More than 80 groups gathered around the fire in Oodena Circle at the Forks in downtown Winnipeg in a partnership with the City of Winnipeg to sign the Indigenous Accord. Mayor Brian Bowman and City Council adopted the Accord as an important step towards the City’s Journey of Reconciliation and invited individuals and organizations to establish their own goal towards achieving the recommendations outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This process is to create understanding between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples through creating partnership initiatives that recognize and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples.
On June 20, 2017 Art Miki signed the Accord on behalf of the Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba (JCAM) pledging to further reconciliation and reporting its progress annually to the City. JCAM plans to organize a Circle of Reconciliation bringing together the Japanese Canadian community and indigenous peoples at the Japanese Cultural Centre thereby creating a mutually respected relationship and understanding. There are a number of commonalities between the imposition of residential schools and the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II and so the sharing of experiences will be invaluable learning experiences for all involved.
Mayor Bowman in his address stated, “It is the voice of our community, not one voice, but a chorus of diverse voices from across Winnipeg… saying yes, we want to listen. Yes, we want to understand and respect each other. Yes, we want to work together.”
The partners who came together represented a diverse section of the Winnipeg community. Signatories from government officials, church groups, health organizations, educational institutions, school boards, universities and colleges, museums, arts organizations such as the symphony and ballet, media, sports groups, businesses and cultural organizations demonstrated that “we want to work together”. Surprisingly, JCAM was the only ethnocultural organization represented.
JCAM has been a long time member of the National Association of Japanese Canadians)