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About Us

Our Vision

Returning to Spirit (RTS) is an Indigenous-led non-profit charitable organization situated in the heart of Winnipeg's North End community that was born out of a partnership and vision between an Indigenous man, a religious Sister and a talented design team to address the divisive legacy of Indian Residential Schools (history).

Our Indigenous and non-Indigenous trainers form the heart of our organization, supported by our Keepers and the Board of Directors. We design and deliver workshops that reconcile one's spirit with the perceived "other." We move individuals, families, organizations and whole communities forward through the principles of personal empowerment and community leadership. We welcome community partners to continue the process of transformation.

Our work goes beyond healing. It provides conditions for transformation and mindfulness in all relationships. All Canadians are invited to engage and help us as a nation to move forward more powerfully to hope, possibility and choice for the next generation.

What Does Reconciliation Mean?

Reconciliation is the experience of restoring peace within yourself, others and the world, no matter what the circumstance. This includes the impact of Indian Residential Schools and other painful experiences. 

Vision: We empower individuals to reconcile their past in the present to transform the future.

Mission: To bring Canadians together in a spirit of mutual respect, trust, and equality to create reconciliation, possibility, and responsibility. 

 

How it all Started

The Returning to Spirit reconciliation model is designed to restore spirit and healing, and shift the conversation between Indigenous participants and and non-Indigenous participants from one of blame and resentment to one hope and opportunity. 

It began with discussions between Chief Roy Fabian, the Chief for Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Bishop Denis Croteau of the Diocese of Yellowknife and Sister Ann Thomson ssa. How could the Church best contribute to healing the legacy of Indian Residential Schools? Chief Fabian recommended conversations with Marc Pizandawatc, an Algonquin man facilitating healing workshops among Indigenous peoples in the Northwest Territories.

The seed for the reconciliation workshops was planted at one of Marc’s workshops. Participants were asked to create a project held dear but seemingly impossible. Sister Ann suggested a program to reconcile First Nations people and the Church in the wake of the divisions caused by Indian Residential Schools.

A workshop design team was formed through church funding, and members having varied experience and expertise in First Nations’ traditions and culture, spiritual practices, community development, self-awareness, personal development and empowerment principles. A “Needs and Opportunities” group included Indian Residential School survivors. An intensive ten day model creation workshop was held at Trapper’s Lake in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in 2001

Critical to the design and process was the need to reconcile within one's own biases and preconceptions before being able to really listen to the other, and be open to different ways of thinking. The model finally included two separate workshops - one for Indigenous participants and one for non-Indigenous participants, followed by a Reconciliation workshop that included a communications and listening component.

The original reconciliation emphasis was between Church and First Nation people. We now use the term “Non-Indigenous” instead of “Church”.  The legacy of the Indian Residential schools affects every Canadian. Because of the massive success of the workshops, workshops have since been delivered to over 3000 participants across Western Canada and into Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Board Members


Jamie Goulet
Board Member
Winnipeg, MB
Mae Louise Goulet Campbell
Board Member
Winnipeg, MB
Margot Lavoie
Vice Chair, Board Member
Winnipeg, MB
Maria Fernanda Arentsen
Treasurer, Board Member
Winnipeg, MB
Debbie Beach-Ducharme
Board Member
Winnipeg, MB
Sr. Norma McDonald CSC
Chair, Board Member
Winnipeg, MB
Sharon Klyne
Board Member
Wanipigow, MB
Archbishop Richard Gagnon
Board Member
Winnipeg, MB
Mary E. LeMaître
Board Member
Winnipeg, MB

Team of Leaders


Lisa Raven
Executive Director & Trainer
Hollow Water First Nation, MB
Dianne Little
Director, Partnership Strategies & Trainer
Winnipeg, MB
François Paradis
Knowledge Keeper & Trainer French and English
Winnipeg, MB
Jacques Lafrance
Knowledge Keeper & Trainer French and English
Lorette, MB
Rochelle Ledoux Molgat
Communications Keeper & Trainer
Winnipeg, MB
Amber Reid
Fund/Research Keeper & Trainer
Winnipeg, MB
Dennis Chartrand
Trainer English and Ojibwe (interact)
Winnipeg, MB
Robyn Hall
Trainer
Hollow Water First Nation, MB
Susan Campbell
Trainer
Cochrane, AB
Terry-Lynn Luggi
Trainer
Prince George, BC
Cheryl Bushie
Trainer
Hollow Water First Nation, MB

Frequently Asked Questions

Returning to Spirit (RTS) is an Indigenous-led non-profit organization situated in the heart of Winnipeg’s North End Community and is governed by a Board that has an equal number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous members. Together with a valued team of experienced trainers and passionate host contacts, we have been delivering experiential reconciliation workshops since 2001.

If you are a Canadian or live in the territory encompassed by the geopolitical entity called Canada, the inter-generational legacy of Indian Residential Schools and the Indian Act and the divisions it created is yours. As articulated in the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Report, all Canadians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, need to play a part in reconciling the familial, societal, racial and cultural divides. This is the legacy that is ours to reconcile.

We are grateful for the generosity of all our contributing donors and funding agencies, including The Government of Canada, The Winnipeg Foundation, The National Brotherhood Trust Fund, The Counselling Foundation of Canada, the Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres and many spiritual, social justice and religious organizations across Canada. We are also grateful to the many host communities that partner with us in delivering the workshops, such as the City of Tofino, Gitxsan First Nation, Hollow Water First Nation, Sioux Lookout and many more.

Returning to Spirit's rigorous training program "Pathways to Development" includes both a theoretical classroom component along with a practicum phase that is mentored by certified trainers. All of our Indigenous and non-Indigenous trainers are certified through a this process with many contributing background experiences and education in the fields of social justice, communication and compassion.

No, each person needs to attend two parts to complete the Reconciliation process, the foundational 4-Day workshop (Indigenous or non-Indigenous) and the 5-day Reconciliation Workshop.

Yes! The workshops have transformed lives as the evaluations show.

Absolutely! This is not a religious program and many of our trainers are not affiliated with a religious group.

Though Returning to Spirit and the TRC have similar missions, we are not affiliated with the TRC. During the TRC Closing, however, Returning to Spirit workshops were mentioned as being powerful possibilities moving forward with the much needed reconciliations across Canada.

While we offer the workshops across Canada, most of our workshops have been delivered in Manitoba and Western provinces, in part because of our organization's headquarters in Winnipeg and also because of the greater need and demand for the workshops in areas having higher densities of Indigenous communities.

Contact our Winnipeg office, at 204-889-4579 or info@returningtospirit.org for more information. We'll send you more information and have a conversation with you.