What does a reconciled town look like?
Indicators used to measure reconciliation — including self-awareness, personal empowerment and motivation — are “generally weak.”
How do you measure reconciliation? That’s the question I’m wrestling with, as I continue working on my investigation about reconciliation in small Canadian towns — and it's left me scratching my head.
That’s why I’m canvassing academics for answers, including one who’s examined what reconciliation looks like around the world (like Cyprus, for instance). But I’ll have my work cut out for me. In its report “Reconciliation In Practice,” the nonpartisan United States Institute of Peace reported that indicators used to measure reconciliation — including self-awareness, personal empowerment and motivation — are “generally weak,” especially at the individual and government levels.
Lowdown on lateral violence
I watched the fallout from last week’s decision by Petronas to shelve its Lelu Island LNG project on B.C.’s north coast, which my colleagues at Discourse Media have documented extensively. The online bullying, intimidation and bickering between Indigenous people — otherwise known as “lateral violence” — after the Petronas decision was particularly interesting to me.
Corporate and government officials who promote LNG projects to First Nations don’t live in those communities, and don’t have to deal with the fallout if a project is cancelled. According to Times Colonist writer Les Leyne, the benefits to First Nations were key selling points; they included alleviating poverty, boosting employment and community improvements. First Nations must take a critical look at how the promise of such benefits from these projects impact the socio-cultural fabric of their communities.
Whereas some community members see “benefits” as practical, others view them as bribery. In a 2016 Discourse Media story about the Lelu Island LNG project, the paving of a road in Lax Kw’alaams is referred to in a benefits package circulated to community members as “an inducement for good faith negotiations on LNG.” Now that the Petronas deal is cancelled, there’s no project to fight over — but there’s still infighting. If First Nations communities don’t heal and learn from this, the same problem will play out over and over again.