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All Posts By

Marissa Wiebe

Education for Reconciliation

By | 2016 - Aski Learning Tour (Ottawa & Timmins, Ont), Education for Reconciliation, Short-Term Trips | No Comments

[The second in a six part series of posts from SSU students participating in a First Nations Learning Tour, hosted by Mennonite Central Committee. The group is travelling in Ottawa & Timmins, Ontario from April 26th – May 8th, 2016.]

 

View from the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill

View from the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill

It’s a beautiful morning here in the capital as we gather ourselves to cars and head down to the Bronson Center. We are scheduled to meet Ian and Katie from KAIROS this morning and the group seems to be buzzed to see what’s in store for us. We arrive into a jungle of an office; trees and plants climbing over stacks of books, the sun streaming in the windows over the ensemble of broken furniture patched together to form a communal table. We gather and share names and stories.

KAIROS, a Canadian Ecumenical justice initiative, partners with existing advocacy groups in countries and communities that ask for help to support the local efforts around advocacy. Today, we learned that, on the Canadian front, KAIROS partners with the Legacy of Hope Foundation. The two have put their efforts into raising Canadian awareness around the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action which focuses around the impact of residential schools and their negative inter-generational impact.

Right now, their approach to the conversation is through education as practical action. To accomplish this goal KAIROS’ employees and teachers use the acronym EPIC: Engage, State the Problem, Inform about Solutions, Call to Action. They provide material such as Education for Reconciliation Action Toolkit to engage audiences. Anyone can obtain this toolkit, take it back to their communities, and introduce these topics to groups, students, and friends. In the booklet they state that their goal is, “to ensure every Canadian child learns about the Indian Residential Schools, Treaties, colonization and the contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to Canada’s past and present and can then be a leader in the long-term work of reconciliation.” Approaching education through truthful story telling will teach children, as upcoming leaders, how to make better decisions for our collective future.

Through this conversation the inclusion of the Indigenous voices is the only way to change perspective and approach for this conversation to continue within each specific community across Canada. The goal of KAIROS calls us as citizens to acknowledge a responsibility we have to our country–peoples to share the true history of our ‘home and native land’ so all it’s residents can be ‘glorious and free.’

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My intention after hearing their passion for the education of individuals and after gathering their materials is to practically apply this to my life back in Halifax. Ian and Katie have connected me with some local partners in my area and I am anticipating how I can contribute my skills in a practical and helpful way when I return home.

Is Your Life Worth More Than Mine?

By | 2014, Europe | No Comments

How do we determine what necessary course of ‘justice’ should be taken against war crimes? What is adequate and fair compensation for the losses of people during and after crimes of war? Is it even possible to compensate for such loss?

Looking at the Holocaust survivors or their children and the compensation received by the Holocaust Victim Compensation Fund (HVCF), a one-time payment of the equivalent of $1300 Canadian dollars, we see that people are still healing, still hurting. The loss that was experienced during the Holocaust not only by the Jews but also by Gypsies, members of the LGBT community, protesters of Hitler and citizens of the countries occupied by the German Regime has been and continues to be compensated for people who apply but to what extent can the wrongs be righted? Is financial compensation the right route to take?

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Look at 9/11, for example, and how specified funds to the Red Cross were divvied up between the families of the fallen (after much controversy) but the formula for which they determined the amount each family would receive was based on the loss of income according to their future projected earnings. Does this mean that one person’s life is not equal to another’s? This was a question being asked by many people during the time and continues to reflect the struggle that humanity faces while trying to right the wrongs done to them.

Just a few things I’ve been thinking about. If you are interested in chatting more about this topic please feel free to message me, I would like hear what you think!

Marissa Wiebe

 

Positive Encounters Through Negative Space

By | 2014, Europe | No Comments

Last year I purchased a film camera in an attempt to expand my hobby of photography and to become intentional about the images I capture on film. Throughout this year I have learnt much about the technical side of photography such as composition and balance, shutter speed and rule of thirds while also learning about my unique style coming through each roll of film. This trip was meant to use those technical skills to explore the underlying emotion of photographs.

My game plan has been to break up my 3 rolls of film between the 9 countries we are visiting resulting in only 8 exposures per country. I have found this approach to be quite frustrating at times. There is so much to see, so much to capture in a tangible memory, how do I possibly choose what is worth my precious negative space?! I don’t want to be just another tourist snapping photos of Pont Du Gard or the statue depicting the Rape of the Sabines. Instead, I want to capture the emotion behind what I am seeing, what I am experiencing. A quote I found in a bookstore in Florence describes my intention perfectly,

“In my photography I have tried to press what I aim to express in all that I do. The photo should hint at things beyond its actual contents the divine reason, as Meister Elkhardt would say, the beauty of an “ugly” face. The essence of things… I want the dignity and the hope that lies beneath to shine through in even the most inconspicuous, the most ordinary, the most humble subjects.” -Ellen Auerbach, 1985

Although my intentional photography seems good in theory I never know what the actual photo will look like until it gets developed. This takes patience and accepting the unknown results of new techniques. This has forced me to slow down even more on my journey through Europe, desiring to capture that perfect expression. What is it about the architectural digging site at the Matisse museum that moves me? What angle do I capture these ancient Florentine cobblestones where so many influential people have walked down? I have thought about the photos I taken from a variety of angles before I even open the shutter and still my hands hesitates, consciously choosing not to burn this image on the negative roll. Why did I not take a photo of the trees in Barcelona that inspired Gaudi in his art? I’m still figuring it out. M.

Way Up on The Mountain

By | 2014 - Colombia | No Comments

This journey began crossing borders and time zones; re-establishing the value of human-appointed currency while greetings pass through handshakes and kisses on cheeks. Seeing this all for the first time I am speechless in the face of poverty yet awed by the smiling faces that greet me through every door . There is a bond between the people and their land; one that desires identity through community and relationship.

We spent three peaceful nights at a farm run by Sambrandopaz where we learnt about the hardships of peasant farmers in an environment where armed conflict threatens their lives. We visited the village of Pichelyn, a community that has experienced massacres and displacement. They spoke about the mind of a community as they work together to make their town beautiful again.

I have  not seen complacency here, no idleness, no wasted days.

Speaking as an outsider to Colombia, a third party if you will, a tendency of mine is to see one party as good and the other as evil (the average colombian citizen and farmers vs arms groups and corporations). Being faced with the reality of  these two sides makes the humanization of both parties possible encouraging more empathy and understanding than there was previously. I’ve been caught in a mindset of solutions yet quickly realizing that I can solve nothing.. and perhaps I’m not meant to.

It has been the mission of MCC and their partners in the region to combat the cycle of violence that has interrupted this country for decades. Many of the leaders we encountered had the same hope of reconciliation, crafting ideas and ways in which forgiveness can be made possible and communities can begin healing themselves. Miroslav Volf captures the vicious cycle of violence perfectly when he says, “In addition to infliction harm, the practice of evil keeps re-creating a world without innocence. Evil generates new evil as evildoers fashion victims in their own ugly image.”

Our group was taught that a community needs two wings and two feet, like a bird, before it can fly. Organizations like Sambrandopaz are in place to bridge the gaps between communities, finding opportunities for them and their leaders to grow through networking and team-building. There will be struggles and there will be successes both existing to braid the fabric of a future built on hard work, perseverance and unity.

This image of hope is painted beautiful with a thousand strokes of the brush held by a thousand different hands. I don’t understand how it is all possible yet but I am inspired by the possibility of hope for the Colombian nation and also for my country.