On the Obligation to Risk Conflicts

by Anke Heiser

I recently participated in a ‘Dialogue for Peaceful Change’ training in Fredericton, New Brunswick. It was an opportunity that allowed a lot of Righting Relations members, and others, from across Turtle Island to come together on the traditional unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik and learn together how to analyze and resolve conflicts. We were a group of Mi’kmaq, Ojibwe, Wolastoqiyik, Anishinaabeg, Sto:lo, Wampanoag, racialized and white immigrants and settlers with roots tracing back to China, Columbia, India, Uruguay, East-Africa, Ghana, Barbados, and Germany. I was one of the very few white and few non-Indigenous people in the group, a composition similar to what I have experienced before in the Righting Relations network context.

I have been in settings before where I was one of the few white people in the room and I have been wondering about my role and responsibility in this position. When I started to think about writing a reflection about the ‘Dialogue for Peaceful Change’ training I felt compelled to look at this question more closely. The content of the training and my experience of the week overall have given me new insights and new angles from which to scrutinize my participation and role in this context.

I become more quiet in a group in which I am one of only a few white people. I don’t want to dominate the space as a member of the dominant white settler culture. I want to be respectful and learn from other perspectives. I am certainly aware that the fear of making a mistake, involuntarily hurting someone and/or provoking a conflict has an influence on the way I participate, too. I am conscious about growing more silent in these settings and I have noticed a similar behaviour in other white people in similar contexts. However I was still surprised when one of my co-participants commented about my firm and animated demeanour in a role play which, to her, didn’t reflect my behaviour in the big group. I wondered ‘How does she perceive me in the group?’

Stepping back out of respect and with the intention to avoid dominant behaviour can reverse itself into the other extreme: the withdrawal from the collective group process.

If I withdraw myself too much from the group process I am in danger of becoming a spectator. I can become the one who doesn’t contribute to the conversation, who doesn’t participate in the emotional relationship building, who doesn’t do the work.

By stepping back too far in this space, I risk to become the white person who lets my Indigenous and racialized colleagues do the work. It suspiciously reminds me of the role of the colonizer who only exploits the work of the colonized and doesn’t give back. To what extent is this withdrawal – consciously or unconsciously – also a form of preempted white fragility? If I don’t fully engage in the first place, I don’t risk to be called out for my potential mistakes.

How do I find a balance between not dominating the space as a white settler and not withdrawing myself from the relationships and the collective process?

The following perspectives that were expressed at the training, and which I paraphrase here, had a huge impact on me and point towards possible answers:

‘Conflict is inevitable. Peace might be our goal, however even if we reach peace or even only a peaceful moment it will never last because conflict is everywhere. We need to go through conflict to get to peace.’

‘Conflicts have the potential to be a source of growth and transformational change.’

On a cognitive level I know that conflicts are everywhere: In our relationships with people, within ourselves, and globally. However I haven’t embraced conflicts as a ubiquitous reality in my daily life, and on some level have shielded myself from acknowledging conflicts’ ever-presence. I certainly haven’t sought out conflict as a strategy to get to peace.

Up to now, I have not experienced a lot of occasions where I could witness conflicts as ‘being a source of growth and transformational change.’ Instead, I am aware of conflicts that have led to a chilling in friendships, an estrangement within relationships and the division or collapse of activist groups. I have also experienced conflicts in organizations that resulted in suppressed hurt and remaining distrust as they were not resolved in a sustainable way.

Thinking of conflicts as a potential source of growth and transformational change is very empowering, and liberating. If I acknowledge the fact that conflicts are ubiquitous, there is no advantage and no excuse anymore to try to avoid conflicts or to be scared of them, for example, by withholding myself from the group processes in groups where I am one of the few white people. The obvious undesirability of either dominance or extreme withdrawal in these groups makes me feel obliged to actively try to find a balance in my participation if I want my commitment to radical social change to be reflected in my actions. The promise of growth and transformational change makes me want to go through conflicts and get better at resolving them, especially now as I have begun to acquire the tools and the confidence to resolve them in a sustainable way.

