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Building Bridges


At the time I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but while I was in Winnipeg there was this certain song on loop in my head. From the time I woke up, throughout our discussions with various Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners in reconciliation, and well into the evening visits to museums and over dinners, it just kept playing. Unlike some of those less than pleasant earworms that can get in there – It’s A Small World anyone?! – this was a pleasant companion to underscore my days. It wasn’t until I stopped to reflect, that I realized this song’s lyrics were providing me with key kernels of wisdom for breaking open the present conversations I was having on Indigenous reconciliation. The song? Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel.

In Winnipeg, as we sought to learn more from our partners from various Indigenous communities and organizations working on the frontlines of reconciliation, a few themes were reiterated. First and foremost, reconciliation is an urgent call but a process that will take time and a whole-hearted commitment. Just as Indigenous people are not a homogenous group, there is also no overarching means and all-encompassing solution to resolve all that which has been done in the past. We do, however, have a clear responsibility to memory, journey and vision. In other words, we have a responsibility to: remember the past and its truth, develop supportive relationships, and shape the future together.

I suppose for me these reminders are best articulated by the lyrics of the song that kept repeating in my head:

When you’re weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Sail on Silver Girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Reconciliation will take time, there is no doubt, but in order for it to be achieved it calls on everyone to commit. That is, commitment to truth and understanding, commitment to each other and commitment to seeing this through. It won’t be easy, it is true, but we will achieve reconciliation if we attend to one another particularly in the dark and difficult times.

I am a proud Canadian, avid volunteer, professional student, teacher, civil servant, mentor and world traveler who has been known to sing in the shower and frequent many a musical and brewery of craft beer. On a hiatus from graduate studies in education and theology at the doctoral level and teaching as a long-term occasional teacher, I now find myself at the Canada Border Services Agency working across Immigration and Corporate Services at Pearson International and looking forward to a long career in the public service.

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