Reconciliation Starts with Us


On October 24, the Archdiocese of St. Boniface invited the community to come together to reflect on reconciliation. Lisa Raven, Executive Director of Returning to Spirit, was one of the workshop leaders and discussion moderators.

Event organizer Gerry Labossière said “For me, the most important part and the reason why we wanted to organize this event, was to start to develop relationships. To be inclusive and to recognize the past and learn about indigenous peoples and their teachings. To start to appreciate and understand that we are all the same at our core.”

“Reconciliation is a collection of practices and conversations that develop over time. It starts with us. The first step is to empower ourselves to be at peace with what and how things are. If I do not reconcile with myself and the world around me, how can I reconcile with others?” said Raven.

That is how Lisa Raven, Executive Director of the Returning to Spirit organization, explains reconciliation. The conversation brought up many opportunities where reconciliation may occur, including canoeing, through education and language and by looking for different perspectives. “It allowed me to highlight the fact that reconciliation is not only one thing. It’s a lot of things and a lot of possible actions. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to go about it. What’s important is to commit to it sincerely and focus on building relationships.”

She adds that “while reconciliation is often seen as a destination, it’s more a journey. There may be some twists and turns, but that’s normal.  The path is always there; you just have to get back on it.”

The moderator, who hails from the Hollow Water First Nation in Manitoba, describes the conversation at St. Boniface Cathedral as “constructive.” “Each time a forum for discussion is created where different viewpoints can be heard, it’s a step forward,” she says.

She took the opportunity to open up the discussion on reconciliation “The idea was to show that the Returning to Spirit principles can apply to anyone, in any conflict situation. It is not restricted to First Nations…it’s a human concept. No-one can reconcile with others without being at peace with themselves, without anger or bitterness in their hearts.”

To illustrate that point, Lisa Raven was not the only person to tell her story of reconciliation. Newcomer Brenda Arakaza and Franco-Manitoban Gérry Labossière also shared their reconciliation experiences.

“All those different stories from people with different backgrounds connected everyone with the reconciliation theme. The take-away for people at the end of the day was that “Reconciliation is for me, too.”