In 1763, The Royal Proclamation set out guidelines for European settlement of Indigenous territories in what is now North America. The Royal Proclamation was initially issued by King George III to officially claim British territory in North America after Britain won the Seven Years War. The Royal Proclamation explicitly state the Aboriginal title has existed and continues to exist, and that all land would be considered Aboriginal land until ceded by treaty. The Proclamation forbade settlers from claiming land from the Aboriginal occupants, unless it has been first bought by the Crown and then sold to the settlers. The Royal Procla- mation further sets out that only the Crown can buy land from First Nations.
Today, most Indigenous and legal scholars recognize the Royal Proclamation as an im- portant first step toward the recognition of existing Indigenous rights and title, including the right to self-determination. In this regard, the Royal Proclamation is referred to as “the In- dian Magna Carta.” The Royal Proclamation set a foundation for the process of establishing treaties. Some will argue that the Royal Proclamation is still valid in Canada, since no law has overruled it. The Royal Proclamation is enshrined in Section 25 of the Constitution Act; diminish the Indigenous rights outlined in the Proclamation.
Canada has a very long history of governmental departments designed to create policies for the Indigenous people of this country. Until 1830, the military was the responsible organiza- tion as First Nations were allies in territorial battles. Once their contribution was not needed following the Seven Years War, the government stepped in. As European settlement in- creased, First Nation people were considered barriers to development, progress and wealth potential. The goal of the government was to assimilate First Nation people.
There were many different pieces of legislation passed by Parliament with regard to First Na- tions people. There were nearly 40 pieces that the government consolidated into one act. Some of those acts include:
1850 – Act for Better Protection of the Lands and Property of Indians in Lower Canada.
1850 – Act for the Better Protection of Indians in Upper Canada from Imposition, and the
Property Occupied or Enjoyed by Them from Trespass and Injury.
1857 – Act for the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in Canada
1867 – Management of Indian Lands and Property Act
The consolidation of these acts occurred in 1876 in what became the “IndianAct”. The De- partment of the Interior which was in charge of Indian Affairs, saw First Nation people as “wards of the state”. Under the IndianActthe reserve system was created which effectively removed First Nations from their traditional territories and lifestyles in some cases and posi- tioned the government to attempt to dispossess them of their culture and identity. Once First Nations were moved onto the reserves, into European style houses, given Euro-
pean names and entered into the register, it became much easier to administer policies. Under the IndianAct, the traditional Indigenous way of governance – an elected chief and council was changed. Any First Nation people who resisted were either threatened or offered bribes and an “Indian agent” was placed on each reserve by the federal Crown. The Indian agent
had power over the community operations. In 1885, the “pass” system was introduced re- quiring any First Nation person wanting to leave the reserve for any length of time to seek ap- proval from the Indian Agent.
The Indian Act also introduced a “permit” system making it compulsory for First Nation people to obtain permission from the Indian agent before selling or bartering goods that origi- nated on the reserve. This included the sale of animals, both alive and butchered.
This became an opportunity for Indian Affairs to use its power under the IndianActto under- mine chiefs and councilors as well as their decision.
In 1969, Pierre Trudeau and his party began the process of eradicating the IndianAct, by un- veiling a policy paper called the “White Paper”. Groups of activists, religious groups, and non-governmental organization supported First Nation people and formed an alliance that blocked its implementation.
The intent of the white paper was to achieve equality among all Canadians by eliminating In- dian as a distinct legal status and by regarding Indigenous peoples simply as citizens with the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities as other Canadians. Indigenous people were in shock as the white paper failed to address the concerns and opinions raised by their leaders
during the consultation process. Though the white paper acknowledged the social inequality of Indigenous peoples in Canada and to a lesser degree the history of poor federal policy choices, many Indigenous viewed the new policy statement as the culmination of Canada’s long-standing goal to assimilate Indians into mainstream Canadian society. Indigenous peo- ple felt it was an attempt that Canada was trying to absolve itself for historical injustices and of its obligation to uphold treaty rights and maintain Canada’s special relationship with First Nations. It was abolishment of the Indian Act – not amendments.
The basic content of the Indian Act remains intact to this day, 140 years later, this document has been revised and amended many times (Appendix a). Government and Indigenous peo- ple agree that the Indian Act is outdated, overly complex, paternalistic in nature, includes po- tentially illegal provisions, but yet there is no desire to change it. What does one offer in its place?
In 1982, the Government of Canada patriated the Canadian Constitution, and in so doing, formally entrenched Indigenous and treaty rights in the supreme law of Canada.
Section 35 of the ConstitutionAct,1982 provides:
“35(1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal people in Canada are hereby
recognized and affirmed.
(2) In this Act, “Aboriginal Peoples of Canada “includes the Indian, Inuit, and Métis Peoples
(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1), “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by
way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.
