Understanding Reconciliation

Reconciliation is a relatively new term to describe a relationship or an imbalance of a relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Justice Sinclair defined it perfectly as part of Truth and Reconciliation in response to atrocities that occurred at residential schools. Reconciliation was simply defined as justice and healing. There are 500 years of actions that require justice not exclusive to residential schools. The problem with justice is that it is deeply rooted in the past occurring from a past event. As a reconciliatory concept, justice is a failure that will never lead to the future. Justice will always be mired in the past and keep people in the past. Here at AO, we know that the outcome of justice is a quest for compensation for some unjust act. As a result, in seeking justice what is really being created is further conflict. Therefore, when you attempt to put forward a justice-based framework or mindset, what you are really doing is creating adversarial relationships and huge animosity. A justice-based approach to reconciliation will always result in the unanswerable question “was it enough justice”.

 A justice-based approach to reconciliation will not offer a constructive path forward and will keep us stuck in circles of confrontation and conflict. If we congregate at a point of acceptance that justice may never be possible, we are left with the second word that Justice Sinclair used to define reconciliation: healing. Healing is about moving forward, finding new futures, creating possibilities, alliances, and partnerships. Healing opens many doors and windows of opportunities. Once healing has occurred there is no end to the possibilities and outcomes. Healing, however, must occur for both sides in a conflict. If we just healed one group or the other, healing would never work. You have to heal both groups of people at the same time. The only way to achieve healing of both sides is through partnership. When two groups of people are striving for the same goal the end result is a success as the conflicting issue has been resolved.