Today, us media types gathered in a small conference room in the sprawling Shaw Centre overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. TRC Commissioner Marie Wilson, an accomplished journalist herself, briefed about thirty or so reporters and communicators on what was going to take place over the next few days. Commissioner Wilson deftly went through all the essentials for the story-hungry – don’t take pictures here, pay attention to this schedule, if your editorial deadlines are early, go to this session, and so on. The journalist in her knew how to speak to the journalists in front of her.
What stood out for me, though, was not her obvious keen journalistic intelligence, but the grace that she extended to us throughout the thirty minute briefing. She reminded us that media have been complicit in the histories that have brought us to these difficult truth and reconciliation events. In silence, in lack of courage, and in systemic mistrust and racism, powerful story tellers have stalled journeys toward truth and reconciliation.
However, she reminded us, too, that we are most welcome here, that we are essential in this process. Sharing news and stories from events like the TRC are critical for both survivors of residential schools and their communities. It is an opportunity for truth to see light, and for those who have been silenced to speak and be truly heard. In this, perhaps, are seeds of healing and flourishing.
Story telling through print and digital media is also critical in garnering support for a new way of talking about and remembering our collective history. She noted, for example, that public educators in Canada are increasingly receptive to covering Indigenous history, including the Indian Residential Schools, in curricula. This is a simple way to contribute to the raising of a new generation that more richly appreciates the long history of Canada and its first peoples
Most of the journalists gathered came from places of privilege in the settler and colonial traditions that brought us to this difficult moment. Even against this, Commission Wilson took care to remind us that support workers were also there for us. She told us to allow for the possibility of finding this a distressing time and that it was okay to step away and receive support. This, to me, was remarkable hospitality.
Tomorrow we set to our immediate task. To tell for the first time the story of this event, so that we can learn together. To tell again the history of our church and its relationship with Indigenous people, so that we can repent and do the work of reconciliation together. To tell a familiar story anew, so that we can discover fresh hope together. To let the story come together from different hearts, so that we can know a more complete truth.
Sermon, social media, chat with a friend – how will you be sharing stories of truth and reconciliation this week?