Coming Together as One

Coming Together as One:
Navigating the Relationship
Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada



One of the Indigenous prophecies, the 8th Fire, speaks of an era of building a new relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians. Many believe we are living in this era. 2013 marks the 250th anniversary of the 1763 Royal Proclamation that affirmed indigenous rights to land and self-government. In 2013, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will release its report and recommendations on the Indian Residential Schools and hopes to “guide and inspire Aboriginal peoples and Canadians in a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships that are based on mutual understanding and respect.”  Already this year, the Federal and Supreme Courts have made landmark decisions: one recognizing Métis and non-status Indians as “ Indians” and the other that the Federal Government failed in meeting its land obligations to the Métis People of Manitoba as part of the Red River Settlement of 1870.

The 2013 Couchiching Conference is a unique forum for open, non-partisan discussion about the significant historical and contemporary issues that affect the relations of Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Canadians. The conference is organized in the spirit of the 8th Fire. It will explore, under different frames (constitutional, social justice, economic, environmental, etc.), how we can move forward to create a just and mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

7pm: Conference Welcome:

Rima Berns-McGown, President Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs

Chief Sharon Stinson Henry, Chippewas of Rama First Nation

7:30pm: Opening Keynote: Address

Roberta Jamieson, Mohawk lawyer, President and CEO of Indspire

ModeratorRima Berns-McGown, President, Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs


Friday, August 9, 2013

9am: Morning Keynote Conversation:

A conversation with the Right Honourable Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada and founder of the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative with Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Moderator: David McGown, VP Public Affairs CIBC

10am: Sovereignty, Land, and Indigenous Rights

Marilyn PoitrasAssistant Professor, College of Law University of Saskatchewan

Sheelah McLean, founder, Idle No More

Dr. Christopher Alcantara, Author and Associate Professor, Political Science, Wilfred Laurier University

Moderator: Adam Redish, Chair of the Executive Committee, couop

From the outset, the relationship between the Crown, Canada and Indigenous Peoples has been a source of contention. All too often, a ruptured and broken relationship has ensued. Many blame the Indian Act as the source of the current predicament, in spite of efforts to reform the Act. While the majority of Indigenous Peoples view the Act as archaic and paternalistic, there are some who would like to maintain some of its elements. Others would like to see it abolished altogether in favour of implementing treaty rights and their inherent right to self-government . How should we think about the foundational questions concerning the relationship between the Crown, Canada, and Indigenous Peoples? What different approaches and perspectives should we be considering? When and where has the relationship succeeded and what kind of conversations do we need to have in order to move forward productively?

3pm: Truth & Reconciliation – Understanding the Present and Looking to the Future, in Light of the Past

Kathleen Mahoney, Professor at the University of Calgary, architect of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

David MacDonald, United Church minister and special advisor on residential schools

Aaron Paquette, First Nations/Metis artist, writer & presenter

Dr. Marie Wilson, Commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Moderator: Rev. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary  of the Canadian Council of Churches

Facing painful truths and healing is every Canadian’s responsibility, Indigenous and non-Indigenous. How do we come to terms with the past and the present in such a way that allows the relationship to move to a productive future, one that acknowledges the pain of the past but can move beyond it? What is Truth? What about Reconciliation? What are the critical lessons to be learned from the present experience in Canada and other jurisdictions? Five years after the establishment of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, what progress have we made collectively? How do we absorb these lessons and move forward?

7:30pm: With the Benefit of Hindsight….

Chuck Strahl, PC,  former Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Andy Mitchell, PC, former Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Sheila Fraser, former Auditor General of Canada

Moderator: Dr. Douglas West, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Orillia campus,  Lakehead University

What should Canada have done and do differently? Is there a successful action or model we can point to? This panel features a frank discussion among prominent officials, speaking with the benefit and freedom of hindsight, who have either had responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs or have been independently commissioned to engage, review, report and address systemic oversights and injustices concerning Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

9am: Rights and Resources: Seeking a New Conversation

Ian Anderson, President, Kinder Morgan

Glenn Nolan, President PDAC and VP, Aboriginal Affairs, Noront Resources

Caleb Z. Behn, Eh-Cho Dene/Dunne-Za, Lawyer – JD Concentration in Environmental Law and Sustainability, Activist

Moderator: Hana Gartner, Award-winning Investigative Journalist and Broadcaster

This panel will examine complex issues of resource and aboriginal rights, natural resource extraction and the environment.  In particular, the panel will focus on best practices for building bridges between industry, First Nations and environmental groups with respect to resource development and explore options for re-framing perceptions of irreconcilable interests.