(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.”
moved some discriminatory clauses and allowed many disenfranchised people to claim In- dian status. The number of Registered Indians in Canada more than doubled at that time.
In particular the Bill was supposed to reverse sexual discrimination that had caused Indian women who married non-Indians to lose their Status while men who married non-Indian woman not only kept their Status, but also passed Status on to their non-Indian wives.
Bill C-31 defined who is a Status Indian, and who will be Status Indian in the future. The leg- islation does not specifically refer to any sort of blood quantum, therefore there is no official policy that would take into account half or quarter ancestry. Nonetheless, ancestry continues to be a determining factor in who is a Status Indian.
Section 6 of the IndianActidentifies two categories of Status Indians, called 6(1) and 6(2) In- dians. Both categories provide full Status. The categories determine whether the children of a Status Indian will have Status or not… If you are extremely confused at this time, don’t feel bad, so is every other person that goes through this process including myself, and I am a Registered Status Treaty Indian. We wonder why self-identification in this country is an is- sue and why there is identity issues for Indigenous people. The history of government poli- cies and procedures and their categorizations of where we fit in is utterly confusing! In a nut shell (still confusing) this sums it up:
Status is held only by Indians who are defined as such under the IndianAct. Inuit and Métis do not have Status, nor do non-Status Indians. There are many categories of Status Indians,
but these are legal terms only, and tell us what specific rights a native person has under the
Leadership & Management
riginal (or wait… now it’s Indigenous). More importantly, not having Status does not mean someone is not native. Native peoples will continue to exist and flourish whether or not we are recognized legally and you can bet on the fact that terms and definitions will continue to evolve.
Here is a list of how Indigenous people are categorized today in this country due to govern- ment policy:
Bill C-31 Indians
Bill C-3 Indians
A review of the relevant literature reveals several indicators in which Indigenous people con- sistently face challenges in excess of those experienced by the general public. Investigating the reasons for these disparate conditions is beyond the scope of this report; however, several studies, including the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, have argued that past policy decisions by Canadian governments have contributed to, if not created, the conditions faced by many Aboriginal people in such areas as domestic violence, education, employment, in- come, housing, criminal justice, and health. Negative societal attitudes towards Indigenous people have also been identified as a significant factor. While the intention of this report is
ticular impact on, and relevancy for, the Indigenous population.
The context for my research consists of firstly, my personal journey having lived both sides of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures. Taken from my culture, assimilated into the non-Indigenous culture and now educating and engrossed in both cultures, has opened so
many opportunities for research at every level imaginable in this country. I am blessed by my
Creator, Jesus Christ, with a journey of education and my story, passion, will and servant leadership to make a better tomorrow in this country for my children and grandchildren.
Particularly in the past 6 years, I have researched, read many novels and accumulated infor- mation and insights across North America as well as globally. This has and will continue to allow readily transferable research from Indigenous and non-Indigenous engagement encom- passing communication, consultation and opportunities for education using cumulative expe- riences and information. My approach included: diverse resident experts in education, lan- guage, culture, health, and media. It also included newcomers to Canada, sports, professional development and training organizations, churches and faith-based groups, historians, elders and youth, child welfare service providers as well as those in the justice system and, of
course, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Reconciliation Canada. Govern- ments; provincial, federal and self-governing Indigenous leaders were also a part of this re- search as well as countless novels, articles, symposiums, forums, and gatherings.
for Indigenous people and the urgency that we all need to work together to change it.
Poverty and inequality for Indigenous People in Canada is a reality that can be traced back to the forced introduction of European culture and values, relocation of Indigenous peoples
onto plots of land called Reserves, and the imposition of alien modes of governance. The ma- jor reason for this was the government of Canada’s increasingly repressive series of Acts and policies directed at the assimilation of Indigenous people to the predominant white culture. The roots of many social, economic, and political problems can be found in these colonial policies. Residential schools, a cornerstone of the assimilation policy, has been branded ‘cul- tural genocide.’ As a result, there has been a continuous disadvantaging cycle of poverty, ill health, educational failure and family violence as well as countless systemic oppressive forces that continue to burden many Indigenous people today. It is a continuous cycle that every- one desires to change.
Non-Indigenous people find it immeasurably difficult to “know” about either the history or contemporary lives of Indigenous people. Without any kind of history or cultural context, it is almost impossible for outsiders to understand the issues and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples who still teach and learn in an oral traditional cultural mode. The lack of accurate information leaves a void that is often filled with nonsensical stereotypes, misconceptions and caricatures. Whether portrayed as troubled descendants of savage peoples, drunken ne’er do wells, living off the Government, or romanticization – spiritual but incapable of higher thought – these walls must be dismantled. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and
the Ninety-four Calls to Action has started and is now shaping a movement – a desire for un-
tively unify and heal this country through reconciliation… how do we build a successful long term action plan, a process of change and bridge the gap? Indigenous youth want an oppor- tunity to make things better, not just for themselves, but for the generations of children and youth who will come after them. It takes courage to name one’s own world and with open hearts, connecting with the history of this country and with a vision for the future we will journey forward in a good way together. Engaging young people and providing safe space for them to share their feelings and experiences, to talk about their wants and needs, dreams and hopes for the future, and adding their voices and energies to work with their communities, leadership and government is a key component of the movement of change in this country.
