As Settler (non-Indigenous) Canadians working with Horizons Community Development Associates we believe that most non-Indigenous Canadians want to ‘Step-Up’ and take part in the journey toward reconciliation. But this desire is often blocked by fear, confusion, and uncertainty; we wonder what we can possibly do, we think we do not know enough, we fear that we might say or do the wrong thing and make matters worse.
Stepping Up: A Learning Journey for Settler Canadians is a citizenship education course that provides an opportunity for Settlers to move beyond these feelings and hesitations to a place of accountability and action. As we gather and talk about the values and beliefs guiding relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, we come to know more about ourselves and our country. We learn to recognize how Euro-Western values and beliefs have sometimes given rise to harmful policies and practices. We discover the stories that have arisen to explain this harm and think about alternative stories. We practice having difficult conversations and support each other in taking meaningful personal or professional action.
The following beliefs guide our conversations…
1. Truth and justice must precede reconciliation.
2. Non-Indigenous people must ‘do their own work’ towards reconciliation, we cannot expect Indigenous Peoples to continually teach us.
3. We need to know ourselves, to ‘turn the gaze inward’ and learn more about our history, our governance, our language, our relationship to land.
4. Some of the foundational truths of the Canadian state are not immediately evident to, or known by, Settlers.
5. The knowledge and processes embedded in Settler Education are valuable pre-requisites to engaging in both Indigenous led learning opportunities and professional specific education.
6. Education should engage minds, hearts, and spirits.
7. While we hold ourselves accountable to Indigenous Peoples we cannot not teach about Indigenous beliefs, history, knowledge, culture, and practices.