Request for Proposals – Website Redesign

Animated image showing a group of 8 women of different races embracing in a group hug. The text "we believe in you" is laid over the image.

Animated image showing a group of 8 women of different races embracing in a group hug. The text "we believe in you" is laid over the image.It’s been a long time since our last blog update, and many things have happened since then, in the world and in Righting Relations. We hope that everyone has been keeping as well as can be expected, staying safe and healthy, and we want to send our love and our prayers to everyone: this has been a difficult year and our hearts are with all of you.

As an organization, we are taking an exciting step! We’re launching a request for proposals to redesign the Righting Relations website. If you or someone you know is a web designer/developer, please share the Request for Proposals document with them (see the button below). We would especially love to hear from folks who share our values, folks who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour, queer folks, and folks from other marginalized backgrounds.

The deadline for proposals is June 1st, 2021. Please send any inquiries to

We cannot wait until the day when we can safely meet again in person, and until then, please take care of each other.

Download the RFP

Download the .doc format

Newsletter November 2019

Greetings Friends!

Over the past several years, Righting Relations/Apaji-wla’matulinej, in partnership with The Catherine Donnelly Foundation, has been fostering connections and learning exchanges with diverse adult/popular educators across Turtle Island.  With the intent of strengthening our capacity to bring about radical social change, we are undergoing a transformative learning/unlearning journey to embody what a women-led, heart-centered approach to righting relations on this land we now call Canada looks like.

Our November newsletter features abbreviated reflections on five years of Righting Relations, a moose-hide tanning workshop in New Brunswick, thoughts on housing, homelessness and dignity as well as upcoming events. The newsletter also highlights of departure of Rehana Tejpar. Rehana, thank you for your commitment, your love and your essential role in the development of Righting Relations.

Rehana Tejpar Reflects on the Beauty and Importance of Righting Relations

In November, Rehana Tejpar steps down as National Coordinator of Righting Relations, she leaves friends and allies with this message:

Dear Members of the Righting Relations Network;

It has been a true honour to work with each of you and be a part of the many circles of the Righting Relations network since March 2016. I have grown tremendously through my relationships in this network and learned from each of you, from your stories, your teachings, your amazing skills, and ways of being leaders, facilitators and educators. Thank you for sharing your gifts with me, with Righting Relations, and with the world. You are each such bright and brilliant lights!

I see the profound beauty and importance of the work of Righting Relations and will be cheering you on from the sidelines as I continue to walk my path as a facilitator, artist and mother.

Please feel free to be in touch, if ever you feel the call. We can still be in relation. My email is

I wish you all the best on your personal journeys, in your circles and hubs and may the work continue to deepen and expand to your highest dreams.
In solidarity and love, Rehana Temper

Five years of Righting Relations 

 As Righting Relations enters its fifth year, we can be proud that program leaders have gathered a diverse network of adult educators and community organizers committed to advancing social change through political and economic literacy. Righting Relations is reaching circles and communities outside the current membership and is well positioned to enter a ‘second phase’ of work to deepen relationships, expand their presence and reach and build resource capacity and longevity. West Hub coordinator Renée Vaugeois reflects on the program’s successes and what’s ahead:

Committed to Brave Conversation

I see a real commitment to being brave in the conversation. There’s been a shift in the nature of people who are part of the network; a real skill that’s developed in our team to be able to transition conversation to be more empathetic in that space and now as a result, I think we’re ready to do really strong work together. There’s been this point where people have made a commitment to be in the circle and recognize that it’s hard and you have to be willing to push through [some hard] conversations without saying ‘I’m going to get out of here.’ It is a really a family of people who are taking care of each other in really interesting ways; even from those in our networks who are struggling with homelessness, people are supporting them. It’s kind of beautiful.

Deepening our Skills

Phase one has allowed us to really unpack and dissect those issues that are really deeply concerning for us and now it’s time for us to figure out how we build forward on that? What excites me is we’re not only going to deepen our skills and be able to hold space and educate in different ways, but we will actually spend time on digging into the concept of genocide and some of these issues that are really challenging for us and really push forward in a collaborative way. And what I see, too, is that when we’re doing Righting Relations – while we’re in network and while we’re focusing on capacity building – there are these really beautiful alignments that are happening between people in the network where they are pursuing work together.

Taking Learnings into Other Spaces

I’m excited about the alignments between different members in our network and creating the spaces for those folks to continue with the brave stuff we’ve been doing. Now the trick is to take those learnings into other spaces, so at our regional gathering we put people into teams and said ‘can you work on this workshop together and deliver it?’ And I think there was such a beauty in that co-educating and co-facilitating together [across different cultures]. If we hadn’t done all that foundation building, I don’t think we could try to put these people together to facilitate a conversation on their side.

Pushing the Conversation

There’s an element of trust, but now there’s also this element of everybody realizes we’re all there to push the conversation together. We all realize that adult education is such an absolute critical need in this country. And coming from Alberta right now, I can’t tell you how urgent it is. There’s a real desire to fill that gap We’re really excited to work as teams, but also to push conversations around [issues] like the Missing and Murdered indigenous Women and Girls report and hear what people think of them; not to have them shut their doors and say ‘this is not for me,’ but to create a space where they can engage and start to see the realities.

Building Capacity by Partnering with Organizations

What excites me in the second phase is really strengthening those foundational relationships with other organizations. The work of individuals – the adult educators – is moving forward, but building our capacity is going to come through us being able to really strengthen our relationship and strengthen our longevity as [larger] organizations. These organizations will bring resource capacity to the table … to build partnerships and to do that long, long term work.

Disability and Gender Identity are Priority Areas

We have identified two key priority areas, the first being disability. There was a realization recently that as much as people with disability have been part of the circle and part of the growth, there’s still such a deep lack of understanding [of their situation]. The big part is really strengthening that capacity to include, but also to have more people with disabilities as part of the network. And then the second priority relates to gender identity. We have a number of transgender community members, but again, there’s a realization there are certain groups of people who feel very isolated and excluded even when they’re in the circle. We need to create spaces where we’re holding more of those folks at the table, because I noticed with people with disabilities and the transgender community that they come in and get their toes in the water, but then they’ll leave. We have to really create that space where they can fully, fully come in and be with us in a meaningful way. And that’s going to take time.

Encouraging the cross-country spread of Dialogue for Peaceful Change training

Last February, Apji-wla’Matulinej (Eastern Hub) and Women of First Light were able to sponsor this 5-day training in conflict transformation called Dialogue for Peaceful Change (DPC), through funding from the Native Brotherhood. Righting Relations covered the cost of flights for members from across the country to join in. This experiential training supports the values of Righting Relations as it challenges people to move into a place of being open and curious rather than judgemental of each other. It also provides practical tools for using meditative behaviour in groups, in circles, communities and your work.  The National Steering Committee’s hope is that in the next Phase of Righting Relations we can develop trainers across the country. To start this dream, Women of First Light and the Tatamagouche Centre are sponsoring two Indigenous women to Intern with Ishbel Munro and Steve Law in delivering this program in November.

