Experience a safe space to share thoughts with others

A traditional Indigenous ceremony is now available at Parkdale Cromdale Community League. For the next six months, people can experience the benefits of a talking circle.

Ryan Hoard is facilitating the talking circles, the first of which took place on Jan. 21. He is a registered provisional psychologist and of Indigenous heritage.

Talking circles allow everyone the chance to talk while others listen. Everyone is considered equal.

“It’s a traditional way to communicate, solve conflict, share experience, grow as a family, or to heal,” says Hoard. “It’s considered a ceremony.” A talking circle is an open, safe place to talk about anything while all other participants listen without judgement. It’s a great opportunity to learn about an important and sacred tradition. Parkdale Cromdale and surrounding areas also have an Indigenous population who may wish to attend and reconnect with their culture.

“It’s an opportunity for Indigenous people to re-learn [about talking circles] and an opportunity for others to learn,” he says. “It [also] falls in line with reconciliation.”

It’s a ceremony with some flexibility.

“People are invited in. Sometimes there’s a purpose and focus, sometimes not.”

Before the talking circle begins, Hoard will hold a smudging circle.

“It gives everyone an opportunity to cleanse themselves,” he explains. He’ll also discuss norms and introduce himself to everyone there.

During the talking circle, he will pass around the talking piece, which can be an eagle feather or a rock. “It’s something with a spiritual connection,” Hoard explains. The rock has a connection to the earth, while a feather symbolizes the creator.

The person who holds the talking piece speaks, while everyone else listens.

Hoard will facilitate three rounds of the circle. The first round is for participant introductions. The second is an opportunity for participants to share their thoughts. The third round may include one last chance for sharing.

“Some people have lots to say,” says Hoard. “Talking circles are often used in Indigenous judicial resolutions, to resolve conflict, and to come up with resolutions.”

It’s also a tradition that many Indigenous people have become disconnected with in their culture. “Some of these practices were outlawed in the Indian Act.”

The Parkdale Cromdale Community League board had an opportunity to take part in one of Hoard’s talking circles.

Kevin Wong, league president, said, “I think the talking circle offers a great platform for sharing and building trust. It’s a powerful and sacred tool to create connections among strangers or neighbours. It also allows us to slow down and think, and learn the skill of mindful sharing.” He adds, “Through the talking circle, we are hoping to get our community members to get to know each other, and know it’s OK to share. It’s a step toward building a more trusting community.”

Anyone can attend, although PCCL league memberships are encouraged. Should cost be a factor, memberships will be available for free.

Each talking circle will take about an hour, from 7-8 pm. The event is free to attend. Future talking circles: Feb. 18, March 18, April 15, May 27, and June 24. Visit parkdalecromdale.org for more information.

Featured Image: Participants of talking circles can use a feather or a rock as a talking piece. | Karen Mykietka