In this Family Centre Connection Newsletter, I would like to reflect upon the Resilience Summit 2021. I feel deeply grateful about the participation of our staff, community members and thought leaders during the two-day Resilience Summit titled Momentum: The Power of Collective Resilience 2021.
During the Summit, I received an enormous opportunity for learning and reflections about the importance of collective resilience. What is collective resilience? In order to reflect on this question, I need to situate myself in a context and to understand as to how I have come to know this in our lives. In particular, the Resilience Summit reminded me of the importance of remembering our history along with the immediate context that we find ourselves in. Gaining an understanding of the context and history is a life long journey.
Moving forward, I question how we can continue to contribute towards community and collective resilience. I recognize that this process involves remembering our roots. During the Summit, Kevin Saltarelli took us back in time capturing the roots of our ancient art and music. This helped me understand the continuity in the expression of collective resilience through creative processes. History can be a good tool, but it goes beyond that where our experiences can be contextualized. For some of us, we do have some knowledge about our roots, while for others this is an obscure reality. In my case, I have very little knowledge about my Nahualt roots as an Indigenous man from the Central America. For me, remembering and connecting with my roots is a first step towards making a healthy and meaningful contribution to the community where I live. I recognize that this process of remembering my roots will allow me to have clarity about how I can help myself and others.
As I find my way back to my roots, I also look ahead into the future. During their presentation, Dave Skene and Garrison Mccleary, Indigenous scholars, stated that the Indigenous futurities involve everyone, including the European settlers, immigrants and refugees on this land. However, in the settlers’ futurities there is no place for Indigenous people and their worldview. Their presentation made me realize that our vision of the future has to change. This means we have to challenge the current capitalist structures and re-design our ways of being in relation to one another and the land.
Robert Bly describes the dehumanization that occurs due to industrialization with the domination of capitalism as political, economic and social ideology. In his writings, he emphasizes that capitalism is neither patriarchal nor matriarchal as it devalues both men and women, while establishing the superiority of capital, profit and mechanization, and digitization in the contemporary world. Within this capitalist system, both men and women are reduced to being semi-humans, a view articulated by Paulo Freire in his book on Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
As we are coming out of the lock-down and isolation, it is common to speak about resilience and our collectivity. I believe that if we want to foster collective resilience, we need to begin to make sense of the systems that we find ourselves in and to understand the historical and current processes that maintain the status quo. The first step in this process is to listen and to learn, and not to take over with a zeal to help others. We need to enter into genuine reciprocal relationships, dialogue and exchange, which requires intentionally slowing down and nurturing the network. During the Resilience Summit, this process became evident in the moment when the racialized immigrants and refugees acknowledged their deep connection with the Salvadoran presenters who traced their history of colonization, civil war and post-war challenges. This makes is clear that we live in a global community and global issues need to be examined through interconnections of local and global. Racialized minorities living in this region need to examine the impact of their own and their ancestor’s histories on their native land which they left behind. Similarly, the white settlers need to do the same in terms of the impact of their ancestors’ colonizing ways of being. Now, we find the colonized and colonizers on this land appropriated from the Indigenous people. This truly makes me embrace the futurities that includes us all. This requires coming together to develop common understanding of our history and vision of the future. And this is what collective resilience to me is.
And lastly, the youth at the Resilience Summit inspired us by sharing their continued efforts to create communal spaces that foster strong connections despite adversities. The youth clearly indicated that they need our trust and support. Once again, this means listening and learning from their vision and actions.
The Resilience Summit reminds us that the Family Centre continues to be the space for growth, what I call incrementum spatium in Latin, for the local and global communities, so that we can come to together to share experiences, learnings and initiatives to actualize the inclusive and respectful futurities.