Are we at Righting Relations ready to deal with conflicts that arise from us trying to authentically and courageously juggle the entirety of our intersectional selves? Are we at the point where we can dare to take these risks or is that still a vision that we are working towards?

Writing this reflection has sent me on an insightful journey. In the past I have chosen to be more silent in settings where I as a white settler was in the minority. Until now I had not considered that as a consequence of modifying my behaviour in this way I had potentially interfered with opportunities for growth and transformational change within the particular group. I am only beginning to have a notion that I have a responsibility to find a balance between respectfully making space and allowing my own voice to be heard as well.

I would like to thank everyone with whom I have spent this very special week of training. Your presence, stories, and wisdom have touched and transformed me.

Until we meet again,

Miigwetch Anke

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – Presentation at Edmonton City Hall

On the International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action invited JHC to share its experiences with research and programming addressing racial discrimination in Edmonton. Angelica Quesada, JHC staff member, Louise P.  and Roxanne U.  attended this celebration and shared their experiences in building Righting Relations:


When thinking about the significance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in local context, the conversation in our office took us to reflect on how JHC’s programing and research in the last few years has reaffirmed the existence in Alberta of a strong link between Poverty, marginalization and racialized communities.

In this province racism manifests through systemic structures and policies that further marginalized racial or ethnic groups as the Child Care and Welfare system and Justice system do to Indigenous children, but also racism is the reality of the daily discrimination of racialized individuals who are inexplicably and constantly followed by security in stores, being kicked out of public places because of their racial complexion or association, or being frequently questioned by authorities just because of the way they look. The way they look is associated with crime and danger to the public. Many communities are not treated equally.

Thus, today we want to highlight the work of one of the networks in which we take part, because it has become for us an alternative on how to oppose racism and discrimination and build relationships in new and different ways.  At JHC opposing and eliminating racism should not lose sights of the systemic issues or the daily life manifestations of discrimination, and we have found out that that is exactly what Righting Relation is allowing us. Righting Relations is a powerful, women-led, pan-canadian network of which JHC is part. Righting Relations strives to build the capacity of adult educators and grass root organizers to create radical change in their communities and it can be described as the best anti-colonial, anti-racism training and space of learning I have attended.  The learning and capacity building happens at regional and local sharing circles where barriers between individuals who mobilize, organize, and advocate for their communities have come down. Where the racialized immigrant experience, or the Indigenous peoples struggles and strengths, and the pride and continuous oversight of people living with disabilities has been shared at both the systemic level and the personal experience. The intersections and the realities that systemic issues bring to people’s’ lives are educative, powerful and promote collective responses and new ways of personal relations. Righting Relations makes us look into our shared humanity to re-connect us and understand us in different ways outside the structures that manage our differences, while allowing us to support each other when opposing racism and discrimination in our daily jobs and lives. Thus we not only understand how we all have our personal challenges, but also how are they connected at the systemic level.


In the Righting Relations (RR) circles we have created a collective spirit of support through our guidelines which encourage listening rather than condemning, criticizing rather than judging. SOLUTIONS arrived at through the art of active listening, build the momentum of the collective spirit and keep it strong. By actively LISTENING to each other’ experiences, stories, perceptions and perspectives we are able to UNDERSTAND, and that increases our ability to become more compassionate. All preconceived biases, beliefs, opinions and prejudices melt away like mist in the morning sunshine. A fact that is well known is that the CRITICAL MASS achieves the goal whether it is world Peace, and end to violence, wars, hatred, abuse of power, position and privilege, elimination of prejudices, poverty, homelessness and marginalization of those seen as minority groups such as the ‘disabled’, and the homeless, the low or no income, the immigrants, the Indigenous people and more.

