Prairie Rivers Reconciliation Committee, comprised of more than 40 members including the City of Warman and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, met at a retreat at Wanuskewin Heritage Park to discuss next steps for reconciliation, education and building relationships. The day, facilitated by Derek Rope of MR-Strategies, included a vision and mission statement exercise, goal setting and strategic planning.
“Relationships that have been established as a result of this committee have been outstanding and have allowed us to identify reconciliation champions we can rely on,” says Robin Bendig, program coordinator at Great Plains College and co-chair of the committee. “In addition to building capacity in individuals sitting on the committee, it has also helped the organizations and communities they work in.”
Prairie Rivers Reconciliation Committee first came together in January 2018, organized by Great Plains College, the City of Warman and the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, and is one of many reconciliation committees established in Saskatchewan. The Committee and was developed in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and is co-chaired with Mayor Sheryl Spence of Warman and Charmain Laroque of Prairie Spirit School Division.
“Our committee has gown throughout the last calendar year to over 40 representatives from communities including Warman, Martensville, One Arrow First Nation, Dalmeny, Osler, Mistawasis First Nation, Aberdeen, Corman Park and Duck Lake,” explained Bendig. “We are unique in that we have elected representatives from each of the communities, and from organizations such as Mennonite Central Committee, Affinity Credit Union, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Federated Co-operatives Limited and the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority.”
The priority has been education–for the committee, organizations they represent and the communities. “We are all on this journey together and recognize that education is the first step in building capacity,” says Bendig.
Thanks to a grant through Dakota Dunes Community Development Corporation, the committee has opened events and educational opportunities to the community, including a conference called ‘Rural Reconciliation: An Educational Gathering’ in Warman on Nov 7, 2018, a presentation from the Musqua sisters in Osler and an upcoming ceremony planned with the Prairie Spirit School Division, Great Plains College and the RCMP. The grant also enables meetings to be hosted in different communities which provides opportunities to invite additional community members and organizations. An internal educational opportunity is organized each meeting and has included everything from Elder teachings and ways to measure the impacts of the reconciliation group, to anti-racist education and creating an inclusion and diversity strategy.
“It is amazing what a passionate group can accomplish when they come together and have support from organizations such as Dakota Dunes Community Development Corporation,” says Bendig. “While we are still defining our long-term goals, it’s clear that members want to build strong relationships and a long-term commitment toward reconciliation.”
The 2nd Annual Rural Reconciliation Conference will be hosted in Martensville on October 3, 2019. “Of course, the public will be welcome to attend,” explained Bendig. “We want to grow the event from 220 attendees last year to 400 attendees and hope that awareness and connections continue to grow.”
PHOTO: Members of Prairie Rivers Reconciliation Committee met in March at a retreat at Wanuskewin Heritage Park to discuss next steps for reconciliation, education and building relationships. Thanks to a grant through Dakota Dunes Community Development Corporation, the committee has opened events and educational opportunities to the community.