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Reconciliation steps

At a gathering of librarians and educators, Rosanna Deerchild noted that she may not have been invited to attend if steps toward reconciliation with Canada?s Indigenous peoples had not begun.

The reading was part of the Manitoba School Library Association SAGE Conference with the theme Truth in Our Stories: Seeking a Path to Reconciliation on Friday, October 20, 2017 at the Fort Richmond Collegiate.

The thinking behind the conference was to address the tremendous role and opportunity given to librarians and teachers of reshaping the Indigenous narrative in this country.

Deerchild read from Calling Down the Sky that is a poetry book collaboration representing her mother's residential school experiences.

Though the subject matter of abuse, neglect and genocide, Deerchild reached deep down into that sense of humour and humility that has served Indigenous people so well in the face of tragedy and demoralization through colonization.

Her imitation of her mother's speaking patterns and talking about her own reconciliation with her mother brought more than a few laughs.

Serya Sayett, 16, and Michelle Lim, 15, were two Fort Richmond Collegiate students tasked with introducing Deerchild to the librarians and educators gathered to listen to Deerchild.

Lim said, "It was very moving and powerful. I think others will learn a lot from even hearing it or reading the book because we just started learning this last year. And not many people know about residential schools."

Sayett said she moved Canada with her parents recently from Bangladesh where they knew nothing of Canada's Indigenous peoples' history including residential schools.

"I think Ms. Deerchild is a really good storyteller," said Sayett. "I came to know more about this as we studied it in Social Studies."

Other Indigenous presenters that day included: Melanie Florence, Don Smith, Brown Bear Drum Group, David A. Robertson, Clarence Nepinak, Barbara Nepinak, Mike Calder, Rosanna Deerchild, Shirley Fontaine, Niigaan Sinclair, Tricia Logan, Allen Sutherland, Leah Fontaine, Sharon Parenteau, Chief Erwin Redsky, Double Trouble and Rylee Sandberg.

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