By: Renessa Visser | November 27, 2018
By: Renessa Visser, junior reporter
This past Monday, Bob Watts ran a session during Activity Period to describe what reconciliation with Indigenous people looks like in Canada.
“I think we’re at a really important time in our history as a country,” he explained. “We’ve entered into this new paradigm of reconciliation. Some of my colleagues and I are trying to imagine Canada with voices that should have been there at the time of Confederation, but were excluded. We also need to recognize how we continue to be guided by concepts that are imperialistic, patronising, racist, and unhelpful.”
He explained that the term “settler” presumes that Indigenous people had not settled the land when the Europeans arrived. “It’s easier to talk about taking land from people who aren’t civilized, then talking about taking land from people who are civilized. The word “settler” omits the millennia of experience that existed long before Europeans entered Canada.”
The Dish with One Spoon Treaty was at the heart of Bob Watt’s discussion. This treaty discusses the past, present, and future, focussing on Indigenous territory in Southern Ontario. “We think of this area as a dish,” explained Bob Watts. “The dish is the land, the dish’s contents represent what has been provided for us—but there’s only one spoon, and you have to decide how to share.” The image of a dish is key in bringing us to understand that the earth has rights that must be respected through our actions.
To explain this further, Watts provided the example of two people writing with one pen. “There’s so much you need to think about in order for your words to be legible: how much control of the pen you share, how to maintain equality of that control, and how you decide what style to write in. In a similar way, co-creating a different future for Canada requires a lot of reflection, but we can’t get stuck there; we need to act in an informed way.”
When asked what she thought about the event, first-year student, Kyra Schat, explained, “Bob Watts’ challenge for us to integrate reconciliation and spirit into our decisions is a beautiful illustration. It describes values that we as students at Redeemer should promote, and also explains the ways in which we can work with our Indigenous neighbours. We can take their lead as they show us how to value the creation that has been gifted to us, and the communities that shape us as individuals and as a nation.”
Another first-year student, Magda Teeuwsen, shared her perspective: “I really liked Bob Watts’ emphasis on the integration of spirit into decision making, whether you approach from a Christian or Indigenous perspective.”
Bob Watts’ perspective of hope is a call for us to pursue reconciliation and decolonization on a daily basis. His words allowed us to glimpse a future in which we impartially share the spoon across the dish of Ontario.