Presenters

A. F. Barlow

University of Alberta

Bio: A. F. Barlow is an MA Native Studies student at the University of Alberta. She is a settler of francophone descent whose strongest ties are with her Mi’kmaq family in New Brunswick and Alberta. Her current research interests revolve around Gladue reporting in the context of advocacy to push back against damage-centered inquiry. She is passionate about learning through community-based research which engages respectful partnership with (not about) Indigenous communities.

Title: Risk Retold: A Thematic Analysis of Two Gladue Report Writing Guides

Abstract: Gladue reports are a Supreme Court of Canada countermeasure to the persistent crisis of Indigenous incareceration rooted in colonial harms, systemic racism, and discrimination. A Gladue report outlines the life circumstances that have brought an Indigenous defendant before the court and offers remedial Indigenous pathways in lieu of formal imprisonment. A Gladue writer is meant to gather relevant information for retelling a participant’s story within the specific context of their current interaction with the Criminal Justice System. I present a short film and a thematic analysis of two Gladue report writing guides to argue that Gladue reporting may in fact function as another means of locating and measuring risk in an ‘Indigenous subject,’ thus risking participants to further harms of colonization. Because Gladue reports attempt to locate and measure risk to society there is a gap in the discourse of how reporting may put participants themselves at risk. Since the retelling of an individual’s life circumstances is fundamental to Gladue reporting, the retelling of a Gladue story is not a safe or neutral endeavor. Instead, the repeated characterization of Indigenous peoples within the criminal justice system as ‘offenders’ in reports could have detrimental consequences to those who participate in Gladue programs.

Melanie Braith

University of Manitoba

Bio: Melanie is a fourth-year PhD candidate at the Department of English, Theatre, Film, & Media. Being originally from Germany, she holds a bachelor’s degree in British and American Studies and a master’s degree in Literatures and Cultures in English from the University of Konstanz. Prior to her studies, she worked for several years as a newspaper editor and a journalist for print, TV, and online media. Melanie is grateful to be given the chance to come to the University of Manitoba and to work on Indigenous literatures in general and residential school literature in particular. Her thesis focuses on the intersections between residential school testimony, storytelling, and relationships. Melanie’s research interests include Indigenous and Canadian literatures as well as theories of resurgence, memory, identity, and community in literary and various cultural contexts.

Title: Searching for the Story: How Oral Storytelling Changes Understandings of Written Literature

Abstract: In Indigenous oral storytelling, stories are at times understood as living beings. As such, stories are characterized by one element in particular: change. Storytellers tell a story differently based on their audience; they choose to emphasize different elements of a story, or they slightly change the plot, combining it with elements from other stories. A story, then, exists independently from the instances in which it manifests itself, the instances in which it is told.
This understanding of story can shed new light on the writing and editing processes of contemporary Indigenous authors. My paper uses oral storytelling theory by Indigenous scholars and storytellers, such as Leanne Simpson (Anishinaabe) and Dovie Thomason (Lakota/Kiowa Apache), in order to decolonize the Western understanding of what a story is, and hence what literature is. By looking at works by Cree author Tomson Highway (who created numerous versions of his story Kiss of the Fur Queen) and works by Anishinaabe author Richard Wagamese (who retold different versions of stories in his newspaper columns and non-fiction works), I hope to contribute to a deeper understanding of how Indigenous stories work.

James Chalmers

University of Manitoba

Bio: Boozhoo, Waagoshens nind-izhinikaanigoog, James Chalmers zhaaganaashimo-izhinikaazoyaan gaye. Adik nin-doodem. Mikinaak Wajiw nind-onjii. James Chalmers is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota. He graduated from Bemidji State University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (2014) and with a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree in 2019. His research examines early Anishinaabeg movement from the woodlands of Minnesota into the plains of North Dakota and southern Manitoba with a focus on reclaiming Anishinaabemowin place names through oral stories in North Dakota.

