2016 OPSEU Indigenous Conference

Friday, September 30, 2016
To Sunday, October 2, 2016
6:00 PM to 1:00 PM

The OPSEU Indigenous Conference is being held September 30–October 2, 2016 and welcomes members motivated by OPSEU`s call for healing and reconciliation with Indigenous communities.

Truth and Reconciliation image.jpg

The Conference theme is “Reconciling with Indigenous communities: OPSEU`s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Report.” The goal is to inspire and educate OPSEU members to respond to the report. The conference is being planned with the elders and youth of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne. Participants will be equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to effectively network with Indigenous members within and beyond the Indigenous Circle on various projects and campaigns. We expect participants will be able to identify recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report that connect to the work of OPSEU members and be inspired by traditional indigenous cultures to take action.

About the art work used in Conference design

Aabaakawad Anishinaabewin
(Reviving Everything Anishinaabe)
22″ x 28″, Acrylic on Canvas, 2015

The inter-generational effects of residential schools is something so many of us live with. But this is a painting about hope and revival. The bowl (doonagan) represents the bowl of our individual lives, it’s our spiritual bowl. We fill it with the good things we do in our life. The strawberries represent the coming of age ceremonies, such as the strawberry fast young women go on. The young woman holding the pipe, and the young man holding the smudge bowl, along with the strawberries represent the return of our ceremonies, and the revival of everything we once had. The richness of our ways of life, our languages, and our connection to the land. The butterflies represent the metamorphosis, change and freedom from the heaviness of the residential schools and the hope for the future. The flowers and plants always bring us back to our connection to the land and the medicines and teachings they give us tell us how to live on Mother Earth.

Acknowledgement of Territory

The 2016 OPSEU Indigenous Conference is being held on the territory of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne. We are grateful for their warm welcome and collaboration to make this first OPSEU Indigenous Conference a success.


The elder leading the ceremonies during the Conference will announce any protocols. The OPSEU Indigenous Circle recognizes and respects the incredible diversity that exists among the Indigenous communities on Turtle Island.

Please respect traditional medicines and ceremonies by refraining from being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while attending the Conference.

2016 OPSEU Indigenous Conference Agenda

Friday September 30, 2016

  • 5:00 to 7:00 PM — Registration (Dinner Not Provided)
  • 6:00 to 6:30 PM — New Delegate Orientation, Room D214
  • 7:00 to 9:00 PM — Opening Ceremony and Welcome. Performances by Inuit Throat Singers and Métis Fiddler Quartet, Room D214

Saturday October 1, 2016

  • 8:00 to 9:00 AM — Breakfast (Provided), Propeller Restaurant
  • 9:00 to 9:15 AM — Welcome and Introduction of Senator Murray Sinclair by Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Room D214
  • 9:15 to 10:30 AM — Keynote Address with Q & A, Senator Murray Sinclair, Room D214
  • 10:30 to 10:45 AM — Break
  • 10:45 to 12:15 PM — Educational Workshops, TBD
  • 12:15 to 1:30 PM — Lunch (Provided), Propeller Restaurant
  • 1:30 to 3:00 PM — Educational Workshops, TBD
  • 3:00 to 3:15 PM — Break
  • 3:15 to 4:45 PM — Sharing Circle on Truth and Reconciliation: Honouring the Survivors, Room D214
  • 4:45 to 5:00 PM — Break
  • 5:00 to 7:00 PM — Dinner (Provided), Propeller Restaurant
  • 7:00 to 9:00 PM — Evening Program with Bear Fox and Akwesasne Women Singers, Room D214

Sunday October 2, 2016

  • 8:00 to 9:00 AM — Breakfast (Provided), Propeller Restaurant
  • 9:00 to 10:30 AM — Educational Workshops, TBD
  • 10:30 to 10:45 AM — Break
  • 10:45 to 11:15 AM — Participant Feedback and Call to Action, Room D214
  • 11:15 to 12:00 AM — Closing Ceremony, Room D214
  • 12:00 to 1:00 PM — Lunch (Provided), Propeller Restaurant

Workshop Descriptions

The Indigenous Journey: Walking Together

Through activities inspired by the teachings and traditions of Indigenous people, the workshop will take you through an overview of the lives of the First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples as well as allow you an opportunity to share in some of their stories.

Participants will take a journey of examining both historical and current relationships between Indigenous people and governments within Canada and the World today.

Restorative Justice: Akwesasne Community Justice Program

The Akwesasne Community Justice Program is dedicated to promoting a Mohawk (Kaiahnerakowa) approach to deal with justice concerns of all Akwesasronon.

  • To enable the Mohawks of Akwesasne to re-assert their traditional practices with respect to the conduct of their people;
  • To encourage peace and harmony by resolving disputes and conflicts on the territory of Akwesasne and thereby enable the Mohawks of Akwesasne to grow stronger and more united;
  • To facilitate the greater involvement of the Mohawks of Akwesasne in the Administration of Justice;
  • To restore a greater degree of responsibility to the Akwesasne Community for the conduct of the people who come in conflict with justice systems both on and off the territory of Akwesasne;
  • To provide an Indigenous alternative to the mainstream court process which respects the basic tenets of the Kaiahnerakowa responsibility for their conduct both on and off the territory of Akwesasne, to be accountable for their conduct by becoming active in rectifying the wrong which they have caused and to address the underlying problems which may have contributed to their conflict with the justice system;
  • To reduce over time, the rate at which Mohawks of Akwesasne are convicted of offences committed both on and off the territory of Akwesasne;
  • To contribute to a reduction in the workload of the Akwesasne Mohawk Court and the Provincial courts in Cornwall, Ontario and Valleyfield, Quebec and thereby to enable the courts to focus on more serious offences.

Indigenous and Human Rights

This workshop provides an overview of federal and provincial human rights protections and complaint processes. It is facilitated by representatives from the Ontario and Canadian Human Rights Commissions. The workshop will include a discussion on what indigenous human rights issues our Commissions have heard from outreach activities and seen from the complaints we have received.