Canada as home
On April 24, 2017, I joined a conversation hosted by 6 Degrees Vancouver, 6 Degrees Citizen Space, an initiative of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and Vancity, SFU Public Square, and SFU International at the Simon Fraser University Centre for the Arts.
6 Degrees Citizen Space, a global platform on citizenship and inclusion in the 21st century, is an initiative of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, co-founded and co-chaired by The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada, and John Ralston Saul, one of Canada’s leading intellectuals.
This was the conversation.
Are You Home?
For refugees, immigrants, Indigenous peoples and settlers, notions of home are complex. In Canada—and particularly in unceded Coast Salish territory—questions of home, belonging, and who is welcoming whom are constantly scrutinized. Who is “home” in Canada and who is not? How do we reconcile home with place of origin? Are you home?
Canada, which some say is still becoming a country, may indeed find itself the last defender of pluralism, liberalism, and even globalization with its principles of equality and inclusion. But are these the luxuries of prosperity and geography and if so, how do we firmly fix them into our national identity? Never before have our ideals and self-conceptions been so closely examined nationally and internationally. 6 Degrees Vancouver explores the roles, responsibilities and the potential of Canada in 2017 to see whether we have our own house in order and if not, how we can shore up our foundations.
Feeling at Home
Home suggests more than a physical space. It evokes belonging, shelter, acceptance, and sanctuary. But what makes any human feel “at home”? Canada houses first peoples and settlers, but is residency a guarantor of belonging? How do we embrace and respect different understandings of space and territory, and profound ties to other places and cultures, as we continue to co-create our forever unfinished nation? What are the cultural connectors that enable people to feel they belong in this vast place? Who is “home” and who is not?
Being at Home
Inclusion is deeper and harder to achieve than diversity. Are Canadian institutions drivers of an inclusive society, or are they establishments promoting pre-formulated values and agendas? How have structures and systems shaped the Canadian model? Have our policies served everyone fairly?
The popular narrative frames Canada as a sanctuary of equality. Is this the case? Has it ever been? How do we collectively recognize and address our shortcomings, while strengthening the structures necessary to nurture genuine inclusion?
We were asked to bring something that represents home to us to help us contribute our story. This is what I took about what makes me feel at home.
“What makes me feel at home is my experience of Canada, of the idea of Canada, of the culture of Canada, of our civil behaviour, of our caring for one another, of our community as Canadians around our common interests, and of our experience of community.
This is how I feel connected to Canada. This is what I think we experience in common as Canadians. This is what makes us feel at home in Canada. This is how we feel connected with Canada and how we feel connected as Canadians.
Having a place we call home doesn’t mean feeling at home. Feeling at home is when we can feel a connection, – when we can feel the experience of community. Feeling at home is where we feel cared for and feel care for.
Feeling at home and being at home is caring about and for the place we call our home. Being part of this conversation makes me feel at home.”
Canada as our home
These are contributions from the conversation to my thinking about Canada as home, and to the exploration of ideas about how we create a home for ourselves and one another in Canada, and how we care for Canada as our home as a community.
The name Canada comes from the Huron-Iroquois Indian word, “kanata,” which means village or settlement, – a community in which people live.
6 degrees – What is home?
Home is where we feel we belong
Home defined by geography can be inhibiting and limiting and introduce the idea of borders when we may feel at home in many places
Home is where we are able to offer hospitality
Home as a place of justice
Home as the experience of family
Home as the experience of community
Home is a place where we share power
Home is a safe place
Home is where we feel comfortable
Home is where we feel welcome
Home is a place of belonging
Home is a place of trust
6 Degrees – Creating home
What makes anyone feel at home?
How do we co-create Canada?
What cultural connectors enable us to feel at home in Canada?
How do we co-create our home?
What do we do about our feelings of isolation?
Who speaks for the earth and the mountains as our home?
Who gets to define home?
Who gets to define Canada?
Whose power dominates that conversation?
Home is where power is
Home is where power is shared
We have to feel welcome here.
We all belong here
We have to know who we are
We all have to create the next Canada
Building solutions with, not for.
Every person’s experience is valuable
Education is the key to start knowing one another
The power of art and culture to come to know one another
Leveraging and increasing the contribution of our creative enterprises
We trust and support one another in our community.
Communities transcend geography, – like the literary community, – the creative community, – the scientific community.
We need to tell the full story of Canada.
Our history is quite complex.
Our world is quite complex.
Where do we come from?
Where are our cultural roots?
Canada is going to be finding multiple identities.
