First Nations reconciliation discussion will focus on role of newcomers

The third in a six-part series of discussions on First Nations reconciliation in Victoria will examine the role of newcomers in Canada’s colonial history.

The series, organized by the mayor, city councillors and local Indigenous leaders, is designed to give the community — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people — an opportunity to explore what reconciliation looks like on Lekwungen territory.

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Monday’s session is hosted by Coun. Sharmarke Dubow, a refugee who fled civil war in Somalia before finding a home in Victoria, and Carey Newman, a local Indigenous artist whose work explores themes of reconciliation and colonialism.

Dubow picked the topic, because, as a newcomer to Canada himself, he has seen other immigrants absorb harmful stereotypes and myths that prevail about Indigenous peoples in Canada.

“This would give the opportunity to have that space to build a relationship and bridges and have a conversation about what is the impression of Canada? What impression did you have of the Indigenous community?” Dubow said.

He hopes by building relationships between those new to the country and those whose families have been here for thousands of years, newcomers will gain a more accurate picture of Canada’s history and of Indigenous peoples.

The session will also explore the similarities between Indigenous communities and those who choose or are forced to move.

“We view ourselves as a multicultural society of diversity, yet we have some pretty terrible injustices happening here in Indigenous communities. A lot are similar to the places people are leaving,” Newman said.

The session will include a mix of conversation on stage between Dubow and Newman, which will lead to small-group discussion between those in attendance.

The first session of the series in September focused on Lekwungen history and culture, and participants heard oral stories told by elders.

In November, about 200 people attended the second dialogue, which explored the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, an international framework seeking critical rights for First Nations.

The event had to be moved from Victoria City Hall to a larger space in the Victoria Conference Centre due to strong interest. Archived webcasts of the previous two sessions can be found on the city’s website.

B.C. passed legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in late November, becoming the first province to do so.

Other dialogues in the series will discuss the place for controversial historical figures such as Sir John A. Macdonald and what the future of reconciliation looks like. The next three events run on March 2, May 4 and July 8.

Monday’s dialogue starts at 6 p.m. at the Victoria Conference Centre’s Crystal Garden at 713 Douglas Street. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. The event will be live-streamed on the city’s website.


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