An Indigenous and Jewish Dialogue on Truth and Reconciliation

An Indigenous and Jewish Dialogue on Truth and Reconciliation with Patricia June Vickers, Indigenous artist and Independent Consultant and Rabbi Adam Cutler, Senior Rabbi of Adath Israel Congregation in Toronto.

Is there a place where Indigenous people’s journey towards truth and reconciliation can meaningfully intersect with the history and values of the Jewish community? The final lecture in Kolot Mayim Reform Temple’s Building Bridges: Celebrating Diversity in Jewish Life series brings together two Canadian voices to discuss and reflect on what a path forward might look like.

Patricia June Vickers is an internationally respected leader in the field of trauma research and programming, specifically for Indigenous peoples. With ancestral roots in Ts’msyen, Haida and Heiltsuk nations on her father’s side, and English roots on her mother’s side, her scholarship and healing path have been shaped by the influences and echoes of both worlds. Patricia’s father and grandmother lived through the trauma of Residential Schools. She herself is a member of the Eagle clan from the village of Gitxaala, BC and carries a feast hall name from her village as well as from the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola. Patricia grew up in what are now known as Hazelton and Victoria, BC.

Patricia Vickers is a practicing artist and her book, Singing to the Darkness is a collection of writings, poetry and painting that she sees as “a gift of hope to intergenerational survivors of sexual trauma, family pain, and the Indian residential-school legacy.” Much of her artwork grows out of her experience learning and working with traditional Indigenous crafts. In her mid-30s, Patricia found a book of photos of Holocaust survivors; those images spoke to her of the similarities between the Jewish experience of the Holocaust and the Indigenous history of racism. She perceives similar values in both cultures as they weave histories and ancestral principles, ceremony, ritual, discipline, respect, and faith in a sacred greater power. Patricia values her connections with Jewish people and says, “In my life, Jews have always been there for me in my most challenging times.”

Rabbi Adam Cutler, Senior Rabbi of Adath Israel Congregation in Toronto, has written and spoken extensively about Canadian-Jewish obligations towards Indigenous peoples and organized opportunities for Canadian Jews to learn about Canada’s Indigenous history. Rabbi Cutler earned his Honours BA from the University of Toronto with high distinction and received an MA and Rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Rabbi Cutler is a past president of both the Rabbinical Assembly – Ontario Region and the Toronto Board of Rabbis.