The collective spirit/consciousness of the critical mass affects all people everywhere whether or not those people are participating in the RR Listening Circles. As conscious awareness grows or … increases its momentum, within the groups across Canada it spreads out to the masses around the world. It can be delayed though it cannot be halted’ When the time for the betterment, uplifting of social conditions has come it cannot be stopped.

At one time in the history of our Canada it spreads out to the masses around the world has come it cannot be stopped. At one time in the history or our Canada the Europeans such as the Polish, the Ukrainians, the Aboriginals and the black people bore the brunt of violence through prejudice. Now many of those people are in prominent positions in society. Though the prejudices are still acting to some degree, Indigenous people are taking government position, careers in the medical field, in aviation and education. The spirit/consciousness of people always seeks of the people always seeks improvement personally and collectively.

The Art of Changing the World

Conference Reflections

by Maigan van der Giessen

The arts, especially participatory, community-engaged approaches, are increasingly recognized as core elements in diverse change agendas. From November 3 – 5th, 200 people with a passion for community-engaged arts gathered from coast to coast to coast of Canada and abroad for the Art of Changing the World Conference on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation/Ottawa, ON. Artists, scholars, educators, community organizations, policy makers and funders converged to share ideas, reflect and collectively enhance the power of the arts to bring about social transformation.

Artist: JR – Mexican, US border (view from US side). October 2017

The conference was hosted by the International Centre of Art for Social Change, and the Art for Social Change Research Project. This conference was the culmination of a five-year national research initiative on art for social change, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. It was the first study of it’s kind in Canada.

I was very grateful to be able to attend this conference and learn from the many arts practitioners and community builders whose work was featured.  As an emerging practitioner (a decade still seems young), I have a lot to learn about the many approaches, skill sets and values that underlie this work. I dearly appreciated the opportunity to connect with like-minded and differently minded individuals and organizations from across the country and the globe.

Often times, I find the most insightful moments come from conversations in the free spaces outside of organized conference sessions.  The very first night, after delegates arrived at the venue we were invited to speak with one person we didn’t know about our work and I had the fortune of speaking with a woman from Toronto about transformation! She shared with me, that as a 63 year-old performer in the arts community, she has really struggled with feelings of homophobia for her whole life.  She described how much her views had changed as she got to know LGBTQ individuals and how her journey and her perspectives have been informed by the people in her arts community.  She said next week she is going home to debut a theatre piece about this journey to her Christian Chinese community and she is terrified. I was so moved by her courage to confront and transform her own beliefs and share them with her larger community.  This moment really confirmed for me the true power of art when it is fuelled by intention, authenticity and vulnerability; it’s a transformative tool for personal as well as social change.

The workshops I participated in on the first day brought me in contact with a few heroes, like Jesse Stewart, who created a Masters Program in Music in Social Justice at Carleton University.  His workshop showcased some really interesting new technologies that increase access to music making for people with limited mobility. We got to play with lots of new and homemade percussion instruments and jam out!  I really enjoyed this, and was fortunate to connect with a young ‘Throat-boxer’ from Nunavut – Nelson Tagoona. Nelson combines throat singing and beat-boxing in his music, and travels to communities in the North inspiring young people to express themselves, their culture and who they are.  Building these types of connections; gaining inspiration and advancing my practice through collaboration is exactly what I hoped to gain during the conference. I was inspired by the way he utilized a vocal processor and I hope to experiment a little with one soon too. I hope to reconnect with this young artist in the future.

Another valuable insight came in the ‘Art and Conflict and Social Transformation’ workshop led by two women who worked extensively in post conflict Northern Ireland using theatre.  One participant asked “How do you ensure you are telling the right story? How do you avoid focusing on dominant narratives over more marginalized ones?”  One of the presenters suggested that “to get to the “truth” it is valuable to include as many narratives as possible and remain curious about what happens when these different accounts or stories bump into each other, rather than viewing them as right or wrong.”  This really rang true for me and I am hoping to integrate this value of curiosity and non-judgment into my own storytelling approach.