Title: Aandi Wenjiiyan? Reclaiming Anishinaabemowin Place Names in North Dakota

Abstract: In the Cumberland Agreement, also known as the Ten-Cent Treaty, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in North Dakota were coerced to cede over ten million acres to the United States Government. Prior to this agreement, local, state, and federal officials removed hereditary leader Little Shell III, his tribal council, and over 500 band members from treaty negotiations. As a result, the Turtle Mountain Band was swindled of over ten million acres and lost their traditional leader, Little Shell III. Today, few know of the three successive generations of the Anishinaabe leaders known by the name of Little Shell. Reclaiming the place names of locations where the Little Shell lineage lived, hunted and battled the Dakota would be an important contribution to the history of the Anishinaabe that first moved onto the plains of North Dakota. Indigenous place-names carry vast knowledge about important historical events, physical landmarks, and legends. There are hundreds of Anishinaabemowin place-names in Minnesota, Ontario, and Manitoba but only a handful of known Anishinaabemowin place names in North Dakota. Relearning the place names and the stories which accompany them would have a positive effect that would change the narrative of early Turtle Mountain Band history.

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.

Nicki Ferland

University of Saskatchewan

Bio: Nicki Ferland is a Two-Spirit Red River Métis Sundancer from the St. Vital, Îles-des-Chênes and Lorette communities in the heart of the Métis homeland. Her mother’s grandfather, André Beauchemin, was a wheelwright, and the MLA for St. Vital in Louis Riel’s provisional government. Her father’s grandfather, Elzéar Lagimodière, established the community of Lorette, a Métis parish, with other Métis bison hunters and farmers. She chairs the new Two-Spirit Michif Local (Winnipeg Region, Manitoba Métis Federation), and is the Indigenous Coordinator in the University of Manitoba’s Community Engaged Learning department. She enjoys spending time with her wife and family, being on the land, and canoeing Manitoba’s waterways. Nicki is completing her Master of Education in Indigenous land-based education at the University of Saskatchewan.

Title: Kishkeetamowin li tereen daan la vil oschi: Developing a Métis methodology for urban land-based research

Abstract: There are very few Métis methodologies that articulate and apply a true Métis research paradigm. A major concern with methodologies that favour “methodological diversity” such as bricolage and métissage, the conscious integration and unconscious blending of various research principles and practices that “fit,” is that they perpetuate the notion of Métis as mixed, generally, and mixed from various sources with little concern for actual nation-specific ancestries or affiliations, in particular, thus perpetuating the stereotype that the Métis are a hodgepodge. Other methodologies, such as Two-Eyed Seeing and the Two Worlds approach advocate for a mindful blending, braiding or weaving of western and Indigenous methods and tools, which allow researchers to employ western methods adapted to a nation-specific Indigenous paradigm. There are several commonalities among the Métis methodologies designed and applied by Métis researchers, including the following key principles and practices: community accountability and relevance; relationship; reciprocity; relational accountability; language; understanding Métis context and diversity; and food. This presentation explores these principles and practices in the context of Métis-specific research engagement.

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.

Emily Halldorson

University of Manitoba

Bio: Emily is from the North End of Winnipeg and is pursuing her Masters in City Planning at the University of Manitoba. Her work focuses on supportive housing for criminalized Indigenous women, and explores new roles for planners in social justice and reconciliation. Inspired by her work with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba and her dedication to community-led change, Emily is interested in the use of community alternatives to incarceration and addressing the over-representation of Indigenous peoples, especially women, in prisons. Emily’s background is in community development and community-based research. She has been involved in many community development initiatives, including literacy programming for Indigenous and newcomer families in inner city Winnipeg. Her research work has focused on refugee housing and resettlement, and on non-traditional adult education programs for Indigenous peoples. She holds an Honours Degree in Political Science from the University of Winnipeg.

Title: Supportive Housing for Criminalized Indigenous Women in Canadian Cities

Abstract: This thesis examines supportive housing models serving criminalized Indigenous women in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Greater Vancouver. Inspired by her own experiences working for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba and concern about the over-representation of Indigenous women in Canadian prisons, the author seeks to draw attention to community-based supportive housing as an alternative to incarceration and a reintegration tool, to investigate various models and the purposes they serve within the justice system, within communities and in the lives of criminalized Indigenous women, and to make connections between the aims of these facilities, the aims of socially-just urban planning and the goals of reconciliation outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action (2015). As a practitioner-researcher of sorts, the author is action-oriented and seeks to highlight organizations who, with limited resources, already offer some women such an alternative.

Patrick Jeffers

Montana State University

Bio: Pat Jeffers is a Masters student at the Montana State University who is working on his MA in Native American studies. He is of Anishinaabek, Huron and settler descent, his maternal side comes from the Sault Ste. Marie area while his paternal side is Scottish/Irish from the Boston area. His current work is on the importance of traditional culture and indigenous identity in relation to retention rates of indigenous students in the state of Montana. He is also currently involved in working towards a WINHEC accreditation for the Native American Studies department at Montana State. His other academic interests focus on indigenous epistemologies, and the use of oral tradition as a means of traditional education for urban indigenous youth.