Moose Hide Tanning Workshop

Reflection.. by Juisen Bartibogue

 On October 13 to October 20, 2019 at the Wolastoq Gathering Grounds in Fredericton, New Brunswick, the Women of First Light organized a remarkable teaching for indigenous peoples in the East. A camp was set up with teepees and old-style camping tents with a wood stove for cooking and all week there were meals and hot beverages provided. The public was welcomed for observation and participation. It was the same week as thanksgiving, a funny and ironic time to host an event of indigenous culture, however, something changed the energy in the air at this week long workshop.

At the Wolastoq Gathering Grounds, with its history as a sacred ancestral burial ground, came a powerful presence that no words can describe. It brought back the indigenous way into the indigenous people of today who attended the workshop.

This event was conducted by a really remarkable and powerful teacher, named Melaw Nakehk’o, from Yellowknife. She awoke the heart of our ancestors within us all. It felt like a real indigenous community, again. Every person helped one another [and] everyone was there as a family, as a true community. Everyone inspired and created a safe space to love and care about one another.

On Thanksgiving Day, social media blew up on the genocide aspect of this holiday, but for me, I came to the beautiful realization of something more meaningful and present. It was a day of rejuvenating our culture. I thought of the ignorance that exists in people when it comes to indigenous people and then I highlighted something very important: If it wasn’t for indigenous people, the colonized settlers wouldn’t have survived 500 years ago in the whole Western Hemisphere. Imagine that?

But this day was special, it truly became a thanksgiving after all. Giving thanks for this wonderful opportunity to be part of such rich, traditional knowledge that is being offered. Being thankful for a week of laughter, hugs, reconnection, teachings, and humbleness… and yummy soul food!! If it wasn’t for our courageous and heroic indigenous ancestors, none of us would’ve seen this day! And if it wasn’t for our elders who chose the way of our ancestors in their lifetime here and now, this amazing knowledge of traditional teachings would’ve been lost. I have become incredibly thankful to have been given this opportunity.

I am 25 years old and new to these teachings and my daughter is four years old and learning this teaching by my side. I feel happy for her generation, It’s amazing to reflect on how much opportunities are coming out today to learn more of our culture; how it’s just flourishing and healing us as its brought back into practice. It warms and comforts my heart how much my daughter absolutely loved waking up every morning and the first thing she thought and said was how happy she was going back to “the grounds” to learn more.

I want to encourage my whole generation to go to these events, to these gatherings, to learn… because with all the pain and trauma that has been recycled into us, this is a step toward healing and reconnection and rejuvenation. It just feels like this is the way, always been and always should be. The sense of a real community and unconditional love is so unreal and is too precious to turn away from and forget.

Thank you/ Welalin/ Woliwon


Note: Women of First Light is an Indigenous women-led non-profit that grew out of Apji-wla’Matulinej/Righting Relations Eastern Hub. We are thankful to the Catherine Donnelly Foundation and Climate Change/Indigenous Services for their support.

Edmonton Social and Environmental Advocate Johnny Lee on housing, homelessness and dignity

“There is so much outward, overt housing discrimination [from landlords] … they will not accept Indigenous People. When you’ve experienced homelessness, you’re labeled right away. This is Indigenous land and we have to pay colonial society rent to live on our own land. It’s not our world that you have to step on others in order to get ahead. A lot of us have the view that we don’t want any part of that, we just want to live.”

The Righting Relations team in Edmonton has been working hard to advocate for issues related to dignity and housing. Listen to what Johnny Lee has to say about barriers to being housed here


KAIROS Prairies North Regional Gathering 2019

Edmonton, AB, November 22-23, 2019
KAIROS Prairies North invites those from Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories to their annual regional gathering.  Come to learn more about how to build positive Alliances for Change! Link to event here

Facilitating Creative Collaboration, Toronto, ON Nov 29 – Dec 1st

Facilitating Creative Collaboration is a 2 ¼ day hands-on workshop welcoming seasoned and emerging facilitators, organizational leaders, organizers, educators, trainers, artists, bridge-builders, healers and more. If you are a person who brings people together and wants to deepen your practice of facilitating collaboration, this workshop is for you. We invite you to step into the space of exploring what is the art of collaboration? What conditions support people’s full participation into collective processes and decision-making? How do we harness collective wisdom towards our organization’s most complex challenges? What processes support the meaningful inclusion of diverse perspectives, while recognizing inequities of power? How do we engage in bridge-building conversations across difference? What helps to spark the creative genius in us all? Register for the event here

Decolonizing Relationships; learn our histories and transform relations, Hamilton, ON December 2, 2019

The event will be facilitated by Michelle Thomas, a Seneca Bear clan woman from Six Nations of the Grand River who strives to incorporate Haudenosaunee values in all her work, and is passionate about creating opportunities for people to decolonize their minds. Michelle’s book Through the Leaf’s Thickness, tells her life journey from the depths of childhood trauma to forging a new path through a powerful spiritual awakening. If you would like to attend, please RSVP on the Eventbrite page

Righting Relations Hamilton Human Rights Facilitator Training, Alberta, March 2020

The Human Rights Facilitator program is available through Edmonton’s John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and equips participants with the tools and capacity to create spaces of learning and dialogue around human rights and build stronger and more resilient communities. Taking place at Sanctum Retreat Centre in Caroline, AB, the intensive sessions will take place over six days in which participants will:

• Deepen their understanding of United Nations’ treaties and declarations and understand how they are out relevant to the local context;
• Explore how human rights can be a tool for human rights advocacy and accountability;
• Gain skills in facilitating spaces of intersectionality and with a lens to decolonization; and,
• Learn skills in documenting and translating dialogue outcomes to stakeholders.

Cost is $1,250  which includes tuition, accommodation and meals. There are a limited number of subsidized spaces available. Register for the program here


Righting Relations National Gathering, Tatamagouche, NS, June 4 – 7, 2020

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


A poem inspired by the Righting Relations National Gathering

June 6 – 10, 2018, Pinawa, Manitoba

By Rehana Tejpar

At the heart of Turtle Island,

Lies a sacred site,

Where, 10, 000 years ago, Anishnaabe ancestors carefully crafted Petroforms, telling stories of earth and sky,

For all who followed to see, and remember.

On these sacred lands,

A group of leaders and learners recently gathered.

Together on the path of transformation,

Learning how learning can steward a world more healed, more just, more loving.

Righting Relations,

Hand in hand,

Singing songs of truth and spirit,

Telling stories of grief and praise,

Learning to build community again. To reconnect.

