CONFERENCE: Encounters in Canada: Contrasting Indigenous and Immigrant Perspectives


Project Summary:

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. The result has been significant alienation between Indigenous peoples and Canadian governments. Conversely, 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. However, many are sorely unaware of Indigenous history, rights and contributions to Canada’s development. No people or community can speak for another; individual and group knowledge is intrinsic and internal. However, in keeping with the ideal of “mutual sharing” emphasized in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, respect and trust can be fostered through shared difference. 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. This conference aims to fill this gap in knowledge and will bring together leaders from government and the judiciary, legal scholars, academics and practitioners to formulate practical solutions. The primary objective is to build bridges – cultural, political, intellectual and social connections – between those who share the lands of what is now Canada. The underlying rationale of the conference stems from the fact that Canada is now shared by Indigenous peoples, descendants of early settlers and more recent immigrant and refugee communities. 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. To this end, the objective is to understand how Indigenous peoples and various immigrant groups experience their lives in Canada. How are the challenges they face different? Are there shared goals and experiences upon which to build future alliances to achieve improved quality of life in Canada?

Project Description:

Academic Conference (repeat event), Inaugural conference held May 15-17, 2013 at the Chestnut Conference Centre, University of Toronto, St. George Campus, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, http://encountersincanada.wordpress.com/

Project Type:
Funded

Project Role:
Founder and Principal Academic Organizer

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