It snuck up on me…
This Thursday is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. A stat holiday in some parts of Canada, not Ontario. As an employer, as a Canadian, what do I do about this day?
What’s the point?
The past week, I’ve been struggling with what to do about this day. Frankly, I don’t entirely “get it”. And I think that’s the point.
I’m not comfortable with being called or calling myself a “Settler”. Am I a settler?? I don’t know. And I think that’s the point.
Of all the injustices that have happened in the world, in Canada, why are we dedicating a day for this one? (Is it “one” injustice?) I don’t know. And I think that’s the point.
Back in August, an Indigenous artist I follow on Instagram (@kewiis_art) posted a piece of art called “Occupation and Genocide“. It expressed his feelings around the deaths of 1,000’s of children in Residential Schools. It disturbed me. It cast Canadian symbols like the flag and RCMP in a light that caused me to react, viscerally.
My knee-jerk response was to unfollow him.
But then I paused.
Instead, I left a comment:
“Sincere white privileged guy here. I must admit my gut reaction was to unfollow you when I first saw this post. I didn’t. There is an important perspective and truth in your art. I may not fully understand or appreciate it but I recognize it is important and I am open to understanding better. Thank you.”
That comment started a wonderful, healthy dialogue between the two of us that lead to a better understanding of where each of us was coming from.
And I think that’s the point.
Perry Marshall, a marketing guru that I follow closely, has done a lot of work in the evolution/biology space, working to bridge science and faith. A contentious subject to be sure. That inspired him to create a DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) for having honest conversations between people of different perspectives, seeking to get closer to the Truth.
His rules for a DMZ are:
- Put down your weapons.
- No hiding behind screen names.
- Assume other people have reasons for believing what they believe.
- Get to the truth not the sale.
I hope you receive this note from me in the spirit of me seeking to get closer to the truth. Because I think that’s the point of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
It’s a politically charged area to be sure. There are many different perspecitves, some militant and opposing.
At GravityStack, we’re treating the day much like how we treat Remembrance Day. While National Day for Truth and Reconciliation isn’t a stat holiday in Ontario, we offer paid time off to our staff who want to attend an event or do something to mark the day in a way that matters to them.
As for me, I will be spending time reading more on Indigenous perspectives of the day, asking myself questions such as “Am I a Settler?”, and hopefully find some conversations to be part of. Just like my visceral reaction to that art lead me to understand that there is an important perspective and truth to be understood, I hope to get closer to “getting it”.
And I think that’s the point.
(I’d love to hear your reactions to this, your thoughts on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and/or what you’re planning to do to mark it this year)