One Book, One Community: Truth & Reconciliation

Michelle Benjamin

Gabriola Arts Council

Tuesday, February 14 2017

The Gabriola Arts Council, in partnership with Friends of the Gabriola Library, the Gabriola Island Branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, the Gabriola Museum and Heritage Society, Gabriola Island Local Trust Committee, Pages Bookstore & Marina, and the Snuneymuxw First Nation, are launching a community reading program. 

We’re encouraging all Gabriolans to read one book—Richard Wagamese’s novel, Medicine Walk—and to come together for a facilitated community conversation to discuss the ideas and issues that arise out of the reading. 

Acclaimed author Thomas King describes Medicine Walk as, “a breathtaking novel of sorrow, hope, and polished steel.” 

Many communities have adopted One Book, One Community programs. 

On Gabriola, the organizers of this program have multiple goals: 

• to promote reading and to build community through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same books;

• to contribute to a community-wide process of fostering new, positive relationships with First Nations people and communities on Gabriola Island and in neighbouring regions;

• to share thoughts, experiences, questions, and responses to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and to the 94 Calls to Action; 

• to learn from and share with our Snuneymuxw neighbours.

Celestine Aleck, author of numerous books for children and Snuneymuxw Cultural Support Worker, said: “I love that the program is called One Book, One Community. It leads me to know that you live by Nautsamaut—or one mind, one heart. When we do things together, we do it with one mind and one heart.”

We have compiled a list of additional titles for those interested in reading further, including poetry, nonfiction, and books for children and teens. The additional reading lists are available in the Library and on the GAC  and Islands Trust websites.

We will be holding a community conversation on Friday, April 7. Celestine Aleck will be present for the conversation, along with author and Indigenous Community Consultant Monique Gray Smith. The evening will be hosted by Shelagh Rogers, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Honorary Witness.

The program is underway. Multiple copies of the book are available in the Library and through Pages Bookstore. We hope to have all Gabriolans reading together throughout February and March. We encourage you to engage in discussions with family, friends, and colleagues. 

Come to the Community Book Club gathering in April to engage in an open-hearted conversation, and join others across Canada who are working towards the goals of TRC.