Today marks the beginning of a 94-day campaign to bring awareness of the impact that residential schools had on Indigenous Peoples and how reconciliation can be reached through understanding and learning.
Reconciliation Thunder is a nonprofit organization that supplies Canadians with the opportunity to learn more about the basics of reconciliation. It was founded by Jimmy Thunder along with a few of his friends.
"The mandate is to teach organizations and people how to respond to the 94 Calls to Action, how to address systemic racism and how to advance reconciliation in Canada," says Thunder.
The 94 Calls to Action was released in 2015 when Murray Sinclair and other Commissioners released the final report to the government on the history of the Indigenous peoples, the effects of residential schools and how to create a path forward for reconciliation. However, Thunder shares that the document was large and it got lost, so the solution was to create something smaller yet still held the plan of action for reconciliation.
"This time around they made 94 Calls to Actions that are short. You can distribute them into booklets and instead of it just for the government, there is a call t action for every person in every segment of Canadian society. So, we find ourselves here about seven years later and, you know, still needing a lot of work to be done on the 94 Calls to Action and that's what our campaign is about."
To further progress reconciliation and to educate Canadians about the 94 Calls to Action, Reconciliation Thunder partnered up with Circles for Reconciliation and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
"We're using social media as a tool to allow everybody to work together to solve the problem. The problem is that in seven years, you still have people who don't know what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is, what the 94 Calls to Action are, or what Call to Action they can act upon. So, we're using social media to allow everybody to work together to share these 94 Calls to Action and we're doing it once a day for 94 days."
Thunder continues to say that each post of the calls to action will be graphic and will be a summary of the calls to action to make it quick and easy for people to absorb the information. Canadians can view these posts on Reconciliation Thunder and Circles for Reconciliation's social media, which can be found on their websites.
"We're asking everybody just to follow one of these organizations, Circles for Reconciliation or Reconciliation Thunder, and to share these posts for 94 days, to read them, to show them and to follow the campaign. You could also sign up for regular emails via the reconciliation.org website and you can get further information about each call to action, including where it's at and what you can do throughout the campaign."
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has also developed a tool called the Reconciliation Plan Template which will be explained over the course of the campaign.
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Thunder says that last year's campaign gained a lot of recognition and grew rapidly. He suggests it was due to the consecutive discoveries of unmarked graves of Indigenous children throughout Canada, and the response the campaign got was "good to see, it was actually really encouraging."
Thunder indicates that the 94in94 campaign is a good way to get non-Indigenous Peoples involved and aware of what the 94 Calls to Action are and how they can get involved.
"The hope is that we can put a dent into the learning that needs to happen across Canada. We want people to jump into the conversation of reconciliation to understand some of the basics of what reconciliation is and why we're doing it and to see everyone just dialled a little bit closer in terms of understanding what they can do in terms of reconciliation. So, knowing what call to action they can act upon and knowing how they can support reconciliation generally in Canada."
Thunder shares a quote frequently used by Reconciliation Thunder's partner, Circles for Reconciliation.
"Reconciliation begins with each and every one of us."
"I think that's a really important sentiment to sort of leave with people that, you know, it's not the government's responsibility. We'd like to put this out to larger groups or organizations and deflect it but really, I think it's a beautiful thing to take that sentiment and to really internalize it, that it begins with each and every one of us. But as a country, we're all individuals and when we take on the fact that reconciliation is something that each of us has to do when we get to that point, we're going to see reconciliation come away a lot quicker than we would otherwise."
When asked about National Truth and Reconciliation Day not being seen as a statutory holiday this year due to too little time before the would-be celebrated date, Thunder says that it is unfortunate.
"It's unfortunate that it's taken so long and there's quite a lot of time that was able to have done it. I know that last year at the discovery of children in unmarked graves in Kamloops, BC, there was there were tons of conversations all across Canada about what can be done, and that's actually when it inspired the 94in94 campaign last year. I think making it a holiday would be a really good step forward and even though we're not there yet, I mean there are opportunities for every organization and for groups all across Canada to just take that day and to understand the meaning of it and to use it. We don't want it to be a day where people just don't go to work and, you know, do whatever leisure activities that they want, but recognize that it's a serious day."