I was happy to see a session on Facilitation Methods by two seasoned practitioners, as it’s always really nice to learn new ways of ‘holding space’ in community.  Here were some things I heard that stuck with me:

  • Let your guiding principles be unconditional love, and equity, in particular towards those in the room you struggle with
  • Don’t be afraid of silence
  • Be responsive, read the room
  • Listen without judgment
  • Draw a reluctant or disruptive participant by giving them a role
  • Empty yourself out before you begin
  • Know yourself and your triggers
  • A good question to build community agreements: “What are your gifts? And what do you need from the group so you can share that gift?”

I really appreciated these reminders and am already using some of these tips in my own practice as a facilitator.

Much of my work is in the area of supporting digital storytelling through photography and audio/visual recordings (videos, songs, podcasts).  The Digital Storytelling workshop I attended wasn’t entirely new to me but I mostly appreciated the discussion around ethics in storytelling.  There were many voices that cautioned and affirmed the importance of consent in stories collection and that organizations and individuals should check in multiple times with the ‘story source’ and allow them to withdraw consent at any time.  This was important for me to hear, as we often get lost in thinking that these stories are somehow ours after we ‘capture’ them.  They belong to the individual or community that shared them.

Lastly, I was able to go to BluePrint for Life’s hip-hop workshop by Buddha (Steven Leafloor), another hero of mine.  He talked about the incredible work he and his team of hip-hop dancers, emcees and artists are doing to create opportunities for healing in remote northern communities.  My big take away here was that reconciliation work is often framed as intercultural and that healing needs to happen between communities. However the reality is that most often there is deep personal and community healing that needs to take place first.  This brought me full circle to my teachings from Righting Relations and beautifully tied together many of the things I have been exploring through my many projects over the past year.  I am grateful that I was able to attend and look forward to seeing what opportunities these new connections and perspectives will open up.

Stephen Leafloor leads a hip hop workshop

Big thank you to the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and the Righting Relations Western Hub for supporting me to attend this event.

Finding Home: The Story of the Righting Relations Central Regional Gathering

Finding home

by Suzanne Doerge

She had wandered for so long,

wondering where she belonged,

her ancestors pulled from one land

to be pushed to another,

shoved into ships on a quest not their own,

their youth scooped up and caught

in the winds of promises broken,

the word they called earth denied,

keeping afloat on the waves of history,

resisting the forces that tossed them

from shore to shore.


It was in a quiet valley of Ontario,

allowing the clear stream to flow

through her life blood, sweetgrass

clearing a path for stories to be told,

that she lay her mountainous body down,

her proud hips, a horizon for the rising sun,

her breasts still dripping with milk and honey

of the promise land,

her waist dipping into forgotten ravines,

her legs stretching strong into slopes

from which the eagle soared,

her arms wrapped round all who passed,

tending the roots of the trees that grew there,

cradling the seeds of what was yet to become,

the fire lit.



the clear stream gushes

from one expanse into another,

resilient people finding home.

Farah Ahmed and Sahar Ibrahim

This poem was written during the Righting Relations Central Regional Gathering in Treaty 18, Mono, Ontario, Nov 24-26, 2017.

From many different homelands, 35 change-makers from across Ontario, who use transformative/adult education processes for radical social change gathered for two days along a spring-fed stream, flowing from the rolling hills of the Hockley Valley. We are leaders, equity facilitators, mothers, sisters, aunties, grandmas, activists, organizers, artists, people of Immigrant and Indigenous ancestry to Turtle Island. We came together as the Righting Relations Central Regional Network to explore our identities, solidarities, the impacts of colonization, creative and collective care and rebuilding our connection to the land.

Our talking circle

We sang songs and convened with our ancestors, we listened to each other’s stories, we shared pieces of our histories, struggles, questions, and yearnings to find home. Who Am I? Deeply listening to each other’s stories in circle, we were able to understand ourselves better, for each one of us holds a piece of the collective story of disconnection, displacement, colonization, resistance, resilience, seeking, longing and reconnection.