Title: “Not NDN Enough”: A Study of the Importance of Traditional Indigenous Identity with Regards to Native American Student Retention in Higher Education

Abstract: The average college experience is generally more difficult for indigenous students, when compared to their non-indigenous counterparts; not only do students feel they are leaving their homes and communities behind, but their culture and other less tangible aspects of their self and identity as well. Often, these issues of distance from Home and culture lead to problems with academic retention. This becomes more complicated when indigenous cultural identity is introduced, since the concept of identity in this regard cannot be seen in a linear fashion, but on a continuum, taking into account the lived experience of different indigenous peoples of different cultural upbringings and tribal affiliations. Despite these issues, traditional cultural identity can be a boon for indigenous student retention. Research was conducted at a university with a significant native student population, asking indigenous students about their cultural identities, upbringing and experiences in the university system. Out of 15 students surveyed, all said that they believe that elements of their traditional culture impact their persistence in higher education. By looking back at out old ways and traditions we as a people can find strength to move forward in our futures with our traditions in hand.

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.

Kaila Kornberger, and Dr. Ralph Bodor

University of Calgary

Bio: Kaila Kornberger is a Métis-Cree and Settler woman from Edmonton, Alberta. She spent several years working on the West Coast of Canada in addictions, domestic violence and child protection. Now residing in Edmonton, she works as an Indigenous Policy and Program Consultant at Alberta Children’s Services, where she is a passionate advocate for Indigenous organizations, and their ability to deliver programming that is shaped by an Indigenous worldview. Kaila is also attending the University of Calgary as a full-time student, to complete her Masters in Social Work. Her area of interest is in Indigenous Research and Evaluation, focusing specifically on how structural and institutional racism impacts the validity and acceptance of Indigenous Research and Evaluation within Western society.

Title: kâ-nâkatohkêhk miyo-ohpikinawâwasowin: Making oneself aware of good child growing and raising

Abstract: The intention of prevention and early intervention strategies is to build protective resiliency factors within children and families to support healthy development while mitigating risk factors. With regard to Indigenous children and families, the framework and corresponding prevention and early intervention services are often informed by Western worldviews, beliefs, and values that do not reflect Indigenous ways of knowing and being. kâ-nâkatohkêhk miyo-ohpikinawâwasowin is a framework for incorporating an Indigenous worldview into prevention and early intervention strategies inclusive of Indigenous teachings on child, family, and community well-being. This framework – kâ-nâkatohkêhk miyo-ohpikinawâwasowin –is based on mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being and encompasses Indigenous ceremony, teachings, and concepts that sustain healthy child, family, and community development. Our hope is to share a high level overview of the framework and the influence it has had on prevention and early intervention program design and implementation. At the end of the session, participants will learn how prevention and early intervention strategies can be inclusive of Indigenous worldviews and paralleled to Western concepts of resiliency and well-being.

Vanessa Lesperance

Royal Roads University

Bio: Tawnshi! My name is Vanessa Lesperance and I am a mixed heritage woman: European on my dad’s side and Jewish and Métis on my mom’s side. My Ojibwe ancestors were from the Prairies and my entire family was born in or near Winnipeg. I am also proud to say one of my ancestors married Louis Riel’s sister – which would have made him part of the Red River Resistance. I’ve been residing on gorgeous Coast Salish territory for over 14 years now. After completing a graduate diploma in business admin at SFU I felt compelled to make a positive difference in organizational culture and pursued my masters degree in Organizational Leadership. I am passionate about helping people find their purpose and connect to something that gives them greater meaning and fulfillment. Not being raised with my Métis culture I am very much on the path of reclaiming my Indigeneity, decolonizing business, and ensuring Indigenous ways of knowing and being are no longer marginalized – as I believe Indigenous world views are the anecdote to much of human and planet suffering. Shawn Wilson says “research is ceremony” – welcome to my ceremony. Marsee.

Title: Decolonizing Organizations through Workplace Spirituality

Abstract: My main research question asked: how might embracing spirituality impact wellbeing at work? As a Métis woman it is my belief, and in accordance with Indigenous world views that people consist of four main domains which is mental, physical, emotional and spiritual – yet the spiritual side is often left un-acknowledged in workplaces. This qualitative study focused on the status of workplace spirituality and how it might impact wellbeing at work.