“I grew up on a reserve and feel the effects of it. So many youth have gone down the wrong path because of the way the system is built. It’s really frightening not being treated fairly. You only see the conditions on reserve and don’t see beyond that. When you see beyond it
you can dream beyond it. We learn so much when we talk together, share ideas and see what the solutions can be. We need to change the cycle so it does not become worse. I have learned how to use my voice and I want other kids to as well.” – Nicole Beardy-Meekis, Sandy Lake First Nation at the First Nation Youth Action Plan Forum, Toronto 2015.
I based my research on the Dimensions of Resiliency and used the traditional Indigenous Medicine Wheel to reflect. The meaning of the Medicine Wheel is the importance of appreci- ating and respecting the ongoing interconnectedness and interrelatedness of all things. Medi- cine Wheels can be pedagogical tools for teaching, learning, contemplating, and understand- ing our human journeys at individual, band/community, national, global, and even cosmic
levels. (Caillou, 1995).
the individuals mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually of all Canadians.
Indigenous Spirituality in Canada varies widely and consists of complex social and cultural customs. Settlers, residential schools and government policy influenced Christianity and sig- nificantly altered lives of Indigenous people. In many communities the results were hybrid- ized religious practices, where in others Christianity replaced traditional spirituality entirely. Many Indigenous people today have revived their traditional spirituality and continue to
many theologians are addressing what it looks like to be Indigenous and a follower of Jesus
For all Canadians, much of our identity growing up is formed by our parents, grandparents, spiritual and educational environment and our whole communities. For Indigenous people the attitudes and behaviors directed towards us by others on and off reserve and representa- tions we see – or don’t see – of ourselves in the media and mainstream Canadian society is also a factor.
The feeling of shame about our traditions and culture was taught to First Nation people in the residential schools, and is still struggled with today by many parents and elders on and off re- serves. Residential school enforced Christianity and abandonment of all Indigenous culture. Many elders in my research shared that in their own communities, they are a split community in spirituality. Residential school taught that in order to be a Christian you must abandon your Indigenous culture and tradition. Miles Charles, an elder advisor in Northern Saskatch- ewan shared through tears in his Cree tongue “The residential schools did not want us to be Indian. They forced us to pray and read the Bible every day. They cut our hair and dressed us differently and we could not speak Cree, we had to speak English… I don’t know how a man can worship a God that allowed these people to do this to us, take us from our families.
I will never understand. They changed our people and our communities. It’s hard to forgive, but we have to for our children. We have to change and white men and Indians have to
share stories and work together and listen to one another.” Miles is a follower of Jesus
Christ and continues to smudge and practice his Indigenous traditions and live in a good way.
ties. First Nation people need to start questioning the beliefs we hold about each other and ourselves. The youth need to be engaged in a self-learning process to start undoing the nega- tive images we see and believe about ourselves. We must explore where these beliefs come from and start questioning the validity of the sources and then work to rebuild our identities with positive and empowering self-images. Working with the Elders will be vital before it is too late and the time escapes us. It’s important to know that we all have vast differences that should be acknowledged and celebrated. We need compassion- driven actions and a safe space is vital for sharing words and mindsets. Many First Nation young people want to be connected with their culture and their identity. In my gatherings with the youth, they want to learn their languages, have traditional knowledge so they can incorporate it into health, edu- cation, and healing methods. They want to understand the ceremonies that bring them to- gether as a community, like feasts, ceremonies, pow-wows, medicine walks and community events. They want to de-colonize their minds and be aware of their traditions, like they be- long to a group to feel confident, and that confidence will exude into other areas and start healing the culture. So many youth turn to gangs to achieve a sense of belonging, and that need is so powerful that it can drive a person into something that is harmful to our spirits. Hopelessness plagues many of our First Nation communities.
In 2016, the Chief Public Health Officer of Health Status of Canada released the following: Data on physical activity in Indigenous populations are notdirectlycomparableto non-In-
digenous as they are not measured against the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines as they
are collected in a different manner. In 2008/2010, First Nations on-reserve were asked about their levels of activity.
62% of children aged 6 to 11 years were considered active.
49% of youth aged 12 to 17 years were considered active.
25% of adults aged 18 years and older were considered active.
In 2007-2010, First Nations off reserve and Metis were more likely to report being active dur- ing their leisure time than other groups.
