Decolonization Learning Journey

Decolonization Learning Journey

A FIve PART LEARNING JOURNEY WITH MI’KMAW ELDERS AND KNOWLEDGE SHARERS.

In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, IONS embarked on an organizational learning journey beginning in the fall of 2018. At the completion of that program and through various initiatives since, IONS is steadfast in its commitment to deepening a better understanding of the truth of Canada’s shared history with Indigenous peoples, and to taking a leadership role to co-create shared learning spaces across the province to create dialogue, education spaces, and meaningful movement toward reconciliation.

As part of this responsive action, our goal is to continue to increase individual and organizational awareness about local Indigenous communities, build capacity to support and mobilize the non-profit sector. We believe that by helping to build a critical mass of citizens and change makers through education, dialogue, and right relations with Indigenous communities that genuine shifts in the ways we work in organizations, on  boards, and as communities that we collectively create a step closer towards reconciliation.

We further believe that true transformation happens at the level of self, systems, and society. These sessions are designed to enhance personal reflection and to begin to open a dialogue on how to implement change in our organizations. As such, we strongly encourage organizations to have both their staff and board teams participate in the Learning Journey together. Ideally, participants will learn progressively throughout the program so as to build on their knowledge. Because sessions are recorded, participants can watch and re-watch in a way that suits their schedule, though being on the live call will allow for further interaction.

We began this journey in June 2020 with 4 webinars themed around the topic of Pre-Contact and Early History. In September and October, Series 2 consisted of 5 webinars focused on Indigenous Rights, Residential Schools, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, as well as Two-Eyed Seeing. In November, Series 3 continued with teachings on Mi’kmaw Governance, Education, and Language. This May we will host Series 4 with an additional 4 webinars focusing on Incorporating Reconciliation Learning into Our Work and Everyday Lives.

Hosting team:

Jane Meader, Elder, BACS, MEd

Jane Meader

Elder

BACS & MEd

Mary Beth Doucette

Mary Beth Doucette

Assistant Professor and Purdy Crawford Chair

Cape Breton University’s Shannon School of Business 

Nicole Cammaert

Director, Learning and Sector Development

Impact Organizations of Nova Scotia

Proudly partnered with
Unama’ki College

With the support of the Departments of Communities, Culture, & Heritage and Labour & Advanced Education

Recorded Sessions

Missed the live session? All the recordings of our past sessions are available to access below!

Series 1:

Pre-Contact & Early History

Series 2:

Indigenous Rights, Residential Schools, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and Two-Eyed Seeing

Series 3:

Mi’kmaw Governance, Education, and Language

Series 4:

Now What – Incorporating Reconciliation Learning into Our Work and Everyday Lives

Series 5:

Reconciliation in Action

Series 1: Pre-Contact & Early History

In June of 2020 the IONS, in partnership with Unama’ki College at Cape Breton University launched the “The Decolonization Learning Journey” with 4 webinars around the topic of Pre-Contact and Early History, as the first in a four-part series.

Session 1:

The Mi’kmaw Creation Story and Pre-Contact Way of Life

Session 2:

Netukulimk, Harvesting, Sustainable Ways of Living, and Seven Generations

Session 3:

Contact and Historical Conflicts, Treaties, and Significance of Indigenous People’s Day

Session 4:

Indian Reserves, the Indian Act, and Confederation

Session 1: The Mi’kmaw Creation Story and Pre-Contact Way of Life

Session Recording:

The Mi’kmaw Creation Story and Pre-Contact Way of Life

WITH STEPHEN AUGUSTINE

The L’nu or Mi’kmaw Creation Story describes the creation of the world. The Creation Story establishes the morals, principles, and values between the Mi’kmaq and their environment. L’nu people have always negotiated their survival through ceremonies and developed significant relationships with plants, animals, water, fire, and air.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED ON TUESDAY, JUNE 2ND, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speaker:

Stephen Augustine
Associate Vice President, Indigenous Affairs and Unama’ki College

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Handout – responses to Q&A

Session 2: Netukulimk, Harvesting, Sustainable Ways of Living, and Seven Generations