Learning what wounds need to be healed for us to expand,

To be more heart-centered,

To walk with our communities into safety and abundance.

We can’t take anyone further than we ourselves have gone.

We begin to envision a future together,

Where people of all nations can stand as one, united for justice.

The power is infinite.

Like the birds in a flock fly together,

Without a single leader,

Each one, a leader.

Leading from below,

From where our roots grow.


Listening with all our senses,

And learning to trust the flow.

Sometimes it’s foggy, and we get lost.

Sometimes we become afraid.

Sometimes we forget where we’re going.

And sometimes she wants to fly here and he wants to fly there and….

What next?


It’s all part of the journey.


So we dance.

And we are still.

And reflect,

And fly again.

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.

Righting Relations Winnipeg Recruiting Part Time Circle Coordinator

Righting Relations is a women-led, pan-Canadian network that strives to strengthen the capacity of adult educators and adult education to bring social change through political and economic literacy for a just society in Canada. With funding support from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, hubs of adult educators and community organizers have been developing in communities across the country.

Position Description
Righting Relations Winnipeg is looking for a part-time Circle Coordinator, located in Winnipeg, which involves working directly with community circle participants in the community and supporting the coordination of activities of the circle.

The coordinator duties and responsibilities include:

  • Coordinate (book place, order food, etc) circle meetings and activities
  • Communicate and meet with the coordination group on regular basis to debrief and plan ahead
  • Collect information necessary for reporting
  • Update the group’s social media and website
  • Write narrative reports and provide reflections
  • Take detailed notes of circles and meeting minutes and distribute

Term of Contract
5 month position starting April 1, 2018 – August 30, 2018.

The coordinator is expected to work an average of 7 hours a week, but they will not be evenly distributed every week.

Position has the potential for renewal pending funding


  • Capacity to travel in the City of Winnipeg
  • Organizational, attention to detail, and time management skills
  • Interpersonal and relationship building skills
  • Communication skills (written and verbal)
  • Experience updating websites, communicating through social media
  • The ability to work independently and take initiative while still being a strong team member
  • Have attended previous circles and familiar with Righting Relations Western Hub

Interested candidates may submit their resumes to:

Hiring a Central Hub Coordinator


Working for Change in support of the Righting Relations: Strengthening Adult Education for Social Change, a women-led initiative in partnership with the Catherine Donnelly Foundation is seeking a Central Hub Coordinator. The purpose of Righting Relations is to strengthen the capacity of adult educators and adult education to bring about radical social change through political and economic literacy for a just society in Canada.

This is a one-year contract opportunity for a dynamic, creative and skilled person interested in coordinating and advancing regional development on behalf of a national adult education program for social change.

The Central Hub Coordinator manages and administers the Central Hub of the Righting Relations program and facilitates the various working groups/circles associated (and emerging) within the Hub: including program facilitation and implementation, coordination and administration, as well as communications and public relations.

  • Successful candidates have three to five years relevant experience within the adult education/popular education field;
  • Experience in facilitating adult education process from a systemic approach;
  • Awareness of immigrants/refugee exclusion (comprehensive knowledge of the settlement sector);
  • An anti-oppression perspective and inclusionary approach;
  • Demonstrated experience of engagement in social concerns;
  • Experience in exploring and/or working with Indigenous communities (theoretical and practical)
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • Demonstrated ability in strategic/organizational and participatory planning;
  • Knowledgeable of the computer programs for word processing, accounting and spreadsheets, email, internet;
  • Ability to use key social media, and an understanding of its importance;

The Central Hub Coordinator is a part-time, one-year contract with flexible hours. It is anticipated that this would be a 21 hours per week commitment.

*Preference is given to candidates within a reasonable commute to Toronto, Ontario.

Closing date: February 20th, 2018

Please submit resume, a letter describing interest in the contract, and the contact information for three references to

For more information on Righting Relations visit


Please no phone calls. Working for Change and the Righting Relations Steering Committee would like to thank all who apply; however, only candidates selected for interview will be contacted.


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

Righting Relations at Ignite Change: Global Gathering for Human Rights Treaty 6 Territory/Edmonton, AB

Righting Relations members from across Turtle Island gathered for the first time representing the four directions: East, South, West and North at Ignite Change Global Gathering for Human Rights, in Treaty 6 Territory. Ignite Change is a global gathering for human rights defenders, protectors, promoters, facilitators – those with a concern about the current human rights climate we live in, and are working to build peace and take action globally and locally.

For five days we examined how to address four key issues from a human rights lens: human trafficking, arms, drugs and hate. We explored ways as global citizens, to amplify voices and perspectives on these issues and translate concerns into non-violent direct action. The gathering was organized by Righting Relations Western hub partner – The John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights.

The gathering opened on Aug 21st, 2017 the day of the total solar eclipse with a pipe and a water ceremony. Lewis Cardinal, spoke of the meaning of Treaty 6 – a Peace and Friendship Treaty, which brings us together as relatives. He reminded us that treaties are made when we join together as nations, and that this is a sacred relationship, one of becoming family, and living side by side. Without treaties, he said, Canada cannot exist, by legal definition. Treaty defines who we are, and our roles and responsibilities, as we are all treaty people.

Compelling speakers pulled back the veil on complex human rights issues. Sarah Curtiss spoke of the struggles faced by Indigenous survivors of sexual exploitation, Petra Schultz told the story of loosing her son to Fentanyl, the opioid crisis and the need for drug policy reform; Bashir Mohamed reflected on Edmonton’s racism – past and present, Dr Ingrid Mattson spoke of Islamophobia, and so much more. Dynamic workshops created spaces for dialogue around non-violent strategies for addressing injustice such as using popular theatre for social change with Mirtha Rivera and Dialogue for Peaceful Change with Ishbel Munro – both members of the Righting Relations network.

Popular Theatre with Mirtha Rivera

Righting Relations hosted a space within the gathering, which became a space for reflection, for doing deep inner work, healing and relationship building. As much as we examine the patterns of violence, hate and exploitation in the outer world, we must also examine them in the inner world, within ourselves. What we know is that how we operate internally, is how we operate externally and that in order to right relations with others we must right relations with ourselves.

Every afternoon, Righting Relations hosted a circle in the teepee, on the land, and it was open to all, for the exchange of knowledge around specific teachings. Melaw Nakeh’ko from Yellowknife, NWT lead us through a process of moose hide tanning, Vanessa Cook from Treaty 1/Winnipeg lead a circle on the meaning of our names as a way of understanding our life purpose, Barb Frazier from Treaty 4/Moosejaw lead a circle on the role of women in water protection and shared teachings on medicinal plants. Ishbel and miigam’agan shared on the experience of building Apaji’wla-matulinej, the Eastern hub of Righting Relations, through a women-led approach.