Objects that connect us to who we are, our culture and the Earth

We were able to remove a mask, and witness each other with open hearts.

We are so different. And yet, so similar.

We experienced an Indigenous way of sharing through a talking circle, where time slows down and everyone is given equal space to share their truth. And then we experienced another model, a Western approach to dialogue – popcorn style, hands raised in the air to speak – and time sped up. It became harder to process what was being said, and harder to listen as we crafted our responses to people’s points as they spoke…

Having these two experiences back to back was profound as we could see more clearly the impacts of different approaches to hosting conversation. How do we want to hold space for dialogue? What kind of conversation do we want to have? Juxtaposing an Indigenous and Western way, side by side was good information for us to have as we move forward.

We spent time connecting to the land and Earth wisdom. We listened…

Natalie Abdou, Urpi Pine and Lyndi Woo

Now, how do we want to walk together? How do we nurture our network of relations?

This is what we saw:

We come together again and again, we learn more about one another, we map ourselves in the web of our Righting Relations network so we can each connect to one another and collaborate.

We continue having generative dialogue, in person and online, reflecting together and supporting one another.

We continue to do the inner work of decolonization and unpacking white privilege.

We show up as allies to one another and our communities’ events and struggles. We advocate.

We widen the circle and invite new people in.

Thank you to each person who is walking this path with us. We are truly inspired and humbled by your beauty and strength. Let us continue to walk side by side, learning, unlearning, reconnecting and making this world more whole and just for the present and future generations to come. We make the road by walking.

by Rehana Tejpar

Popular Education

Popular Education


The Economics of Capitalism

by Jim Stanford, Economist for the CAW

Jim Stanford’s Economics for Everyone has quickly become a standard reference for economics literacy and popular education. Now published in 6 languages, the book is used in higher education, trade unions, and community education initiatives around the world.




An ESOL Workbook For Immigrant Workers

Produced by CASA of Maryland, this workbook discusses the importance of employment organization and workers’ rights. It follows the steps of immigrants from coming into the US, looking for work and ends with the advocation for social change.




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by Paulo Freire

This book proposes a pedagogy with a new relationship between teacher, student, and society. Dedicated to the oppressed and based on Paulo Freire’s own experience helping Brazilian adults to read and write, It is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy and includes a detailed analysis of the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized.



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The Art and Science of Community-Based Dialogue

by David Diamond

Theatre for Living approaches the community as a living organism and recognizes when plays are created, they are made to help us investigate ways to change the behaviors that create the structure, not only the structure itself.



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by Augusto Boal

Theatre of the Oppressed is largely based on the idea of dialogue and interaction between audience and performer. Brazilian theatre practitioner Augusto Boal was influenced by the work of Paulo Freire and uses theatre as means of promoting social and political change.




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How White People Can Work For Racial Justice

by Paul Kivel

Uprooting Racism explores the manifestations of racism in politics, work, community, and family life. It moves beyond the definition and unlearning of racism to address the many areas of privilege for white people and suggests ways for individuals and groups to challenge the structures of racism.



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Conversations on Education and Social Change

by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire

This dialogue between two of the most prominent thinkers on social change in the twentieth century was certainly a meeting of giants. Throughout their highly personal conversations recorded here, Horton and Freire discuss the nature of social change and empowerment and their individual literacy campaigns.



Transforming The World From Where Women Stand by Suzanne Doerge

The evolving theory and practice of feminist popular education has implications that stretch beyond particular workshops with women. Feminist popular education is transforming the world from where women stand. It is, as with popular education, also a theory and methodology for social movements, community development and research.
Download: FeministPopularEd.pdf (PDF)


From: Training for Transformation, A Handbook for Community Workers by Anne Hope & Sally Timmel

This excerpt was written in order to support the work of community workers in Africa and provides a good background and framework for the philosophy of popular education in doing community organizing.
Download: Principles _of_Freire.doc (MS Word)


