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The Power of Education in Advancing Reconciliation

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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The Empire Club of Canada Presents:
The Power of Education in Advancing Reconciliation

“Education got us into this mess and education will get us out of it.” – The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Education has played a unique and powerful role in Canada’s history in both perpetuating systemic oppression of Indigenous peoples and in helping to advance reconciliation. It was a key element addressed often by members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in their work and within the TRC calls to action.

With the discoveries of numerous unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools and the marking of the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in September 2021, Canadians of all ages began to learn more about Indigenous histories, the intergenerational impact of the country’s residential school system and survivors’ stories. As the nation continues to embark on a process of reflection and learning, join us for a critical conversation amongst Indigenous leaders on the connection between education and reconciliation, and the impact of steps being taken to integrate Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing in the classroom and beyond.

Chief Stacey Laforme, (Gimaa) Chief, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation

Dr. Tracy Bear, Director & Assistant Professor, McMaster Indigenous Research Institute, Dept. of Sociology, Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University

Chief Cadmus Delorme, Chief, Cowessess First Nation

Kory Wilson, Executive Director, Indigenous Initiatives & Partnerships, British Columbia Institute of Technology

*The content presented is free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.*

*Views and Opinions Expressed Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the speakers or panelists are those of the speakers or panelists and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official views and opinions, policy or position held by The Empire Club of Canada.*

headshot of Dr. Tracy Bear

Dr. Tracy Bear

Director & Assistant Professor, McMaster Indigenous Research Institute, Dept. of Sociology, Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University

Tracy Bear is a rabble-rouser, Nehiyaw’iskwew (Cree woman) and member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation in northern Saskatchewan. She is the Director for the McMaster Indigenous Research Institute (MIRI) and holds joint academic appointments in the Dept. of Sociology and Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences. Before coming to McMaster, Bear worked at the University of Alberta, where she was the Director of the Indigenous Women & Youth Resilience Project and the academic lead on ‘Indigenous Canada,’ a highly successful online course boasting over 440,000 learners; she was also an assistant professor of Native Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies.

An accomplished academic, Bear has made significant contributions to Indigenous scholarship and the national Indigenous education landscape since earning her PhD from the University of Alberta in 2016. Her current research includes social justice, prison abolition, body sovereignty, sexuality, gender and reproductive justice, contemporary Indigenous art, and Indigenous literature. When she is not marking, teaching or enjoying her new role as Kookum (grandmother) you will find her biking around Hamilton’s amazing bike trails.

headshot of Chief Cadmus Delorme

Chief Cadmus Delorme

Chief, Cowessess First Nation

Chief Cadmus Delorme, a Cree and Saulteaux, is the Chief of the Cowessess First Nation. Chief Delorme graduated from Cowessess Community Education Centre in 2000. He later moved to Regina to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Certificate in Hospitality, Tourism and Gaming Entertainment Management from the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv), and a Master of Public Administration from the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. Recently, he has completed an Institute of Corporate Directors designation.

In 2012, Chief Delorme received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, recognizing his student leadership and the hospitality he showed to Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, when they visited FNUniv. He was also named one of CBC Saskatchewan’s Future 40, which celebrates the province’s new generation of leaders, builders and change-makers under the age of 40.

In 2019, Chief Delorme was re-elected to a second term in office. Under his leadership, Cowessess First Nation has focused on economic self-sustainability for its nation and people and has moved forward on renewable energy, agriculture, efficiency in land use initiatives that have created both current and future business opportunities.

This past year, Chief Delorme faced one of the hardest moments as Chief when the Saulteaux and Cree First Nation made international headlines with the discovery of potentially 751 unmarked graves near the former Marieval Indian Residential School. Shortly after, Cowessess made headlines again as the first First Nations community to sign an agreement with Ottawa that returns jurisdiction over children in care to the community. Federal legislation overhauling Indigenous child welfare was passed in 2019 and came into force last year.

Chief Delorme lives with his wife Kimberly, brother-in-law, daughter and two son’s on Cowessess First Nation.

headshot of Chief Stacey Laforme

Chief Stacey Laforme

Gimaa (Chief), Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation

R. Stacey Laforme is the elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN). Born and raised on MCFN, Chief Laforme has served his community for over twenty years being first elected to council in 1999.

Chief Laforme has participated in a number of committees and boards throughout his seven terms served as a Councillor, including involvement with the MCFN’s Pan Am Games Secretariat (PAGS) as Chair of the PAGS Committee.

Chief Laforme is committed to increasing involvement and communication between Elected Council and both on and off-reserve membership. He is very active throughout MCFN’s Treaty Lands and Territory, which encompasses 3.9 million acres of Southern Ontario, not only as a Chief, but as a notable storyteller, poet and published author. Chief Laforme has recently been appointed as honorary senior fellow for Massey College, joining the Duke of Edinburg and the Chancellor of Oxford as only the third person awarded the highest honor the college can bestow. In 2018, De dwa da dehs nye (Aboriginal Health Centre) awarded Chief R. Stacey Laforme the Walter Cooke Wisdom Keeper Award in recognition of one’s capacity to exemplify significant and continuous service to our community by demonstrating integrity, generosity of spirit, humility, courage, collaboration, “The Good Mind”, and traditional ways of knowing and being.

headshot of Kory Wilson

Kory Wilson

Executive Director, Indigenous Initiatives & Partnerships, British Columbia Institute of Technology

Kory Wilson (Kwakwaka’wakw), BSc. JD, is the Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships for British Columbia Institute of Technology.

She is Chair of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics Indigenous Affinity Group. Kory has over 20 years of experience in post-secondary education, community development, and legal profession. She serves on many boards from Pearson College, BC Women’s Foundation, Downie Wenjack Fund, Future Skills Canada, to the BC First Nations Justice Council. A sought-after speaker and strategist on advancing and ‘truth-telling’ about the past and moving forward towards Reconciliation. With a deep commitment to education, both formal and informal, she knows innovative and creative solutions are a must to move Reconciliation into ReconciliACTION. Education and access to knowledge are key to move everyone forward. When people know better, they do better. Reconciliation requires bold and courageous conversations.