The National Spiritual Assembly, the Baha’i Community of Canada’s national governing council, hosted a special dinner, film and talking circle to honour the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, on Thursday 28 May just prior to the Closing Events of the Commission which took place in Ottawa, May 31 to June 3.
“We are here to honour the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which is seeking justice on behalf of all of us,” said Deloria Bighorn, Chair of the National Assembly and MC of the evening’s program. “Seeking justice and truth for a residential school survivor is also seeking justice and truth for all our children and grandchildren.”
“Unity among the Aboriginal peoples, unity with the rest of Canadian society and unity with all the peoples of the world is vital if justice and social well-being are to be assured.”
With that in mind, and recognizing that “when those heinous crimes were committed by those involved in the residential school process, all Canadians were damaged”, Ms. Bighorn welcomed more than a dozen residential school survivors and one of the three national Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Ms. Marie Wilson, along with many others, including several guests from Aboriginal organizations, and members of the Baha’i community.
The dinner was hosted in the beautiful Wabano Aboriginal Health Centre on Montreal Street in Ottawa, and was attended by three members of the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly, including Ms. Karen McKye, of Toronto and Ms. Bighorn, from Vancouver Island. The evening began with a drum ceremony by a residential school survivor and member of the Baha’i community, Ms. Victoria Boucher, along with a Baha’i prayer said by Ms. Louise Profeit-Leblanc, of the Nach N’yak Dun First Nation of the Tutchone Nations, and former member of the Baha’i National Assembly.
Following a dinner prepared by the Wabano Centre’s staff, a film produced especially for the evening’s presentation, “The Path Home – Reflections on Truth and Reconcilation”, was premiered. Introduced by the producers, Jordan Bighorn and Esther Maloney, the film presented reflections of several who had suffered in their childhood from the tragic results of the residential school program, along with reflections from some of their children and grandchildren, today active in Baha’i youth programs. The film “The Path Home – Reflections on Truth and Reconciliation” can be downloaded here.
One of the special guests was Allison Healy, of the Blackfoot First Nation and member of the Baha’i Regional Council of Alberta. Ms. Healy was one of those featured in the film. In her live comments, she spoke movingly of the importance of spirituality and prayer in the process of healing and reconciliation.
In September 2013, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada made a formal submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the national event held in Vancouver and held a public panel on the work of the Commission. The Submission itself is available here.
With the encouragement of the National Assembly, Canadian Baha’is attended Commission hearings and other events at the three national events in Winnipeg, June 2010, Halifax October 2011, and Montreal, April 2013, and at regional events in Victoria in April 2012 and Toronto, May 2012. More sizeable numbers of Baha’is volunteered and participated in the three other, large national events of the Commission in Saskatoon, June 2012, Vancouver, September 2013, and Edmonton, March 2014. The closing events in Ottawa offered more opportunities for participation, including the Walk for Reconciliation held on May 31st where thousands of Canadians walked in an effort to transform the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and other Canadians.
The Path Home can be downloaded at: https://vimeo.com/131765992