Inspired by Nelson Mandela

One morning in October, my eyes were caught in the subway by an advertisement for an exhibition on Nelson Mandela: “The exhibition for everyone who refuses to see the world in black and white”. Seeing his face in the midst of the advertisements was a relief for me. We decided to go with the community and we did so just a few days before the closing, early January.

There were lots of posters, videos, pictures, texts in three languages: Xhosa, English and French. The exhibition depicted the journey of Mandela from violence to non-violence. His cell in Robben Island where he stayed during 18 years was also reproduced in its real dimensions. The atmosphere was special: gravity, silence, peace, with softened light.

Reading some letters of Mandela, experiencing the narrowness of his cell, the context of violence and poverty, the climate of fear was quite an experience. I was moved by his determination to be liberated along with all his companions, to take the opportunity in jail to train, to learn from each other, to learn the Afrikaners’ language.

Canada is one of the first countries that Mandela visited just after his liberation in 1990. I learnt a lot about the links between Canada and South Africa and the role that some politicians played in the liberation of Nelson Mandela through the boycott of the products in the 1970s.

As Canada was supporting Mandela´s struggle, some First Nations in Canada started to speak up about their situation, so unjust as well. Since 2007, the government of Canada has made excuses to the First Nations and was inspired to start a commission of Truth and Reconciliation as South Africa did.

This exhibition gave me a shot to be more aware of injustice where I live and to continue to be part of the movement of reconciliation, which is the only durable way to live together.

Sr. Marie-Noëlle

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