Canadian Roots Exchange’s 8th Annual Gathering: Foraging Our Paths, February 22–24, 2020
Canadian Roots Exchange is a national charity that encourages interactive dialog on solidarity and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, challenges stereotypes that divide communities and develops a national network of youth that promote respect and understanding between people living in Canada.
The Office of Community Engagement, under the leadership of Geneviève Sioui, Indigenous Community Engagement Coordinator, hosted this interactive youth-led conference that brought together 350 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from all provinces and territories.
The youth-driven event generated 55 sessions on the theme “Foraging Our Paths.” Sessions took place on campus including lectures on language revitalization, activist media training, discussions on climate change, food sovereignty and decolonization. In addition, the conference featured curated talks with established leaders from across the country.
The opening ceremony welcomed Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, an Inuk MP for Nunavut. At 26-years-old, she is one of the youngest MPs in Canada. The closing ceremony featured speaker Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, Innu poet, acclaimed author, activist and actress.
Several Concordia departments contributed to the event such as 4th SPACE, which hosted a collective art-making workshop with Concordia alumni Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte from the Kanien'kehá:ka nation. Concordia’s Center for Oral History and Digital Storytelling featured an interactive installation by Faye Mullen, Anishinaabe artist and Aboriginal Student Resource Centre employee, and Craig Commanda, Anishinaabe artist and Concordia student.
Additionally, Indigenous Directions Leadership Council members offered support to the event. Vicky Boldo from the Aboriginal Student Resource Centre provided guidance to participants for the duration of the event and Manon Tremblay, Senior Director of Indigenous Directions, gave welcoming words prior to the public film screening of Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up!, a film by Tasha Hubbard.
Concordia’s involvement as a host and sponsor is aligned with the Indigenous Directions Action Plan to indigenize the university and develop stronger relationships with Indigenous communities and prospective students. As an extension of the University’s commitment to Indigenous reconciliation, this conference allowed for a dedicated allocation of resources towards the successful delivery of a campus-based Indigenous-led event.
“I attended this conference in the capacity of an Anishnawbe Elder. I am very hopeful of the future of our Indigenous Nations because of the knowledge these youth carry. I am proud that they demonstrated humility and kindness.”
“There were amazing opportunities to connect with elders and youth which is hard in everyday life. This is great knowledge to bring back to our organizations on Indigenous ways of teaching and connecting. Thank you!”
“It was such a great experience presenting my story/idea and gaining feedback/perspectives on it from the audience, forming new connections, taking home some new inspiration/ideas and being part of the overall energy that was there.”