“Relationship Building and Reconciliation through Living Heritage” is a pilot process developed by Heritage Saskatchewan (HS), the Office of the Treaty Commissioner (OTC), and Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan (AFCS) to use our collective expertise and experience to further reconciliation in Saskatchewan communities.
Racism and a lack of working relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities is a pressing issue in Saskatchewan. Living heritage is often not included in reconciliation efforts and we believe our approach can accelerate the process of change and counter inherited prejudices and beliefs. Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) this process is the result of conversations and feedback from communities who need help implementing calls from the TRC and UNDRIP in meaningful ways. Each part of the process will be guided by our Indigenous advisors.
Living heritage will be the foundation of our work. Like our DNA, living heritage is passed down from our ancestors and we carry it with us throughout life. It manifests in families and communities in both subtle and obvious ways. Living heritage includes customs, traditions, skills and worldviews, including inherited prejudices, and it informs our values and worldviews. For sustainable and meaningful change to happen, a community must come to terms with its current reality, which requires examining its living heritage.
Indigenous knowledge keepers will be involved from the outset of the project. The four-part cyclical process includes intensive community engagement over 10 months reaching a broad segment of Humboldt’s population, incorporates land-based learning, and will be based on sustained relationships within the community and new relationships with Indigenous communities. The project will be documented through the use of surveys, focused interviews, and participation-observation of its facilitators.
The City of Humboldt, led by its Department of Cultural Services, has already begun the work of reconciliation, including a recently installed reconciliation-themed mural on City Hall in 2022.) Humboldt is a vibrant community with strong ties to surrounding rural areas. Its central location, rich experience in cultural programming, and willingness of City leadership to engage in this project make it an ideal testing ground for this process.