It’s been a year since In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation came out, but the conversations we wanted to highlight with our essays are still relevant and ongoing.
That’s why I’m so excited that RISE-Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton (which, full disclosure, I mention in my intro) has selected In This Together as its third book in its book club. If you live in Edmonton, I hope you will join us for an in-person discussion Thursday, June 1 from 4:30-6pm at the City Hall School (in City Hall). You can find all the details here.
If you’re not in Edmonton, or you can’t make it out that day, we – all us contributors and RISE – invite you to consider the following questions. You can always contact us through the Twitter handles you see in the Bios section at the back of the book, or leave a comment below, with your thoughts and questions.
I hope you’ll use these questions for your own book club discussions wherever you happen to be. Maybe you’ll even set up a reconciliation book club like RISE did. If you do, please let me know about it!
Here are some general questions about the book and reconciliation:
What impact has this book had on you? What have you learned? What sticks out for you from the reading?
What kinds of conversations have you had about this book?
Can you share your own “aha” or “lightbulb” moment, where you realized something important about our country’s colonial past?
What does it mean to say that we’re “In this Together”? What could your role be in moving towards reconciliation?
What are some of the ways we can move beyond words (apologies, reports, etc) and take action towards reconciliation?
Here are some more specific questions the contributors brainstormed:
Week 1 – pages 1-66 Intro + essays by Baker, Streetly, Luckert, Kane, and Todd
- Has there been a moment, an event, or an experience in your life when you came face to face with your own assumptions and biases about Indigenous peoples. How did that realization change you?
- Joanna’s essay suggests that personal connections are the strongest and most lasting steps towards reconciliation. What is more effective in creating change: grassroots movements or government policies? Why?
- In Erika’s essay, she considers a historical act of mapping – that of Treaty 6 —its implications, and the ways it might be unwritten or rewritten. But this is just one map of one place, and there are many others. Think about the maps that shape your understanding of where you live. What are they? Who made them? What vision of the land do they create? What do they reveal, and what do they conceal? If you were to remap your home, what might you show that isn’t seen in the maps you already know?
Week 2 – pages 67-132 essays by Kunuk, Cooper+Campbell, Edwards, Shaben, Palmer Gordon, and Kronyk
- Carol’s essay explored her assumptions and missed opportunities for deep connections with Echo and Rose. What can you do to foster real and meaningful friendships with Indigenous individuals you count among your circle of friends? How can you confide in, learn from, and work sympathetically with them to bridge the gulf of misinformation, misunderstanding, assumption and inequity that exists in Canada today?
- Rhonda’s essay argues we need to acknowledge the past so that we can deal with it in a just manner. Yet, as people like Senator Beyak and J.L Granatstein show, many Canadians aren’t willing to truthfully acknowledge our past. Senator Sinclair has said that we can’t get to reconciliation until we get to the truth. Do readers see people in their communities pursuing truth? What are some ways we can help Canadians understand and acknowledge the truth about our past relationship with Indigenous peoples?
Week 3 – pages 133-208 essays by Larocque, Neilsen Glenn, Halton, and Mountain + conversation between Shelagh Rogers and Senator Murray Sinclair
- Emma’s essay centres on justice. What does justice mean or look like for Indigenous peoples?
- As a reader, did you experience empathy when reading any of the essays? When?
- Is it easier to reach across gaps between us when we think of reconciliation in terms of the individual rather than from a societal perspective? We must as a society address reconciliation but that can be overwhelming for Joe or Jane Canadian – what ways and means are there for us to hold our hands out to one person, or two or three at a time, that are more within our reach?
- What holds you (or people you know) back from talking about these issues? Are they afraid what they say will be controversial? Are they not ready to accept or reconcile?
- What do we need to do next?