Image: Sophie McCall leading a discussion on collaboration outside Algoma University, formerly Shingwauk Indian Residential School.
This past weekend, I had the honour of attending Reconciliation Work(s) in Progress: An Innovation Forum in Sault Ste Marie. It was a challenging, inspiring, and hopefully, productive event. Instead of conference presentations, the event was set up as a series of roundtable discussions where participants could have conversations about reconciliation (or conciliation as some participants preferred) and the role of art and artists in the process. On Saturday, most of the academics packed up to leave and the artists stayed behind for the “incubation” period. They were charged with the task of working through many of the points of conversation (and contention) that were raised throughout the few days of the event.
Sometimes writing a dissertation can be isolating. It can feel like you are busy creating relationships with books, instead of with people. The event in Sault Ste Marie encouraged connection and collaboration, as well as dialogue and art practice as a way to engage reconciliation. I’m looking forward to following the progress (and process) of the talented artists participating in this event. If you want to follow it too, check out ReWorks, the online site for the project.
In the meantime, I am left with the feeling that reconciliation is an act of creation. It is about new conversations and discussions, about creating new archives, producing artwork, dialogue and new relationships. The event in Sault Ste. Marie was not only about creative collaboration, but collaborative creation as one way in which the process of reconciliation can move forward.