Rebuilding Connections: Reconciliation, Relationships, and Relatedness
By| Matt McCormick, Community Food Facilitator, Food Matters Manitoba
Last week, staff members from Food Matters Manitoba attended a two-day conference on Rebuilding Connections presented by Marymound. The speakers were Dr. Martin Brokenleg and Dr. Raven Sinclair.
I sat down with coworkers to reflect on what we learned. Here are some of the lessons we took away:
There is more than one truth.
Dr. Brokenleg and Dr. Sinclair told stories of family and relationships within different communities. We were reminded that we all carry biases, and we tell ourselves stories about the people we interact with. We learned that two people can have a different idea about something and that both ideas can be true.
People remember how you make them feel, not what you say.
Both speakers shared stories of youth overcoming oppression and spoke about providing youth with skills to address challenges on their own. We learned to share knowledge in a way that allows learning to be realized, instead of explained. Stories allow youth to process learning independently and empowers them to make their own decisions out in the world. As Martin Brokenleg put it, “lecture teaches the mind, the story teaches the heart.”
Reciprocity builds relationships.
A common theme from both days was the Indigenous ethic of restoring balance within our relations. We were reminded that every time someone shares knowledge with us, they are providing a gift. In order to show our acknowledgment of this gift, we must offer something in return.
Applying these teachings to our work, we will continue to learn more about other worldviews, and catch ourselves when we make uninformed judgments. In our educational programs, we will try to tell more stories, instead of simply giving the answers. All of our work is based on developing strong relationships with individuals and communities. We will try to nurture these relationships through reciprocity.
Dr. Martin Brokenleg is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He is a retired professor and co-author of the book, ‘Reclaiming Youth at Risk’ and co-developer of the Circle of Courage Model. He has led training around the world on working with youth at risk.
Dr. Raven Sinclair, of George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, is considered an expert on the ‘60s scoop’ era and intergenerational healing. She produced the film ‘Truth to be Told,’ and authored a book entitled ‘Wicihitowin Aboriginal Social Work in Canada.’