Spelexílh Anjeanette Dawson

Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School

Bio: I have been involved in Indigenous Education for over 30 years. My career began in a small village called Kingcome Inlet as a Special Education Aide. I moved home to North Vancouver and worked in School District 44 for 3 years as a First Nations Support Worker. I worked for the Squamish Nation as the Elementary Home School Counsellor for 22 years. The creator blessed me with my current job at Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School as a Counsellor/Indigenous Specialist. I graduated with my Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Education – Education for Reconciliation from Simon Fraser University in August, 2019. I am currently in a Masters of Education course at Simon Fraser University, Indigenous Education: Truth, Reconciliation and Indigenous Resurgence, completion July, 2020. I was one of ten women to revive the traditional art of Wool Weaving in our community. I have blankets hanging in the Squamish – Lilwat Cultural Centre in Whistler and two blankets in the Aboriginal Atrium at Simon Fraser University, I also made the shawl for the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Title: Pre-contact Lesson & Teaching Teachers how to be “Teachers”

Abstract: I have developed a Pre-contact teaching kit that I have presented to teachers, staff and students. It is a glimpse of when our ancestors walked through our territory prior to contact. It is walk through history from prior to 1792 to today. The times and our landscapes may have changed, but our teachings and knowledge haven’t. I will be speaking of the Indigenous peoples upbringing is compared to a Westernized upbringing. I will share my own story and provide examples of working with our students, parents, extended families and school staff. With my 30+ years of experience having worked in a Band Operated School, worked side by side with Administrators, District Principals, teachers, support staff, tutors, parents, guardians, police officers, Social Workers, Psychologists and other support staff imaginable, I witnessed a lot. I have a lot of experience and I have a lot to share, I can only speak from my own experience, but I have had quite the journey. Being the product of two parents that were sent to Residential School, I am a second generation survivor. I am one of 10 wool weavers that had revived the lost are in our nation. I have facilitated numerous quarter bag workshops in the lower mainland as it is a great way to share teachings while the students and staff are weaving. This is my passion and I enjoy sharing what I have learned and what I continue to learn. I do this for our current students, but most importantly for those not yet born.

Iloradanon Efimoff

University of Manitoba

Bio: Iloradanon Efimoff is a Haida and European settler woman from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. She is currently residing in Treaty 1 while she completes her Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology. Her dissertation research focuses on creating anti-racist interventions to reduce racism expressed towards Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Title: Racism in the institution: Indigenous students’ experiences

Abstract: Indigenous students across the country experience anti-Indigenous racism, and the University of Manitoba is no different. In this presentation, I share 8 Indigenous students’ experiences with racism at the University of Manitoba. Participants experienced many different types of racism, and these experiences impact them in real and long-lasting ways. Despite the common negative impacts of racism, the Indigenous students interviewed shared many strategies they used to challenge racism on campus. Participants also shared the positive experiences they had on campus; these were typically related to feeling a sense of community with other Indigenous people on campus. These results showcase the existence of racism at the University of Manitoba, its impacts on Indigenous students, and strategies to challenge racism.

Chelsea Fritz

University of Alberta

Bio: Chelsea Fritz is a Métis student currently completing her MA in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta with a combined focus on medieval Arthurian and contemporary Métis literatures. Her graduate research works to combine these two seemingly incompatible literary traditions in an ethical, meaningful manner, focusing specifically on the cycles of colonialism that are common to both. Born in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Chelsea is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta with paternal ties to the Shishalh nation from Sechelt, BC.