We need to respect one another. Respect doesn’t mean like or love
My Point of View
We feel at home anytime we can feel a connection
We have multiple identities as we are seen, – as we see ourselves, – as we are in our different communities of belonging
We can learn what it is to be human beings and transform ourselves, – and evolve as human beings, as communities, and as a community
Being at home is where we can feel safe being who we are and contributing to our home
Creating Canada is creating our home
Creating a sense of belonging with other cultures and for other cultures is a contribution to creating our experience of feeling at home
We feel at home when we feel connected, safe, caring
What threads of conversation would we like to take forward?
6 degrees – Open Exchange
We have socially specific ideas that are Eurocentric when there are many sources of knowledge
Access to education is exclusionary
Our educators are often narrow in their interests and expertise
Learners from different cultural backgrounds enrich the learning experience
Inclusivity is access to the opportunity to learn
There are a range of systemic issues in our post secondary institutions
There are many sources of knowledge which are steeped in social, political, and cultural influences.
Our post secondary institutions could be facilitators of learning rather than purveyors of knowledge
We need to empower the learner with the responsibility for learning and for determining what interest to contribute to in creating our community
How do we learn to teach at universities? What can we learn from students? How do we access resources? Can we address concrete issues of access? Do we have institutionalized racism? How do we address structural impediments in classroom conversation? How do we find more cost-effective ways of creating and providing learning opportunities and experiences?
Access is a complicated issue, – not simply financial or structural.
We are holding onto old systems and ideas.
We need to understand the concept of equity, – of fairness
What is working, – what is not working, – on equity and inclusion?
How do we create choice for our Canadian citizens? How do we open the doors for opportunities for more Canadians? Are Canadian institutions drivers of an inclusive society?
We are on the verge of something different if we grab the opportunity
What do we have for strategic tools?
Education is the most powerful tool we have. We need to make an upstream investment in education.
What will we do on indigenous issues?
We need to talk about reconciliation as a world issue
How do we get to settlements, to solutions, to reconciliation?
Why are we allowing the few to drive the conversation dictating our lives and making our interests and ideas meaningless. The elephant in the room is the political process and electoral reform. Everything is decided and done through the electoral and political process. People who believe in humanism have lost the debate. We have failed miserably at public discourse.
How do we create discourse that dominates the political agenda?
There is a real role for public discourse. We have to get our language right to win politically. We need to talk about things that militate against inclusion. Our newspapers have been hollowed out. We have to create places where people can come together and speak to one another. The greatest leadership comes from where people are able to hold multiple theories.
Our key is how to form dialogue with one another to find common discourse.
We need to find a clearer idea of how to take this forward
We need to know each other better. We are all human. We need to be excited about exploring our cultural differences.
We need to bring indigenous philosophy and ways into the kind of society we are trying to build.
We need inclusive solutions.
We need to hold our politicians, our public institutions, our corporations, our businesses, and our leaders accountable, – the people and enterprises who have the power to get decisions made.
Our professional associations need to be more open and accountable
We can hold our institutions accountable.
Conversation is absolutely critical, – the exchange of ideas, of points of view, of ways of seeing, and thinking and doing things
The indigenous model is to introduce and explain ourselves. Who are you is a question of whether to include or exclude your contribution. We can begin by explaining ourselves.
To understand what we are saying we need to communicate where we came from and how we got here.
Unfettered capitalism is a problem. Our economic system was created by human beings. It is not a natural system. We need to explore alternative systems.
We need to make it possible to have open conversations with compassion and understanding.
We need to find better ways to create spaces where these difficult conversations can happen.
How can we create spaces where we can be comfortable with discomfort?
What are the many facets of reconciliation?
We don’t need to look very far to see the people and the enterprises contributing.
6 degrees – Education
Universities can be potent instruments for creating home and a better and more welcoming Canada
Our education system hasn’t evolved as our understanding and appreciation of our world has evolved
What are the stories that are being told to us in our education?
Are we being educated in aboriginal issues or to explore and learn from aboriginal cultures?
SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council
It was the educational system that has contributed to creating this problem in this country. It is the educational system, we believe, that is going to help us get away from this
Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan
My Point of View
We are all contributing to creating the next Canada
My creative exploration
How do we increase our experience of feeling at home?
Do we as a community have an interest in increasing our feeling of being at home in Canada?
My Point of View
Language was created to communicate ideas. Words are ideas. Ideas are concepts.
We think and we communicate with words, ideas, and concepts.
Concepts describe, explain and capture reality as it is known and understood.
