A Love Letter to Righting Relations

Originally posted in 2018, West Hub member Maigan van der Giessen reflects on the power and impact of Righting Relations and the circle gathering format.

A photograph showing a closeup of a piece of flipchart paper resting on a table. There are green post-it notes stuck to the paper towards the top of the image, and colourful lines and words written on the paper on the bottom right side. In the top right corner is a pile of markers, crayons, and coloured pencils, and an empty Play-doh tub. Laying in the centre of the image, blue and orange pipe cleaners have been twisted into the words “Righting Relations” with a pink Play-doh heart resting next to them.

There’s something about Righting Relations that feels so right. Some days I enter into the circle full of doubt or frustration or just plain fatigue, yet by the end I always feel refreshed and renewed by the camaraderie and support of my RR sisters. I’m not talking about surface friendships, I’m talking about profound alliances, developed over time, based on shared respect and stories of resilience.
One of the many opportunities Righting Relations affords me, is the chance to slow down, and sift through my own story and experiences to understand the direction of my life and my work. Since being invited into the Righting Relations network I have been on a deep personal journey of healing and righting relations with myself and my story. It’s been frightening and illuminating. Something that has always been a struggle for me is finding my place and my voice as a Jewish woman who opposes Zionism and embraces Palestinian solidarity. It’s hard to describe the complexity of this identity and the barriers it creates for me as I try to find sense of community belonging while claiming my jewish identity with integrity and honesty.
So, the day of our recent Righting Relations Edmonton circle was a hard day: May 15, the anniversary of the Nakba. As I sat in circle I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t be present with our conversations; I began to feel heavy with feelings of shame and pain as I recalled the previous days reports of massive casualties in Gaza during the March of Return protests. I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility when atrocities and injustices are committed and justified in the name of my people. I could barely breathe, I thought I’d break down in tears if I tried to explain.
During our meal break I spoke with a few members to express my feelings. I was relieved and grateful that they immediately recognized my discomfort and invited me to bring it to the circle. I shared my thoughts and invited the circle to break early and come join me at the Alberta Legislature for a rally of solidarity, “happening right Now!”
The love and safety I felt was overwhelming when everyone agreed that we should go and show solidarity with this important cause. In that moment, our circle expressed their desire to support me, and I’m still feeling held and strengthened by this act of love.
This, to me, is the heart of Righting Relations- Acts of love and resistance with each other, everyday- big or small. Every time I sit in circle, Righting Relations offers me an opportunity to heal my relationship with myself and find ways to honour my responsibilities to my fellow beings.
In gratitude,