Visionary Conversations looks at reconciliation

Centre for Truth and Reconciliation by Carolyne Kroeker

The new season of the University of Manitoba’s Visionary Conversations series launches Wednesday with its sights set on reconciliation.

Titled “Reconciliation: What Needs to Happen Next,” four panelists will examine the first year since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 calls to action in Dec. 2015.

The panel will feature provincial NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine, who serves as critic for status of women, persons with disabilities, families, and missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Also on the panel are Winnipeg-based film producer Tina Keeper; Anishinaabe CBC Aboriginal associate producer, Lake Manitoba First Nation member, and Red Rising magazine co-founder Lenard Monkman; and National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) director Ry Moran.

Moran said the panel discussion, which will be lead by U of M president and vice-chancellor David Barnard, is an important step on the path toward reconciliation.

“We need dialogue, and we need participation, and we need frank and open conversations about where we are and where we’re not,” he said. “That conversation is a really important step in the many steps that are being taken.”

The NCTR opened its doors in the summer of 2015 and will be the permanent home for all statements, documents, and other materials gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Moran said Canada needs to be prepared to face an uncomfortable history and noted some of those conversations are already happening.

“Are we there yet? No,” he said. “Are there still very real issues that are facing indigenous peoples now? Absolutely. Indigenous languages are just as endangered today as they were yesterday and they’re going to be even more endangered tomorrow because we are not taking the steps that we need to take yet.

“But I think the general trend that we’re seeing is that things are generally heading in the right direction.”

The event will be hosted Wed. Sept. 21 at the Robert B. Schultz Theatre in St. John’s College, and begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception. The panel discussion begins at 7 p.m.