Earlier this week, I saw a tweet from an Indigenous person lamenting that many Canadians would be wearing an orange shirt on September 30, and then for the next 364 days, it would be business as usual, with nothing changing on the reconciliation front.

I’m all for wearing an orange shirt as a first step – it can serve as a visible commitment to listen to, learn from and walk with Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Other people might ask us why we’re wearing it, which gives us a chance to express our hopes for growing understanding about the importance of reconciliation in our country. That could lead them to learn more, and the cycle continues.

What else can non-Indigenous Canadians do on this reconciliation journey? I suggest we take it step by step and commit ourselves to life-long learning in this area. It’s not an easy journey; there will be pain and sadness as we go along. But may there also be compassion, healing and hope for the future.

Here are a few ideas to start things off:

  • Download the Indigenous Ally Toolkit and share it with your network
  • Form a small group and work your way through the 11 sessions in Listening to Indigenous Voices, a resource created by the Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice in cooperation with many Indigenous scholars, artists and others

During his “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada in July, Pope Francis said, “We want to walk together, to pray together and to work together, so that the sufferings of the past can lead to a future of justice, healing and reconciliation.”

When we don’t know where to begin, the best approach is to start with one small action. Imagine what would happen if we all committed to one action per month or even per week!

What is your next step on the path of reconciliation?

Anne Louise Mahoney, Managing Editor, Novalis. Editor of Looking to the Laity: Reflections on Where the Church Can Go from Here and the author of I Hope, a book for young children.

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