PercentofCanadianswhoreportbeing physicallyactive, 2010
|Data presented in this table are adjusted by age. Indigenous populations tend to be younger than non-Indigenous popu- lations which can affect the ability to compare data across groups.|
My observations on physical health, is that many of the health problems First Nation children face are tied to the living conditions in their communities. First Nations children are among the most disadvantaged of all children in Canada (Assembly of First Nations. 2008). Many live in unhealthy, overcrowded conditions without the basic resources that other Canadians take for granted such as clean drinking water, working toilets or functioning sewage systems. These unhealthy living conditions lead to infectious molds, bacteria, emotional stress and health problems like asthma, bronchitis and tuberculosis.
The comments I have heard from non-Indigenous people is ‘fix up your house’ or ‘move off the reserve’ among many others. The living conditions on many First Nation communities is
beyond the control of local leadership because access to funding and other resources neces- sary to make improvements is made complicated due to government jurisdiction. Without a coordinated working relationship between provincial, federal and community leadership, based on shared policy objectives, projects to improve quality of life in communities can be implemented only in a piecemeal fashion. Piecemeal is a good effort for the situation or crisis at hand but deteriorates quickly if sustainability is not a part of the resource injection.
The diet of First Nation communities has changed drastically over the years. People are no longer able to live off the land to provide food. Some communities hunt, fish and trap but it is no longer possible to feed families on seasonal hunting. Also, restrictions to hunting, fish- ing and gathering of foods by government have reduced access to safe and secure food sup- plies. Traditional forms of hunting and fishing have been replaced by increasing dependency on food supplied from the south. This has led to a major rise in diabetes, obesity, dental care and other health problems in First Nation communities.
In my research, one of the most powerful indicators of poor physical health, is the lack of pos- itive recreation options in First Nation communities, the unhealthy living conditions, over- crowding in their homes and the amount of addiction and violence in many homes. Youth spend far too much time gaming and online.
The rest of Canada needs to understand the impact of history and isolation on the health and well-being of First Nation people. This is not First Nation peoples’ problem, it is all of Can- ada’s. Many First Nation children are living in third world country conditions.
nutrition and creating secure food sources through the development of community gardens, soil management, green houses and keeping food producing animals on –reserve.
Emotional Health is suffering dramatically for Indigenous people. The history of this country and the current reality that they live seems hopeless for many. Many First Nation communi- ties do not know where to turn. Drug and alcohol misuse is a sad part of what happens in First Nation communities. Suicides are at an alarming rate in First Nation communities. In my research, the cyclical damage of drug and alcohol abuse is not just about mainstream drugs, it’s about the extremes people will go in order to forget about life on the reserve or in foster care or residential school experiences, or their own personal and family problems. The sense of hopelessness and the painful reality of their lives plays a major role in Canada’s sta- tistics of emotional health of Indigenous people.
In my research, time and time again, young people spoke about isolation on reserve. Because of the impact of the residential schools on communities, many young people feel lost and dis- connected from their history, cultural identities and elders. Their self-esteem and identity is a struggle daily. Many in our talking circles spoke of feelings of separation from their own community by language barriers because the elders only know now to speak their traditional language, a language they are being told holds the key to better understanding their identity. Many shared that instead of practicing their traditional spiritual or healing practices, they would turn to destructive survival and coping mechanisms. Their social supports are few.
lies and decreases their confidence in their leadership and adds significantly to the sense of hopelessness.
The conversation of education and advice about sexual health is not provided and, as a result, First Nation women are getting pregnant while misusing drugs and alcohol and their babies are entering the world sick or unhealthy. There is always that overarching fear that their chil- dren will be pulled into the child welfare system.
The encouraging portion of this, is that the majority of youth in First Nation communities across this country are aware of the misuse of substances, alcohol and drugs in their commu- nities, the ill health and are crying out for help and healing for their communities. Providing access to information and education of these abuses and the risks associated with their use
and how it destroys lives. They want counsellors that understand their cultures and traditions without judging. They want access to detox services that have support systems to ensure they continue to successfully manage their recovery. First Nation youth want positive childhood experiences that allow them to just be kids.
All Canadians need to take the time and look right outside their front door. We do not have go very far to make a difference in the life of a child. A paradigm shift is happening and the next generations coming up are aware of the crisis in this country and the gap that exists be- tween Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. They key is how do we as leaders today steer this in the right direction and not make the same mistakes of the past in just a different for- mat.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada in 2016 reported that in any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness, with a cost to the econ- omy of well in excess of $50 billion. Only one in three people who experience a mental health problem or illness – and as few as one in four children or youth – report that they have sought and received services and treatment. Of the 4000 Canadians who die every year as a result of suicide, most were confronting a mental health problem or illness.
