As someone seeking to witness, learn and humbly support the journey of healing and reconciliation at this weeks Truth & Reconciliation Commission Closing Events I made my way to Rideau Hall to experience the Honouring Memories, Planting Dreams Heart Garden Ceremony. En route I was forced to stop at a red traffic light on Laurier Avenue at the corner of Elgin Street; an intersection included in the Walk for Reconciliation just three days prior.
As I glanced around waiting for the light to change I realized how normal things seemed; people rushed by to get to work or their next destination, cars were stopped, Starbucks coffees where grasped in hands. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, nothing seemed like it did the Sunday prior when the very same corner was filled with an estimated 10,000 people walking together to honour the beginning of the week’s reconciliation events.
I wanted to yell out of my window, “Don’t you know what has happened here this week?” “Don’t you know you are naively walking on the very same spot of the road where a Women’s Warrior Dance erupted a mere 72 hours ago?” “Don’t you know that Indigenous peoples of this country and those who are standing beside them are here this week declaring the hope for a world that will change?”
The hustle and bustle of a mid-week afternoon screamed out that not everyone knew and maybe not everyone cared about the activities that had consumed so many people who have participated in the past four days of events.
And my heart sank—because the world has changed this week even for those of us who have been simple bystanders and witnesses to the work of others. My heart sank when at the corner of Laurier and Elgin life had so clearly gone on when it feels like so much has happened.
In the past four days the words murder and genocide have passed the lips of truth-tellers and hung in the air ready to be heard by ears throughout the country. The stories of horror and hurt have been laid out for Canada to humbly absorb, accept and honour. The recommendations for next steps have been offered as a gift of hope for all peoples to continue this life-changing journey that can transform our present and our future.
And whether everyone has noticed or whether everyone is ready to care the world has indeed changed. Thank. God.
And for those of us who sought to witness, sought to learn and sought to support may we serve this transformation as it begins.
May we take our heart—even if it has sunk to the bottom of our stomach feeling raw from new awareness.
May we take our heart—even if it is stuck in our throat causing us to not know what to say or consuming us with tears.
And use it. And be guided by it.
And make sure that life does not simply go on at the corner of Laurier and Elgin
… or any other place in this country.