Popular Education in North America by Drick Boyd

Popular education in North America today largely operates “under the radar”; even so it is a powerful and dynamic social movement that is resisting oppression, fighting injustice, and bringing hope to people in communities large and small.
Download: UndertheRadar.pdf (PDF)


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Facilitation for Social Change

Social Change

ART OF HOSTING Harvesting Conversations that Matter

The Art of Hosting is an approach to leadership that scales up from the personal to the systemic using personal practice, dialogue, facilitation and the co-creation of innovation to address complex challenges.
Visit Website: www.artofhosting.org

PYE: Partners for Youth Empowerment

PYE’s mission is to unleash the power, purpose, and potential of young people worldwide.
Visit Website: pyeglobal.org


A video by Organization Unbound, a website that attempts to re-imagine the way we think about and engage in social change.
View Video: organizationunbound.org




Connect, Inspire, Colloborate!

An activities manual from yesworld.org focusing on co-learning, community building and healing.
Download at: www.yesworld.org





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An article on fully recognizing Indigenous homelands from the blog âpihtawikosisân.com, Law, language, life: A Plains Cree speaking Metis woman in Montreal.
Visit Blog: âpihtawikosisân.com


Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decisions that could affect their rights, property, cultures and environment. They have the right to determine their own priorities.
Download: Freepriorconsent.pdf (PDF)


Adapted from PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP: Training Manual by Jojo Geronimo
Neo-liberal ideology: underpinnings and assumptions.
Download: Neoliberal_context.doc (MS word)

THIS ISSUE with Sherri Mitchell

Sherri Mitchell,a Penobscot Attorney speaks on the show This Issue about the legal and social pressures on Indigenous people as stewards of their ancestral land and water.
View Video: www.youtube.com

UNSETTLING AMERICA: Decolonization in Theory and Practice

Unsettling America is a blog for a network of autonomous groups and individuals dedicated to mental and territorial decolonization.
Visit Blog: unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com

WHITE PRIVILEGE Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh

“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.”
Visit Website: www.beyondwhiteness.com

Reconciliation By Rebecca Tabobodung We are waking up to our history from a forced slumber We are breathing it into our lungs so it will be part of us again It will make us angry at first because we will see how much you stole from us and for how long you watched us suffer we will see how you see us and how when we copied your ways it killed our own We will cry and cry and cry because we can never be the same again But we will go home to cry and we will see ourselves in this huge mess and we will gently whisper the circle back and it will be old and it will be new Then we will breathe our history back to you you will feel how strong and alive it is and you will feel yourself become a part of it And it will shock you at first because it is too big to see all at once and you won’t want to believe it you will see how you see us and all the disaster in your ways how much we lost And you will cry and cry and cry because we can never be the same again But we will cry with you and we will see ourselves in this huge mess and we will gently whisper the circle back and it will be old and it will be new

Rebecca Tabobodung, a member of the Wasauksing First Nation (Parry Island, Ontario), is a poet, activist, and filmmaker. She lives in Toronto. This poem appears in A Healing Journey for Us All, United Church of Canada, page 11.


Uncovering the Wounds of Empire

A Response of The United Church of Canada to May 26
A National Day of Healing and Reconciliation




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A brief history of Canada & the Residential School System

A 22-minute video about colonization which begins in 1491 and gives a succinct timeline of wars, treaties, reports, acts, apologies, etc. until 2010.
View Video: www.youtube.com



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Canadian Journey in Restorative Justice

3 Videos: Archbishop Prendergast sent an invitation to the Archdiocese of Ottawa to join the Canadian Journey in Restorative Justice.
This link takes you to three videos: catholicottawa.ca



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Turning the Page on a Dark Chapter in our Shared History

This video is produced by the AFN and is an excellent resource, featuring former AFN National Chiefs Phil Fontaine and Shawn Atleo.
View Video: youtube.com




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Renée Vaugeois

National Steering Committee


Ms. Renée Vaugeois originates from Wildwood Alberta and is a 5th generation Canadian of Ukrainian and French descent. She is currently the Executive Director of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and current President of the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee; a coalition of law enforcement and organizations working to address hate in the province. Renée is the founder and current Treasurer of Ainembabazi Children’s Project, an organization committed to strengthening children’s rights in East Africa through building self reliant families and communities. Since 2015, Renée also serves as a Director for Women in International Security Canada, a professional network of women in the peace and security field.