Session Recording:

Netukulimk, Harvesting, Sustainable Ways of Living, and Seven Generations

WITH CLIFFORD PAUL

All activities between L’nu and the natural world are governed by netukulimk. Netukulimk is based in respect for the land, waters, plants, animals, and fish. There are laws of nature within netukulimk that dictate when it is appropriate to hunt, fish, or harvest. Harvesting practices have changed from those that were employed before European arrival, and there has been a gradual evolution of how L’nu hunt and fish as a result. Mi’kmaw harvesters use modern equipment; however, the interaction with nature remains the same. They continue to employ lessons learned from their Elders, offer ceremonies, prayers and medicines, and teach the younger generations the rights and responsibilities required to harvest with respect. Netukulimk and Mi’kmaw natural law play a significant role in how L’nu approach sustainability.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, JUNE 9TH, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speaker:

Clifford Paul

Clifford Paul
Moose Management Coordinator, Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Handout – responses to Q&A

Session 3: Contact and Historical Conflicts, Treaties, and Significance of Indigenous People’s Day

Session Recording:

Contact and Historical Conflicts, Treaties, and Significance of Indigenous People’s Day

WITH STEPHEN AUGUSTINE

Indigenous people have lived in North America since time immemorial. There is significant diversity between Indigenous nations. Before European arrival, neighbouring Indigenous nations engaged in treaty-making, formalizing and defining relationships. Political, military, or trade endeavours established alliances between nations; however, conflicts were not absent between these nations. During early exploration, Europeans claimed the rights of sovereignty, property, and trade in the regions that they seemingly “discovered.” In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in North America; after this time there was an influx of Europeans from England and France in search of resources. Contrary to the fishermen before them, European explorers were not solely in search of resources, but became increasingly interested in the territory.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED ON TUESDAY, JUNE 16TH, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speaker:

Stephen Augustine
Associate Vice President, Indigenous Affairs and Unama’ki College

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Handout – responses to Q&A

Session 4: Indian Reserves, the Indian Act, and Confederation

Session Recording:

Indian Reserves, the Indian Act, and Confederation

WITH CHERYL KNOCKWOOD

Treaties are agreements made between two, or possibly even several nations or governments, and are meant to govern the relationship between parties. Between 1725 and 1762, the British Crown, the Mi’kmaq, and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) people signed a series of Treaties of Peace and Friendship. Within these treaties, L’nu and Wolastoqiyik did not give up the title and rights to their land, nor did they give up their status as sovereign nations.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED ON TUESDAY, JUNE 23RD, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speaker:

Cheryl knockwood

Cheryl Knockwood
Governance Coordinator, Membertou Heritage Centre

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Handout – responses to Q&A

Series 2: Indigenous Rights, Residential Schools,
Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and Two-Eyed Seeing

As we continue the Journey this September, Series 2 focuses on Indigenous Rights, Residential Schools, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, as well as Two-Eyed Seeing.

Session 1:

Myths & Truths About Indigenous Rights

Session 2:

Residential Schools: One Person’s Story of Survival

Session 3:

Etuaptmumk / Two-Eyed Seeing: Ways of Knowing For the Benefit of All

Session 4:

National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls

Session 5:

Residential Schools: Moving Forward

Session 1: Myths & Truths About Indigenous Rights

Session Recording:

Myths & Truths About Indigenous Rights

WITH TREVOR BERNARD

This webinar will cover Indigenous treaty rights. There are many misconceptions around Indigenous rights, in particular when it comes to land use, hunting and fishing, and taxation. We will explore how the Government of Canada recognizes and affirms particular rights.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speaker:

Trevor Bernard
Executive Director, Membertou First Nation

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Session 2: Residential Schools: One Person’s Story of Survival

Session Recording:

Residential Schools: One Person’s Story of Survival

WITH ELDER MARGARET POULETTE & ROSIE SYLLIBOY

Indian Residential schools operated in Canada from 1831 until 1996. An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their homes and forced to attend these schools. In this webinar, Residential School Survivor, Elder Margaret Poulette will share her first-hand story of what it was like to attend one of these schools.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speakers:

