Reconciliation Circle


Meetings

Next Meeting: November 14th from 7pm – 8:30pm

Join your neighbours as we explore how we can contribute at a local and personal level to support reconciliation with indigenous peoples. Everyone is welcome! Get in touch event@fairfieldcommunity.ca for more info or to get involved.

Our meetings are informal and (we hope) welcoming but can be intense as we discuss issues that are often painful and troubling. Although we do spend a fair amount of time talking and sharing we also like action and so the second half of our meetings (typically they last about an hour) is often more planning focused. In this portion of the meeting individuals can:

  • let the group know what they are willing and able to do to help make events happen
  • put forward ideas for upcoming or new events (i.e. a speaker for the speaker series)
  • sharing of relevant initiatives we might get involved with (i.e. requests for assistance in the form of volunteers or services from organizations like the Victoria Native Friendship Center [VNFC]).

If you are not interested in participating in meetings but would like to be involved here is what we suggest – come to our next meeting, introduce yourself and stay for the first portion of the meeting to meet your neighbours and share your thoughts, experiences and hopes about reconciliation. If you feel inclined to stay for the whole meeting then do so, if not and you are interested in being involved leave us your email address and we will get in touch with volunteer opportunities for upcoming events. This can be something as simple as helping to set up chairs in the Garry Oak Room for a speaker or helping out with the planning and preparation of meals that we have committed to providing once a month for the winter shelter being run at the VNFC.


Who We Are and Our Origin Story

In 2017 Diana M. Smith (Fairfield Gonzales resident) and Vanya McDonnell (Co-Director of the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association) decided to put out a call to those living in Fairfield Gonzales to gauge interest in forming a reconciliation circle at the neighbourhood level. This initiative was motivated by the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and their ‘calls to action‘ report as well as by personal experiences of both Diana and Vanya.

Beginning in October 2017, a group of neighbours has met every 4-6 weeks to share stories, thoughts and questions around reconciliation as well as planned and carried out activities that offer new avenues of learning and engagement with reconciliation and Indigenous ways of being. We typically take a break from meetings in the summer as so many people are away. As we look toward 2020 we encourage those with an interest to come out to a meeting or look for other ways to get involved (if meetings are not your thing – more about that below).

We call ourselves the Fairfield Gonzales Reconciliation Circle (FGRC).


Activities

Ongoing Projects

We hope to offer more interpretive walks (see section below on Past Projects) in 2020 and we will be asking group members to help us meet our commitment of preparing a Sunday dinner once a month from November to March for the winter shelter at the VNFC (again see below in  Past Projects for details). We are also hoping to prepare one or two days worth of dinner meals for the shelter at VNFC over the Christmas holiday.

Speaker Series
Beginning in February 2018 with Rebecca Atleo we have welcomed speakers to come and talk to community members on a variety of issues every 2-3 months . Speakers have been Indigenous up to this point but in October 2019 we are welcoming local historian John Lutz who will present a talk titled ‘Victoria in the Steps of the Transformers: Indigenous and Settler Spaces‘. Stay tuned for speakers coming to enlighten us in late 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
Information about previous speakers

Reading and Media List
If you’d like to do some self-study on Indigenous issues (or just read some great writing) check out our reading list that has over 180 titles in all kinds of genres (poetry, YA fiction, history and much more). We’ve also started a media list that offers links to Indigenous artists making music, film, visual art and podcasts. If you know of a resource that should be on either of these lists that we have missed send us an email at event@fairfieldcommunity.ca 

Reading List

Media List

We also like, as a group, to explore a single title – right now some of us are reading ‘First Nations 101: tons of stuff you need to know about First Nations people’ by Lynda Gray.


Past Projects

Celebrating Indigenous Stories

In June 2018, supported by a My Great Neighbourhood grant from the City of Victoria the FGRC put on the Celebrating Indigenous Stories project which saw three Indigenous authors (Nella Nelson, Monique Gray Smith and Janet Rogers) read from their work at the site of three little free libraries (LFLs) in Fairfield Gonzales. Using funds from the grant we purchased copies of the three books and placed copies in the LFLs where the authors read (and also at other LFLs in Fairfield Gonzales). Several community members attended one or more of the readings (which all took place on a single day but at different times) and we continue to accept donations of books by Indigenous writers to place in the LFLs even though the project formally closed at the end of 2018.

First Nations Interpretive Walks
In 2018, the FGRC partnered with Songhees Nation member Mark Albany to present First Nations Interpretive Walks (in Meegan – aka Beacon Hill Park – and Downtown). These were very popular and filled up as soon as they were announced – we hope to be able to offer these again in 2020.

Meals for the VNFC Winter Shelter
In 2018 the VNFC made history with the opening of the first shelter for homeless people opening in Saanich. For several months they offered 25 individuals a permanent bed that they could return to each evening. Those staying at the shelter were given breakfast and an evening meal and over the Christmas Holidays, while all of the VNFC staff were on holiday (the VNFC simply closes for two weeks and everyone takes holidays at the same time) various organizations in the community were asked to step up and provide meals. The FGRC, along with help from generous neighbours who donated cash and food, prepared home cooked breakfasts and dinners for three days. We used the FGCA kitchen to prepare the food and have committed to preparing a Sunday dinner once a month for the shelter residents starting in November 2019 and running until March 2020.

Welcome Sign
It is a small thing but we noticed that the multilingual welcome sign inside the FGCA centre had no First Nations language greetings on it. We have done that now – ask any staff member to point it out to you.


Conclusion

As our group was formed on the basis of implementing some of the TRC’s recommendations, we have events that our local Fairfield and Gonzales residents can participate in and learn from. Please feel free to join us in whatever capacity you would like for as long as you feel you can commit to. Everyone is welcome, including those who live in other neighbourhoods.