âpahkowâyânaw: Indigenous Education Sessions on Indigenous Issues and Advocacy

âpahkowâyânaw: Indigenous Education Sessions on Indigenous Issues and Advocacy

Initiative Background:

“âpahkowâyânawin: Educational Sessions on Indigenous Issues and Advocacy” is a series of online moderated educational sessions with guest speakers from various Indigenous communities and backgrounds. The title of the project, proposed by our Indigenous Coordinator Reuben Quinn, comes from the Nehiyaw Language: Ki âpahkowâyânaw êkwah, which means our minds are clear now. 

This initiative seeks to broaden the public’s awareness and understanding of historical legacies and current realities faced by Inuit, Métis, and First Nations peoples in Canada. By providing free public education on anti-Indigenous discrimination and racism, we hope to encourage individuals to engage in advocacy and show support for Indigenous communities.  

Each conversation focuses on a specific theme with respect to the lived experiences and realities of Indigenous, Métis, and First Nations peoples. Through engagement with guest speakers, we aim to enhance the understanding of the legacies of colonialism among the general public and invite individuals to take action. 

Our goal with each session is to provide a safe space where difficult topics can be explored in a respectful conversation while simultaneously reaching a broad and diverse audience. By engaging diverse voices from Indigenous communities and identifying areas for action, we hope to do our part in addressing Article 84 of Call for Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which calls for “online public information resources on issues of concern to Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians, including the history and legacy of residential schools and the reconciliation process.” 

Previous Sessions:

*If there are upcoming sessions, they will be noted/linked here, above the previous recordings.

Upcoming Session:

Session 1: The Indian Act

What is the Indian Act and how has it affected Indigenous communities? In this session, we take a look at the basics of the Indian Act and how it has continued to impact the lives of Indigenous communities in Canada. We are joined by the Aboriginal Programmer of the Musée Héritage Museum, Mrs. Celina Loyer. She shares her experience with the Indian Act and how it has personally affected her family.  

We moderated a Q&A discussion to explore ways for individuals to engage in allyship.

Session 2: Medical Racism and Health Equity

This session discusses medical racism and health inequity in Indigenous communities in Canada. We explore how colonialism has contributed to health disparities and racism in the healthcare system. 

Our guest speaker, Dr. Pamela Roach, is an Assistant Professor in Family Medicine and the Director of Indigenous Health Education in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. Dr. Roach shares her knowledge and perspective on these topics and provides strategies for people to help create change. 

We moderated a Q&A period to further discuss how we can participate in allyship. 

Session 3: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

In Canada, Indigenous women and girls experience a level of violence that constitutes a human rights crisis. For many years, there have been calls from Indigenous communities for an effective and comprehensive response to this crisis as it greatly impacts Indigenous communities. In this session, we considered the roles and responsibilities of policy makers and non-Indigenous communities in ending this crisis. 

We were joined by Victoria Pruden from Women of the Métis Nation.  

A Q&A session was moderated to discuss the role of non-Indigenous communities in ending this crisis. 

Session 4: Residential Schools and Legacies of Colonialism

In this session we discussed the Residential School system in Canada and legacies of colonialism. We discussed the role of systemic racism and Canada’s assimilation policies in accord with cross-generational trauma in Indigenous families. We also discussed the Residential School system in the Albertan context and highlighted some of the Indigenous-led initiatives to honor residential school victims, such as Orange Shirt Day which was started by Phyllis Webstad.

We were joined by Jenna Weber, Justice Systems Navigator for the Greater Edmonton Area for the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women/IAAW.

A Q&A was moderated to further the discussion to explore ways for individuals to engage in allyship.

Session 5: The Sixties Scoop

Indigenous children are drastically overrepresented in the child welfare system in Canada. This over-representation began in the 60’s and has continued today, with 52.2% of children in foster care being Indigenous despite only accounting for 7.7% of the child population (Statistics Canada 2016). In this session, we discussed the Sixties Scoop and the impact of child welfare policies on Indigenous families in Canada.

We were joined by guest speaker, Sharon Gladue, Former Professional Consultant at Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta (SSISA).

At the end of this session a Q&A was moderated to further the discussion to explore the ways in which individuals can engage in allyship.

Session 6: Understanding Treaties: The Rights and Responsibilities of Treaty People in Today’s World

Join us and our guest speaker, John Brady McDonald (writer, artist, historian, musician, playwright, actor and activist) as we discuss how historic treaties affect First Nations peoples today and how treaties have shaped Indigenous and settler relations. Treaties in Canada provide a framework for the government of Canada and First Nations to work together. From Canadian policies to federal laws, treaties are an important part of Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination.

A Q&A period with our guest speaker closed out this session and explored ways for individuals to engage in allyship.

This initiative is funded by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF).