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In our Culturally Committed Community, there's been a surge of dialogue surrounding collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. While our members are deeply invested in fostering allyship and propelling reconciliation efforts, there's a prevailing sense of uncertainty about navigating this path. Questions abound: When is the right time to speak up? When should we simply listen? Often, these uncertainties lead to hesitation and fear of making mistakes. These conversations inspired our treasured Mentor, George Harris Jr. of Stz'uminus, to articulate his thoughts in the following composition. It's my privilege to share his wisdom with you, our reader.

"We need to coexist in this world together. First Nations people and settlers are both here on Turtle Island, and we need to live here together peacefully. There is a lot of hesitancy from our people because of the travesties that have happened to us not so long ago. Our ways of life were subjected to cultural genocide because we dared to call God by another name. We were punished because we were different, because we were not like the people who settled in our lands. The Church and the Government have been our fiercest foes for many years, and at times they still are our foes. It is going to take a lot of time and effort to gain our trust. The desire for us to have people prove themselves is only natural considering all we have gone through. So when we come across people who demand we trust them, that only pushes peaceful coexistence further and further apart. We need to be in relationship with each other in order to coexist together.

It is human nature to crave connections; it is only natural to want to be seen and heard, to finally feel another soul seeing your soul. Our people are in a new place in this world; we are being seen and heard, but it has not come without a cost. Our ancestors have given everything for us to be here. I want to honor them for their sacrifices.

I no longer want to be treated terribly because I am First Nations. I don't want the world to treat me like a second-class citizen every time I leave my home. I do not always want to have my guard up. I wish to live in a world where our differences are celebrated, and we can all be here to support each other, to love each other. That is the future I want for all of our peoples."

George's insightful words prompt us to reflect on the profound importance of earning trust and demonstrating genuine intentions in our interactions within the community. As we navigate the complexities of historical injustices endured by First Nations people, we must recognize that trust is not freely given but earned through consistent actions. It's imperative that we remain mindful of our role in this ongoing journey of reconciliation, striving to align our words with meaningful deeds. By embodying sincerity and empathy, we can forge stronger bonds and contribute positively to the collective pursuit of understanding and unity.

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