Truth Before Reconciliation

B. Lorraine Smith
8 min readSep 30, 2021

Dear sister and brother white settlers,

(FN friends, I sense you have way better things to do than deal with the endless task of educating white people so I hope you don’t waste your time and energy here; having said that, anything at all that you wish to correct, criticize or share — without reading this even — is 100% welcome. What I say below may cause anger or be triggering in other ways which is definitely not my intention. None of it would be surprising to you, I suspect, but I bet almost all of it will be surprising to many of my settler peers. Hence I’m addressing it to the white folk, with respect and peace, though anyone can listen in and contribute.)

We are about to hear a lot about Truth & Reconciliation again as Canada holds its first national day of observation honouring the topic.

The thing is, in order to *reconcile*, first we need to *recognize*. This means seeing the truth, letting it be part of our cognition, if you will.

My aim here is not to add guilt or shame — these feelings do not improve matters and might even offer an excuse to avert our eyes because it’s too uncomfortable — slip on an orange t-shirt and call it job done.

Rather my aim is to understand the truth in order to foster meaningful change.

Truth is complex — it means different things to every one of us so I won’t pretend to tell you what yours is. But I thought I’d share some of mine because it highlights why I have been part of the problem. If I’d like things to change I need to see this for what it is, i.e. my responsibility (aka my ability to respond). Only then can I start to see the wider system.

To illustrate my point, I offer excerpts from a history assignment I did in 1983 when I was 12 (in grade eight).

The textbook we drew from — They Call Us Canadians — was considered progressive at the time. Looking at it now I would say it was at best white-washing, at worst dehumanizing. Any way I slice it, it’s horrifying.

Yet I can’t ascribe all of my ignorance to the text book as I had already formed some of my own…

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B. Lorraine Smith

Former sustainability consultant replacing ESG with reality-based insights about corporate purpose and impact. https://www.blorrainesmith.com/