Skip to content

COLUMN: Do not allow momentum of reconciliation to slow or pass

Indigenous storyteller Jillian Morris encourages Canadians to seek out stories, and to commit to equity

Jillian Morris is Kanien’kehá:ka, turtle clan and band member of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory now living in Collingwood. She will be sharing stories and experience passed down through the oral traditions of Kanien’kehá:ka culture in her regular column, entitled Ka’nikonhrí:io, (The Good Mind) published on 


Shé:kon sewakwé:kon, greetings to you all.

As I write today, I am grateful for the blanket that covers the outside.

Snow has come early. Though unpleasant for many, my tired spirit welcomes it.

The fall is a busy time. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Treaty Week, Indigenous Veteran’s Day happen in quick succession.  

This year these events happened on the heels of the shattering of widely accepted falsehoods – the waking of a misled nation – making commemoration feel sobering, less celebratory. 

The four winds are fulfilling their duties. With their help, Mother Earth is preparing life in this region for rest. Protecting and insulating so it may emerge regenerated, revitalized. 

Traditionally we would follow suit. Guided by the innate instinct and behaviours of the natural world.

Winter is a time of storytelling, reflection, and togetherness.  

Much has been shared and experienced over the past several months that impacts Canadians’ relationship with Indigenous people.  
I have thought with intensity about the commonly asked questions by those learning difficult truths. What can I do? How do I take part in reconciliation?

Please do not allow the momentum of the long-overdue redressing of our collective history to slow or pass. That is my first ask.

I look to my Indigenous peers, also laboriously acting to promote wellness, truth, and understanding. Reflected back is the same weariness and vulnerability I feel. We pause in attempt to support and uplift one another. Depleting our energies further.

The efforts of reconciliation still fall disproportionately on Indigenous people. Forced to try and keep the conversations and actions alive.

The second commitment I encourage is sincere consideration for how you engage with Indigenous people. This is further emphasized for organizations moving into collaboration with Indigenous people or communities. 

Give fair acknowledgement to privilege, to the outcome, and to the benefits that will be experienced through the engagement.
Is reciprocity being achieved? Both benefit and responsibility equitably shared? 

Understand that foremost, skepticism and distrust must be overcome. This is a valid inhibition inherited by our collective dark history.

Our people, our culture, our resources, our knowledge and even our traumas have been through various forms of extraction. Mined as if there is entitlement to them. 

Centre humanity, compassion, and respect.

Thirdly, seek out our stories, consume them, ruminate the messages. 

For us, the stories told in the winter months are the same ones told each year. They come with no explanation. Credit is given to listeners. They have the competence, the spirit, the intuition, the sensitivities to find meaning for themselves. It is what it is, for you, at this time, in this place.

The more we hear our stories, the less likely we are to wander off the path. The one that grounds us firmly in understanding that we cannot exist outside the context of nature.

I trust all can be brought back to this message.

The holiday season is nearing. We may finally be gathering in ways that look a little more like pre-COVID times. May we not take it for granted. Make it meaningful.

I encourage you to (re)visit the Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen, The Words Before All Else, also known as the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address to bring you into gratitude.

I remind you of the teachings of kan’nikonhri:io, the Good Mind introduced in earlier articles.  

Engage with good intention, listen openly, speak with care. Let friendship, kinship, and peace be what leads.

Remember the true source of all that provides you safety, comfort, and sustenance.  

Skén:nen, peace.


The Collingwood Public Library has prepared youth and adult reading lists featuring Indigenous authors, you can read more about those lists and titles here. 

The Canadian Museum of History has posted audio recordings of traditional and creation stories read by Indigenous people in their respective languages, and also read in English. You can listen to the stories via the museum website here.