We all share a common humanity. No matter how long or difficult the path ahead, we are all one.
Reconciliation belongs to everyone. In this profound book, Chief Robert Joseph, globally recognized peacebuilder and Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk People, traces his journey from his childhood surviving residential school to his present-day role as a leader who inspires individual hope, collective change, and global transformation.
Before we get to know where we are going, we need to know where we came from. Reconciliation represents a long way forward, but it is a pathway toward our higher humanity, our highest selves, and an understanding that everybody matters. In Namwayut, Chief Joseph teaches us to transform our relationships with ourselves and each other. As we learn about, honour, and respect the truth of the stories we tell, we can also discover how to dismantle the walls of discrimination, hatred, and racism in our society.
Chief Joseph is known as one of the leading voices on peacebuilding in our time, and his dedication to reconciliation has been recognized with multiple honorary degrees and awards. As one of the remaining first-language speakers of Kwak'wala, his wisdom is grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing while making space for something bigger and better for all of us.
About the Author
Chief Dr Robert Joseph, OBC, OC is a Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk People, Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, Chair of the Native American Leadership Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation, and the 2016 winner of the Indspire Lifetime Achievement Award. He has worked with social change leaders in countries around the globe, including South Africa, Israel, Japan, and the US, was Executive Director of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, and is an honorary witness to Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
There is no more important task for Canadians than to hear the voices of Indigenous people. This is humanity's collective responsibility--to face uncomfortable, sometimes horrific truths, to educate ourselves, to listen, to reflect, to learn, and to act with newfound awareness and sensitivity. Chief Joseph's journey reminds us all that the path to future peace must pass through reconciliation of our past. And that all humans are equal, all humans are humans.”
Lieutenant-General (retd) the Honourable Roméo Dallaire
“Indigenous writers often describe the power of stories. In oral traditions a story is a memorable way to convey our history, our traditions, and our teachings. Chief Robert Joseph offers his journey of reconciliation through the story of his life. And what an extraordinary, troubling, and uplifting life it is.
Raised in a traditional way, surrounded by a loving community, but brought to the Indian Residential School in Alert Bay much too early, Chief Joseph describes the confusing and traumatic lives spent by children in the school. His personal story compels us to face the truth of what happened in these institutions, and helps us fully appreciate the importance of these experiences to all Canadians.
As someone who shared parts of the healing and reconciliation journey with him, I am struck by how prominent a role he played in the genesis of the healing movement, how he has lead us by way of his loving example, and how he dwells less on the past and more on how hopeful we can be about our future. He is a treasured leader, and someone who forces us to re-examine our values and the importance of listening to each other.
This book moves from our tragic history to a present where mutual understanding is possible. This is the story of reconciliation.”
Mike DeGagne, C.M., President & CEO, Indspire
“Chief Robert Joseph’s book is an invitation to our best and most authentic selves. In a way it is a love story. He takes us on a journey with him - from his early years, to his first day of residential school and horrors he experienced there, to the struggles and triumphs of his adulthood. As a reader, he brings you along with him. I cried, I laughed and I had so many “Ah ha” moments. He cradles his experience of abuse with powerful teachings that bring us back to ourselves and to love. His book, Namwayut, is an act of generosity, vulnerability and trust.
Chief Joseph has lived through the worst of our world and transformed the pain into a gift back to the world. Without telling us what to do, he shows us a new pathway forward, back to our moral compass, back to the truth of our interconnectedness, back to our authentic selves and to love.
Chief Joseph, generously shares with us a window into his Kwakwaka’wakw culture, ceremonies and worldview. A worldview and culture that was trampled on as part of attempted cultural genocide. This takes radical courage to trust us as readers. I invite you to be worthy of this trust and open yourself up to the voyage you are about to embark on.
In writing Namwayut, Chief Robert Joseph provides a roadmap for everyone to find that sense of home we all yearn for and together build belonging from the inside out - one person, one family, one community at a time.”
Jessie Sutherland, author of bestselling book, Worldview Skills: Transforming Conflict from the Inside Out