Vancouver community gathering explores the journey to reconciliation

Vancouver community gathering explores the journey to reconciliation

On February 1st, 2018, more than 50 community members gathered at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, located on the territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, to explore the journey to reconciliation through spirituality, arts and action. The event was organized by members of the Vancouver Baha’i community, in collaboration with the civil society group, Reconciliation Canada.

Many of the participants in the event knew each other from a gathering at the Friendship Centre to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, and from joining together in the Walk for Reconciliation in September 2017.

The gathering featured harp music by Caroline Mackay and a presentation by Bob Watts, followed by open dialogue about how to actively pursue a process of reconciliation. The co-founder of Reconciliation Canada and hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, was also in attendance during the evening sharing his wisdom and remarks. His daughter, Shelley Joseph, chaired the event on behalf of Reconciliation Canada.

Bob Watts was introduced as a Baha’i of Mohawk and Ojibway ancestry, a member of the Six Nations Reserve, and the former chief of staff to Canada’s Assembly of First Nations. He currently teaches at Queen’s University and plays a role working to facilitate discussions towards change for Indigenous peoples in Canada.

In his remarks, he highlighted key aspects of reconciliation, an ongoing process that requires collaborative engagement for healing, progress, and mending relationships. More importantly, he emphasized the necessity to acknowledge that reconciliation is “not an Indigenous problem, but an opportunity for all of us,” to come together, to become allies, friends, and implement calls to action to achieve meaningful relationships and shared prosperity.



Throughout Watts’ presentation, the arts were interwoven with music performed by Caroline Mackay, building up to the evening’s consultation in breakout groups.

Fruitful discussion focused on how to implement action plans at the individual and community level, to actively encourage the process of reconciliation. Some of these ideas ranged from advancing new educational processes, to the importance of learning about Indigenous cultures and sharing these experiences with others. Many emphasized the importance of self-reflection and asking oneself “What does reconciliation mean to you?”, following through, taking initiative and striving towards greater unity and mutual understanding.

The evening ended with a love song performed by Kwin Joseph with her mother Shelley Joseph, igniting in the hearts of many participants the desire to work for change.  

Writer: Melika Jalili