We hosted two Women’s Wisdom Circles to harvest collective wisdom on the Child Welfare System and the relationship between healing and radical social change.  In our discussion on child welfare, we explored how we might be able to claim collective family rights and thus, make claim to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in Canada. If UNDRIP speaks in terms of collective rights, how are these rights claimed in Canada whose legal system speaks of individual rights?

Women’s Circle on Child Welfare and Collective Rights

We talked about the importance of rebuilding the kinship system – looking after one another beyond blood relations. How do we rebuild support systems in the community so that families receive the support they need to be able to care for their children and not have them apprehended by the child welfare system? We talked about family abuse, how prevalent it is, and how we need to speak more openly about it to address it, heal from it and stop perpetuating it. We talked about love, keeping our hearts wide open and the sacred responsibility that is parenting.

 How does Healing bring about Social Change?

“Indigenous women have not been heard for 100s of years – for their voice to come out, healing is needed for confidence.”

 “Leaders are expected to be strong – they never get to be vulnerable, but they need those opportunities. They can’t always hold it together for us all the time.”

 “When women and young women are healing, we have a better co-vision of how we want to be together.”

 “Healing is important in order to create the community we really want – to respect and really listen.”

 “If we don’t right relations with ourselves, we will pass the hurt to our children.”

In the spirit of both Indigenous ways of teaching/learning and popular education, we used our lived experience as a launch pad for understanding and transforming systems in our world. And in the process of witnessing each other going deep into the places of our inner pain, beauty, hope, distrust, fear and limitation, we began to shed the protective layers that keep us divided and build a container of collective love and support.

We began to weave a quilt of our relations from all four directions and build a circle of sisterhood, strength and support. We stood in solidarity with one another and embodied kinship, togetherness and belonging. We worked in a way that was women-led, trusting the wisdom of the circle, being transparent and sharing leadership.

 “This is the first time in my life I feel I have support”.

 “I feel I found a place I do belong.”

 We are righting relations…

Righting Relations Members at Ignite Change


Righting Relations, the Story of an Emerging Women-Led Network of Popular Educators and Indigenous Knowledge Keepers from Across Turtle Island

We are living in a time of prophecy. Many nations prophesized that there would come a time when people must choose between living a material way of life or following the Original Instructions – the spiritual way. They spoke of the time of the 7th Fire where there would be fires and floods. A time when Mother Earth would be sick and would shake. Some nations spoke of a giant spider web forming over the world, others spoke of black snakes across the land. In this time of power lines and pipelines we see the visions of the ancestors coming true. They spoke of a time of rising temperatures, of fighting and division. Some saw visions of water burning and what seemed impossible to the ancestors’ eyes has been made a reality by the fracking industry.

“Many people will turn away from the teachings of the Elders”, they said.

It was also prophesized that in this time of the 7th Fire, there will be people who will retrace their steps to find what was left by the trail. They will speak to the Elders, and bring back the Original Instructions. They will come together in sisterhood and brotherhood across nations.

They will seek to right relations with all of life, because this is the only way that life will continue.

We are Righting Relations, a women-led network of adult educators for social change, in partnership with the Catherine Donnelly Foundation. We are coming together across cultures as change-makers, who work with Indigenous, Immigrant, Refugee and low-income communities to co-learn, build networks of support, and strengthen our capacity to bring about radical social change.

The ways we are coming together are unique. We are aware that the political and economic systems are fraught with inequity and that we have inherited structures of power, which are colonial, patriarchal and destroying life in our communities, destroying our Mother Earth and the water. We are coming together in ways that are intentionally different, rooted in heart-based, land-based, inclusive and life-affirming principles. We are popular educators[1], adult educators, Indigenous knowledge keepers, artists, activists, grandmothers, aunties, fathers, healers, community organizers and people who want to model another way of being together. A way of being that supports and nurtures ourselves, each other and all life to thrive on this planet.

Currently we are convening change-makers in three hubs: Apaji’wla-matulinej in the East on the land of the Peace and Friendship Treaty, with an Indigenous focus; South/Central – Tkaronto, Dish With One Spoon Treaty Territory and on the unceded traditional land of the Algonquin Nation, a.k.a Ottawa, with an Immigrant and Refugee focus; and in the West in Treaty 6, 1 and 4 (Edmonton, Winnipeg and Regina) with a focus on Low-Income. We are beginning to build relationships in the North West Territories with Dene Nahjo, who are advancing social and environmental justice and fostering Indigenous leaders in the North.

We are women-led, but not women-only. Women in our leadership who are Mi’kmaq, which is traditionally a Matriculture, have taught us a great deal about what this means. Women-led to us, means that we honour heart-centered leadership. We listen to the wisdom of the heart, and we engage with that wisdom in our ways of doing. It’s a way of leading and following in which there is no one leader, rather a circle of leaders. We are all involved in shaping what we create and how we come together. A women-led approach excludes no one. There is a role and value for everyone in the circle. It’s a way of being that centers being authentic, building kin-like support networks, being vulnerable, honouring the Sacred, and acknowledging multiple ways of knowing, including the intuitive.

We believe in the power of circle learning. The circle is present in cultures the world over and is an ancient way of being together. In the circle, everyone has a place, nobody is above any other, and we can all be seen and heard. Everyone is a sacred being, full of wisdom. We learn to listen deeply to each other’s stories. We see ourselves in each other. We start where people are at, and our lived experiences of colonization, of injustice, reveal to us the systemic and interlocking nature of our oppression. It reveals to us that our liberation is interconnected – my liberation is connected to your liberation. It shows us that all of us here on Turtle Island must heal from the wounds of colonization – whether we are survivors, victims or perpetrators – we have all been deeply wounded. Without healing the wounds of colonization, we will make the mistake of recreating the same structures and patterns which separated us from the land, each other and our ancestral teachings in the first place.

We are bridging worlds, histories, cultures and knowledge systems, weaving a quilt that embodies Righting Relations. Each person who enters the circle, brings with them a piece of their culture, their story, their identity, their methodologies in adult education, and each piece is sewn into the fabric of our living tapestry. In the process we are learning about ourselves, building solidarity across peoples, learning from each other tools for transformative radical education with marginalized adults, and bridging a knowledge gap between popular education and Indigenous ways of knowing.

We know this work is generational, and the seeds we are planting together are rippling out on the personal, interpersonal and systemic levels. We have broken the isolation and the silence of pain many of us experience, and are breathing life back into the practice of critical adult education in Canada. We are building the confidence and courage to speak out against injustice, and building the support systems to stand alongside each other when we do choose to speak out even when there is a risk of loosing our livelihood. We are learning how to slow down, listen again and be the kind of leader that uplifts us all as leaders.

To find out more and to join us, please visit


[1] A dialogical and experiential process of facilitating collective reflection and action towards societal transformation, with a focus on the most marginalized sectors of society. Everyone is a teacher and a learner, and we begin with people’s lived experiences as a site for developing critical consciousness and awareness of power.

