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Talking in Circle

Hearts Exchanged is a perfect name for the program I was privileged to participate in this past year.  Instead of a purely intellectual exercise about Indigenous people and the church in Canada, this was a meeting of hearts and souls.  Real learning and listening took place. It was a laying out of beliefs and understandings.  Sharing of first person accounts. Gentle correction. Encouragement. Pledges to do better and ideas for how to do so in real and meaningful ways. 

I was a witness to some shifted beliefs, increased compassion and new levels of understanding.  The powerful witness of the Indigenous members of the group and the ways in which they trusted us enough to share their stories was humbling. Many of us were deeply moved and truly shaken at the deep trust placed in us to hold and witness the truth shared by our Indigenous group members.  The follow-up activities and meetings that are occurring even after the completion of this year are testament to the power of the discussions and dedication of this group to being part of positive change within our church communities and neighborhoods.

We utilized the format of a talking circle to respectfully and fairly share our thoughts

Right from the very beginning I appreciated the carefully curated readings and videos selected for us in preparation for each month’s session. Thoughtful questions were presented to guide the focus of the assigned content.  When we came together on the Zoom call, we utilized the format of a talking circle to respectfully and fairly share our thoughts and ensure that everyone had a chance to be heard or skip their turn in that moment of the discussion without question, as they felt led to do. 

At our first session we discussed and created group norms and shared the creation of community rules of respect and guiding principles.  It was key that we established ourselves in a community format before we began engaging with the tough topics.  It was a beautiful way to begin in the way in which we intended to proceed. That intentionality set us up as an aligned team and we returned to the roots of that many times when the discussion got heavy over the following months.  It was a comfort and a guide for us all.

Hearts Exchanged is an invaluable resource to have to return to

During a year that has been very heavy in so many ways as long-overdue cultural and racial issues have arisen that Indigenous peoples and settlers have been challenged to reckon with on numerous fronts, I was repeatedly grateful to have both a caring community and scaffolded framework with which to engage in some of this hard, but vital work. As this big work continues, Hearts Exchanged is an invaluable resource to have to return to (along with all the tools we were given) and I look forward to engaging with it further this year as I continue on as a facilitator.  I encourage anyone who has an interest in the topics of the church and its role in the current and historical relationship with Indigenous peoples to consider participating.

Sign up today to participate in a fall cohort of Hearts Exchanged.  

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash


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