Any of us can make an effort at reconciliation, but there’s every reason why it should start with our young people.
An event last week in Nanaimo called Youth Leading Reconciliation, organized by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island, was an encouraging initiative, one that we hope can further important conversations in our community. More than 50 high school students gathered at the Beban Park social centre to listen, learn, participate in activities and think.
Last year, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada suggested 94 wide-ranging ’calls to action’ and one of the recommendations was federal funding for youth organizations to deliver reconciliation programming. There are any number of ways to answer – and fund – the calls to action, but youth initiatives should be somewhere among the priorities.
The commission heard, collected and shared instructive stories about harmful, irreparable mistakes from Canada’s past and present. We are a long way from true reconciliation and acceptance and celebration of the ways we are the same and different, but we are making progress. A huge reason why is the wisdom we have been able to pass to successive generations about tolerance and respect. Some of the mistakes we have made, we can try to make good, as best we can, but one day we will be gone and it will fall to others to make the corrections and be the corrections.
If it is up to others to carry on reconciliation, then we can try to give our young people whatever tools, knowledge and direction we can. Last week’s youth reconciliation forum should complement, for example, positive messaging at our kitchen tables. Or in our schools, which are expanding teachings about indigenous language and culture, for another example.
Youth perspectives aren’t simply one component of reconciliation. The Canada of tomorrow needs to be better than the Canada of the past, and it is our young Canadians, indigenous and non-indigenous, who will together lead us there.