On September 29th, an engaged group of 25 students, practitioners, and researchers gathered on the University of Victoria campus to ask and share about “what does reconciliation in action look like?” This was a particularly timely discussion given the many conversations and events happening at the University of Victoria that day as part of 2022 Orange Shirt Day to honour and support the children and survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities.
The session was hosted by POLIS and the Centre for Global Studies and began with guests from the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER) sharing learnings from their work on the Collaborative Leadership Initiative (CLI).
Participants learned that CLI is a facilitated process that provides resources and expertise to support Indigenous and municipal elected leaders as they find solutions to shared water challenges. The CLI has a track record of building trust, strengthening relationships, and advancing action toward true reconciliation.
One key takeaway was that developing respectful and productive relationships is at the heart of the CLI process. The team shared stories of success from their work in Manitoba, and discussed how they view water as a catalyst to changing relationships. They begin by focusing on common interests, and the process requires learning about other worldviews. Elected leaders work together to dispel myths, build trust and understanding, and open new pathways and methods to tackle the tough issues.
“We work to find an option for a path forward that satisfies the different worldviews. And this might not be what the people originally imagined,” shared Michael Miltenberger, Special Advisor to CIER. “What we’ve seen though, is that there is always a path for people to find what works for them collectively, especially when they are neighbours.”
The CLI builds on successful approaches implemented in other jurisdictions, including the Northwest Territories, South Africa, and most recently, Manitoba.
After the CIER team shared about their work on the CLI, attendees participated in group discussion, sharing their own experiences of “what does reconciliation in action look like?” and challenges and reflections from their specific fields of work.