Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Couchiching Institute: a civil place to disagree

Coming Together as One: 

Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Canadians the website: One of the Indigenous prophecies, the 8th Fire, speaks of an era of building a new relationship between Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Canadians. Many believe we are living in this era. 2013 marks the 250th anniversary of the 1763 Royal Proclamation that affirmed indigenous rights to land and self-government. In 2013, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada will release its report and recommendations on the Indian Residential Schools and hopes to “guide and inspire Aboriginal peoples and Canadians in a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships that are based on mutual understanding and respect.”

The 2013 Couchiching Conference is a unique forum for open, non-partisan discussion about the significant historical and contemporary issues that affect the relations of Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Canadians. The conference is organized in the spirit of the 8th Fire.

It will explore, under different frames, including constitutional, social justice, economic, and environmental how we can move forward to create a just and mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians.

Conference Dates + Location

August 8 -11, 2013

YMCA Geneva Park
Orillia, Ontario, Canada
Registration + scholarship details, visit website

Readings and Viewings

The 82nd Annual Couchiching Conference will focus on Coming Together as One:
 Navigating the Relationship Between 
Indigenous Peoples of Canada 
and Canadians. There are many resources for you to further your knowledge on the issues related to our conference topic - some are listed below. Stay tuned for more information and resources leading up to the conference over the coming months.

Online Readings

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This document provides the details of the UN Declaration that affirms the rights and freedoms of Indigenous Peoples of the world, and recognizes minimum standards for their survival, dignity and well-being. The Declaration includes 46 articles. One of the key articles is one that affirms the right of Indigenous Peoples to maintain and develop their political, economic, and social systems or institutions. Canada is a signatory to the UN Declaration.

The Urban Aboriginals Peoples Study is an extensive new research study that has gone beyond the numbers to capture the values, experiences and aspirations of Aboriginal peoples living in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Ottawa.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has a mandate to learn the truth about what happened in over 130 residential schools for Aboriginal people in Canada and to inform all Canadians about what happened in the schools.

The Indian Act R.S.C., 1985, c 1-5: The Indian Act is the Canadian statute that concerns the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada's status, bands and reserves. First passed in 1876, it has been amended several times and governs the federal government of Canada's legal obligations and political relationship to the First Nations of Canada. The Act remains a highly contentious document in the history of the relationship between Canada and its First People.

Idle No More: This site provides details of the mission and action plan of Idle No More, its history, and calls for action. The site includes in-depth description and analysis of legislative bills that contravene the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights. This website also gives media access to some of the Indigenous advocates and leaders active within the grassroots movement.

Canada's World was a collaborative project between 15 universities and over 40 organizations with one big goal - to engage Canadians and non-traditional voices in an ongoing conversation about what Canadians want our nation's role in the world to be.

Toronto Aboriginal Research Project (TARP) is a research study that focuses on Aboriginal people in the City of Toronto. Areas the report focuses on includes Aboriginal children and youth, Aboriginal men, Aboriginal women, Aboriginal seniors and elders, the Aboriginal Two-spirited community in Toronto, Aboriginal poverty and social issues, the Aboriginal middle class in Toronto, housing in the Toronto Aboriginal community, Aboriginal homelessness in Toronto, Aboriginal culture and identity in Toronto, law and justice and Aboriginal people, Aboriginal urban governance, and arts in the Toronto Aboriginal community.


APTN - Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is the first national Aboriginal television network in the world with programming by, for and about Aboriginal Peoples. First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples have the opportunity to share their stories with all Canadians and the world.

Isuma TV is an independent online interactive network of Inuit and Indigenous multimedia. Isuma TV uses the power and immediacy of the Web to bring people together to tell stories and support change.

The 8th Fire: Aboriginal Peoples, Canada and the Way Forward is a television series on CBC about Canada's 500 year old relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

The National Film Board has a rich collection of films about aboriginal people in Canada.

imagineNative Media Arts Festival showcases, promotes, and celebrates emerging and established Canadian and international Indigenous filmmakers and media artists.

