Reconciliation: A Day of Beginning | Day 1 of #12DaysforGood


Reconciliation HOF

-by Ben Janzen

It’s a real honour to be blogging on the first day of House of Friendship’s 12 Days for Good campaign! Over the next 12 days, you’ll see an outpouring of generous, thought-provoking, and inspiring messages and good deeds  by your fellow community members here in Waterloo Region. We invite you to join us by signing up to be a “do-gooder” and challenge yourself, your friends and family, your co-workers, your neighbours(!) to share your stories and be part of it. Together, we can inspire others to get into the true spirit of the season, and make a BIG difference in our community!

Each day has a theme. Today we’re talking about #Reconciliation.  

I have a lot to think about when it comes to reconciliation. What does it mean for me in my personal life? How do I help our community foster spaces where reconciliation is possible? How do I participate in a world that desperately needs more reconciliation to take place?

I’m a Mennonite. Thus, I am part of a “radical” Christian group that is part of a peace church tradition. You may have seen a variety of Mennonites in our community, from politicians to farmers, Old Order to Chin – we’re a diverse crowd. For many of us, peace-work is what we believe we are called to do and that certainly influences how I think about reconciliation in my life and work.

At home, I’m a husband to a wonderful wife and father to four awesome children. They remind me every day how challenging reconciliation can be! “It takes two to tango” as they say (or in our case 6!) so, today, I’m going to try to better understand and own the ways I have caused conflict within my family, listening to them and attempting reconciliation. Mostly, this will be in the small stuff, when we bump into and disrupt each other – the inevitable misunderstandings. I hope you’ll attempt something similar today too!

In my work, as the Stewardship in Action Advisor at Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU), I have the privilege of working with many organizations that work towards peace every day. Today, I’ll be facilitating a peace incubator group at the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement at the University of Waterloo. The incubator is a mix of amazing initiatives that are already doing great things but are learning how to grow. A great example is Peace Camp, who visited over 120 elementary classrooms this year, teaching conflict resolution and peacebuilding skills throughout Waterloo Region. They are seeding reconciliation!

I’m also going to connect with Community Justice Initiatives (CJI), a world leader in restorative justice approaches, about sharing the STRIDE story through film. STRIDE programs help women in prison build informal networks of support that assist them as they reintegrate into and reconcile with the community.

There are a ton of other organizations doing amazing things (please highlight them in your comments/tweets/posts today!) but I would be remiss in failing to highlight the impact House of Friendship’s addiction treatment programs have in enabling people to take huge steps towards reconciliation in their lives.

Outside our community and around the world, today marks International Human Rights Day and launches  a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights. Indigenous peoples and refugees, among many others, are fellow community members I have much to learn from in order to be an ally.

In the spirit of reconciliation, today I acknowledge my complicity, through inherited legacy of privilege and silent assent, the continued oppression and destruction of peoples, cultures, and the environment around the world. I commit to being part of the reconciliation process.

Coming from someone who is white, middle-class, North American, Christian, straight, male etc. this is a long road. As concrete steps, I will spend time on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada site (please join me!) and extend friendship to some of my indigenous neighbours.

I will also be connecting with a number of organizations who are helping our community settle “new Canadians” coming as refugees. (You might anticipate tomorrow’s theme: “Belong.”) It’s great that we are part of some solutions but we are also part of the problem. We need to participate on both ends to foster the ability for there to be reconciliation in the future.

While this will be a busy day, #12DaysforGood is only a short campaign. If I (we) am to take reconciliation seriously, I (we) have to be committed to a long community process. I hope you will join me!

Let us know how you are taking steps towards reconciliation in comments, tweets, and posts.

Happy Do-Gooding!

How do we help our community foster spaces where #reconciliation is possible? << TWEET THIS

Join Ben in fostering reconciliation and celebrating #12daysforgood on Twitter.


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One Response to “Reconciliation: A Day of Beginning | Day 1 of #12DaysforGood”

  1. Reconciliation: A Day of Beginning | Ben Janzen Writes Says:

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