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Luke Stocking

National Steering Committee


Luke Stocking works for Development and Peace – Caritas Canada (DPCC). DPCC is the international development agency of the Catholic Church in Canada. Since 2006 he has been the Central Ontario Animator for the organization. His work mainly consists of educating and organizing Canadian Catholics to embrace the Gospel Call to international solidarity and social change. He has led trips for volunteer members to Zambia, the Philippines, Paraguay and Ethiopia. Luke has an M.A. in Theology from St. Michael’s at the University of Toronto with a focus on Catholic Social Teaching and 20th century Catholic social movements.






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Adriana Salazar

National Steering Committee

Adriana F. SalazarADRIANA F. SALAZAR

Adriana F. Salazar has been the coordinator of the Community Engagement program at the Mennonite New Life in Toronto since 2009. Her expertise and practice in adult education, training and curriculum development for civic immigrant participation, designing and implementation of Participatory Action Research to promote social justice and inclusiveness among diverse communities, and building cross-sectoral collaborations and partnership process span 25 years of work in Colombia and Canada.

She brings over twelve years of direct engagement with diverse immigrant communities, services providers and umbrella coalitions in Toronto around topics of economic, social-cultural and civic inclusion.




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Ishbel Munro

National Steering Committee



Ishbel Munro has been an activist and community builder for over 40 years. Much of her work has been building bridges between peoples. She developed projects like On Common Ground which brought together the African Nova Scotian, Mi’Kmaq, Acadian and fishing communities to learn about each other’s culture and histories. She was coordinator of the First Nations Environmental Networking organizing a youth-elder gathering that brought youth across Canada to Cape Breton.

The thread that has run through-out her life is the creation of a more balanced, just world, a world where people can heal and grow to become the people they dream of being.






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National Steering Committee


Miigam’agan is a Mi’kmaq woman of the Fish Clan from Esgenoôpetitj/Burnt Church, New Brunswick. Her life has been devoted to Wabanaki cultural revival and to promoting an understanding of Indigenous matriarchal systems. Miigam’agan is the first Elder-in-Residence at St. Thomas University, Fredericton, New Brunswick. Her role provides support for First Nation students and offers resources on traditional knowledge. She is also an important link between the University and First Nations communities.

Miigam’agan sits on the Executive Committee of the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network at the University of New Brunswick, which sets research priorities and ensures that the research they support meets the needs of urban Aboriginal peoples.




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Walking With Our Sisters

National Hub Events

Walking With Our Sisters

When: January 14 – February 1, 2017

Where: Mt. St. Vincent University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia

A touring installation honoring the 1200-plus missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and Two-Spirit folks (MMIWG2S) arrives at the MSVU (Mt. St. Vincent University, Halifax, NS) Art Gallery as part of it’s North American tour. Comprised of over 1800 moccasin tops made by hundreds of caring hands, it’s a community-based project pushing back against injustice.



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Reflections on Canada 150



Stories from across the nation to build a more just society

This year commemorates the 150th Anniversary of Canada and we are taking this opportunity to pause and reflect on where we are coming from and where we are going.

A country born out of settler-colonialism and treaty relationships with First Nations, welcoming people from around the world, Canada has a complex history, which we continue to navigate to this day. We are a country, which both respects and upholds civil liberties for some whilst denying the fundamental rights of others. As a government and a people, we are unclear about how to uphold our treaty relationships with First Nations and continue to carry the burden of Canada’s early structural foundations. How do we participate in building a nation, which leverages what is working for all people, and shifts what is not?