Margaret Poulette
Elder, Residential School Survivor

Rosie Sylliboy
Manager, Mawita’mk & Margaret’s Daughter

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Session 3: Etuaptmumk / Two-Eyed Seeing: Ways of Knowing For the Benefit of All

Session Recording:

Etuaptmumk / Two-Eyed Seeing: Ways of Knowing For the Benefit of All

WITH ELDER ALBERT MARSHALL & NADINE LEFORT

Etuaptmumk-Two-Eyed Seeing refers to learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges and ways of knowing, and learning to use both these eyes together, for the benefit of all. This webinar will open with a video of Mi’kmaw poet Rebecca Thomas’ spoken-word poem “Etuaptmumk: Two-Eyed Seeing.” We will hear from the co-creators of this transformational principle and its applications in our work and day-to-day lives.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speakers:

Albert Marshall
Elder, Honorary Doctor of Letters, and Mi’kmaw Spiritual Leader

Nadine LeFort
Manager of Communications & Research, Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Session 4: National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls

Session Recording:

National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls

WITH DENISE PICTOU MALONEY

In September 2016, the Government of Canada established the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The inquiry was established in response to the systemic violence witnessed nationally against Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people. In this webinar, we will hear about the first-hand impacts this reality has upon individuals in the Mi’kmaw nation.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speaker:

Denise Pictou Maloney

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Session 5: Residential Schools: Moving Forward

Session Recording:

Residential Schools: Moving Forward

WITH SENATOR DAN CHRISTMAS

How do we move forward? Often, after hearing stories from residential school survivors, individuals are left feeling sad and angry and unsure what actions to take to right the wrongs of our shared history. In this webinar, Senator Christmas will discuss the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the fundamentals he believes need to be address as we move forward as a nation.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speaker:

Senator Dan Christmas
Member of the Senate of Canada

Session Resources:

Slide Deck – additional information

Handout – additional information

Series 3: Mi’kmaw Governance, Education, and Language

This November, Series 3 continued with teachings on Mi’kmaw Governance, Education and Language.

Session 1:

Mi’kmaw Governance Systems

Session 2:

Culturally Relevant Education

Session 3:

Language: The Heart of Culture

Session 1: Mi’kmaw Governance Systems

Session Recording:

Mi’kmaw Governance Systems

WITH STEPHEN AUGUSTINE & ANDREA PAUL

Prior to 1876, the Mi’kmaw people relied on the Mi’kmaw Grand Council as its primary form of governance. The Indian Act implemented an elected system of governance in First Nation communities. Today, the Canadian government does not recognize the Mi’kmaq Grand Council but positions authority with elected Chiefs and Councils. This webinar will discuss Indigenous governance systems and how nations are establishing new means of forming self-governance and self-determination.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speakers:

Stephen Augustine
Associate Vice President, Indigenous Affairs and Unama’ki College

Andrea Paul
Chief, Pictou Landing First Nation

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Session 2: Culturally Relevant Education

Session Recording:

Culturally Relevant Education

WITH ELIZABETH CREEMO & REBECCA SCIROCCO

Formal education in Mi’kmaw communities was previously governed by and imposed upon communities by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. The education delivered was from a colonial lens, and offered little-to-no culturally-relevant curriculum or programming to Indigenous students. This has led to statistically low graduation rates in education among Canada’s Indigenous communities. This webinar will explore the importance of Mi’kmaw communities having jurisdiction over their own education, the implementation of Indigenous history and knowledge throughout all of Canada’s education curriculum, as well as the role education plays in the Truth and Reconciliation’s 94 Calls to Action.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speakers:

Elizabeth Creemo
Director of Education, Eskasoni School Board

Rebecca Scirocco
Wellness Coordinator, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Session 3: Language: The Heart of Culture

Session Recording:

Language: The Heart of Culture

WITH PHYLLIS GOOGOO, MICHELLE MARSHALL-JOHNSON, AND ROSIE SYLLIBOY

Language is indistinguishable from culture and vice versa. The way an individual moves through the world is dictated by the perspective offered through their language. This webinar will discuss of the importance of language to sense of self, your perspective on the world around you, and preservation of, and connection with, culture.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2020 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Speakers:

Phyllis Googoo
Elder, Mi’kmawey Debert Elders’ Advisory Council

Michelle Marshall-Johnson
Director of Mi’kmaw Language & Culture, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey

Rosie Sylliboy
Manager, Mawita’mk

Series 4: Now What – Incorporating Reconciliation Learning into Our Work and Everyday Lives

Series 4 seeks to answer the question: “Now What?” – Incorporating Reconciliation Learning into Our Work and Everyday Lives.

