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General News · 29th August 2013
Leah
On August 9th, I had the privilege of attending The Village Workshop at the Klahoose Multi-Purpose Center. For our small community at the height of summer, this event had an incredibly inspiring and diverse turn-out. Over 50 community members were present with ages spanning at least five decades. To begin with, we gathered in a large circle that stretched to fill entire perimeter of the room. The feeling of being in that circle was potent for me on many levels. From that wide-angle view, I could see how powerfully we each hold a place in the fabric of our 'village.' Every single face I could see, both familiar and new, seemed to holding this circle together with an invisible glue that we often don't take the time to really notice. It was also significant to see that all of the people in that room were ready and willing to ask uncomfortable questions about the past and why there is a sense of distance between the native and non-native communities on Cortes.

In the five years that I have lived here, I have often questioned how to best live on this island in a way that respects the people who are indigenous to this place, and acknowledges the impact and legacy of colonialism. As our faciltator, Kathi Camilleri, often mentioned during the workshop, this acknowledgement comes without shame or blame. It is a recognition of true experiences that have had a lasting impact on generations of people. It is also a recognition that we now have an opportunity to change this story. We have an opportunity to build relationships that are based on mutual respect and the willingness to create visions for our community that empower all members.

For me, the workshop felt like a practice in community mending. We were taking an honest look at the fabric of our community and bearing witness to the places that need to be tended and strengthened. Through an experiential process guided by Kathi, we were given the opportunity to explore and perceive the impact of colonization.

When our circle was ceremoniously closed, I felt a sense that something important had happened that day. It was meaningful to see people show up and be present for this process. This experience left me with an immense feeling of gratitude for the vibrant community that we have, and also a renewed sense of commitment towards honoring and reconciling the legacy that First Nation's people have been left to carry. I feel like this workshop was a step towards creating a new narrative, and a commitment to support an enduring process of healing. I look forward to seeing how our community can grow these seeds that have been planted.

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If there is interest, Kathi Camilleri is willing to host another Village workshop on Cortes in December. Please be in touch with Noba Anderson if you'd like to attend. directorcortesisland.com