When the going gets tough, I believe demonstrating true community leadership means we not only hold firm to our values and each other, but we also celebrate the new pathways that are emerging in our collective efforts to nurture and foster social change.

In recognition of September 30th, Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I’d like to celebrate two amazing clients who are trail blazers in transforming Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships by engaging both people and systems.

Community leadership in transforming sports and recreation: Carol Sheridan

In 2018, Carol Sheridan, Manager of Oliver Parks and Recreation had a vision to build quality relationships with Osoyoos Indian Band and reach Canada’s Truth and Recreation Calls to Action

She reached out to me with the goal of creating welcoming and inclusive spaces in sports. Together, we started the process by partnership building with Osoyoos Indian Band leadership. These conversations, which focused on what a sense of home means and shared histories, led to Oliver Parks and Recreation staff training and hosting Belonging Matters Conversations with Osoyoos Indian Band members. 

Through each community dialogue, we built quality relationships and learned about many experiences of what had eroded a sense of belonging and home for many Osoyoos Indian Band members. We also learned what builds belonging and a sense of home. From these conversations, together, we generated a vision for actionable change. 

Carol Sheridan shares her experience of working with me and the Belonging Matters Conversations process in this short video.

Check out the visual legacies from this Belonging Matters project with key insights and outcomes:To learn more about the roadblocks Oliver Parks and Recreation and Osoyoos Indian Band overcame and their journey to creating some amazing outcomes and lasting change we can all learn from, listen to this video:

Leadership in mobilizing communities: Maggie Hodgson

Did you know that long before Canada’s new National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, an Indigenous leader co-founded and launched something similar almost 20 years ago? After years of advocating, in 2002, Maggie Hodson, Carrier First Nations and former Executive Director of Neichi Institute, launched Canada’s National Day of Healing and Reconciliation, NDHR (May 26th). 

In 2004, Maggie reached out to me and asked me to interview leaders of grassroots initiatives to foster healing and reconciliation across Canada and produce NDHR’s first newsletters. The goal was to build a movement through sharing stories of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leadership to build bridges and ultimately transform our relationships and systems. 

If you want some feel good stories, check them out below in NDHR’s first two newsletters:

As we commemorate Canada’s first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, I invite you to celebrate Maggie’s groundbreaking work long before the TRC even began or the unmarked graves of children at residential schools were discovered. To me, an essential part of the decolonizing and Indigenizing work is recognizing, celebrating and supporting Indigenous leadership, especially when their work led to where we are today. 

Please join me in giving a shout out to Maggie and making sure she becomes a household name for her work in the original day to recognize and foster truth, healing and reconciliation. 

Community leadership - How about you?

I’d love to hear how you are turning your reflections into action. What are your thoughts on how you can use community leadership to engage people and systems in this transformative work? What local Indigenous leader or emerging leader can you support and celebrate? What impact do you dream of making?

Leave a comment below.

In the meantime, my gift to you, on Canada’s first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation is a synthesis of the research I did over the course of 4 years on reconciliation movements around the world, put together in a bundle of 4 simple tools. 

To get the bundle, visit: www.ReconciliationTools.ca
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About the Author

Jessie Sutherland

An international speaker, trainer, and consultant, Jessie Sutherland works with organizations and communities to engage diversity, build belonging and ignite intercultural collaboration. Her approach creates sustainable community change that effectively addresses a wide range of complex social problems.

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