The birth of the traditional wi’kuom at Mt. St. Vincent University

Being present and assisting in the birth of the traditional wi’kuom (wigwam) on unceded Mi’Kmaq territory, was a deep honour. Members from Apaji-wla’matulinej (Eastern Hub of Righting Relations) had been invited to support this work. In fact, it was brought about through our Advisory Committee member Catherine Martin, as her parting act as Nancy’s Chair at Mount St. Vincent University.



It was a two day labour and just like the journey of giving birth, it had moments of frustration, moments where some support people got out of harmony with each other, didn’t listen to the “being” being born. We had a grandmother huddle where we discussed what we saw happening and how could we bring back the harmony and working as one, so that the wi’kuom was welcomed into this world in a good way.

We had moments of deep joy and complete awe, when the poles were placed on the ends and the shape of the head emerged. At that moment elder, Lottie Mae Johnson remembered seeing this structure as a young child on Chapel Island. It is deeply moving how a teacher from another area can rekindle and bring back local traditional knowledge. It was an historic event.



Teaching that emerged, sometimes through pain and frustration were that the women are responsible for the home. The women have the say and are the ones who build the home with help from men. “We say where the sink will go,” explained Catherine Martin. It was, in fact, an Indigenous woman, Marilyn Francis who envisioned bringing back the traditional wi’kuom. She had contacted Tony Solomon, a well-known and respected teepee maker and teacher to create it for her. They did research and had many discussions. Tony often reminded us that he is Anishinabe. He did his best on the research but felt as the Mi’Kmaq used the wi’kuom and listened to her teachings, there would be adjustments and new understandings.

This was reflected in a comment by Sherry Pictou, who has just become the first permanent Indigenous Professor at Mount St. Vincent University, “ Thank-you to Cathy Martin and Tony Solomon for providing us with such incredible teachings and inspiring us to learn more about how our ancestral homes are our lifeways.”



It was an extremely hot and humid day to be working out in the sun. As we worked, some tension emerged as men who are used to just jumping in and doing, didn’t listen or argued with the women about how it should be done. Some women felt their voice was being denied and some moved a distance away. The grandmothers gathered everyone and spoke about the reasons this was important and how we needed to work as one, listen to each other and to the spirit of the wi’kuom. And the wonderful part was we all learned. At the evening reflection a man spoke emotionally about seeing what he was doing and learning to step back and let the women do it and then help where needed.



The next day, we did it all again! We wanted to make sure we would remember how to do it. Tony reminded us, “There are no mistakes. If something is not working, stop and listen. What is this telling us?” So we learned that the stakes need to be put in differently than a tee pee. She needed support along the middle first. We all learned to respect the time when we are putting on our grandmother’s dress. Just like when you are dressing or undressing your grandmother, you do not take pictures. Anyone who comes to the doorways is invited in. They do not stay standing in the door way as if they don’t belong in the circle. All our welcomed in and given a place to sit. Their voice is just as valuable as everyone else’s. In the western way of thought, the poles would be considered dead. The Indigenous way, they still contain spirit and can be our teachers.


Tony Solomon, Mukaw Tee pees

While we worked or took breaks, we talked about the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations. People felt so good that Mount St. Vincent University was listening to Indigenous voices and working with Indigenous people to create this legacy. Catherine Martin said some people have teepees in Halifax and N.S., which is the name for an Indigenous western home, as far as she knows this is the first Mi’kmaq wigwam on a university campus. That a traditional wi’kuom will be used as a class room and teaching space for both Indigenous and non-indigenous people just felt so right!

And we talked of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous people (UNDRIP). People were saddened and upset to learn that at the Grand Pre 150 Celebration a non-native person has been contracted to provide 15 tee pees. The celebration is to honour the 400 year old friendship between the Indigenous people and Acadians. Having a German make the tee pees flies directly in the face of UNDRIP which Canada has signed. It is deeply insulting when there are Indigenous people who can and should be doing this work. So while we were uplifted by what we were doing, we knew there is still much to be done. And hopes were expressed that the wider community will learn to ask the advice of Indigenous women. The women would have brought up the future generations – saying “what will our children years from now learn looking at a structure created by a non-native. They will think this is our way and will not be able to find their way to the traditional teachings that come from our authentic ways of being and living.”

We ended by celebrating the birth day of the wi’kuom. Tony shared how to make a traditional Anishinabe corn soup. During the morning it was cared for by two women. It was brought into the centre of the wi’kuom. Serving in the Indigenous way, rather than the western way of doing things, young men quickly gave out bowls and filled them with steaming soup, followed by Labrador tea while songs were sung.

Reflections were shared and everyone was so thankful.

“I feel like I have come home.”



The 4Rs Youth Movement National Learning Community

Chippewas of Rama First Nation, May 18-21, 2017

by Rehana Tejpar

Righting Relations National Program Facilitator

Last month I had the honour and privilege of being invited to co-facilitate and participate in the 4Rs Youth Movement’s National Learning Community, on behalf of Righting Relations. Gathered in the territory of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation along the shores of Lake Couchiching, young Indigenous and non-Indigenous change-makers from across Turtle Island came together around the question: How do we hold meaningful and relevant conversations in our communities that lead us closer to reconciliation?

The National Learning Community is made up of pairs of young people from Yellowknives First Nation, Nanaimo (BC), Vancouver (BC), Oxford House First Nation (MB), Calgary (AB), Peguis First Nation (MB), Saskatoon (SK), Ottawa (ON), Nogojiwanong/Peterborough (ON), London (ON), Halifax (NS) and Nain (NF).  Over the course of this year, with the support of 4Rs, they will be hosting conversations in and around their home communities on reconciliation.

The 4Rs Youth Movement (Respect, Reciprocity, Reconciliation, Relevance) is a collaborative, youth-led initiative seeking to change the country now known as Canada by changing the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people.



The 4Rs has outlined their approach to cross-cultural dialogue in Seeding Reconciliation on Uneven Ground. Grounded in an earth-based metaphor, their practice is rooted in convening people from different cultures in face-to-face gatherings (on the land when possible), to have critical conversations and build deep relationships of trust.

What brought me into conversation with 4Rs were the striking similarities in the work and approach between 4Rs and Righting Relations. Common to both networks/movements is a centering of Indigenous knowledges and peoples, a participatory leadership model, the use of a popular education framework, a holistic approach to social change that welcomes the whole self – mind, body, heart and spirit, honouring the healing journey that this work of reconciliation requires as we move towards justice.


