Job Title: Co-founder, Reconciliation In Solidarity Edmonton
Why She’s Top 40: She’s heightening the awareness of First Nations people still coming to terms with their horrific experiences in residential schools.
Greatest Fear: “I really don’t like creepy crawly things. They catch me off-guard.”
The first time Miranda Jimmy, a Cree woman, ever heard about the controversial Canadian Indian residential school system was in a Grade 11 social studies class. Her teacher, who was Japanese, was discussing the internment of Canadians of his ethnicity during the Second World War, which he described as the second-worst atrocity the federal government ever committed.
“What was the first?” asked Jimmy.
“Why the residential schools, of course,” replied her teacher.
And so began Jimmy’s fact-finding mission on an issue that was never covered in the curriculum, but was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Indigenous children and the emotional scarring of thousands more – including her father. She was hopeful for change in 2014 when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission held hearings in Edmonton, but a year later was disappointed that no remedial action had been taken.
“I was expecting a monument to be put up, or a big government announcement or some giant social change,” recalls Jimmy. “But nothing was happening.”
That’s when she co-founded RISE (Reconciliation In Solidarity Edmonton) in her living room with five other friends, determined to foster initiatives at the local level. Since then, RISE has helped set up a number of workshops, discussions on social media, and outreach programs including the creation of a heart garden commemorating the victims of the residential school program. Jimmy estimates RISE has managed to connect with roughly 15,000 people.
“The support has been amazing,” says Jimmy, who dedicates 20 hours a week to the cause. “But until every Canadian understands and accepts the truth, we can’t have reconciliation.”
OK, be honest, have you taken your Christmas decorations down, yet?