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Conference: Encounters in Canada: Contrasting Indigenous and Immigrant Perspectives

Date and time

2013.05.15 to 2013.05.17, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM


This conference will be of interest to those in academe, the legal community, government, practitioners, community leaders and grassroots members. Students and grassroots community members are particularly encouraged to attend. Reduced registration rates are available, including before March 15 and in conjunction with travel and accommodation subsidies. Please apply for subsidies before the deadline of March 15, 2013. See more information here.

Conference 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?

Conference Program
The Conference Program is currently under development. The Conference Organizing Committee would like to thank all those who submitted proposals for consideration. As the program becomes finalized, details will be posted on the central conference website at http://crs.yorku.ca/encounters. Website updates will be forthcoming on a regular basis.

Keynote Speakers
We are delighted to announce the attendance of the Right Honourable Paul Martin as Special Keynote Speaker at the opening dinner on May 15, 2013! He will be discussing his important work on the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI).

Other distinguished keynote speakers include 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Joseph Boyden, Chief Dean Jacobs of the Walpole Island First Nation, and Professor James Laxer, author of Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812.

We are also very fortunate to have outstanding plenary speakers and prominent participants joining us, including:
*Ms. Andrea Auger, Touchstones of Hope Coordinator, First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada, Ojibwe from Pays Plat First Nation
*The Honourable James Bartleman, former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario
*Professor Phil Bellfy, Professor and Director of the Centre for the Study of Indigenous Border Issues, Michigan State University, and Member of the White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa
*Dr. Carolyn Bennett, St. Paul’s Member of Parliament and Liberal Critic for Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development
*Professor Colin Coates, Associate Professor of Canadian Studies and Director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, York University
*Professor Ravi De Costa, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Environmental Studies, York University
*The Honourable Frank Iacobucci, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and Senior Counsel at Torys
*Chief Brian LaForme, Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation
*Mr. Justice Harry LaForme, Ontario Court of Appeal
*Mr. Justice Sidney Linden, Ontario Conflict of Interest Commissioner and Commissioner of the Ipperwash Inquiry
*Professor Deborah McGregor, Professor and Director of Aboriginal Studies, University of Toronto, Anishinabe from Whitefish River First Nation
*Professor Sarah Morales, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa
*Professor Pamela Palmater, Director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance and Professor of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University, Mi’kmaq from the Eel River Bar First Nation
*Professor Kent Roach, Professor of Law, University of Toronto, and Special Advisor for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
*Professor Peter Russell, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Toronto
*Dr. Marie Wilson, Commissioner, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
*Ms. Jean Teillet, Partner at Pape Salter Teillet, Métis Nation
*Professor Graham White, Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
*and more to be announced.

Please direct any questions to the principal academic organizer of the conference, Professor Jennifer Dalton, at jedalton@yorku.ca. The other members of the Conference Organizing Committee can also be reached as follows: Professor David McNab (dtmcnab@yorku.ca), Professor James Simeon (jcsimeon@yorku.ca) and Professor H. Tom Wilson (htwilson@osgoode.yorku.ca).


Chestnut Conference Centre


89 Chestnut Street





Phone number

416.736.2100 ext. 22782




Economic sectors

General relevance - all sectors

Target groups


Geographical focuses

Ontario and National relevance