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A project that brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together to talk about their stories and work towards common ground is getting a $25,000 boost. 

The province announced today that it is providing the funding to Circles for Reconciliation, a small program where 10 participants, five Indigenous and five non-Indigenous are led by two facilitators, one of whom is Indigenous.

Groups who sign up meet for 10 weekly or biweekly gatherings and discuss various themes related to reconciliation. 

"People come in with all sorts of myths about Indigenous people and I always wonder how many of those myths have been shared with their friends and family because some of them are damaging," Circles for Reconciliation Indigenous Ambassador, Clayton Sandy said. "One of the first circles I attended was at a church in St. Vital, where you had five elderly people who didn't know anything about Indigenous people, like they didn't live on this planet with us." 

"They asked really weird but very sincere questions, and I think it shows that people want to understand our history." 

Sandy says he has seen racism and insensitivity at almost every point of his life, and these circles can go a long way to reaching common ground. 

"Until you actually sit down and get to know people, nothing changes," he said. "I always tell people that in the last census they found that 93,000 Indigenous people are living within the perimeter and if you take 2,000 of them and put them on Main Street or wherever, you have to think about think about where the other 91,000 are."

"People don't think about the fact that we have a lot of people who are out there and doing very well." 

Project Coordinator Raymond Currie says he was inspired to start Circles for Reconciliation after he and his wife adopted two Indigenous children in the late 1970's. He says they tried to connect their children - who were Sixties Scoop survivors - with their traditional cultures but found there was a stark divide between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. 

Currie says that experience, combined with the release of recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission helped the idea grow. 

"We wanted them to understand their background but we didn't feel very welcome at events, which we didn't understand at the time but we do now," Currie said. "We're just one piece of this, there are alot of parts to reconciliation including nation to nation, group to group and person to person. We believe we're focused on the heart of moving towards reconciliation." 

"If you look at the TRC calls to action, the idea of building a respectful relationship is really at the base of it." 

Currie says the money from the province will go towards helping their employees, all but one of which are volunteers. He says they have circles in seven Manitoba communities right now and are expanding, with upcoming circles expected in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta. 

You can learn more or sign up for a circle by visiting circlesforreconciliation.ca.