Fostering Safe Spaces for Dialogue and Relationship-building
Between Newcomers and Indigenous Peoples
In the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 93 and 94, the report titled Fostering Safe Spaces for Dialogue and Relationship-Building Between Newcomers and Indigenous Peoples (2020) attempted to bring together a collection of voices and perspectives to understand the importance of relationship-building between newcomer and Indigenous communities in the present context of Winnipeg. Influential community leaders, knowledge keepers, elders, support workers and activists associated with newcomer and Indigenous communities were interviewed.
The study begins by examining the challenges and opportunities associated with building relationships between newcomer and Indigenous communities in Winnipeg. It found that even though considerations to institute relationship-building between newcomer and Indigenous communities are increasingly taking place at an organizational level, the realities on the ground are still tense based on a visible distance that cannot be ignored.
The study then outlines wise practices for the relationship-building process as recommended by participants. The path forward may require the relationships between the two communities to gravitate in a balanced way that is underpinned by an understanding of history and culture. Hence, the need for safe spaces where authentic experiences can happen is of paramount significance. Based on this study, a variety of methods to facilitate these processes of relationship-building were proposed through the development of orientations for newcomers, including territorientation, land-based learning, storytelling, organic relationship-building, meeting role-models, institutionalizing relationship-building, sports, life skills, and spirituality. By outlining these wise practices, the report seeks to inform a framework related to the development of an orientation toolkit for newcomers.
The development of an orientation toolkit has been championed by community and organizational leadership involved in this study. Findings suggest that the development of a toolkit should involve relevant information related to 1) Indigenous history and culture, 2) treaty related information, 3) discussions on stereotypes, 4) positive stories, and 5) a list of relevant resources. The method of delivery should emphasize anti-oppression approaches, linkages between historical and contemporary issues, interactive and experiential learning styles, and easily accessible and relevant information. Through these considerations, it would be vital to provide a platform for these tools to exist in the form of a ‘living document’. This centralized resource platform would be continuously updated to respond to current topics and trends.
To sum up, this report seeks to enhance our understanding of methods and processes through which relationship-building can be established between newcomers and Indigenous Peoples. Consequently, it is hoped that it will equip newcomers to play an important role in shaping and contributing to the future of Canada; a future that embodies social and environmental justice, healing, and reconciliation.
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