“Canadian History Uncovered” Workshop at St. John Cantius Parish

“Most Canadians — long-established settlers and newer immigrants both — know little about the history of the land on which we live and how the original inhabitants of the land came to be confined to small and isolated tracts of land scattered here and there throughout the country.

On January 17, 2024, about 30 members of St John Cantius Parish gathered in the parish hall for a workshop called “Canadian History Uncovered.”  In this interactive workshop, some of the participants take the role of First Nations and Métis people, others the role of settlers who came to this land since the land that Indigenous people call Turtle Island, was ‘discovered’ some 500 years ago.  They learned how the original partnership of equals was eventually set aside as immigrant-dominated governments displaced the original peoples from their traditional lands to make room for agriculture, mining, hydro developments and ever-growing cities.  The First Nations peoples were stripped of basic human rights, put under the control of government-appointed Indian agents and confined to ever-shrinking reserves.  They were not allowed to vote, not allowed to sell their crops or cattle outside their reserve, and could not even travel off their reserve without the permission of the Indian Agent.

The St John Cantius workshop was especially interesting, as the majority of the participants were originally from the Philippines, and so could compare the experience of their ancestors with that of the original peoples in their new country.

The workshop concluded with each small discussion group creating a human sculpture — a visual image of what the relationship between the original peoples and settlers has been on Turtle Island during different periods of their shared history.

This workshop was part of an ongoing series of workshops hosted by St John Cantius, in which the history of the Indigenous peoples and immigrants to this land has been explored and where St John Cantius parishioners have sat down for evening dialogues with some of their First Nation and Métis neighbours.  These workshops have been made possible through an ongoing commitment of the parish leadership to take some steps into a journey of Truth and Reconciliation with the original peoples of this land.”

– Brother Thomas Novak
Enjoy photos of the event below!
The dialogues have been organized by Father Yoly, the St John Cantius Pastoral Council, and by Brother Thomas Novak OMI, who has been appointed by the Archdiocese of Winnipeg to create and faciliatate workshops like these throughout the archdiocese.