Righting Relations believes in the power of an engaged and empowered civil society towards building and re-building a country, which truly reflects and supports us all.

We are genuinely curious to hear Reflections on Canada 150 from a truly diverse collection of people across Canada. We are collecting stories from coast to coast that can hopefully inspire and help move us towards the Canada we want to live in and need to co-create.

We invite you to join this conversation. Please share your reflections on the following questions through video, article, poetry, photography, dance, theatre, collage – all forms of creativity are welcome! Please keep videos to 2 minutes maximum.

1) What Canadian values do you believe in, and how do you live them into being?

2) What do we need to do to build a more politically and economically just society in Canada? What part are you playing in building that reality?

3) What does Righting Relations mean to you? What is needed in order to Right Relations now and into the future in Canada?

Please email your reflections to us at info@rightingrelations.org

Many thanks!


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As an Indigenous woman, whose family spent a total of 200+ accumulated years at a Residential School, who has experienced enough heartache and disconnection to fill a thousand pages, the “Righting Relations” Folk School Gathering in Wabamun Alberta proved to be healing, engendered hope, and a heartfelt wish that many Canadians and Indigenous people get a chance to experience this initiative, as well. Righting Relations is an initiative of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation with the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights spearheading the development of a Western Canadian Hub for Adult Educators.

There were many different people coming from all walks of life, and cultural backgrounds. When reflecting at the gathering my thoughts would often go to my own Grandmother, my children’s great-Grandparents, and my own parents. Each stayed at the residential school for many years and experienced things no child, no human should ever experience. There is one exercise we did at the Gathering that I’d like to share that captures the power of our journey together for that weekend. We were gifted by three newcomer women (Adult Educators) who joined the Gathering and did a skit about their experience learning about Canada and our Indigenous peoples, and then they said something like this, “We have learned about what Canada wants us to learn, and we have learned about your Indigenous people. Learning from your people, we can now say that we like what we have learned and believe your people need to lead.” “Wow!”, I thought, “Wow!, I get to hear this!?” “What did she just say!?” More thoughts surfaced, “I wish my parents were here (tears welling); they wouldn’t believe this was real; Oh Grandma, are you here, too … Peaking through the veil from the other side? I hope you are. Thank you.”

Other Indigenous participants also got to witness this display of Righting Relations and my heart swelled with so much hope and a feeling of safety and calm that I don’t usually get to experience. In light of this sacred time together that we shared with newcomers, Settlers, Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and many mixed blood people, I approached more closely the idea that maybe, identifying myself as “Canadian” might not be so bad if being “Canadian” means we create our “village” together. In this space at the Gathering, we actually created a new kind of “Canadian”; a new way to move forward together without alienating each other due to our inherited legacy of colonization, residential schools, racist policies and practices, etc. What is unique about Righting Relations is that it engages Adult Educators willing to be the change agents that heal, empower, and enlighten Canadian settler populations, newcomers and Indigenous people with unique workshops, learning circles, and cultural reclamation/acknowledgements that engender mutual respect within their spheres of influence, both personal and professional. They are correcting historical wrongs in such a way that builds newfound relationships and creates deeper understanding and appreciation for the common history that binds us, one to the other.

We can’t change history; however, we can change what this moment offers by a genuine commitment to the Canadian ideals of inclusiveness, cultural diversity, and respect for human rights that haven’t always been the experience for Indigenous peoples, and people who are economically disadvantaged. Our Adult Educators come into this program with unique skill sets, professional backgrounds, and the Spirit to ensure all human beings who engage with our program understand and appreciate that the way forward for Canadians is made more promising by inclusion of Indigenous worldviews, practices, ceremonies, and ways of being together.

If you hear of a gathering in your area that is put together by Righting Relations we hope you join us. Be a part of the solution, a part of the healing of our Nations, so much so that when your children and your grandchildren look back at this particular time they know their Ancestors (you) began the necessary healing that they got to inherit, and be filled with a genuine and well deserved sense of pride.

First Prairies Hub Gathering