9 Questions about Idle No More: The idle No More grassroots movement has gained a serious following and significant media attention through rallies, teach-ins, and social media. This site provides answers to some of the questions asked about Idle No More.

The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Idle No More: Protest to Change? Momentum and a movement: Idle No More organizers, supporters, and observers discuss the objectives and significance of the movement on TVO the Agenda with Steve Paikin and panellists: Pam Palmater, Hayden King, Russell Diabo, Terry Glavin, and Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux.


The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national representative organization of the First Nations in Canada. There are over 630 First Nation's communities in Canada. The AFN Secretariat, is designed to present the views of the various First Nations through their leaders in areas such as: Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, Economic Development, Education, Languages and Literacy, Health, Housing, Social Development, Justice, Taxation, Land Claims, Environment, and other issues of common concern. The Chiefs who meet in a forum called the "Confederacy of Nations" every 3-4 months between annual meetings, elect the National Chief every three years.

Congress of Aboriginal Peoples: The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples represents the interests of Aboriginal People living off reserve.

Inuit Circumpolar Council: The Inuit Circumpolar Council is a major international non-government organization representing approximately 150,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia). The organization holds Consultative Status II at the United Nations and holds a General Assembly every four years.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is the national Inuit organization in Canada, representing four Inuit regions - Nunatsiavut (Labrador), Nunavik (northern Quebec), Nunavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories.

The Métis National Council represents the Métis Nation nationally and internationally.

National Association of Friendship Centres provide Canada's most significant off-reserve Aboriginal service delivery infrastructure. The NAFC, is a network of 119 Friendship Centres from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

The Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada (APAC) is an organization for First Nations, Métis and Inuit professionals within the Greater Toronto Area. APAC was first launched in Toronto in 2011, with the goal of building a foundation and supportive community for Aboriginal professionals working across the city region.


Through Black Spruce, a novel by Joseph Boyden, Penguin Group, 2008. Winner of the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden's first novel. Penguin Group, 2005.
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, Thomas King, Random House of Canada, 2012.
Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity, Pamela Palmater, Purich Publishing Ltd., 2011
Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence, and Protection of Indigenous Nations, ed. Leanne Simpson, Arbeiter Ring, 2008

Couchiching Institute of Public Affairs website:

2012 Conference: The Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities For Canada

About the Conference

Fast-moving events in the Middle East and North Africa present Canada with a series of challenges and opportunities. Canada needs to respond in ways that reflect Canadian interests, but how we define those is a function of a thoughtful understanding of events in the region – which means looking beyond a Western lens.
Couchiching’s 2012 summer conference challenged Western assumptions, provided context and understanding of the region’s complexities, and of the uprisings, their meaning, and their future. Most particularly, it explored what they mean for Canada.  Conference participants discovered what captured the imagination of the Arab world and the world at large, and that continues to enthral and “frighten” some? Panelists identified particular challenges and opportunities for Canada in terms of its foreign policy, its economic potential, its refugees and diasporas, and its military obligations.
The beauty of Couchiching is that it is not a think-tank: we do not come to conclusions, nor do we make recommendations. The Conference is a unique forum for open, non-partisan discussion about the significant issues of the day. The vigorous, thoughtful, sometimes controversial, yet always respectful debate by the lake helps policymakers, business people, students, social activists, the media, and interested members of the public achieve more informed, and therefore more useful, views and opinions – and they leave better-armed to make decisions that affect themselves, their organizations, their communities – and our country. 

About Image:
Photo by David Degner February 11, 2011, Alexandria, Egypt. Public jubilation erupts nation-wide after the announcement of Hosni Mubarak's decision to step down as President of Egypt following 18 days of public uprising.  Photo featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on February 11, 2011 and as the cover shot for "We are Egypt - The Story Behind the Revolution", directed by Lillie Paquette who spoke at the Summer Conference.

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