Faithfully Preparing for the TRC Hearing in Edmonton
Jesse Root is currently interning at KAIROS as part of his program requirements for his Master of Arts degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies.
As I prepare myself for the coming journey to Edmonton to witness and participate in the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission National Event (TRC), I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a brief reflection about why I feel called to participate now, and in this way with KAIROS and members of the KAIROS community. I also want to mention that I will be participating in this experience with a team of faith filled and inspirational women namely Elizabeth Kessler, Elyse Brazel and Kaitlyn Duthie, all of whom I knew in Ottawa and engaged with in various ways, and who now live in Vancouver, Vancouver and Winnipeg respectively. You will find reflections and blog posts and calls to action from us throughout the course of the event as a way for you to engage remotely in this important event.
First, a little about me. My name is Jesse Root and I am currently interning at KAIROS as part of my program requirements for my Master of Arts degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies. I am also somewhat of an internal migrant myself. I was born in London Ontario, moved to Ottawa for my undergraduate degree in Political Science, moved to Labrador City and now I find myself in Toronto. I say this only to make the point that I know what it is like to enter into an unknown place and feel disconnected from everyone and everything that I know, and is comfortable. I also acknowledge that my migration process has been one of privilege and do not intend to liken my experience to internal and external migrants generally who face significant barriers to self-determination.
My area of research is exploring the relationship between Indigenous and migrant (newcomer, immigrant) communities in Canada. Ironically, staff at KAIROS, including Alfredo Barahona who I have been working with, are running a pre-event at the TRC which is a dialogue between Indigenous and migrant communities through a panel discussion as well as through the KAIROS Blanket Exercise. It is very exciting to see this initiative being undertaken by KAIROS, and participating in it will be enriching both personally and academically.
Over the past number of years, I have really been developing my faith and determining exactly what it means for me in my life; here are some things that I have figured out. First, I experience my deepest moments of faith when surrounded by others in community. Perhaps this is why I am looking to the TRC event with such anticipation. Furthermore, the fact that KAIROS is taking up a community building initiative as part of the pre-event program shows a commitment to creating community between Indigenous and migrant communities. To be there with other faith and secular groups in community hearing stories and struggling together towards reconciliation and right relationship will certainly be a powerful experience. Secondly, my faith is intricately woven to concepts of human dignity, worth, self-determination and justice. To me, aside from the churches’ complicity and even leadership in the residential school era in Canada, the process of seeking reconciliation, listening to stories and voices who are striving for justice is a faith-centered one. Finally, while faith to me is practiced in community, it is a profoundly individual process. This constant struggle for me between the dichotomy of community-centred practice and individual definition of beliefs and the experiences that shape them is the most exciting part and allows me to enter into community (like the TRC) with an open mind, ready to listen, learn and be inspired.
Who knows what the TRC will bring or how I will react when hearing the painful testimony of residential school survivors? What I do know is that I am extremely grateful to KAIROS for the opportunity to embark on this experience with friends who continue to struggle for justice and right relationship in solidarity with those who have experienced grave injustice. It is this type of faithful action that helps me to see and experience God most deeply.