The Art of Reconciliation
Truth and Reconciliation is a Canadian problem. Reconciliation is defined as restoring to friendship or harmony and fairness. A problem is a question posed for discussion or solution, – an opportunity to explore, to learn, to create. Reconciliation is a creative interest. Art is a process.
Reconciliation is Canada’s opportunity to explore how we can move from the truth, to understanding, to acceptance, to appreciation, to caring, to contribution, to creating community, and to exploring creative possibilities for our future as a community. Reconciliation is an opportunity to demonstrate how we can create healthy, sustainable, and creative communities with one another and for one another as a community.
Reconciliation is a road on our creative journey to community. An opportunity for creative exploration. An opportunity for exploring our heritage, exploring our cultural evolution, and exploring our creative possibilities. An opportunity to learn how to create community. An opportunity to demonstrate how we can create community around our common interests as Canadians, as a country, and as a community.
Creating Cities for the Future
The COVID-19 pandemic provides a once-in-a-lifetime responsibility to accelerate the change we require in Canadian cities. With a coordinated effort by the fe deral government, provinces, and cities, we can repair a half-century of unsustainable planning that has compromised our health, access to housing, the quality of our air and water, and the long-term financial viability of our cities. A greener, cleaner, decarbonized economy begins with our cities. To get there, we must change the way we plan and operate them. And it is within the power of our political leaders to do so.
Our current urban form has detrimental effects on new Canadians, Indigenous people, racialized populations, and lower-income workers. These groups have disproportionately suffered from the effects of homelessness and gentrification, growing racial- and class-based segregation of neighbourhoods within cities, the social and financial costs of long commutes, and disproportionate rates of working poverty in Canadian cities. To ensure that the structural trends afflicting our cities are not exacerbated or ignored, it will be critical to apply an authentic equity lens throughout the planning and implementation of these measures, include and empower all voices, and to employ population-specific interventions with more universal policy solutions.
COVID-19 has laid bare the vulnerabilities of Canadian cities for all to see. The number of people experiencing homelessness – so visible when everyone else is told to stay at home – means we need to take a more aggressive and inclusive approach to building affordable housing. And the very best way to prevent the spread of the virus is through physical distancing when out in public. Yet the majority of public space in cities has been dedicated to cars. This means we need to rethink and reorganize our public spaces.
As leaders of Canadian cities in a post-COVID world with potential climate catastrophe on the horizon, we must have the courage to confront this sense of loss and take bold action nonetheless. We must do this to create cities that are good for people to live well, now and for the future. If not now – after everything that we’ve all been through – then when?