We will reflect on our learning thus far. How are we unsettling and disrupting ourselves and our organizations? What steps can we take to create actionable change and how do we undertake the process of decolonizing – knowing that we’re not always going to get it right? In this series, we hear from a host of Mi’kmaw Elders and knowledge sharers who guide us in our reflection on action and relationships, as well as hear from Nova Scotia based nonprofits who have begun taking strides to make change at various levels.

Session 1:

Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit

Session 2:

Reconciliation Action Acceleration: From Head, Heart and Hand

Session 3:

Going Forth

Session 1: Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit

Session Recording:

Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit

WITH DR. MARIE BATTISTE

Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit speaks to the decolonization movement and resurgence within Indigenous communities, the history of resistance and refusal to Eurocentric colonialism, and the beauty of learning in and through Indigenous knowledges.  Mi’kmaw educator Marie Battiste unpacks the layers of inequities of colonization, the struggles for equity, diversity and inclusion and the needed structural and philosophical difference when decolonization is fully understood as a way to ameliorate all inequities and nourishing the learning spirit understood as the educational muse.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2021 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speaker:

Dr. Marie Battiste
Professor Emerita, University of Saskatchewan

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Session 2: Reconciliation Action Acceleration: From Head, Heart and Hand

Session Recording:

Reconciliation Action Acceleration: From Head, Heart and Hand

WITH ANNIE BATTISTE

Annie Battiste’s presentation on May 11 2021 will utilize anti-racism theory and a rights-based reconciliation framework to outline the historical context of reconciliation in a Canada, what the term can mean to multiple sectors, and provide solid examples of ways that organizations can create actionable change within reconciliation for individuals and collectives.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, MAY 11, 2021 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Speaker:

Annie Battiste

Session Resources:

Slide Deck – additional information

Handout – additional information

Session 3: Going Forth

Session Recording:

Going Forth

WITH CHERYL KNOCKWOOD, CHRISTOPHER GOOGOO, & ANNIKA VOLTAN

This session wraps up the 15-part webinar series that began in June 2020 and invites a range of guest speakers to provide their reflections and key learnings from this Journey so far. We’ll also be asking for their insights and advice for change makers to think about to create genuine shifts in the ways we work in organizations, on boards, and as communities that we collectively create a step closer towards reconciliation through right relationship with Indigenous people and communities.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED LIVE ON TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2021 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Session Resources:

Handout – additional information

Speakers:

Cheryl knockwood

Cheryl Knockwood 
Governance Coordinator, Membertou First Nation

Cheryl knockwood

Christopher Googoo 
Chief Operating Officer at Ulnooweg

Cheryl knockwood

Annika Voltan
Executive Director, Impact Organizations of Nova Scotia

Series 5: Reconciliation in Action

We cannot get to Reconciliation without truth, and we cannot be ready without being aware. Series 5 “Reconciliation in Action” builds on the foundation series of the Decolonization Learning Journey. The capacity to learn, grow, and bring reconciliation to life increases when we are taking challenging steps with purpose, courage, and humility – and while surrounded by peers who are sharing the experience. This series will focus on understanding what Reconciliation is and why it’s vital work (TRC, Treaty Education, UNDRIP, moral duty) to be able to move in ways that center authentic relationships and wise action.

