2015 – Sudbury – Canada – Presenters

Keynote Speakers

1.  Professor Graham Smith is a prominent Māori educationalist and advocate who has been at the forefront of alternative Māori initiatives in the education field and beyond. Graham Smith’s academic work has centred on developing theoretically informed transformative strategies related to intervening in Māori cultural, political, social, educational and economic crises

Presentation: Re-generating the ‘Good Way’ – an ‘inside out’, 360’ transforming praxis

Dr. Smith’s presentation will examine the struggle to transform and improve the prevailing condition of persistent, high and disproportionate levels of social and cultural under-development of indigenous communities in the face of new formations of colonization. New formations of colonization are given significant impetus within neo-liberal economic emphases on competitive individualism. A critical development in New Zealand has been the ‘re-generation’ of our cultural propensity for collective action. Our collective responsibilities are often found within our traditional family/ tribal values, practices and structures. In the New Zealand Māori context we have sought to regenerate and mobilize the social scaffolding, social capital and traditional collective values in order to support ‘individuals’ at risk – including young people.

Dr. Smith will share insights (learning and teachings) of where they are up to in their struggle from the New Zealand Māori context that may have broader application within other Indigenous jurisdictions. In particular he will examine three intersecting struggles:

a) the struggle to move from individual conscience to collective consciousness;
b) the struggle to revitalize traditional values and practices of ‘extended family’ (whanau);
c) the struggle to critically self-reflect and to transform ourselves within a ‘politics of truth’ (following Paulo Freire’s (1972) claim that before you can transform others you must first transform yourself.

2. Associate Professor Andrea Walsh is a visual anthropologist who specializes in 20th-century and contemporary abori

ginal art and visual culture in Canada, as well as theoretical and methodological approaches to visual research.  Andrea Walsh collaborated with Dr. Paulette Regan of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on a collection of paintings done by Indigenous students at the Port Alberni Residential School and has reached out to an estimated 1,000 institutions across Canada to see what other artwork may have survived from the era of Canada’s residential school system.

Presentation: The material legacy of Indigenous childhoods from the Indian residential and day school era in Canada and its role in reconciliation and healing today

In September 2007 legal counsel for former students of residential schools in Canada, and the legal counsel for Churches, the Assembly of First Nations, and the Government of Canada finalized what has become known as the “Settlement Agreement”. As part of the settlement, a public record of the experiences of the students and the legacy of the schools in their lives has been created through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and a national archive of documents and ephemera from the administration of the schools is in progress. While the settlement agreement mandated Churches and the Government of Canada to disclose all documents that held information pertaining to Indigenous childhoods, such legal request was not made of Canadian institutions, such as museums and art galleries that also hold crucial evidence of the schools. Such evidence is located in collections of artworks and material culture produced by the children themselves. Reconnecting these material traces of childhood with the people who created them, and/or their families, or nations and communities, is an important part of healing and reconciliation. Such efforts and their effects do not take place on a national scale as with the TRC, but through more localized engagement with communities. This paper brings a new line to bear on these collections as important locations and departure points for reconciliation and healing. In so doing Dr. Walsh poses the question: what roles might historical children’s material culture play in the lives of Indigenous youth today as intergenerational Survivors of the residential and day schools?

Invited Speaker

Dr. Ronny Gunnarsson     Who is the star in ISTAR?

Who are involved in the transition from childhood to adulthood and why should they care? Is there a useful strategy to accomplish change?


Dr. Susan James     From girl to woman to mother-teen pregnancy

“My young daughter is pregnant and wants a midwife. Can you take her on as a client?” Two days later, the “young daughter” was apparent – pigtails, green orthodontic braces, denim overalls and high top sneakers. She was just three weeks shy of her 15th birthday and now three months pregnant. She had made her way to the appointment on her own on the city bus and had a plan for paying for my care with babysitting earnings. A grown up girl launching into grown up responsibilities but still with the dreams and playfulness of a teen who is early in her journey to womanhood. While the first period is a sign of a young woman’s reproductive potential, the diagnosis of pregnancy confirms that her woman’s body carries the power of creating new life. Pregnancy and motherhood challenge teens. Socially, they are often criticized and questioned. Their sexuality becomes obvious as their bellies grow – too soon, irresponsibly. Babies having babies. How do teens experience the passage to motherhood? How might midwifery care and homebirth facilitate this transition?

Julia Wabie     Balancing the responsibility of midwifery training with personal transitions using the Seven Stages of Life teaching

Childbirth which is a part of the Good Life stage will be discussed from the perspective of a midwifery student in the Wandering/Wondering stage of life. This stage is a time when young people begin to ask questions and challenge ideals and concepts put before them. In their travels young people begin to find their teachers, gain new experiences, and begin to question their life’s purpose. Challenges, achievements, and reflections will be shared using the Seven Stages of Life teaching as a framework.