Aimee Louis

University of Winnipeg

Bio: Aimee Louis lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and her ancestral roots are from Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation. As a Nehiyaw iskwew in the Master of Arts Indigenous Governance (MAIG), she will present her research entitled “kiskinwahamākēwina ohci mikiwāhp ekwa miyo–pimātisiwin opikināwasowin, Teachings from the Tipi and living the good life in child rearing.”

Title: Kiskinwahamākēwina ohci mikiwāhp ekwa miyo–pimātisiwin opikināwasowin (Tipi teachings and self–determination in child rearing)

Abstract: Opikināwasowin (traditional child rearing) adopts a holistic (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual) approach while being inclusive of the family unit and the community. This case – study will contrast colonized child rearing practices against opikināwasowin for First Nation individuals residing in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At this stage in the research, colonized child rearing practices are those that are designed, externally imposed and enforced by the state whereas, opikināwasowin, defined above, utilizes on traditional philosophies such as kiskinwahamākēwina ohci mikiwāhp (tipi teachings). Provincial policies are absent of self–determination principles in child rearing and are designed without considering the realities of the First Nation families it impacts. Using Nehiyawak (Cree peoples’) Teachings from Elder Mary Lee, I will present the kiskinwahamākēwina ohci mikiwāhp, as I have come to understand them. Analysis will use the fundamental Spiritual teaching that each child is a gift from Creator, created with their own purpose, plan and gifts.

Tori McMillan

Mount Royal University

Bio: My name is Tori McMillan and I am a member of Berens River First Nation. For most of my life, I have lived and worked in southern Alberta, including ten years spent teaching in the Treaty 7 communities of Siksika and Tsuut’ina. Currently, I am the administrator for the Indigenous University Bridging Program, an access program housed within the Iniskim Centre at Mount Royal University. In addition, I am also a Master of Arts candidate at Royal Roads University, where I am studying Higher Education Administration and Leadership. The focus for my studies is to explore the connections between leadership and Indigenous values, through the lens of reconciliation within the academy.

Title: Systems Thinking and Indigenization: The Medicine Wheel as an Archetype for Change

Abstract: Systems Thinking is a field of study concerned with identifying, understanding and solving complex issues. By using a holistic approach consisting of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual domains, leaders are asked to identify the existing relationships that underlie a problem, and look within to determine their role in creating change. A systems view encourages leaders to critically assess their contributions and work collectively with a common agenda, shared measurements and continuous communication. One powerful tool for Systems Thinking is the use of storytelling. Through stories, we create a better understanding of social issues, and inspire others to appreciate and support the vision for a system that is more connected and efficient. The 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have coincided with a strategy known as indigenization within Canada’s education system. As individuals and institutions struggle to reconcile what indigenization means and how to achieve it, a Systems Thinking approach starts with asking why it exists; by doing so, leaders can see the big picture and the structures that need to be addressed. Systems Thinking is the belief that recognizing, developing and maintaining relationships will be fundamental in addressing the shortcomings of linear, hierarchical thinking.

Reanna Merasty

University of Manitoba

Bio: Reanna Merasty is Woodlands Cree and is a member Barren Lands First Nation. She is currently pursuing a Master of Architecture at the University of Manitoba (UofM) and holds a Bachelor of Environmental Design. Reanna has experience in community engagement, and her work builds upon place-based conditions and strives to incorporate Indigenous values and knowledge with design. She is influenced by her exposure to the natural and sustainable living conditions on Reindeer Lake, in Northern Manitoba. Residing from an isolated Northern community, Reanna understand the conditions, climate, and the materials that would adhere to the proper development and wellbeing of Northern Indigenous communities. Reanna is the co-founder of the Indigenous Design & Planning Students Association, to incorporate Indigenous initiatives within the Faculty of Architecture, and is governed by Indigenous knowledge, and values are influenced through sustainability. She strives to develop continued conversations, collaborations, and presence of Indigenous Architecture. Reanna is also an alumnus of the Indigenous Circle of Empowerment.

