Encounters in Canada: Contrasting Indigenous & Immigrant Perspectives

Indigenous peoples are the original caretakers of Canada, but their encounters with settlers have been marred by assimilation and territorial dispossession over hundreds of years. Immigrants to Canada, which for the purposes of this conference include early colonists, recent immigrants, refugees and displaced persons, have often viewed the country as a haven or land of opportunity. While the specific experiences of Indigenous peoples, immigrant communities, refugees and Canadian-born citizens are very different on many levels, connections can be developed through dialogue and reciprocity. Indigenous peoples as well as immigrant and refugee communities experience discrimination, racism, stigmatization and marginalization.

These encounters represent a wider systemic problem in Canadian political, legal, sociocultural and historical contexts. Efforts to overcome exclusion can be built through increased awareness and knowledge-building, with support from allies.

Encounters in Canada: Contrasting Indigenous & Immigrant Perspective is a conference with the primary objective to building bridges—cultural, political, intellectual and social connections—between those who share the lands of what is now Canada. These communities encounter Canada in very different ways based on racial identity, ancestral heritage, cultural background, community belonging, language and spiritual practice. Bridging the chasm that exists between Indigenous peoples and all newcomers, whether early or contemporary immigrants or refugees, is urgently needed in order to end discrimination and achieve equitable quality of life for all who live in this country.

The conference will take place May 15 to 17 at the Chestnut Conference Centre at the University of Toronto St. George Campus. Cost of the conference is $275 (Regular) $75 (student/post-doctoral/retired/low income). There will be a free reception with a cash bar. Registration for the conference closes May 10.

Keynote speaker the Right Honourable Paul Martin will discuss the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative during the opening dinner. Giller Prize winner Joseph Boyden will read from his book Through Black Spruce at the opening reception. Other notable speakers and attendees include:

  • The Hon. Frank Iacobucci, former Supreme Court of Canada Justice and Independent Reviewer of First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries
  • The Hon. Justice Sidney Linden, Ontario Conflict of Interest Commissioner and Commissioner for the Ipperwash Inquiry
  • The Hon. Justice Harry LaForme, member of the Eagle Clan of the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation, Ontario Court of Appeal
  • The Hon. James Bartleman, member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, 27th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
  • The Hon. Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Member of Parliament for St. Paul’s
  • Mr. Michael Bryant, Principal at Ishkonigan, former Attorney General of Ontario and former Ontario Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
  • Dr. Pam Palmater, Mi’kmaq lawyer and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation, Chair of Indigenous Governance and Associate Professor at Ryerson University
  • Dr. Phil Bellfy, member of the White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa, Founder and Director of the Center for the Study of Indigenous Border Issues, Michigan State University
  • Dr. Dean Jacobs, former Chief of the Walpole Island First Nation and founding director of the Walpole Island Heritage Centre
  • Chief Brian LaForme, Missassaugas of the New Credit First Nation
  • Dr. Marie Wilson, Commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
  • Dr. Mayo Moran, Dean and Professor of Law, University of Toronto
  • Dr. Deborah McGregor, Anishinabe from Whitefish River First Nation, Associate Professor and Director of Aboriginal Studies/Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives, University of Toronto
  • Dr. Rauna Kuokkanen, Sami from Ohcejohka/Utsjoki, Sápmi (Finland), Assistant Professor of Aboriginal Studies, University of Toronto
  • Ms. Lee Maracle, Sto:Loh Elder, Author and Instructor, University of Toronto
  • Prof. Peter Russell, Principal of Senior College and Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
  • Prof. Douglas Sanderson, member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Toronto
  • Dr. James Laxer, Professor of Political Science, York University
  • Dr. Gabrielle Slowey, Associate Professor of Political Science, York University
  • Ms. Jean Teillet, Métis, Partner at Pape Salter Teillet, great grand niece of Louis Riel
  • Ms. Andrea Auger, Ojibwe from Pays Plat First Nation, Touchstones of Hope Coordinator, First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada
  • Mr. Rupert Ross, former Assistant Crown Attorney, District of Kenora, Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
  • Mr. Doug Carr, Assistant Deputy Minister, Negotiations and Reconciliation Division, Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs

For complete conference information, and to register, please visit the conference website. You can also follow them on Twitter. As well, a LinkedIn Conference Group has been set up.