According to a 2000 report from the Canadian Institute of Health, suicides among First Na- tions youth (aged 15 to 24) was about five to six times higher than non-Indigenous youth in Canada.
In particular, among young First Nations males there was a rate of 126 per 100,000 people. That stands in contrast to the rate of 24 per 100,000 among non-Indigenous males.
The elevated rates are also seen among females: young First Nations females died by suicide to the tune of 35 per 100,000 people, while non-Indigenous females had a rate of just 5 per
Indigenous people are also more likely to report moderate or high levels of psychological dis- tress, according the First Nations Regional Health Survey from 2008 to 2010. In their find- ings, 33.5 per cent of the general population reported these issues, in comparison to 50.7 per cent of First Nations adults.
Over my career, I have had opportunity to respond to communities across this country that are experiencing youth suicides. I observed many cycles within the communities as well as
those external from the trauma. Indigenous youth particularly, are struggling with mental health needs. First Nation peoples’ history and the facts show the number and severity of their mental health needs cannot continue to go unaddressed and that targeted government approaches are needed where the province and federal government work cooperatively and together to increase and improve the services provided. Government and communities must
work together to make sure culturally –relevant mental health needs are readily accessible and
access to culturally-informed supports, services and workers who are trained to work with First Nation People are also available. They need this access in their communities and at the schools they attend. This happening in bursts during tragedy is not a sustainable plan for res- toration.
There is not just simply a mental health issue. There are many issues impacting the mental health of First Nations young people and they need to be broken into manageable pieces so action can begin and take root at an individual and cross community level. Relationships need to be established with the many non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) who have ex- perience working with First Nations and non- Indigenous populations that are struggling with similar issues. There are countless NGO’s in this country waiting to assist, but do not know where to start. First Nation youth just simply want to First Nation and want to belong in this country. With the web and social media and all the technical advancements in our today… it is a small world. First Nation youth have much to give to their communities and the rest of Canadian society. Adults, in both First Nation communities and mainstream society, must start taking these youth seriously and acknowledge their voice. They need access to positive, supportive peers, adults and community members who care about their self-esteem and men- tal wellbeing. They need to know what it means to be healthy.
My last 6 years of research has unveiled a journey of education, understanding, tolerance, for- giveness, empathy, and above all I am respectfully aware of other’s people ideals and feelings of all diversities. This has lead a journey of insight and good judgement on moving forward
in this country and not making the same mistakes of the past. Hard, crucial conversations have happened and will continue to happen so that we can journey to reconciliation in this country. It has taken decades upon decades to get to where we are today and in order to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations in Canada, educating Cana- dians on the factual history and culture of this country’s First Peoples is essential.
“If nothing else, an examination of the past – and of the present, for that matter – can be in- structive. It shows us that there is little shelter and gain for Native peoples doing nothing. So long as we possess one element of sovereignty, so long as we possess on parcel of land, North America will come for us, and the question we face is how badly we wish to continue to pur- sue the concepts of sovereignty and self-determination. How important is it for us to main- tain protected communal homelands? Are our traditions and languages worth the cost of car- rying on the fight? Certainly the easier and more expedient option is simply to step away
from who we are and who we wish to be, sell what we have for cash, and sink into the stew- pot of North America (King, 2012 p.265).
In my travels the most common feedback from non-Indigenous people is we are not responsi- ble for the sins of our ancestors… get over it … get off the reserve … get a job … and stop complaining … quit living in the past. Many non-Indigenous people are frustrated and read- ers and listeners are turning away from the education and understanding of it all, and who
suffers the most? Our next generations, our children and grandchildren. Old attitudes con- tinue to overshadow truths and many media sources and feeds continue to mold national dis- course and conversations that manipulate the issues with a bias slant. I share with many peo- ple on my journey that I’m always struck by the fine news clip analysis of my history, of course the experience of it all was somewhat different. I encourage each and every Canadian of all ages to become proactive advocates for healing of this country so that all people, Indige- nous, Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic and Asian brethren can be seen as equal part- ners in the process of reconciliation, restoration and release. Healing does not mean the dam- age never existed, it means it no longer controls our lives, and together, with respect of cul- ture, spirituality and language, we can move forward united.
On Wednesday, June 11, 2008, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen
Harper, made a Statement of Apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools, on behalf of the government of Canada (http://www.aadnc–
aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100015644/1100100015649 attach as appendix)…. Since this apology,
Indigenous issues have been at the forefront in this country. The apology sparked a process and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was birthed. It brought attention to the issues that had in the past, been swept under the carpet. In short, the purpose of the Commission
ThroughtheAgreement,the Partieshave agreedthatan historicTruthand ReconciliationCommission willbe establishedto contributetotruth,healingandreconciliation.
