Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 60

Arctic Yearbook 2014 60 from historical trauma, like residential schools. Reconciliation or Conciliation? The module teacher’s guide points out that there “are some who argue that Canada is not ready for reconciliation and instead what is needed is the work of conciliation - which means, to bring agreement or respectful relations between two parties” (Residential School System 2013: 5). Teachers and students are encouraged to consider whether reconciliation was politically or economically motivated. The guide also points out that there is a long history and many examples of harmonious, mutually-beneficial relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples (Residential School System 2013). In Reconciliation or Conciliation? An Inuit Perspective, John Amagoalik, an instrumental statesman who worked towards the creation of Nunavut in 1999, questions whether there has ever been a truly harmonious relationship between Settler Canadians and the original inhabitants of North America: The history of this relationship is marked by crushing colonialism, attempted genocide, wars, massacres, theft of land and resources, broken treaties, broken promises, abuse of human rights, relocations, residential schools, and so on. Because there has been no harmonious relationship, we have to start with conciliation. We have to overcome distrust and hostility, make things compatible, and become agreeable (2008: 93). Written prior to the federal apology in 2008, Amagoalik’s article describes some of the steps Canada should take to facilitate conciliation: Canada must apologize, abandon its culture of denial, stop honoring historical figures who committed crimes against Aboriginal people, address systemic socioeconomic disparities, honor its treaty obligations, and acknowledge Inuit contributions to Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic (Amagoalik 2008). Amagoalik also contributed an article to the second edition of the module for students to reflect on. He emphasized that following the federal apology, “our children must learn of this dark period in Canada’s history. It must be part of our national school curriculum. They should also learn of our recent history of constitutional and land claims negotiations with our governments, and the agreements we have signed that future generations can use as our people recover from the colonial past.” (Residential School System 2013: 93). From Rhetoric to Community Action: Moving Past Cynicism Amagoalik (2008) introduces the idea of an unsettling approach to truth-telling and reconciliation in Canada. Scholar practitioner Paulette Regan’s work supports this unsettling approach; she argues that struggle and hope are necessary in addressing the past and building the future (Regan, 2010). This posed a challenge for students in the territorial pilot study, as confronting the realities and harms of the policies of assimilation and residential schools led some to feelings of being overwhelmed and paralyzed. As reported in focus groups, 65% of students in the territorial study did think that their learning would result in concrete changes in their communities, others felt stuck. Students from all demographic groups experienced these feelings; in some Indigenous students, the feeling manifested as anger or grief, and in non-Indigenous students the anger was also experienced as cynicism or apathy. A student using the first edition summed up the feeling of being stuck Daitch