Title: Ecology & Indigenous Design: Reciprocal, Animate and Sustainable Design for Remote Northern Indigenous Housing Strategies

Abstract: The solution to sustainable and environmental design, lies in the traditional knowledge and practices of Indigenous communities. Within these communities lies a deep connection to place, and are rich in local knowledge, skills, and natural resources. The teachings that govern Indigenous people are based on the notion that all elements on Mother Earth have a spirit, and our relative. Based on the place-based conditions of the region, these beings are part of an ecological system that generate its own cycle. The architecture of ecology, everything is working together, and rely on each other to survive. If we look to plants, their physical and biological method of survival, and connection to another plant, we release a new type of sustainable architecture. Correlating this research with the issue of housing in remote Northern Indigenous communities. In collaboration with the Natural Resources Institute and the Faculty of Architecture, at the University of Manitoba, research will be carried out on Wasagamack and Garden Hill First Nation, in Northern Manitoba, on a wide range of research topics grounded in local knowledge and histories. The research will be focused on the physical conditions of the community and the knowledge offered by the oral traditions of storytelling.

Obasesam Okoi

University of Manitoba

Bio: Dr. Obasesam Okoi received his Ph.D. in peace and conflict studies from the University of Manitoba where his doctoral dissertation examined the challenges of post-conflict peacebuilding in Nigeria’s oil region. His research interests include natural resource conflicts, peacebuilding, and the linkages between conflict, security and development. He served as a faculty member in the Department of Global Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, and in the Human Rights department at the The University of Winnipeg. Dr. Okoi has published in reputable scholarly journals such as Conflict Resolution Quarterly, African Security, and International Journal on World Peace. He is currently a Research Affiliate at the Canadian Network for Terrorism, Security, and Society at the University of Waterloo.

Title: Environmental Conflict in Canada: Energy Development and Local Resistance

Abstract: The development of the Energy East pipeline—the largest oil pipeline project ever proposed in Canada—and its impact on Indigenous water systems, suggests that differences in values, interests and priorities often define the dynamics of conflict between energy corporations and local communities who depend on water as a source of life. Given the direct relevance of water to local communities, dozens of First Nations activists in Treaty 3 territory in northwestern Ontario decided to march along the proposed Energy East pipeline route to oppose the project and protect their water sources. The Water Walk, organized by Grassroots Indigenous Water Defence, covered 125 kilometres of the proposed Energy East pipeline route. First Nations activists have raised concerns that TransCanada’s plan to convert the natural gas pipeline to transport oil to the East coast would endanger dozens of waterways across Treaty 3 territory. Despite the threats that energy development poses to Indigenous water systems, water-related conflicts between energy corporations and local communities have received very little academic attention. This paper draws on a constructivist analysis to examine the dynamics of environmental conflict in Canada, focusing specifically on Water Defence through protests and demonstrations against Energy East pipeline project.

Stephen Penner

University of Guelph

Bio: Stephen Penner (a settler born in traditional St. Lawrence Iroquoians, Mohawk, Huron-Wendat, and Haudenosaunee Territory; within the Rotinonhsdn:ni Five Nations Confederacy) is a PhD Candidate in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph. He has taught the Introduction to Indigenous Politics and Governance course at the University of Winnipeg, as well as the Business Planning in Indigenous Communities course for the U of W’s Master’s of Development Practice (MDP): Indigenous Development. He holds the MDP from the University of Winnipeg, a B.A. in from Mount Allison University, and is a Technician Aboriginal Economic Developer from (CANDO- Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers in Edmonton, AB.). Stephen’s work includes co-authoring articles and speaking in regard to an Indigenous led direction on Food Sovereignty. He has appeared as a co-witness before the Agriculture and Agri-Foods committee hearing in Ottawa on Indigenous Agriculture. A list of recent publications include “Indigenous Food Sovereignty in Canada: Policy Paper 2019”, “Water Infrastructure and Well-being among First Nations, Métis and Inuit Individuals in Canada: What Does the Data Tell Us” and a chapter for the State of Rural Canada report entitled “The Role of Data in Indigenous Communities”.

Title: Grounding the Princilples of Indigenous Food Sovereignty in Indigenous Laws: A Review of Community and Academic Literature

Abstract: The last 500 years have seen Indigenous Nations move from a self-sufficient and supportive food ecosystem to an unsustainable level of food insecurity. The socio-cultural loss of food knowledge is a direct result of governmental interference, corporatization of food production, the outlawing and marginalization of Indigenous food practices and the non-recognition of Indigenous Laws. First Nations food insecurity, according to the 2019 FNFNES Final Report is “very high in First Nations communities at 48%” (Chan, et al., 2019, p.16.). This loss of food security and sovereignty is experienced in negative health determinants; the fading of cultural traditions; and through the loss of local knowledge and resources. The goal of this presentation and literature review is to build an understanding of the context and meaning of food sovereignty within Indigenous communities, characterizing its components and framing a case for how Indigenous food sovereignty can be supported by Indigenous Laws. Exploring Indigenous law to discern a framework that views Indigenous food sovereignty as valid, differentiated and supporting food justice. Grounded in Indigenous self-determination and nationalism gimaamaawisimin emergent in the literature. Indigenous law can facilitate a transformational shift towards a real, realized, sustainable, and resilient sovereign food system for and from Indigenous people.