Best Start. (2010). A child becomes strong: journeying through each stage of the life cycle. Retrieved from

Debra S. Mishibinijima, Hons BA    Assessing the spiritual health of children from a First Nations community

The leadership of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve had little information regarding the health and well-being of the children in the community. There was extensive research to find a culturally relevant measurement tool that had incorporated spirituality, to no avail. Thus, an idea was borne to develop their own quality of life survey. The Aboriginal Children’s Health and Well Being Measure (ACHWM) was created collaboratively between NAHNDAHWEH TCHIGEHGAMIG Wikwemikong Health Centre and Laurentian University (Young et al., 2013). The computerized survey encompasses holistic health in the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual domains, incorporating the Medicine Wheel worldview. They found distinct variances in spirituality scores between the younger and older populations. The younger age group demonstrated closer ties with Elders, the Creator/God, and Mother Earth than the older group. From the voices of children and youth, leadership in Aboriginal communities will learn how to gently lead the future leaders on a path of mino bimaadziwin. After all, we have to think seven generations ahead into the future…for our children’s children.

Nancy L. Young, Canada Research Chair, Laurentian University
Mary Jo Wabano, Health Services Director, Wikwemikong Health Centre
Koyo Usuba, Research Assistant, Laurentian University
Mélanie Trottier, Research Assistant, Laurentian University
Diane Jacko, Nadmadwin Mental Health Services Manager, Wikwemikong Health Centre

Dr. Gun Rembeck, RN, RM     Early adolescent girls’ attitudes, thoughts and feelings towards menstruation and their bodies

309 12-y-old girls answered a questionnaire. One part of the questionnaire dealt with thoughts and feelings towards menstruation while the other part dealt with sex and ability to communicate on aspects of womanhood. Post-menarcheal girls were less positive towards menstruation than pre-menarcheal girls (p=1x 10). Many girls (43%) did not reaffirm the statement ‘‘I like my body’’ and almost one quarter stated being teased for their appearance. Girls could most easily ‘‘chat’’ about their period with their mothers. Sixty- seven per cent received information about menstruation from school nurses. In conclusion, wanting to be an adult and liking that their body develops seem to be associated with a more positive feeling towards menstruation. Furthermore, mothers’ timing and ability to communicate attitudes towards menstruation and the body are as important as peers and others in a girl’s immediate environment.

Dr. Taima Moeke-Pickering, Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek     Indigenous food sovereignty initiatives and children

This presentation is based on the experience of the presenters in engaging children with food gardens in Sudbury as well as research findings from a food sovereignty project conducted with Maori in New Zealand. This presentation discusses ideas for understanding how food security and food sovereignty strategies can enhance children’s health and wellbeing. The literature on food insecurity in New Zealand and Canada estimates that 10% of families/households experience low food security. Maori and Aboriginal families are more likely to be affected by food insecurity than any other ethnic group. The findings and analysis from this project provides broad themes and ideas for planning Indigenous based food security/sovereignty ideas with children.

Dr. Darrel Manitowabi, Dr. Andrea Walsh, Mary Pheasant, BA     Decolonizing the archive: revisiting the 1960s Anishinaabek First Nations children’s art camps

In the late 1960s, Robert Aller, artist and art teacher, was commissioned by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to host children’s art camps in Lake Huron Anishinaabek First Nations. He created a vast archive of photographs and children’s paintings through his work. In the summer of 2014, we began the process of decolonizing this archive from its government roots. We sought to understand the plurality of knowledge relationships and relationships of knowledge held within the archive, and relatedly produced from it, when the archival material was re-introduced to three Anishinaabe source communities. Rather than create an understanding of the archive as a collection of historical products, we consider how Indigenous archival materials remain alive and regenerate memories and stories of childhood that reconnect older adults to an understanding of community and life transitions.

Stanley Peltier, M.Ed     A new world philosophy emerges in Ojibwa

The new approach to interpret the Ojibwa Language has significant philosophical concepts that are valid and applicable to current Academia. The new methodology consists of the application of a language-based approach without using and applying the cognitive understanding of English, therefore applying the interpretation of 1491 understanding of the Ojibwa Language. The use of English comparative understanding of the Ojibway language has resulted in the oversimplified and literal interpretation of a language that consists of many concepts and terms as opposed to words. The teaching of the Ojibway language in mainstream education has not been a total success due to the application of English as a Second Language methodology, which in no way interprets the concepts or terms of Ojibwa. The concept of exegesis can be modified with the use of new grammatology that would be more suited for the interpretation of Ojibwa. The emerging “worldview and philosophy” from the Ojibwa terms and concepts are an apparent augmentation of modern philosophy, also adding another dimension to what we perceive as existentialism. Key words hold the information from an ancient oral language, holding all the perspectives intact. These keywords open up a new perspective for modern academia and complementing all other philosophical understanding of many human concepts: Social Sciences, History, Education, Health, Science and Humanities.

