For 27 years, Kathi Camilleri has been passionate about healing the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. Knowing Our Place is honoured to be bring her workshop, Building Bridges Through Understanding the Village, to Bowen on Saturday, October 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Library Annex.
This is a powerful participatory workshop. With humour and kindness, Kathi will guide us toward solutions rather than recrimination. We will be exploring our personal role in supporting the revival of the values that worked so beautifully in Indigenous villages for thousands of years. The effects of residential schools and Canada’s policy of assimilation will also be addressed.
Kathi is Cree/Métis on her mother’s side, Irish on her father’s, proud of both sides of her ancestry. She has a master of leadership studies. “I began by counselling residential school survivors when the federal government provided funding,” she tells me.
She also worked as a journalist for the Awa’k’wis Kwaikutl District Council newspaper.
Kathi became a counsellor with the Laichwilltact Family Life Society, a not-for-profit society providing healing programs, and ran a parenting group. She also went out into the broader community to let people know about the programs the society offered, including residential school healing programs. “Inevitably,” she says, “an educated person would ask: ‘What’s a residential school?’”
She interviewed Elders and wrote down their life stories. “In those days, people weren’t talking about residential school. They would skip over that part of their story. Three paragraphs about how many oolichan there were in Kincome Inlet. One sentence about attending Kuper Island.” She wasn’t aware that Kuper Island referred to a residential school. “I knew, by the way they said it, not to ask. No place for them to talk about it.” Service providers for the Ministry of Children and Families had no knowledge of how to address the trauma of residential schools.
Since then she has provided healing programs, consultation and workshops with aboriginal communities, all levels of government, health providers, social workers and educators.
Kathi’s hope for the future? “That we see each other as relatives. That we come together. We all need to heal. We can move mountains when we figure out how to work with one another rather than against one another.
“The more understanding, the more healing can happen. This is what fills my heart.”
Knowing Our Place is an initiative brought to you by Pauline Le Bel, the Bowen Library, Bowen Arts Council and Bowen Island Literacy Task Group. The aim is to learn our true history with Indigenous Peoples and to foster mutually-enhancing relationships.
Kathi shares her experience with a gentleman who attended one of her workshops.
“He was very much in his head,” she says, wondering if he was getting it. “The workshop can be emotional.”
At the end of the day, the man approached her and said: “I don’t think reconciliation will be about the grand gesture. I am going to be different in every action with all the Indigenous people I meet because now I understand so deeply.”
We invite you to be part of this workshop, to be part of the healing that is already taking place. Saturday, October 12, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bowen Library. Please bring your lunch and beverage. Morning coffee, tea and snacks will be provided. The workshop is free but you must register as space is limited. Please register at: bit.ly/KOPBuildingBridges or go to the Bowen Library website bowenlibrary.ca.