Peter Pomart

University of Manitoba

Bio: Peter Pomart is a member of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (Pukatawagan) and was raised at Winnipeg Manitoba. He earned his MBA in 2018, with concentrations in Marketing and Sustainability. Pomart began the PhD program and has research interests in reconciliation, sustainability, and social enterprises. He is the proud father to a beautiful one-year old daughter.

Title: Reframing Indigenous Peoples from Stakeholders to Rightsholders

Abstract: The right of Indigenous peoples to provide or withhold consent in relation to development projects on or adjacent to their ancestral lands has been affirmed and articulated in international human rights instruments in recent decades, most recently iterated in the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). In response to the UNDRIP, a number of industries have developed consultation protocols that are not only inconsistent with FPIC characteristics by conflating the unique rights of Indigenous peoples as equivalent to other stakeholder interests. By so doing, these protocols may actually be the source of resistance to development projects. Simultaneously, management literature has sought to understand the right to FPIC from the lens of stakeholder management procedures and social license to operate. Drawing from literature in law, and expert opinion from the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, this paper seeks to explain why Indigenous peoples continue to oppose resource development projects, while also offering a human rights-based paradigm with which FPIC may be understood by reframing Indigenous peoples as rights-holders rather than conventional stakeholders.

Sydney Puhach

University of Manitoba

Bio: Sydney is pursuing an undergraduate honours degree in Psychology at the University of Manitoba and hopes to go forward in her studies as a graduate student in psychology. She is also working at the university doing research focusing on intergenerational wellness, child development and parental mental health programming. She has been a member of the Hearts and Minds lab since May 2019 where she is supported in her research endeavors. Sydney hopes to pursue a career in mental health care and maintain a connection to her traditional Anishinaabe roots. Sydney is a proud member of Sandy Bay First Nation. She recently completed her first year of Sundance at Sprucewoods and is committed to journeying through the process of cultural reclamation with support from friends, family and community. Sydney has also been a council member at Ka Ni Kanichihk for the past three years and has recently become co-chair of the organization. She hopes to continue to support her community as she carries on through her academic, professional and extra-curricular engagements.

Title: Indigenous Child Wellness in Manitoba: Measurement Considerations Guided by Community Advising

Abstract: The goal of our project is to determine a culturally aligned measure of Indigenous child wellness for use in the Manitoba context. Our objectives include establishing a measure to be used at various stages following permanent placement out of the child-welfare system. In order to accomplish this, a literature review of existing frameworks and measures has been completed. We have also conducted semi-structured interviews to gain input from community stakeholders and are organizing larger council meetings to bring together community and seek further guidance from Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and experts in relevant fields. The challenges to be addressed through this work include the absence of a Manitoba-relevant framework to assess the wellness of Indigenous children and families as well as the absence of a wellness measure that is child-welfare related and specific to Indigenous ways of healing and being. In our next steps we will seek to develop a measure and guidelines for terms of use for how to assess Indigenous child wellness. This process reflects a partnership between Dr. Leslie E. Roos and her student trainee team, led by undergraduate psychology honours student Sydney Puhach with The Indigenous Advisory Committee of the non-profit Until the Last Child (UTLC) organization. All research has been conducted alongside community stakeholders, traditional knowledge keepers, and experts in Indigenous wellness.

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.

Keshab Thapa

University of Manitoba

Bio: I was born and raised in a medium family in Lamachilauni, a rural villages in Thapathana, Parbat district, in Western Nepal. My ethnicity is Bagale (ba’gaa’lay) Thapa (thaa’paa) Kshyatri (Chhya’trii). I am interested in doing research on sustainable land use, Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty, implementation of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  (UNDRIP), food sovereignty, climate change, and land-based reconciliation. I aim to synthesize learning from multiple epistemologies with particular interests on Indigenous, Nepali & Kshyatri, & Western perspectives, to contribute to the sovereignty of the original inhabitants and custodians of land. Research methods I like to use are maps, videos, music, stories/perspectives, ceremonies, dreams, policy analysis, and climate modelling and climate adaptation planning. My longer term research goal is to contribute to food sovereignty, climate change adaptation, and land-based reconciliation in Canada and Nepal.

