The 4Rs Youth Movement is a youth-led organization dedicated to facilitating conversations and changing relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. 4Rs is committed to the values of respect, reciprocity, reconciliation and relevance and brings those values into all of the dialogues and programming it runs. I’ve had the opportunity to work with 4Rs on a couple of events in recent years and to participate in some of their facilitated programming. They are a fantastic group of change makers and a source of inspiration for anyone involved in cross-cultural or reconciliation work.
4Rs recently released their dialogue framework, Seeding Reconciliation On Uneven Ground: The 4Rs Approach to to Cross-Cultural Dialogue. This is a must read for anyone engaged in facilitation, cross-cultural dialogues, or youth engagement. Seriously, go read it. The framework shares what 4Rs has learned through their youth-led community drive dialogues and cross-cultural conversations. It provides examples of how 4Rs has fostered safe spaces to encourage cross-cultural conversations with an emphasis on mix-methods and experience based learning processes.
The section of Seeding Reconciliation which reflects on the term reconciliation is particularly powerful and relevant for anyone who has been part of an organization which is interested in engaging in conversations of reconciliation, Indigenization, or decolonization. The framework highlights different perspectives on reconciliation that have been shared by Indigenous activists, scholars, and thinkers. These perspectives highlight the ongoing relationship building inherent in reconciliation work and the need to understand that reconciliation is about way more than just residential schools.
The actual step-by-step guide for cross-cultural dialogue is represented using through the use of a garden analogy, connecting conversations back to land. The guide is broken into five steps:
- Getting There: Pathways to new relationships
- Preparing The Ground: Restoring balance to the landscape of reconciliation
- Planting The Seeds: Growing leadership, relationships and truth
- Connecting Our Roots: Going deeper into dialogue
- Harvesting: Taking it home
Each step focuses on youth led conversations and the fact that building strong relationships takes time and effort. Creating safe spaces and facilitating conversations requires a lot of groundwork to be laid before important dialogues can take place. As Seeding Reconciliation notes “We are not thinking about an end product that can be easily packaged or replicated; our Framework is not an assembly line…This Framework emphasizes that cross-cultural dialogue cannot be rushed” (p. 34). Approaches to reconciliation and cross-cultural conversations are not a one size fits all situation. This is a deeply thoughtful and inspiring document that I would encourage people to engage with, especially those in the heritage field who are beginning to have conversations about reconciliation. The frame uses easy to understand language but has the potential to provoke challenging questions ideas about reconciliation that are applicable in many contexts across Canada.