Big Brothers Big Sisters moving forward on TRC calls to action
- Andréa Ledding | September 14, 2016
Big Brothers and Big Sisters Saskatchewan (BBBSS) are embracing the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Calls to Action.
“We have learned that the journey to reconciliation starts within the framework that is outlined in the Calls to Action. Reconciliation is not an event. It is a process,” noted Regina Area Executive Director Ash Noureldin.
Annie Battiste, from Potlotek Mi’kmaw First Nation in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, is the Saskatoon-based Indigenous Relations Director at BBBSS. Special emphasis has been placed on two core commitments of the TRC. Calls to Action #7 and # 92 focus on developing a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians; and adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework applied to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples, lands, and resources.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in Saskatchewan came together almost two years ago to begin to engage in how to ensure Aboriginal youth in our programming felt safe and comfortable within our programs,” explained Battiste, adding that she was hired as a result, and many of the agencies had become involved in Reconciliation events prior to that. “Since starting this position six months ago, I have had the opportunity to chat with a lot of people about what Aboriginal mentorship could look like and look forward to chatting with more people.”
Those chats have shown a need for more Aboriginal mentors within BBBSS programs to address the many Aboriginal youth that partake in programming. The Saskatchewan Indigenous Mentorship Project is a reconciliation initiative aimed to provide meaningful and relevant need-based service delivery to Aboriginal youth across the province.
“Although we are actively involved with Aboriginal youth throughout our province agencies, the process of reconciliation was a powerful opportunity for us to take a reflective look at our current practices and programming,” noted Kim Megyesi, Saskatoon Area Executive Director. “The TRC Calls to Actions give myself and the organization the framework to be able to create meaningful and authentic programs and space for all youth in the province.”
All staff members have undertaken Cultural Awareness Training and are aware of the complexities of Reconciliation.
“I personally believe it is important for organizations to make their commitment public and well known that reconciliation is a priority for their organization. BBBSS recognizes that reconciliation is not an end itself but a process of change that is needed in our province,” noted Battiste. “We recognize the need to begin conversations, relationships, and partnerships with the Aboriginal community and organizations to ensure we are creating culturally appropriate services and we are absolutely open to hearing where we should start, who we should chat with, and how to ensure the best possible programming in Saskatchewan that is mindful of the vibrancy of Aboriginal culture and history in our province.”
For more information see www.saskbbbs.ca.