Here’s something that has happened, in this season of long nights and strange days, out of this lovely Sharing Circle experiment in coming together, that has been so generously hosted and guided by Tanina Williams of Amawilc:
People who have been part of one or more of the circles have said, “I’m thinking about maybe hosting a sharing circle around the topic of X…”
Which is something we’d hoped might happen –
To see this beautiful indigenous way of knowing and being – how to be together – adopted, flourishing, applied, in order to help people to find ways to come together.
Also, for me – I’ve dragged myself upstairs to my computer at the end of a Monday, feeling low-spirited and low on energy, and logged off 60+ minutes later feeling moved, enlightened and deeply uplifted. That’s the power of coming together. I’ve come to understand this feeling/experience as Kamúcwkalha – a really important concept shared by Dr Lorna Williams that celebrates “when people come together, to be together, particularly when you come together under stress, because of stress, the sense of connectedness that they feel, that you’re all in this together.”
I’ve come to realize how much I don’t know about indigenous culture and lived experiences, and that indulging that ignorance (by not taking any active steps to address it) causes real hurt and impacts… but with every choice I make (listen to one of Dr Williams’ lectures, choose a book written by an indigenous author when I’m browsing at the library, tune into to CBC Unreserved), I can work on my own unlearning. As Dr Maya Angelou so perfectly said, “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”
I have felt so connected with the other people who showed up each gathering, and shared, and listened. I know when we eventually get to the place where we’re bumping into people in the street again, I will greet them with such joy and a powerful sense of “this is one of my sharing circle people!”
And I have felt deeply appreciative for Tanina, our guide, who is funny and self-deprecating and open and wise.
If you are part of an organization that might need a burst of inspiration, a new way of hosting meetings, an open space to tackle bigger questions like “how can we address systemic racism?” or “how do we decolonize our operations and what does that even mean” or even “how do we make sure everyone in this group feels seen and heard” or “how do I lead so that people will actually share their minds instead of just sitting there silently and then bitching behind my back”, you can hire Tanina through her consulting practice, Amawilc (which means to come back to life.) Personally, I think every organization or board could benefit from learning the Sharing Circle technique.
We gather for the final time, this year, on the solstice, Monday December 21, at 8pm. Our focus is on closing the Circle – sharing what we’ve learned from this experience, and what we might need to know if we were to initiate a circle of our own – how to move on from here.
One of the most beautiful “protocols” that this Circle adopted was added to the protocols at our second Circle, and it is this: Come and participate, even if you haven’t done the homework. Just join in.
The homework for past Circles was to go away and research and reflect on a topic – the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, the life and work of Chief Dan George, the teachings of Dr Lorna Williams. Even if a person hadn’t had time to do that, they were welcome to come and hold space and listen and learn, and to contribute by commenting on something that was shared that moved them.
This same protocol would apply to this final gathering. Even if you haven’t been able to be part of the first 4, come and see how it works, see what it’s about, enjoy that feeling of connection, discover if this is something you’d like to learn more about, let us know if you’re keen to participate in a second offering, if we were to pursue that.
Details at https://www.facebook.com/events/810264846457968, and you can register to receive the ZOOM link at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwtd-mhqD8iH9fUnBx_EOIuMniPQni5yIPy?fbclid=IwAR3Dvp1EPGssyUu5NjvnQ3NkCVI65dcAUXBD_dfXmlzTTZjRzdTyCUhvTm4
Deep thanks to the Pemberton and District Library (and Brennan Armstrong, who ran the tech and shared with us each week), for partnering on this and doing all the hard logistical parts that make my head spin, like setting up zoom meetings and making beautiful graphics and managing registration. And many thanks to the support of our funders for 2020, the Village of Pemberton, the Squamish Lillooet Regional District and the Lil’wat Nation, for enabling the Wellness Almanac. Thank you to Tanina for being open to collaborating in some fashion and suggesting and shaping this amazing approach and sharing so much of herself, for welcoming us into circle, on her territory, every week, and for sharing with us the Sharing Circle technology.