Our guest speaker at our January 12, 2022 meeting was Lorelei Higgins who spoke to us about the shared path of Truth and Reconciliation.  
Lorelei has deep professional and personal experience on this topic. As a Métis Canadian, she  comes by her peacebuilding roots naturally. Her Métis heritage can be traced from the Red River in Winnipeg, Manitoba where her great-grandfather came across to Canada from Kent, England, and met her great-grandmother – a Cree and Ojibwe community leader.  
In 1998-99, Lorelei went on a youth exchange with Rotary to South Africa and two decades later was selected in 2019 as a Rotary Peace Fellow to attend the program at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.  For the past two years, she has also served as a Rotary Peace Activator with Mediators Beyond Borders and was the Co-Host of District 5040's 2021 District Conference.
In 2020, Lorelei was crowned Mrs. Globe Canada at a pageant sponsored by the Women In Need Foundation that was held in Las Vegas. She entered the competition with the goal of using the platform to speak about world peace - cleverly turning a cliché into a mandate.  Her day job is the City of Calgary’s Community Land Community Mediator for the municipality’s anti-racism portfolio.  In her combined roles with the City of Calgary, as Mrs. Globe Canada and as a Rotary Peace Activator, she hosts community dialogue workshops and Indigenous relations training, helping people contribute to everyday peace-building initiatives in their communities.
Lorelei spoke to us about her recent visit to the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to pay her respects following the discovery of probable graves on the site of the former institution. It was both a personal and a professional visit for her.  Her mother grew up in Kamloops and, in addition to visiting family, she was also promoting peace through elevating female voices and helping people contribute to everyday peace-building initiatives in their communities in her ambassadorial role as Mrs. Globe Canada. 
Loreli shared some of the key findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including that that the odds of dying for children in Indian residential schools was 1 in 25, compared to the 1 in 26 odds that faced Canadians serving in World War II. 
In terms of what Rotarians can specifically do, Lorelei offered us some advice, including:
  • As Rotarians who pride ourselves being "people of action, we need to slow down to go at the pace that we can as individuals and as clubs - "don't hurry towards reconciliation action because the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples has taken 500 years to get where we are now." 
  • Be gentle and kind with the facts, stories and learnings as we internalize and digest - "listen and grapple with the it...taking the time to sit in the truth."
Key resources that Lorelei offered to help us build understanding and engagement include the following:
    Lorelei's final message to us was that, "the shared path forward requires all of us." She offered several inspiring images to illustrate this principle, including: the traditional woven Two-Row Wampum Belt which embodied the original understanding of how European and Indigenous communities would co-exist in their own "lanes of governance" while collaborating on a shared path forward; and, the photo below of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children playing soccer together on the field behind the memorial of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School and the missing children.
    Thank you to Lorelei for helping us to understand and embrace the challenge of stepping up to a meaningful commitment to Truth and Reconciliation in the months and years ahead.