The Truthand ReconciliationCommission willbuilduponthe “Statementof Reconciliation”dated January7,1998andtheprinciplesdevelopedby theWorkingGrouponTruthand Reconciliationand of theExploratoryDialogues(1998-1999).Theseprinciplesareasfollows:accessible;victim–centered;confi-
tive;public/transparent;accountable;openand honourable process;comprehensive;inclusive,educa- tional,holistic,justand fair;respectful;voluntary;flexible;and forwardlookingintermsofrebuilding and renewingAboriginalrelationshipsand therelationshipbetweenAboriginaland non-AboriginalCa- nadians.
Reconciliationisan ongoingindividualand collectiveprocess,and willrequirecommitmentfromall
those affectedincludingFirstNations,InuitandMétisformerIndianResidentialSchool(IRS)students, theirfamilies,communities,religiousentities,former schoolemployees,governmentandthepeopleof Canada. Reconciliationmay occurbetweenany of theabovegroups.
I have had the pleasure to engage in conversations, present with and establish a friendship
with Senator Murray Sinclair, who was the chair of this Commission. He is a highly recog- nized leader for the journey going forward for our children and grandchildren. He called for changes in policies and programs, as well as commemoration through education and memori- als. After six years of hearings and testimony from more than 6000 residential school survi- vors and their loved ones from across this country, he and his team from the Truth and Rec- onciliation Commission, released their final report on December 15, 2015 and the ’’’94 Calls to Action’’’ were published as a result (Appendix b). This report urged and recommended all levels of government to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort
to repair harm caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation. This was a paradigm shift in this country and finally, stories and voices collectively heard and pre- sented where Canadians had opportunity to hear first-hand of the history of their own coun- try that had been literally hidden away and virtually unheard of. A history that is unfathoma- ble, but reality.
complexity, learn for yourself, read through the 94 ‘Calls to Action’ and make an educated decision personally and not what you hear second hand. Affirm in your own mind and heart that this is not about monetary gain, it is not about inducing guilt or blame and decide how you can be a part of the journey of reconciling Canada. No one can argue that Indigenous people of North America have lost much and we want to ensure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes again. In continuing my research, one of the most important issues that I be- lieve has brought us to where we are today in this country, and the underlying overall um- brella of the majority of our Indigenous issues today, was that one decision to take our chil- dren away. The Indigenous people were stripped of their right for family kinship, culture, spirituality, and the entire way of life as we knew it. The long term affects from these actions are endless in every way possible and has directly and indirectly affected every façade of In- digenous ways. It is about our next generations and the kind of legacy and world we leave them. Our youth need to gain their identity, to find their place in this world, to walk along- side one another in making sure that we create a tomorrow that better and more understand than today. In doing so learning to walk alongside one another as people; people that learn, trust and grow together.
How do we lead? Investing time and passion into youth of all ethnicities. Teaching our his- tory from a narrative story perspective and allowing that safe space to engage, to ask ques- tions, to cry, to laugh, to understand and to imagine a different kind of Canada. In 2015, Converging Pathways was started, a company that was driven by my passion to create a jour- ney of education, motivation, inspiration and reconciliation for our generations of tomorrow
(www.convergingpathways.ca). The company has grown exponentially and is creating a
movement globally on the journey of reconciliation. It is that sense of oneness that needs to
happen in this country, ‘Namwayut (we are all one). In 1 Corinthians 12:26 Paul wrote,
“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. We need to educate our youth of the importance of connected- ness and what can come from mutual care and concern when people work together as a TEAM. Converging Pathways has taken me across the globe, with my main focus being Canada and its next generations. I speak in many contexts of all ages and ethnicities, and
one thing is crystal clear – they want to bridge the gap that exists but for many the issues are
many and are overwhelming and one does not know where to even begin. The common question is always, “how can I possibly make a difference on my own?” My answer, “you just did, you started the conversation.” You see, it’s about relationships and providing a safe space, without judgement and criticism and having those crucial conversations, for without them, nothing will change.
“Reconciliationisaboutforgingandmaintainingrespectfulrelationships. Therearenoshortcuts.“-Justice Murray Sinclair
Indigenous cultures have connected and integrated community lifestyles, where non-Indige- nous culture is quite the opposite. The non-Indigenous lifestyle threaten to overrun and mis- place Indigenous ways. It’s that sense of assimilation. Today we find ourselves as Canadians that less and less of us measure our relationships by how well we are connected with and car- ing for one another. More times than not we are far too quick to pull others down, defend- ing, fighting and competing for what we believe is the way it should be. I believe we need covenant building to bridge the gap that exists and to overcome longstanding barriers.