3pm: Idle No More: Sovereignty Summer

Russell Diabo, Member of Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, Policy Advisor at Algonquin Nation Secretariat, and Editor of First Nations Strategic Bulletin

Arthur Manuel, Member of  Secwepemc Nation, Former Chief of Shuswap Nation Tribal Council, and Chairman of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade (INET)

Moderator: TBA

Russell Diabo and Arthur Manuel discuss the goals of Sovereignty Summer, the new education and action based campaign of Idle No More, a grassroots movement calling for peaceful revolution to honour Indigenous sovereignty and protection of the land and water.

7:30pm: The Plurality of Indigenous Identities

Ruth Thompson, Director of Program of Legal Studies for Native People, Native Law Centre of Canada, University of Saskatchewan

Sandra Laronde, Founder and Artistic Director of Red Sky Performance

Qajaaq Ellsworth, Independent Filmmaker and Multimedia Producer

Moderator: Bob Watts,  Adjunct Professor, Fellow
, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University

A plurality of Indigenous identities has always been present in Canada, but not always understood within the Canadian public sphere. New identities are emerging and old ones are being regenerated, and some are being redefined in light of changing realities. What does this mean for relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Canada?


Sunday, August 11, 2013

9am: Morning Keynote:

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN)

10am: The 7th Generation & Passing on the Flame

Michael Redhead Champagne, Shamattawa Cree Nation, Founder of Aboriginal Youth Opportunities, Winnipeg

Wes Fine Day, Cree Elder and Storyteller, Sweetgrass First Nation, (Saskatchewan)

Leon Thompson, Co-Chair 2013 Conference

Heather Watts, Mohawk, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory (Ontario), Educator and Columbia University Master’s student

Moderator: Michael Morden, Research Associate the Mosaic Institute, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto

After five hundred years of colonization, the world has changed and Indigenous youth are still finding their place. They are the future: educated, professional but in touch with their roots – learning ancestral languages and traditions, fusing the past and the present with assurance and savvy. How are the young leaders of tomorrow navigating the modern, digital world; honouring their cultural history; reshaping the national conversation; and picking up the political torch? Together, to avoid the follies of our forefathers, where do we go from here?

1pm: Closing Keynote Address

James BartlemanChippewas of Mnjikaning First Nation, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and author of, most recently, The Redemption of Oscar Wolf

ModeratorAmanuel Melles, 2013 Conference Chair


About Image

Ice Sentry by Aaron Paquette

Aaron Paquette is one of Canadaʼs premiere First Nations/Métis  artists, known for his bright colours, strong lines and for sharing new ways of looking at age-old experiences and beliefs. Based in Alberta, Aaron is also a writer and presenter. He will be participating as a speaker on Truth and Reconciliation, at the 2013 Couchiching Summer Conference. You can find out more about Aaron and view his work at



Register now for our 2013 Conference by filling out this form or by contacting Joan Grant at!

Young Professional rates available too!

If you require more information about registering to the 2013 Conference, please contact Joan via:

Tel. 416-642-6374 or 1-888-647-6374 ext 1

We will be happy to take your call.


2 Responses to “Coming Together as One”

  1. northendmc Says:

    Reblogged this on North End MC and commented:
    COMING TOGETHER AS ONE: Navigating the Relationship between Indigenous Peoples & Canada. I will be sitting on a panel at this event, the Couchiching Summer Conference called “The 7th Generation & Passing on the Flame”. See you all in Geneva Park!

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