Kindness and Reciprocity

Where Do We Go From Here?

where do we go from here?

Kindness affects everyone. When we are on the receiving end of an act of kindness, we may feel grateful or loved or inspired. And when we perform an act of kindness, well, some say it actually feels better than being on the receiving end. If you’ve been lucky enough to witness an act of kindness, which I hope you have, you also know that witnessing such an act feels good. This is why in many cultures kindness is highly regarded. When we look at Canada’s history, we see a lack of kindness.

Reciprocity is often defined as “the mutual exchange of privilege,” which can mean different things in different situations. In the context of this book, it is about how we behave in relationship with each other. In reciprocal relationships, everyone benefits and has the same privileges, and people repay what another has provided to them. Reciprocity is like an unwritten rule—we need to treat people the way we want to be treated. Some of you may know this as the Golden Rule. —Monique Gray Smith


An ally is someone who not only commits to social equality but also informs him or herself on the issues. Allies work to support diverse groups even if they don’t identify as members.

Allies sometimes make the mistake of thinking they know the way things should go. We are in a new time. A time when we acknowledge and learn and respect different protocols, traditions, ceremonies, ways of being, knowing and doing. A time when not just listening to each other but really hearing each other is critical to how we move forward as individuals, families, communities and as a country.

It is in the similarities that we find our common humanity. When we start sharing and listening to each other, we find out how much we have in common. It is in our differences that we find our similarities.

An ally is someone who does not act on his or her own concept of what ‘should’ be done, but someone who listens deeply. The idea of listening deeply to me is you are listening with the attitude that you might be changed by what you hear. That’s it...that’s being an ally.

Jennifer Manuel, author, founder of the TRC Reading Challenge

In March, 2013 a group of Cree youth walked 1600 kilometers to bring attention to aboriginal issues on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, ON.


"When I interviewed young people, one of the things that surprised me most was how little they had been taught at school about residential schools. As always, there were exceptions, and as you read [in Speaking Our Truth] you will see just how powerful it can be when teachers and schools are active in educating students about the history and fostering reconciliation...The majority of the young people I talked to were learning about the schools at home, which is exciting! It means that conversations are happening around the dinner table or while listening to the radio (usually CBC) or simply while being together as family.

If you find yourself struggling with ways to answer the question, trust me—you are not alone. Millions of Canadians are asking themselves the same question. One thing I know for sure is that there is always an answer. And it is never 'Nothing.' There is always something we can do." —Monique Gray Smith

Learn whose territory you live and go to school on. When you go to a new place, learn whose land you are visiting.

Learn how the First Peoples where you live prefer to be identified.

Have a conversation with your family at the dinner table about what you are learning about history, reconciliation and the kind of Canada you want to live in.

Wear an orange shirt on September 30. If no one at school is talking about Orange Shirt Day by the second week in September, share information with your teacher and ask them to help make it happen.

If you are not learning Canada's collective history in class, please ask why. You don’t need to do this in front of the class. Ask your teacher privately, and share with him or her why you think it’s important that history be shared in a way that is respectful of the Indigenous experience.

Dedicate 94 days to watch the #94DaysForReconciliation videos on YouTube.

Choose one of the calls to action and commit to taking steps that reflect it.

Read Indigenous authors, being sure to balance female and male authors. Most school districts have an Aboriginal Education Department, which often includes a library of books written by Indigenous authors.

Email your elected officials at all levels of government—municipal, provincial and federal—and ask them what they are doing to foster reconciliation and how they are implementing the 94 Calls to Action.

Stand up and call out racism.