How does one inspire and lead a journey of unconditional forgiveness, relationship, reconcili- ation and restoration? There is no quick fix to the challenges facing Indigenous children and youth, their families and communities. There is so much that can be done to meet their needs without requiring more funding. Long term systemic change built around trust is necessary and a change process focused on improving lives and healing and building resilient communi- ties. There are many non-government organizations that are wanting to assist but just do not know how to approach. Church and mission work teams want to invest time and build rela-
ers and fear to offend exists. This is about humanity, brother to brother, sister to sister, work- ing together for the future of our children and grandchildren. We must break down those fears, barriers, and walls and build up relationships of trust and a united future of equal op- portunity.
We are stepping into a new way of Canada and North America for that matter. With the large influx of refugees and diverse cultures joining us, it is absolutely critical that we come to a common ground for all cultures to flourish. The risk that is upon us is the influx itself of
new cultures into Canada in mass volumes; if we haven’t found common understanding for
the existing mosaic of diversity what will this added mass add to the current issues? Going forward without that foundation we still need to reconcile, grow, move forward and find a way to belong to this time and place together. “As Canadians, we share a responsibility to look after each other and acknowledge the pain and suffering that our diverse societies have endured – a pain that has been handed down to the next generations. We need to right those wrongs, heal together, and create a new future that honours the unique gifts of our children and grandchildren.” (excerpt from Elders Statement and Vision, Reconciliation Canada).
Building relationships is essential. I can only lead by example, and in my current role as an Indigenous Director I build relationships everyday between a Christian Educational Institu- tion and Indigenous communities across North America. In the past four years the Indige- nous student population has gone from four students to 63 students in the institution. It is a growth that comes with fear from my people. Many fear it is the ideal, once again, of the res- idential school journey. I engage often on this conversation route and understand their fears
and journey alongside them. Today, with the push on to educate Indigenous students, the
comes federal and in some cases provincial funding. I have been asked to speak in many cir- cles about this very issue. Indigenizing the academy, yet again, creates a division. I am not a fan of this phrase. On the contrary, I believe it is about creating an inclusive academy that re- spects one another’s differences and continues to walk forward in a good way. That a safe space is provided for spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical growth for our youth so that they may flourish in the real world upon graduation.
We need to build relationships with our Indigenous Elders, our knowledge keepers just as the non-Indigenous culture learns from their grandparents and parents. There is much to be learned and spoken. Relationship will bridge the gap! We need to recognize the strength in difference and build inclusive, respectful relationships amongst one another. We also need to look to all Canadians and try and understand the adversity to acceptance of all cultures; for without understanding all points of view how do we choose a solution for a different tomor- row. Far too often a path is chosen by a few and delivered to many with no uptake due to the fact it was not addressing the root cause of the issue.
As part of Converging Pathways, we created a program called the “YOU Rock Challenge” where we engage with students, educators, communities, teams, leaders, government and cor- porations across North America to create a culture of inclusion and respect, free of bully-
ing. This encourages a movement among their peers of leadership, accepting differences and working together by supporting and encouraging each other to learn. It is self-image and em- powerment building for all involved and instills thoughtfulness and respect for one another regardless of racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic backgrounds. Relationships foster a sense of
belonging, which is an important basis for learning. Listen with your heart, learn from your
Leadership & Management
allows all participating to feel a part of the solution without prejudice or misconception. Let- ting ourselves to be vulnerable is one of the most powerful change tools that exists. Vulnera- bility allows people to learn, listen, and think differently no matter the topic.
Converging Pathways provides a unique approach to engagement and development of indi- viduals and teams. Igniting and electrifying rooms globally on creating a movement of inclu- sion and respect through story, experience and truth through both an Indigenous and non-In- digenous lens. It is not just about engaging participants but creating a movement that out- reaches and engages with a programmatic approach. Myself as a woman, a Registered Status Treaty Indian and a 60’s Scoop Survivor and Chris McKee as a man, non-Indigenous and a applying the mainstream perspective; do not ask decision makers to take the action plan away and make change, rather, they ask decision makers to walk beside them and work together to improve the circumstances of their lives and the path going forward. They have a keen ability to build successful relationships, creating a culture of inclusion that fosters a sense of belong- ing. Having both sides of the gap on the team allows for diversity and uniqueness of conver- sation along with challenging one another to see differing perspectives to create richer content and conversation.
With a collective experience and a unique team of diverse leaders as well as a proven track record deploying transformational change, facilitating, navigating, and understanding how to execute engaging and rewarding sessions globally with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous gatherings. They provide the certainty required to ensure that the ultimate goal of Indigenous
issues and providing knowledge and awareness to the leadership globally in engagement and
communication support are realized.