Ideas as concepts
The concepts of respect, acceptance, and appreciation
Respect doesn’t mean like or love
Appreciation is a word of understanding, – of empathy
Agreeing on concepts as objects like what we mean by a tree is easy. Agreeing upon concepts as ideas, like, what do we mean by respect, is more difficult.
The Foundation for Critical Thinking
My point of view
What practical things can we do?
We can move from the idea of education to the idea of increasing our opportunities and ability and interest and access to learn, – to increase our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the world, – and how to create and contribute to creating a better world for our future, – a world where we can live productively, creatively, and enjoyable with one another.
Transform our learning institutions to increase their contribution to our overarching interest in creating and communicating knowledge
We need to make an upstream investment in creating opportunities to learn. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity.
Understanding comes from exploring for creative connections
If we want education to be transformative to our society we will need to transform the role and contribution of our educational institutions
Creating a future for our universities as leaders in creating and distributing our most valuable resource in our connected and creative world of digital communications
Moving from the idea of educational institutions to learning institutions creating new knowledge, learning more about what we don’t know and giving more people opportunities to learn what we have come to know, and what we are learning as we research our experience of the world.
Learning how we learn, and learning how to learn, and learning what to learn
Providing a greater knowledge and understanding of indigenous people will have a transformative impact on our institutions
Creating more access for indigenous cultures in our universities will have a transformative impact on our institutions
One way to access resources is through centres for research, thinking, and exploration
Creating our context for the exploration
Our overarching interest in exploring and creating a future for our world as a community is to increasing our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of our world as a community.
Knowledge is our most valuable resource. Creative leadership in exploring what more our universities can do and what our universities could do differently and how we can leverage the contribution of our universities to our overarching common interest in increasing our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the world, – for as many people who could benefit and increase their contribution is how we create a future for our universities and increase our contribution to creating a future for our community and our world.
Learning is increasing our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of our world and our experience of life. Exploring people, ideas, cultures, experiences that are different is a source of learning
What we can do
What we can do is elevate our conversation into our theatre of the new world, and elevate the conversation into the context of our overarching common human interests, and into the interests of our creative communities contributing to our creative interests and to creating our community to create connections with and for more of us who are part of our community and who could be interested our community and could be interested in increasing the size and contribution of our communities of creative enterprise.
What we can do is move from languages and ways of seeing and doing things that contribute to creating us and them to languages and ways of seeing and doing things that contribute to moving us from them and us to we.
What we can do is explore the science of probabilities and the art of possibilities for more knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of science as a process and art as a process and creative enterprise as a process.
What we can do is explore through our many conversations and our many different interest and experiences for the creative interests to focus our creative energy, our creative resources, and our creative enterprise which make the greatest contribution to the overarching interests we have in common and can create community around.
Knowledge is our greatest resource. Our overarching common human interest is to increase our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of our world, an activity that is a creative experience, and contribute to increasing our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of our community as a community and increasing our knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for life as a creative experience.
What we can do is create a future for our learning resources and increase their contribution to creating a future for our world and our community.
What we can do is organize complexity to improve our ability to creatively explore what we know, what is happening, what could happen, who is involved, what could contribute, what we can do, what opportunities we can create to contribute.
What we can do is create a marketplace of ideas and opportunities to explore, to experience, to learn, to create, and to contribute to creating community enterprise around our creative interests
What we can do is create a community media system to give creative contributors, creative entrepreneurs, and creative leaders a place where we can tell our stories, learn from one another, create connections with one another and for one another, and explore opportunities for creative relationships and creative enterprise that contribute to leveraging and increasing our contributions to our creative interests as communities, and increase the contribution of our creative resources, – our natural resources, our created resources, our community resources, and our human resources.
What we can do is record our conversations and contribute our observations, our conclusions and the ideas about what we can do and the opportunities can create for contribution
What we can do is have conversations with one another in the real world and contribute our observations and ideas and the creative possibilities and opportunities we see from our point of view to our theatre of a new world
What we can do is create learning centres to increase our creative contribution to the overarching creative interests we have in common and to our creative enterprise as a communities of common interest.
Going home to where we feel at home, to the home we have created, to the home we are creating, – and to the home that is contributing to creating us.
6 Degrees Vancouver
6 Degrees involves the brightest minds and the boldest methods. It brings thinkers, doers, business executives, artists, politicians, and civil society leaders together in order to get them talking about what is really happening in the world. The annual 3-day Citizen Space will take place in Toronto, Canada, on September 25-27.
6 Degrees Vancouver is an initiative of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and is presented in partnership with Vancity, SFU Public Square, and SFU International.