Title: A Colonial Past Not Yet Past: Collapsing Temporalities in Vermette’s A Girl Called Echo Series

Abstract: My research examines the ways in which Vermette’s graphic novel series, A Girl Called Echo, collapses the temporal separation between past and present, bringing Canada’s colonial past into present day. By using dream sequences, time travel, archive documents, and throwback music on her iPod, Vermette’s protagonist, Echo, weaves in and out of the past and present as she learns about Metis history and the ever-presence of colonialism. Through an analysis of dream theory (Freud) and Indigenous theory (Coulthard, Campbell), I argue that Echo’s displacement into the colonial past is a direct commentary on the current systemic racism that impacts young Indigenous people in Canada. Echo’s time travel occurs when she sleeps, either in the classroom or at her foster home, so such displacement from a contemporary colonial-enforced setting to a more idyllic Indigenous past represents Echo’s desire to reconnect with her history. Likewise, Echo’s iPod playlist, titled “Mom’s Old CDs” conveys the protagonist’s yearning for a connection to her past. Further, Vermette contrasts her graphic novels with colonial archive quotations to exemplify the difference between European and Indigenous-told histories. By looking to critical race (Hunt, Hartman) and archive theorists (Best, Assman), I argue that Vermette’s texts counter the symbolic violence of the past’s archive and offer a new, Indigenous-written account of the historical events in the present.

Feisal Kirumira

Augustana Campus, University of Alberta

Bio: Feisal is an Associate Lecturer for German at Augustana Campus and a PhD student in Secondary Education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. His area of interest  is multicultural education with an emphasis on antiracist pedagogy informed by African Wisdom teachings with a slice of philosophical hermeneutics. Feisal also doubles as the International Student Faculty Liaison and Advisor to the Dean at Augustana Campus. He is the Faculty Advisor for the Diversity Working Group, Afro-Youth Club, Muslim Students Association, and the Asian Pacific Students Club at Augstana Campus. Feisal has extensive teaching experience in English as a Second Language, Community Service Learning (for international students), and secondary education curriculum studies. Feisal is a member of the Alberta Antiracism Advisory Council. He has delivered many antiracism and intercultural awareness sessions in Canada and abroad.

Title: Kawumpuli, the Child-God of Plague: Unraveling Ancestral Belonging Through African Wisdom Teaching

Abstract: The history of how our ancestors belonged in society influences how we understand our racial identity today. We learn how to act, think or speak through ancestral stories, rituals and ideals. Therefore, we can discover how — across generations — our ancestors taught us about our identity through our mother tongue. By naming things, people, or ideas in a specific language, we initiate and sustain our ancestral belonging as a way of making our ancestral lifeworld unique and precious. The n* word is, for a Black person, a violent act that desecrates their human dignity through knowing their ancestor’s history of dehumanization — a dehumanization that they still go through. To discover new ways of combating racism, we must move away from using the same Eurocentric viewpoints that created racism in the first place. In this paper, I invite you on a journey of unraveling racial encounters through Kigandan folklore and proverbs.

Kristina Kopp, Dr. Leona Makokis, and Dr. Ralph Bodor

University of Calgary & University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills

Bio: nohtikwew asînîwacîwiw iskwêw (grandmother mountain woman) or Kristina Kopp is a Cree-Métis iskwew (woman) born in Edmonton, Alberta — her family descends from Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement and the Alberta communities of Andrew and Whitford. Kristina is proud to be the niece of Muriel Stanley Venne, a Cree-Métis iskwew who has long advocated for Indigenous iskwewak (women). Kristina is a recent graduate of the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at the University of Calgary.

Title: kiskinohamâkan: Being a Métis Learner

Abstract: Academia is becoming increasingly aware of the Western ideologies that continue to influence post-secondary education. This has sparked a growing desire for Indigenization and the formation of spaces that honour Indigenous worldviews. As a Métis kiskinohamâkan (learner) in the Master of Social Work (MSW) program, I have begun to decolonize my education journey through completing my practicum at University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills (University of Blue Quills – UnBQ). I have been on a meskanaw (journey) of weaving iyiniw (First People, People of the Land) knowledge into social work education, research, and practice. UnBQ provides the opportunity to learn in an academic environment where reconnection to iyiniw heritage occurs through reclaiming traditional knowledge and practices held in nêhiyawewin (the Cree language) and îsihcîkewin (ceremony). My learning journey has entailed gathering the practice-based evidence found in nêhiyaw (Cree) language, ceremony, and teachings to better understand my identity as a kiskinohâmakan (learner), social worker, and Métis iskwew (woman). Through this process, I learnt that my identity is spirit – my spirit determines who I am. My intention is to share my learning journey of reconnecting to spirit and how ceremony, language, and spirituality inform my social work practice.

