • Published - 04/05/2018
  • |
  • Posted By - Sasha-Gay Lobban
  • |

Share this with others:


In a recent Reconciliation forum held as part of the premier Atamiskakewak National Gathering, the Office of the Treaty Commission (OTC) has reassured persons across the province and by extension Canada, that it has created a safe space for Reconciliation.

Atamiskakewak National Gathering was a week-long conference filled with activities, of which Reconciliation was a key focus. One of the forums, “Faith Relations: Journey of Reconciliation,” held at the Heritage Inn in Moose Jaw, SK., a Reconciliation panel was invited to have a frank discussion about different aspects of Reconciliation and the barriers that may slow down efforts to reconcile among indigenous and non-indigenous individuals.

Rhett Sangster, Director of Reconciliation and Community Partnership at the OTC was part of this panel, along with SheLoves Magazine’s writer and editor, Idelette McVicker, Howard Jolly and Chief Dr Robert Joseph. To kick-off the discussions, Audience members were asked to participate in a group of activities in which they were asked various questions. They were asked to state, “What holds them back from having face-to-face conversations about Reconciliation?”

Several individuals took to the mic to express themselves; some citing: fear, anger, hurt, cultural differences, lack of knowledge, prejudice and a lack of safe spaces.

One audience member said, “There is nowhere to go to have these conversations sometimes because of fear and not even in the church you can find a channel to create this conversation.”

The responses triggered a lengthy discussion.

However, the lack of ‘safe spaces’ was an issue that stood out.

Sangster told the audience that one of the OTC’s aim is to create this safe space for conversations in relation to Reconciliation.

“Some of these responses that I’ve heard whether it is fear of saying the wrong thing and prejudice—this is all education and understanding; a need to know what is the right language to use and why this is relevant to your own history. The OTC has a speakers’ bureau with different partners like churches and we will be happy to create this partnership that you’re willing to engage in and we will work with you,” he said.

“We have a website that we try to make it a place to capture stories of good activities happening. There are a lot of great activities happening across the province and country that we’d love to capture about Reconciliation in action. There, you will see what churches and other big communities are doing.”

He added that the OTC also has an event calendar that lets you know where and when events are happening across the province that individuals can be part of. “The other issue of meeting people who are engaging in discussions--we also have an events calendar to capture places where people can get to know each other. There are a lot of activities out there aimed at promoting Reconciliation that you can be part of. There are resources to address these concerns and safe spaces and the OTC helps to promote this platform and is also a safe space.”