Leadership & Management
to create a movement of change. CPC and BCC use a structured, collaborative approach in a safe space to provide individuals the education and supports to build successful relation-
ships. They have developed the successful YOURockChallenge that educates, inspires and
motivates all in attendance to recognize the strength in difference and build inclusive, respect- ful relationships amongst one another. This team will provide a successful engagement to provide a means for continued communication with opportunity for frequent input and feed- back. You will not be disappointed to engage with this team
As part of building relationships, it is encouraged to attend Indigenous events and ask the questions to better understand the culture, rather than just assuming based on media or he said – she said ideals. Far too often people find themselves getting stuck in a web of infor- mation coming from many directions; when we do not take the time to sift through the infor- mation and make an educated decision for ourselves; that is when the message likens the tele- phone game. One doesn’t sound like three, three doesn’t sound like 7 and 7 sure doesn’t sound like one; and with this lost in translation we all find one another confused. If Canadi- ans really want to make a difference, we must together take hold of one another’s cultures for a better understanding. There are countless events popping up across the country that are en- couraging participation and allowing opportunity to learn, you can engage in conversation with an elder or visit a local reserve to immerse yourself in learning. It will take the efforts of many to bridge the gap that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Indigenous youth in this country. Converging Pathways partners with communities and bridges the gap that exists by connecting non-government organizations to Indigenous com- munities that otherwise would not be comfortable approaching. These horrific events are not going to decrease because the media swoops in to capture the story, or a fast injection of sup- ports to deal with the immediate. We need to build long term strategic support systems for these children and their families if we truly hope to break the cycle. The suicide rates are a crisis in Canada at present and we as Canadians and the leadership in this country need to take notice. With all of the budget cuts that many provinces are experiencing, the supports are not in place. Many Indigenous communities are crying for help. When children as young as ten are taking their own lives, and there are multiple suicides in a community over a short span, we need to take notice. It’s not about the short term media attention or government photo opportunities, it’s about our Indigenous Canadian children that are taking their own lives. Besides losing the lives of these children, communities become numb to it all when it is continually occurring, those left behind suffer mentally and emotionally which leads to ill health in the communities.
2006 marked an agreement between the federal government and residential school survivors, known as the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) which recognized the damage inflicted and compensated claims for survivors of this travesty (Assembly of First Nations, 2015). In June of 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper presented a statement of apology to survivors of the residential schools on behalf of the government of Can-
ada (www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100015644/1100100015649). This apology was a key
ing the apology the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was teamed and the journey of story, truth, tears, laughter, healing, walking together, fellowship, restoration and restitution began. Through all of the gatherings across Canada, many which I attended, one thing was very clear … we need to fix this, together as a shared humanity for the future of our children and grandchildren. It was never gatherings about anger, resentment, or inducing guilt or blame … it was about healing and going forward and HOW do we do this together? “With- out truth, there can be no reconciliation; without truth, there can be no healing; and without a shared narrative of our collective reality both past and present, there is no truth” (Episke- new, 2009).
From the Commissions journey of 7 years, in December of 2015 their recommendations were presented to Canadians, the ’’’94 Calls to Action’’’. Finally, a collective document, put to- gether by research, stories, and by the very people who were harmed. The ’’94 Calls to Ac- tion’’ is something I encourage all Canadians to read. There is so much resentment, miscon- ceptions, and separation among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and finally a docu- ment is presented through the voices of the Indigenous people who lived the experience and history of this country and what collectively, Indigenous people ask that all Canadians con- sider.
I do believe that the cycle of reconciliation is underway, however we have a long way to go.
My good friend, Senator Murray Sinclair shared this at the 2016 release of the ‘94 Calls to Action’, “It has to do with trust: we do not yet trust each other. It’s going to take a while. As I said at the end of [the Truth and Reconciliation Commission], ‘If you though getting to the
need to do, because this country cannot continue with this state of conflict. The ones who are going to lead us are the young Indigenous and non-Indigenous students who understand all
of this, and who can turn this experience into the foundation of a new relationship. That new
relationship will be one of mutual respect.”
Indigenous people are writing a new chapter. To name a few, today, the median age of In- digenous population in Canada is 25. There is a ten per cent decrease in off-reserve Indige- nous people living in poverty (1996-2009). Three times more Indigenous entrepreneurs
(2001-06). $36.5 billion increase in market output if educational and labour outcomes for In-
digenous people match non-Indigenous outcomes by 2026. Communities with cultural conti- nuity, self- determination proving to be healthier (school of public policy, Johnson Shoyama,
We are on a different trajectory and the youth in this country imagine a better Canada, a di- verse Canada. Participate and get involved and allow every opportunity to be a chance to learn, share, and grow in one’s knowledge. Continually ‘sharpen your pencil’ and don’t let fear and judgement stand in your way. Step out of the box and participate, rather than read- ing the headlines and formulating an opinion based on the writer’s bias. Realizing that leav- ing ones comfort zone and journeying into scary unknown territory is not easy or fast; but rest assured when we take that time and we grow learn as people the possibilities are endless as a society. We need to do this all together, and walk alongside one another in order to embrace the change.
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