This series is comprised of three (3) virtual sessions via Zoom scheduled for the first three Mondays in June from 1:00-3:00pm (ADT):

  • Session 1: Monday, June 6th: Treaty Education as a Relationship
  • Session 2: Monday, June 13th: Acknowledging the Land
  • Session 3: Monday, May 20th: Working with Indigenous Communities

Session 1:

Treaty Education as a Relationship

Session 2:

Acknowledging the Land

Session 3:

Working with Indigenous Communities

Session 1: Treaty Education as a Relationship

Session Recording:

Treaty Education as a Relationship

The Treaties that apply to this part of Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia) are rooted in peace and friendship. Although they are a critical part of understanding our broader context, Treaty Education is the title given movement related to understanding what it means to be a “Treaty Person” which includes everyone who calls this province home. Although the Treaty Education initiative has only been afoot since 2015, the unique approach to establishing it has created numerous opportunities for participants to re-imagine a way to change conversations around the dinner tables about Reconciliation and why relationships are at the root of it all.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED ON MONDAY, JUNE 6TH, 2022 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Jacqueline Prosper

Treaty Education Lead at Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey

Celeste Sullivan

Director, Treaty Education at Nova Scotia Office of L’nu Affairs

Ann Terese Doucette

Mi’kmaq Relations Officer – Cape Breton Field Unit of Parks Canada

Session 2: Acknowledging the Land

Session Recording:

Acknowledging the Land

There is much to learn and understand between the intent and potential impact of making territorial acknowledgement statements as part of your organization’s “standard of practice”. While this practice has become quite mainstream, the impact or value is negligible unless there is a desire to use this action as a steppingstone towards something greater. Here in Mi’kma’ki, L’nu people will often close a prayer or moment of sharing with the phrase “Msit No’kmaq” which translate to “All my Relations.” If you understand how important interconnectivity amongst all beings within the Mi’kmaw worldview, you will gain a deeper understanding of just how important acknowledging a territory really is.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED ON MONDAY, JUNE 13TH, 2022 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Laurianne Sylvester

Dean – Unama’ki College at Cape Breton University

Melody Martin-Googoo

Coordinator of Mi’kmaq Education & Services – Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education

Sarah Prosper

Dancer & Artistic Director – Samqwan

Amy Grant

Lead Storyteller – Pink L’nu

Aaron Prosper

Indigenous Health Consultant – Nova Scotia Health Authority

Session 3: Considerations when working with Indigenous Communities

Session Recording:

Considerations when working with Indigenous Communities

Your motivation to connect with a Mi’kmaw community or organization should guide your method of engagement. Everyone seeks to respect the people, culture, history, customs and traditional practices of the first people of this territory, especially when forming or growing a working relationship. With a healthy dose of humility and capacity to listen, you’ll find that Mi’kmaw communities and organizations are also deeply interested in opportunities to support healthy, vibrant communities who are empowered and engaged with the world around them. This session will cover various important considerations and mindsets to carry forth when working with Indigenous communities.

THIS SESSION WAS RECORDED ON MONDAY, JUNE 20TH, 2022 AT 1:00PM (ADT)

Annie Battiste

Reconciliation Consultant and Speaker – Office of the Treaty Commissioner, Saskatchewan

Robert Bernard

Pantiteketew (Path Maker) and Owner – Indigenous Guide Consulting Services

Denise Pictou Maloney

Senior Advisor, Mi’kmaw and Indigenous Initiatives (L’nuey Nikanus) – NSCC

Additional Resources:

IONS recognizes the existence of Anti-Indigenous Racism in Mi’kma’ki and its deep historical roots. We commit to working in solidarity with our Mi’kmaq colleagues, partners, and collaborators, to speak out against this form of racism and to help the nonprofit and voluntary sector in the province implement the TRC recommendations, decolonize their organizations and work collectively for meaningful social change to address the underlying and entrenched systemic issues.

Throughout our Decolonization Learning Journey series we have been gathering resources and information by our hosting team, including Elder Jane Meader, Mary Beth Doucette, and Unama’ki College. We hope that these resources help you in your own learning and as we continue our online learning series we will add resources to deepen our understanding and move towards meaningful and long-term change.

Further Reading

Books & Articles

Watch & Listen

Videos & Podcasts

Activities

Learn with your Family

Glossary

Terms & Definitions

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