Journey Towards Truth and Reconciliation: Our Way

Pamela Rebello O.M.

We are discussing the journey undertaken by the India School of Dance, Music & Theatre (ISDMT) towards truth and reconciliation, particularly in the context of indigenous culture and values. Here's an explanation of what we have done so far and are committed to adding more:

1. Background and Commitment: Several years ago, ISDMT made a commitment to stand in solidarity with indigenous communities in their pursuit of justice and reconciliation. This commitment involved exploring and understanding the various calls for redress and inclusion, which were vital for the education of advanced students in dance, music, and theatre.

2. Cultural Exploration: Over the past two years, ISDMT invested time and resources in exploring commonalities between indigenous and non-indigenous cultures. This exploration included aspects such as the significance of nature, silence in music, and the five elements, all of which were incorporated into their artistic expressions. Through these experiences, students gained a deep appreciation for the richness of different cultures, reflecting the divine essence and love within them.

3. Focus on Beginners: In the current year, ISDMT decided to shift its focus towards beginners, concentrating on foundational concepts. This involved introducing young and old students to essential ideas like inherent human dignity, the consequences of cultural genocide, and the importance of preserving the species.

4. Inclusive Learning: To foster an inclusive learning environment, ISDMT introduced short modules at the end of classes, allowing newcomers to share their thoughts and ideas. This inclusive approach encouraged both students with prior knowledge and newcomers to engage with and appreciate the heritage they were exploring.

5. Commemorating "Orange Shirt Day": On September 30, 2023, ISDMT encouraged the observance of "Orange Shirt Day." This day provided an opportunity for students to reflect on their importance within their families and the global context, emphasizing the significance of caring for every child in places like Manitoba, Canada, and the world.

6. Exploration of Totem Poles: The educational series began with an exploration of Totem Poles, which symbolize the history, culture, and traditions of indigenous families and tribes. Discussions covered the different types of Totem Poles, their placement, and the stories and ancestors they represent. It was also highlighted that the base of the Totem Pole, often overlooked, is the most respected part, symbolizing the unity of the community.

7. Inukshuk Significance: Students further delved into the significance of the Inukshuk, stone figures that resemble humans. These structures serve as guideposts, marking communication and the survival of the human spirit and species. Notably, the text mentions that the oldest surviving Inukshuk is 1.3 billion years old. The Inukshuk also symbolizes the values of cooperation, balance, and selflessness, emphasizing the importance of collective effort.

8. Continuing the Journey: The text concludes by noting that the journey towards truth and reconciliation continues, sometimes taking winding paths but always guided by the unwavering beacon of truth.

Overall, this highlights ISDMT's dedication to fostering understanding and appreciation for indigenous cultures and values, while also emphasizing the importance of collective efforts and inclusivity in this journey towards truth and reconciliation.

We acknowledge that our organizations are located on Treaty 1 territory, the ancestral lands of the Anishinaabe, Ininew, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene Peoples and the homeland of the Metis Nation.

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