Bidushy Sadika

University of Saskatchewan

Bio: Bidushy is the MA candidate in the Department of Psychology’s Culture, Health, and Human Development stream at the University of Saskatchewan. Bidushy’s research interests include intersectionality; the lived experiences of racial and ethnic minority persons, women, and LGBTQ groups; sexual and gender diversity in cultural contexts; and gender roles and stereotypes. She has published in a number of peer-reviewed outlets including: Journal of Lesbian StudiesCanadian Journal of Native Studies, Journal of GLBT Family StudiesPsychology & Sexuality, and University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Journal.

Title: Contested Meanings and Lived Experiences of Two-Spiritness in Canada: A Systematic Review of the Canadian Research Literature

Abstract: The term Two-Spirit refers to Indigenous individuals embodying both male and female spirits, and performing the social roles of medicine healers, priests, and shamans in traditional Indigenous ceremonies and practices. While some researchers conceptualize Two-Spirit individuals as a distinct social group with their own unique history of colonial oppression, most consider Two-Spirit persons to constitute a trans or sexual minority subgroup. The present study systematically reviewed the Canadian research conducted on Two-Spirit people and their communities. Fifteen studies were reviewed and categorized. Results indicated that Two-Spirit identity was conceptualized in order to regain the social position that Two-Spirit persons had once in Indigenous communities. In this quest, Two-Spirit people are exposed to discrimination and violence, which they cope with through activisms and positive affirmation of Two-Spiritness. Therefore, Two-Spirit identity integrates Indigenous culture, spirituality, sexuality, and gender identity, emerging as a complex terminology that should not be synonymized with the Western LGBTQ+ identities.

James Shawana

University of Calgary

Bio: My name is James Shawana, another name given to me by an Elder from my mother’s home community of Wikwemikoong Unceded Indian Reserve is Megis Inini. Megis is the Ojibway word, to others it is called a cowrie shell and Inini translates into man. I am called Megis Inini (Cowrie Shell Man). The Megis is a “Sacred Shell through which the Creator blew his breath. The Megis was to appear and reappear to the Ojibway throughout their history to show them the Path that the Creator wished them to follow” (Benton-Banai, 1988, p. 4). For me this new path is the path of Western education, as with other Indigenous people who pursue their own educational journeys through attending post-secondary institutions. My mother is Anishinabek from Wikwemikoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Ontario. My mother raised my brother and I as a single parent.  My father is of European ancestry. I was not born in my mother’s home Anishinabek territory, as I was born and raised in the Cree territory of northern Alberta. I have moved many times in my life, living in various First Nations territories, provinces, cities, towns, municipal districts, and in a First Nations community.

Title: Indigenous Dawn Breakers: Braiding the Journey of Indigenous Professors

Abstract: More Indigenous people have successfully obtained an undergraduate degree and have decided to continue on with their educational journey to graduate studies. Eight Indigenous professors shared their own experiences about their own graduate educational journey and thoughts for future Indigenous graduate students. The goal of this research was to braid lived experiences, academic experiences, and experiences of colonization together. This new braid of knowledge is to serve as a gift to distill insights for future Indigenous graduate students. Indigenous professors serve as Dawn Breakers or Day Break People, who are those that arise at dawn, when the morning star rises, to seek a new path and have gone before future generations to create a path for Indigenous scholars. To gain insight, Indigenous professors shared stories describing their successes and challenges in their own graduate studies and advice they would give to other Indigenous people that want to pursue graduate studies. Lived experiences had the emerging themes of family, community, obligations, and moving. Academic experiences had the emerging themes of mentors, employment, finances, and graduate workload. Colonial experiences had the emerging themes of culture, feelings of inadequacy, labour market, racism, microaggressions, and lack of Indigenous content and ignorance of instructors. These stories may provide practical strategies to help increase graduate program completion for Indigenous students.

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