The O’Kaadenigan Wiingashk Collective’s Beats & Braids Festival is a unique event that has weaved together artists, community members, and local and visiting Indigenous talent from across Turtle Island. While this festival is a celebration of music, there was a deeper theme to the programming last year: the concept of reconciliation.
A free workshop titled “Reconciliation 101 for Settlers” was held on October 14, 2016 at the Monocle Centre for the Arts in Downtown Peterborough. The comedian and writer Ryan McMahon facilitated conversation centered around reconciliation and Indigenous- and settler relations. He created a space and opportunity for people to educate and engage on the conversation about reconciliation. This event brought together more than 35 students, activist, artist and community members that wanted to learn more about reconciliation. The large group was then divided in smaller groups to answer two questions: Why are were they there? And what does reconciliation mean for them?
McMahon encouraged everyone to be critical, to educate and to take action. At the end of the workshop he asked every group to come up with an idea to take action. Other participants also took the opportunity to shared events, groups and initiatives that they had been working on. One workshop participant invited everyone to join The Nogojiwanong Aspiring Allies Action Group (NAAAG) that aims to raise awareness among settler communities about the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Nogojiwanong (Peterborough) region and how settlers can help ensure those rights are upheld.