Title: Impact of mining on Indigenous communities in Canada: A qualitative thematic synthesis

Abstract: Despite contributing to the national economy, mining in Canada has affected Indigenous communities and their way of living. The aim of this systematic review is to explore the impacts of mining on Indigenous peoples in Canada. By searching two databases, six qualitative studies were included for synthesis. The findings show mining has more negative implication for Indigenous communities than benefits and social contribution. Disrespect and mistrust, health risks, sexual harassment and assault, land and resources degradation, social inequalities, alcohol and drug addiction, and school dropouts are the key themes describing negative impacts of mining on Indigenous communities. The only positive aspect was job opportunities for Indigenous people to achieve some level of financial security. The findings suggest there is an urgent need that provincial and federal governments organize meaningful and effective consultations with Indigenous peoples to get free and prior informed consent and accommodate their needs and priorities, prior to making decisions for establishing mining industries in Indigenous territories. Furthermore, this synthesis also highlights the need for more qualitative as well as Indigenous epistemology-driven research to explore how Indigenous peoples in Canada are affected by mining and resource extraction and to understand how Indigenous peoples want development in their ancestral land and territories.

Stephanie Tyler, Dr. Leona Makokis, Dr. Ralph Bodor, and Dr. Avery Calhoun

University of Calgary

Bio: Stephanie Tyler is currently a PhD student at the University of Calgary: Faculty of Social Work and a sessional instructor at MacEwan University. She was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, where she currently resides with her husband and two children. Stephanie has been involved as a research coordinator/assistant in several projects, mainly within the area of Indigenous child welfare and Indigenous wisdom-seeking (research), and was the Managing Editor for a recent book publication. Stephanie hopes to honor her relationships with the Indigenous community and continue engaging in efforts to decolonize and Indigenize social work education.

Title: opihkinawasowin: Growing a Child: Implementing Indigenous Ways of Knowing with Indigenous Families

Abstract: “There is an over-representation of Western worldviews, values and beliefs in child welfare services for Indigenous peoples.” Even a slight familiarity with the child welfare system in Canada can create recognition that this statement inverts the typical attitude of the decades-long crisis in the relationship between Indigenous peoples and systems of child welfare which has been characterized by the seemingly universally accepted conclusion that “there is an over-representation of Indigenous children and families in care.” Despite the high proportion of Indigenous children in care, child welfare programs in Canada have typically been developed and implemented with minimal regard for Indigenous ontology, traditional practices, and the role of ceremony. Over the past five years, our research team has been completing projects developed from the belief that child welfare with Indigenous peoples must be Indigenous child welfare and are in the process of publishing a textbook. This book will express nehiyaw (Cree) knowing and doing within a context of child welfare research, policy, practice, program delivery, evaluations, and assessment. Each chapter of the textbook tells the story of how the team members journeyed together to create new outcomes for Indigenous children and families involved with the child welfare system. It is our intention to visit this conference and share the stories of our work and how we have worked to create this textbook.

Esteban Vallejo-Toledo

University of Victoria

Bio: Esteban is a doctoral student at the Law and Society Program of University of Victoria Faculty of Law. His research interests include local taxation, self-governance, and equality, diversity and inclusion. Esteban has worked in public institutions, formulating public policies, designing local taxes, and mediating conflicts in Ecuador. He has also cooperated with non-governmental organizations to promote tax compliance, refugee integration and UNDRIP implementation in Canada.

Title: Normative Stereotypes, Indian Status and Sex-Discrimination

Abstract: Persistent is a word that describes discrimination against Canadian Indigenous women who married non-Indian men and their descendants. They were the original targets of a normative stereotype created to restrict their autonomy and to subordinate them within society. My presentation aims to explain why the normative stereotype created by the legal notion of Indian is a strong expression of disrespect that demeans the equal moral worth of Indigenous women who married non-Indian men and their descendants.

Erika Vas

University of Lethbridge, University of Winnipeg

Bio: Erika Vas was born in Lethbridge, Alberta (traditional territories of the Blackfoot and peoples of the Treaty 7 region). She has a Master’s in Development Practice with a focus in Indigenous Development. She is passionate about community-driven and strengths-based approaches to development, and Indigenous Way of Knowing. Erika has engaged in housing and homelessness research in Canada and Aotearoa. She has presented at the University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, Columbia University, and city of Rotorua, Aotearoa. Erika is honoured to be a part of Rising Up and looks forward to learning from and with you all.