Dr. Brent [Ahnungoonhs] Debassige     When the time is right: Indigenous knowledge and reconceptualized assessment in three First Nations communities

Until recently there has not been a comprehensive approach for measuring First Nations, Métis and Inuit learning in Canada (Canadian Council on Learning [CCL], 2009). While the holistic lifelong learning models produced by the CCL have initiated frameworks for measuring students learning, the findings from the CCL reports specify the need for tailoring the models to fit specific locales. In this session, the presenter shares preliminary findings from a SSHRC-funded qualitative study focusing on reconceptualized approaches to understanding assessment in First Nations contexts. The researcher used semi-structured conversational interviews to investigate how members of three First Nations communities in southern Ontario, Canada come-to-know Indigenous Knowledge and how that knowing is assessed, generally. The preliminary findings indicate that Indigenous forms of measurement occur when focussed on observing informal learning experiences that are context-specific and based on when a learner indicates that the time is right.

Canadian Council on Learning. (2009). State of Aboriginal learning in Canada: A holistic approach to measuring success. Ottawa, ON: Author. Retrieved from http://www.ccl cca.ca/pdfs/StateAboriginalLearning/SAL-FINALReport_EN.PDF

Dr. Karyn Recollet     Glyphing Indigenous futurities: embodiment and youth spatial

Karyn will discuss the generative practice of urban glyphing through hip-hop culture, and round dance revolutions. Shaping alternative possibilities, and illuminating Indigenous futurities, Indigenous youth are re-mapping and re-surging in order to intervene tropes of erasure and ‘disappearance.’ Through the visual/ aural space of Indigenous hip-hop (inclusive of the spatial glyphing practices of multi-modal art), she illuminates how youth are embodying Indigenous survivance (Gerald Vizenor) and presence.

Youth Panel

Youth from the urban Indigenous community will present as a group in the area of transitioning from child to adulthood. They will share their perspectives on the successes and challenges of growing up into responsible members of their community; they will also share their thoughts and goals for the future. Youth were recruited from N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre, Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre, and the urban community.

Joey-Lynn Wabie, MSW, RSW     Kijjikwewin aji, sweetgrass stories from traditional Indigenous women

This presentation will discuss the utilization of an Indigenous research methodology used with traditional Indigenous women to elicit stories of their first moontime. The “sweetgrass story weaving” methodology includes the collection of stories within a holistic framework, coupled with body, mind and spirit weaving. All elements of a sweet grass braid are symbolic and have significance. Use of this methodology as a coding method will also be shared. As we know, storytelling as an integral part of knowledge transfer and will also be explored during this presentation.

Sharla Peltier, M.Ed     Traditional Anishinaabe rites of passage to manhood and womanhood

Within Aboriginal cultural traditions, young people are acknowledged when making the transition from youth into adulthood. Life stage teachings and fasting traditions uphold this significant acknowledgement that comes from the family and community to support identity and belonging within community. Aboriginal peoples’ historical socio-political experiences and the contemporary societal scene have almost negated this important life transition. The presenter will share her personal story and reflections about her two sons’ transitions to illustrate the importance of returning to the Teachings and maintaining traditional rites of passage practices.

Cheryle Partridge, BSW, MSW, RSW     Using the Colours of the Medicine Wheel for Well-Being

A presentation by a ‘student of life.’ These teachings were presented to Cheryle by Elder Herb Nabigon. One could say we will be enacting the teaching and learning paradigm that has taken place since time immemorial. We have been told our knowledge comes from our Elders and our ancestors or, through intergenerational teaching and learning. Although we are in an academic setting, we have created a niche for ourselves and for the next seven generations to come.

Learning objectives include: reinforcing the meaning of “time immemorial”, importance of Aboriginal/Indigenous knowledge, locating ourselves as Anishinaabe/Indigenous peoples within our research, our journal articles, and our dissertations, being role models for our children, grandchildren, communities and Nations, and connecting the past, present, and future through holistic paradigms which includes the Spiritual, Emotional, Physical, and Mental/Intellectual aspects of selves as unique individuals.

Comments are closed.