(Phoenix, Chippewa of the Thames, harvesting chaga)

The 4Rs has been playing with the use of Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) as a way to explore “big concepts” like reconciliation and decolonization.  These words are thrown around, but how do we understand them, really?  TO is a body-based approach and popular education methodology for exploring personal and collective struggles and pathways to liberation, which centers the body and people’s lived experience as the primary site of wisdom and transformation. Together with the National Learning Community I was invited to experiment with using TO to unpack the concepts of reconciliation and decolonization.  As always, we had limited time, and these concepts are not big, they’re huge, multi-layered and complex.  And yet we played with them a little bit through Image Theatre, and shone some light on what reconciliation and decolonization looks and feels like in the body, to us. Here are some insights we uncovered:

What does Reconciliation Look Like?


What do you see? Here’s what we saw:


What does decolonization look like?

(From left: Jermaine, Cheyenne, Evelisa.  This is one of the many iterations of what decolonization looked like that day)

What do you see? Here’s what we saw

What does decolonization feel like?


What does it feel like to you? (really we would love to know, please share)

Being amongst young Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders from across communities and nations on this land devoted to the work that reconnects us was truly inspiring. I witnessed Indigenous youth reaching within their cultural bundles and ancestral teachings for the medicine and strength to heal the wounds of colonization. I witnessed courage and resilience of the highest order. I witnessed the bravery of the human heart to heal and move forward in a good way. I listened to stories of colonization that enraged me. Rivers of tears flowed from the overwhelming sadness of perpetual and calculated genocide on these lands.  I witnessed forgiveness and guilt. I became a bit closer to understanding what ally-ship means. I witnessed people stretching their eyes and minds open to make room for other, lesser-known realities. I witnessed deep listening. I witnessed people seeking to learn what we need in order to right relations and to unlearn what is holding us back. I witnessed love and opening. I witnessed, and I was witnessed. And for all of this I am humbled and grateful.

Thank you to everyone at 4Rs for all of your amazing work and for welcoming us on this learning journey with you.  We wish you a year (and many more) of abundance, truth and opening on the road to reconciliation.


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.

4Rs National Learning Community, May 2017


The Virtual Talking Stick: Reflections on Apaji-wla’matulinej Women’s Gathering

May 2017

Apaji-wla’matulinej – When a Mi’Kmaq speaker translates this word for non-speakers, they always use their hands to show a turning over and speak of how it means returning to the right way of being, right relations. And as always there is a loss in translation as the depth of the meaning is hard to describe in English. In our four-day gathering near Elsipogtog on unceded Mi’Kmaq land, we saw it become reality.

We began with a Pipe Ceremony and a welcoming to this territory by Josie Augustine. She told us this work is long overdue, that the ancestors were happy we were doing this work and that it must continue. And that it will continue to grow and bring healing. We talked of how healing the women, heals the families and then the communities, bringing things back to right relations.

As we spent time together, we continued to listen, and be guided by Creator. And our trust grew. We each became more present. There was a beautiful, gentle opening and sharing of who we truly are as human beings.

The reflection below are a “virtual” talking circle shared through emails.

Greetings everyone.

As I hold the Talking Stick, I am reflecting on our time together.

As a woman who has been sitting in Circles for some time, one of the things that stood out for me is that the topics of concern for women is also moving through the circle.  Elders and youth have been the main topics of concern for some years now. This time it was on men. I am not sure why I was surprised by this.  Perhaps it is because there are huge gaps in services for men and so I have felt quite isolated in my work with them.   I was so grateful to be surrounded by women for  four days.  It is so nurturing and helps to give me the balance I needed to continue to do my work with men.  I think that in today’s fast paced world and with so many community concerns, that often we do feel isolated from each other.  I think too that perhaps because we often are existing in survival mode, we can’t always see the bigger picture.  That changes when we are able to gather together.  We are surprised and impressed at what others are doing, and that validates everyone.  As we begin to move back into our natural rhythm together, we also get the opportunity to realize how separate we have become from the original instructions of the land.

I went into the gathering wondering how I could manage to be away from everything that depends on my for four days.  Now i am wondering how it could have been as impactful to me if it was less than that.  It takes that long to decompress and to really move back into the rhythm that sustains us – that is life giving.  i feel stronger now since the gathering and wish to thank all the amazing women and the wisdom of those who realized how life-giving women who gather really are.


Cathy Gerrior

Participating in the gathering has deepened the urgency with which I do my work. Observing Trudeau’s government slither away last week from 6(1)a All The Way, an amendment which would have recognized Canadian Indigenous women as equal to Canadian Indigenous men under the Indian Act, brings home to me again that the colonial state is determined to lower the number of Indigenous women wherever it can, as a way of slowly assimilating First Nations people.

Right now, bringing scholarly attention to the central role of women in many Canadian Indigenous cultures is my contribution towards change in this country. I don’t know where it will lead, but I know that for mainstream society and elsewhere, having knowledge recognized and
documented in a formal way is respected and may be influential.

Personally, I came away from the gathering strengthened and inspired, and feeling deeply grateful for your warm welcome.


I pass on the Talking Stick…

Being part of Apaji Wla’multulinej gathering at Richibucto Resort, was amazing. The stories of truth, struggles and inspirations filled the room with a spirit and the heart of one being in the four days we enjoyed together.

The women’s experiences and lives became entwined with each other’s stories, which brought an air of strength, courage, familiarity  and hope for a better tomorrow. The children’s laughter and footsteps as they came into the room and the sound of healthy crying from one amazing little gift from Creator, brought our women to attention with a smile, the baby’s fine, just waken up.

For me, when I got home having the opportunity to sit back and contemplate, left me with peace, happiness and a full heart of great memories. Two young Sisters shared the love of family and not to take family for granted stood out to me. It left me with an amazing feeling of unconditional love for my family and reflecting with memories of special moments with them. I expressed to my children, grandchildren, family and friends, how dear they are to me and I am blessed to have them in my life. Yes, it is important not to take your family for granted. They could be there one day and then gone the next.

I would like to thank each and every person who made this event possible. A special thanks to all the women who attended, you were all awesome thank you for allowing me to be part of your circle.

Much love, peace and acknowledgement.

Marilyn Standing Bear Francis

I have to say, it took me a while to allow myself the honor of being “in” the circle.  I hold such great respect for all the beautiful women I was so privileged to meet.  I look forward to the teachings ahead and will carry all that I have learned to every table I sit at.

Donna Smith, Tearmen House Shelter

What an amazing time…the organizers did a terrific job of pulling together a great combination of people, issues, and time together.

Gathering among women was much needed for all who made it.  It felt like a homecoming. The mix of participants was so important.  Listening to some women speak the truths of their painful experiences for the first time, in the same circle where we heard about initiatives addressing those violent conditions that are led by local Indigenous women, as well as learning of the international work being done on matricultural societies was incredibly visionary.  It gave us the necessary connections among the strands of the lived experiences, the capacity to build community woman based responses, and the global Indigenous societies that have been offering distinct social structures for centuries.