Title: A Rights-Based Approach to Housing: Framing Indigenous Tiny Houses as a Community-Led Solution

Abstract: Successful in Canada and now in Aotearoa (New Zealand), the Housing First model recognizes that it is easier for people to experience dramatic life improvements once they are housed. Housing First’s goal is to end homelessness and evidence shows that providing permanent housing and wrap-around services for individuals is key. In Aotearoa, Lifewise is implementing the Housing First programme with a kaupapa Māori approach and includes the voice of Tangata Whenua and the “rough sleeper” community. Lifewise’s work is localized in Rotorua, where the first iwi-led Housing First Collective in the country will also utilize tiny houses. In Canada, the “Idle No More” movement introduced on-reserve tiny houses through the “One House, Many Nations” campaign. The movement has inspired Indigenous communities to build tiny houses, taking housing into their own hands. This presentation outlines the Housing First Program in Auckland/Rotorua, highlights program successes and opportunities for improvement, explores a rights-based approach to housing, and considers community-led housing that improves health and wellbeing. It will look at Indigenous tiny houses in Canada and why tiny houses are being utilized by Indigenous peoples in Aotearoa and Canada.

Eduardo Vergolino

University of Manitoba / Federal Institute of Education, Science and Tecnology of Sertão Pernambucano (Brazil)

Bio: Philosophy Professor at Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Sertão Pernambucano (Brazil). Ph.D. candidate at University of Manitoba – Native Studies Department. He has developed researches in partnership with First Nations communities in the Northeast Brazil researching Indigenous Education focused on colonial aspects of standardization of education. He is mainly interested in educational methods of teaching and school curricula in Indigenous Schools. Philosophy and Indigenous philosophy are also a research interest of him focused on epistemology and Indigenous ways of thinking. Eduardo is currently working in a dialogue between Canada and Brazil regarding Indigenous Education and looking forward to cross ideas from different countries. 

Title: Philosophy and Indigenous Philosophy: a claim for dialogue

Abstract: During centuries the term philosophy send us to the centre of Europe, if it were the crib of all ways of thinking in the world. The present paper calls the attention to the Philosophy Departments’ across Canada and Brazil to the necessity of Indigenous Philosophy become a mandatory course. The Indigenous Philosophy follow a different path from the Ancient or Greek Philosophy; however, it is important as a process to decolonize the academia the presence of Indigenous Philosophy in Philosophy Departments. This paper is a claim to Indigenous Philosophy start to be taught on Colleges and Universities around Canada and Brazil as an important step to decolonize the way of thinking of many students and to recognize a philosophical approach based on Indigenous Knowledge.

Irene Wolfstone

University of Alberta

Bio: Irene Friesen Wolfstone is an educator who holds an BA from University of Manitoba and an MA in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University. She is currently a Bombardier scholar in doctoral studies at the University of Alberta where her research explores Indigenous matricultures as a condition of cultural continuity, and thus relevant to climate change adaptation. She lives in Pinawa, Manitoba, traditional territory of the Ojibwe. Living in a round home on sacred land helps her think outside the box. 

Title: Indigenous Matercultures & Cultural Continuity

Abstract: The study of Indigenous matercultures is important to understanding the longevity of Indigenous cultures. My doctoral research inquires into matercultures, also known as matriarchies, as a condition of cultural continuity. This inquiry has opened my eyes to the collective agency of Indigenous cultures to reclaim their historical matercultures. My inquiry has implications for patriarchal settler cultures that denigrate and confine mothers. As a settler researcher exploring Indigenous matercultures in the land now called Canada, I must confront my own complicity in settler colonialism’s erasure of matercultures from Canadian history and the Canadian Imaginary and as a legitimate field of academic study. This presentation will focus not on methods of erasure but on five intra-active dynamics of Indigenous matercultures that promote regeneration and ongoingness: mothering, relationality with Land, cosmology, generosity, and plurality. My study is grounded in a literature review of Indigenous Feminisms and leans on Leanne Simpson’s philosophy of regeneration. My preliminary conclusion is that cultures that value regeneration and the critical role of mothers in regenerating culture are strongly positioned for cultural continuity. Future scholars using 20/20 hindsight may find that Indigenous matercultures have greater adaptive capacity than settler culture in weathering climate change, contrary to prevailing theories.


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