As Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to Canada kicks off this Sunday, July 24, Salt + Light Media has released Walking Together to help Canadians appreciate the broader story of the journey toward a meaningful reconciliation. Fr. Alan Fogarty, Executive Producer and CEO of Salt + Light Media, reflects on the documentary below.
1. Why did you want to make this documentary?
We wanted to make the documentary because of a desire to help all involved with the means at our disposal. As Canada's Catholic television and social media platform, we hoped to positively influence the process of reconciliation and healing first by providing a space for Indigenous and Church voices to be heard. This is but a start.
The Canadian government's residential school program, all too often animated by priests and religious, negatively affected the lives of the students who attended the schools, their immediate families and the generations that followed to the present day. By providing that space where the many voices could be heard and documented, our goal was to present an alternate narrative that is always reaching for the truth. Perhaps a new narrative that acknowledges the pain caused by misguided systems, institutions and the individuals who committed the wrongs of the past, and the challenge of working towards peace in our hearts and among all involved.
2. Lisa Raven, executive director of Returning to Spirit, says that a lot of people view reconciliation as a checklist, seeing it from a “head space” and not a “heart space.” Why is that shift in understanding important?
The head space, or the faculty of reason, can get us only so far. The heart, however, begins with what it's presented by reason and gets to the work of involving every other part of our being. We all have a personal and generational history, a personality, memories, joy and pain, successes and failures as members of a community. The heart facilitates the innerworkings of all these parts that we are, including the soul that is home to our spiritual life. Engaging on the spiritual level assumes the whole person is engaged and, therefore, may presume a few surprises will be forthcoming. Allowing oneself to be properly disposed, there is no limit to the graces of the Holy Spirit. This level of understanding reaches far beyond any checklist.
3. What do you hope viewers learn and take away from this documentary?
I hope that our careful presentation of facts and testimonies is not only communicated effectively but that it also leads the viewer to understand the importance of what is at stake and moves them to action. To act with positive impact presumes challenging the information that is all too readily available, is not fact-based and, therefore, potentially misleading if not damaging.
4. How do you think this documentary can contribute to the journey towards healing and reconciliation?
The documentary can contribute to the journey toward healing and reconciliation first by being approached properly. The viewer, discerning what is before them, can be sparked to know even more, to be concerned about and moved by the stories shared and given the courage to stand together with the Indigenous and with all Canadians. The possibility to reconcile is there. We can be, too, in collaboration with all of good will and in good faith.
To watch the documentary, please visit https://bit.ly/WalkingTogetherDocumentary.