Reconciliation 101: Aaniin means welcome

Reconciliation is an ugly word.

Much has been said about reconciliation. Lofty words by politicians at various  levels of government jabbering on about reconciliation.  One Senator in the Red Chamber recently received back lash for her comments about residential school. The Senator seemed to be cut from the same cloth as North Kildonan’s Councillor Jeff Browaty, who put his political foot in his mouth about residential schools a few weeks ago.

They know so little about reconciliation and residential schools even though there has been money spent on trying to promote understanding of the subject.

Poster of Indigenous greetings; an initiative of the Downtown BIZ.

I saw a poster of greetings in my dialect on store doors in the downtown store windows. I read them as I watched security guards escort native homeless people out of the mall.

I even went to meetings and events that were well attended by all cultures about reconciliation. Afterwards every body went their own way. Puzzling to watch words not become real action to move forward with the topic being discussed.

Since no one asked me about reconciliation, I would like to share what I want, because it feels like people are trying to reconcile at me, not with me.

What I really want is for people to understand me.  As an Indigenous person. As a woman. As a residential school survivor. We can start by talking to each other. Talk to me. Not for me. I’ve had that done to me too many times. I have a voice and an opinion. Let me express it myself.

The word reconciliation keeps coming to mind. I find that when that happens to me, there is a story that needs to be written and shared. Words and ideas that haunt me until I have written them down.

What is it about the word that haunts me? Not sure if I am qualified to even write about reconciliation or the actions to move it forward. I’ve been the recipient of the opposite of reconciliation. Suspicious looks from non-native people as they walk by me. Getting followed by security in stores. On the rare occasion even being called negative names by people. Fear breeds ignorance.

I want to be understood. I want to be heard. I want dignity as a Indigenous woman. I want reconciliation to happen.

We can start on a candid manner. By saying hello to each other. Have coffee with another. I am a storyteller and love to share my stories. Two dollars for a cup of coffee is cheaper then all the government funding that is done to promote reconciliation.

I don’t presume to have all the answers to reconciliation or how best to get along with each other. All I can do is to keep sharing my stories and pictures with people. Get to know me by the stories I write. My Indigenous culture and who I am. Get to know my Indigenous brothers and sisters.

I laugh and cry just like everybody else. I have hopes and dreams just like everybody else. Hopefully they can get to know me in a small way through the words I write.

Here is hoping reconciliation happens. One word at a time. One story at a time.

Vivian Ketchum


I am an Indigenous woman from Wauzhushk Onigum Nation, a First Nation community outside of Kenora, Ontario. I have lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba for the past ten years. My hobby is photography and I consider myself an amateur photographer. I live in the central area of Winnipeg and enjoy the challenges of residing in the core area.

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