As a settler woman, I felt warmly welcomed, and supported.  As we agreed the first night, we were to spend the time with each other ‘being accepted unconditionally for who we are, as we are’.  This enabled those of us with different views and experiences to treat each other with respect and support.

In our evening activity, being taught how to weave a basket gave us the right image:  we started the basics of a basket, but did not have time to finish them.  We agreed that was what happened in those four days – we wove the beginnings of our community together.

How the weaving was taught reflected how the circles of women worked during our time together.  I do not have good eye hand coordination skills, and usually avoid such activities. This time, sitting with others who had a variety of ability to make a good looking basket gave me a sense that we were all accepted as we are, yet were encouraged to do better to build the best basket we could.  This was done by learning from a skilled patient Indigenous woman teacher.  We sat waiting for instructions, building caring community as we learned what to do next, being corrected and supported at the same time.   This was how the whole 4 days went – those from the community with the skills and knowledge leading the rest of us in such a variety of different aspects of supporting women.  Each of us had strengths that were highlighted at one point or another.  The leaders did a great job of weaving us into a basket. The objectives were achieved at our gathering.

We witnessed and experienced a model of women’s way of being.  It was a very empowering confirmation that we can find our way to using this experience in our lives after.  I have shared the incredible depth of care and support I felt and was able to give, with many others since. My gift of non-touch healing was accepted and appreciated in a deeper way than I’ve ever experienced.

The discussions I have had with others since the event have led to me becoming clearer about what it was I experienced, and how it affected me. Their questions and interest make it clear that the impact of the event will continue to have ripple effects.

I continue to reflect on the intricate interweaving of relationships that developed there.  Intense listening, responding, and learning led to deepening understanding and care as the event progressed.

Penni Burrell

As I think back on our gathering, I am in awe! I am in awe and humbled by how the Creator directed us all. It was such a gift to be shown how life should be. We were shown how when we open ourselves up as one hurt human to another, we learn how to support each other. We learn how to trust and how to share our gifts with each other. And each gift shared, helped someone else in the circle – whether it was dancing to a rock song to release the tension, or standing beside someone as they shared deep pain or sharing a Sacred song or an ancient craft. We shared our hearts, minds and spirit.

How has it changed me? How has it changed the way I do my work? I trust myself more. The inside my mind doubting self-talk has decreased and when it pops up, I replace it with faith and trust. I also see more clearly the link between healing and empowering women and healing and empowering men and our communities. I speak my truth much more often and am also mindful when to just listen. My hope has grown as I have witnessed the power of women to make changes in ourselves and I know this will continue and we will make healthy changes in our communities and the world.

Ishbel Munro

This gathering gave us a glimpse of the longhouse way of life. I am longing for the rituals that help us practice the longhouse way of life. Apaji-wla’matulinej – to build trust healing, celebrating ourselves and model women-centered ways of being We are wrapping each other in the healing blankets and love them to remind them who they are.


Thoughts from the closing circle below as the talking stick was passed:

It was an Amazing and Awesome gathering of love, strength and courage for Sisterhood & families. Welalioq

Where’s the hope? This is the hope, in gatherings like this – there’s no other space like it

Learning how to trust again

I’m allowed to be myself

Find ways of being more present to what’s happening around me and open to hearing what’s happening around me

It changes the way you see the world, being here

It’s a blessing to be amongst such powerful women

It makes me feel stronger because all of you are out there doing the same kind of work

It can get really lonely to do this work, when you’re called on to lead

Nobody listens when you have a need, they want you to fix their stuff

I witnessed healing within myself and others, I’m taking away teachings

This is what it’s going to take to restore our relationships as indigenous women – 500 years of colonization

The Power of Collective Strength

By Louise Pozdzik

Sometimes sharing stories of others who have faced their own challenges stresses the importance of sharing those stories to improve our collective human experience. Being courageous is only half the battle. You have to keep going. You have to persevere. And you must be aware that you are not in this alone. Being human is both singular and plural – I am human and we are human. Though we are, each of us, more! Talking and listening to each others’ stories can be the antidote to fear associated with this journey, and the key to creating genuine understanding and empathy of our joint experiences.

Women are a source of strength, of power, of influence. Yet, many do not understand their own ability to tap into the Inner Strength.

While listening to or reading inspiring stories may be an uplifting experience for a time for some, the stories are not enough on their own to motivate. Making the conscious choice to accept and pursue a challenge that is staring you in the face requires commitment. Excitement is a key ingredient in commitment, motivation and success. Success in facing challenges is diminished when fear is overwhelmingly present. Fear comes from childhood conditioning, societal and educational conditioning, messages from the false belief systems that we have held throughout our lives which tell us that we are not good enough, that we are not enough, that we will fail.

Desperation to survive, to protect and to provide for ourselves or our children, is often the motivator for change in a situation. After many failed attempts to face severe life challenges, I acknowledged and accepted that I am never alone, help is only a prayer away. I stay open to whatever and whomever arrives as a response. I am not advocating any religious practices. What I am saying is that sincere prayer produces miracles often in ways that we could not even imagine. Now on to my personal story, which has changed from the way I used to tell it as I consider myself Victorious rather than a victim.

In 1982 my husband was unemployed and attending therapy with the Workmen’s Compensation Board so our income was severely reduced. Not accustomed to being unemployed and at home on the farm with us, he was miserable and abusive towards our three children and myself.

Before driving to work as a camp attendant, I dropped him off at the bus terminal in the local town so that he could attend his appointment in Edmonton for physiotherapy. He was going to come home that same evening, though I didn’t receive a call from him to be picked up. Days passed and still no word from him. I continued to go to work at the nearby construction camp where I assisted the cook in meal prep, baking and cleaned the men’s rooms. One of the men was conscientious and always put down newspapers at the entrance to his room. Every day I picked up the carefully placed papers without taking the time to read anything in them. This day was different. The name Pozdzik in the Edmonton Sun caught my eye so I read … He had been picked up by the police and was in the Remand Centre after having been charged with theft of a vehicle, threatening a taxi driver with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrest. I was stunned!

He was sentenced to 2+, a federal sentence, and was sent to Drumheller, a maximum security institution. I managed to get focused and completed all of the tasks required of me in camp and drove home thinking, “O God, now what am I going to do?” That night I stayed up all night and prayed. At 7 am, my brother-in-law phoned me and asked if I would consider being a hotshot driver! After hearing all of the details I said, “YES!”

As I only had a small car, I knew that I would require a pickup truck so I called the owner of a vehicle dealership and arranged to have a suitable vehicle delivered to the local town. Joe told me not to worry about financing and to just go to the bank and make arrangements and then let him know.

Brian, the bank manager, had no problem giving me the credit without a down payment as he knew me well. Everything just fell into place!

The next day I received a call from an engineer on a rig nearby who had been in contact with my brother-in-law. I drove to the rig and was put on ‘standby’ for the next 24 hours. They had lost the bit in the hole and the roughnecks had to go ‘fishing’ for it. I earned enough to pay for the pick-up that time! During that time on ‘standby,’ my father-in-law had my truck outfitted with an ax secured behind the driver’s seat, a set of tire chains that he had bargained with a neighbour for, a shovel and a fire extinguisher. A few days later I was on my way to Calgary with my first core samples. From that day on, I was kept busy by three engineers in the area. My children and I never lacked for anything in the two and a half years that my then husband was in jail. We even enjoyed a shopping spree and a holiday!

On my own, I would have been challenged to arrange all that had to be done in order for me to prepare for the job. My prayers and constant gratitude started the ball rolling and kept bringing me the people that fit into the divine plan … Collective Strength! To my amazement, all of the people were men … Gary, Joe, Brian, Dad, George, Eugene and the three engineers. More, two years after X was released from incarceration, I filed for divorce, left the farm and began to move forward in my life.


What Does Women-Led Look Like to Us?

A reflection on the experience of the Righting Relations Southern Ontario Hub

By Rehana Tejpar

Where do the strong women go for support, when everyone goes to the strong women for support? They go to the other strong women – Righting Relations Eastern Hub Member

 We came together today, each one of us carrying a bit of the world on our shoulders. As women and people across genders in Righting Relations, we often carry more responsibility than our bodies can hold. Today, our meeting began with many of us feeling overwhelmed with the weight of our responsibility to our children, elders, organizations and communities. “I’m tired. So tired.”

Many of us thought we couldn’t make it. Many of thought we couldn’t stay. And yet, we came. And we stayed.

We begin by a check in, and we breathe. We eat. We laugh. We cry.

And then…we organize!

Today we’re designing a workshop on Community Organizing and Popular Education to offer our community of practice of transformative/popular educators in Southern Ontario who work primarily with marginalized, immigrant and refugee communities. We listen, ask critical questions, give feedback, offer thoughts, tools, methodologies and design processes that can facilitate a deeper reflection on our praxis (theory + practice) and move our communities and our world towards greater justice. We are motivated by love and passion.

What does women-led look like? We’re learning as we go. It looks like people being able to show more of their whole selves, even the vulnerable parts, and be seen. It looks like uplifting each other’s ideas, and seeking to build upon them, rather than breaking them down. It looks like feeding one another, checking in, laughing, playing and sometimes crying. It looks like rigorous thought, critical action and hope. It looks like thinking about those who are most impacted by systems of oppression. It looks like doing the best we can, with what we have, even when it’s hard. It looks like doing it together.

It’s not everyday that we get the space to stop and reflect on our praxis and learn together, bringing our whole selves in. Righting Relations is becoming a sacred space that truly recognizes how much we need each other in order to be strategic and healthy in our work. And although it’s sometimes hardest to come when we most need the support…we are grateful for the space and the door held open for us to come.


Walking with Our Sisters Exhibit

By Ishbel Munro

Walking With Our Sisters (WWOS) was a commemorative art project honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people, whose numbers exceed 2000 over the last 20 years. The project included more than 1800 pairs of moccasin vamps (representing those who were lost) decorated by contributing artists, and arranged on the floor in a winding formation. Visitors removed their shoes to walk alongside the vamps, on a pathway of cloth, to engage in reflection and show solidarity and respect. This decolonizing project, carried out by local Elders and volunteers, and guided by the Indigenous National Collective that organized the show, transformed the gallery into a ceremonial site of healing. Many of the visitors commented how unlike a conventional art exhibition it was.

Visitors to the exhibition were formally greeted by volunteers and guided on the protocols of walking the path alongside the unfinished moccasins and offering tobacco. The gallery provided an additional room where volunteers interacted privately with grieving relatives and friends. Volunteers also supported visitors who were emotionally overcome by the exhibition.

MSVU Art Gallery was the sole venue in the Atlantic Region, on the 29-stop national tour. The Gallery accepted the responsibility of providing assistance with travel to the many families and friends of the Indigenous “sisters” from this vast region who have succumbed to violence.

The opening ceremony was attended by Elders, including many from our Right Relations Hub and MMIW families from all of the Atlantic Provinces. We met the day before and our members and others planned the flow of the opening, discussed issues and shared stories. It was deeply moving. Representatives from as far a ways as Labrador and from across Atlantic Canada shared stories, teachings and songs with the more than 500 persons who attended the Welcoming Ceremony. It was inspiring to see how many non-natives came and were open to learning about Indigenous culture and the issues facing Indigenous women and communities.

Many of the MMIW families ceremonially laid in new pairs of vamps representing their loved ones. It was a powerful ceremony and took much longer then thought. It was moving how many people patiently waited for the ceremony to end so that they could through and view the exhibit.

Over the 2.5-week span of the exhibition, a further 3,000 visitors attended the exhibition. The gallery has never seen attendance like this. People lined up for an hour to get in. The exhibit brought the most media coverage that gallery has ever had, as well.

School groups were prevented from visiting by the Nova Scotia Teachers Union work to rule. However, volunteer engagement was intense, with about 150 volunteers donating their labour. Volunteers included persons of Indigenous, Caucasian and international backgrounds, aged 18 to 80. The volunteer WWOS Halifax Planning Committee was composed of about 16 individuals.

Two key objectives of the exhibition were to help MMIW families heal, and to raise awareness and cultural understanding in a very mixed public. The exhibit certainly increased the general public’s understanding of social justice issues through an experiential exhibit. It also brought healing to those whose family’s members are missing or murdered. It is hard to describe the impact and how it undermines a person when a loved one is gone through tragic and socially unjust circumstances. It can be crippling on so many levels. The transformation that comes from acknowledgement of your experience and sharing space with others who know just how you feel, helps a person to move forward in a good way.

This was also a community re-building event. In the past Indigenous communities were built on mutual support. Over time, through western influence people have become accustomed to being paid an honorarium to drum or paid as head dancer, or attending a conference or as an elder. This project was designed to re-kindle the spirit of community. Just like a wake, people were invited to do whatever they could to help out. People brought food, supported elders and family members and took care of each other. The full event was guided by the grandmothers who created a collective wisdom for how things would go. People became like a flock of birds, soaring together, checking in with each and adjusting the flight plan as they went. It was very organic and beautiful.

The surge of interest and good will from the general public also suggests that the presentation of WWOS in Halifax has advanced the national project of Reconciliation. We were proud and honoured to be a part of this excellent “teaching” event.

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:

PYE: Partners for Youth Empowerment

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


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




Connect, Inspire, Colloborate!

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





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


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:

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:

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:

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:



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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:



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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:




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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

Many thanks!


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By Ishbel Munro

In May of 2016, 40 mostly Indigenous women gathered to talk about working together to create positive changes for their communities and beyond. