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By Brenda Anderson (Women’s and Gender Studies/Religious Studies)
The Canadian Roots Exchange programme is an initiative supported by Luther College that reflects our institution’s larger commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation process. CRE is a national organization that trains Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to form Reconciliation Teams whose purpose is to teach about the effects of colonialism in Canada on Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities alike. Luther College formed a steering committee two years ago that included members from the University of Regina’s Aboriginal Student Centre and other faculty on the main campus as well as Luther College professors and teacher Joel Beres from Luther College High School. Our commitment has been to provide financial support and counselling support to the four students who have formed our first CRE team on campus: Lindsay desRoschers, Austin Josephson, Lee Prosper, and Giselle Yee. Their efforts have been herculean to say the least, numbering on average two events per month and spreading out to high schools inside and outside of Regina, numerous university classes and a very well-attended evening of presentations and dance honouring murdered and missing Indigenous women.
Two of the four members of our Reconciliation Team attended the 2016 CRE annual conference in Sudbury, Ontario, from March 17-19. A reception is planned for early May to recognize and promote CRE, with invitations to media, presidents on campuses, and all those who have been involved as supporting or hosting the team. Provincial awareness of our team’s work should also be noted: they received an invitation to speak at a school in northern Saskatchewan; the school was referred to the Saskatoon CRE team.
It is the steering committee’s hope that Luther College can continue to support this important initiative that moves us forward in our national project of Truth and Reconciliation.
Reflection by Austin Josephson
Canadian Roots Exchange has given me the unique opportunity to join forces with Indigenous and Non-Indigenous youth from all over Canada who strive to bring about positive change in their respective communities. Within my own community of Regina, I, along with my fellow YRI team members, actively connect with youth. The most effective way to do this is through discussion and working in the classroom. Working with students from Elsie Mironuck School and seeing how their teacher is teaching Indigenous history in the classroom gives us hope for the future. We want to hear the thoughts and ideas of youth – giving them a voice. Our team is giving back to our community and showing what Canadian Roots Exchange can do. By working with teachers, students, Elders, and professors, we are building a larger community within our own community. I am extremely grateful for Canadian Roots Exchange. Having taken a minor in Indigenous Studies in University and having a strong understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing, I feel I can share my knowledge with others and strengthen minds and worldviews for the better.
Being a Youth Reconciliation Leader is indeed an honour. Knowing that there are youth across Canada who want to strengthen relationships between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples is very important. We can honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, teach the true history of Canada through the blanket exercise, and positively impact the leaders of tomorrow through classroom workshops. I strongly encourage youth to join Canadian Roots Exchange and become involved with one of the best volunteer organizations in Canada.
Austin is a graduate of Luther College High School as well as Luther College at the University of Regina. His passions are film and Indigenous Studies.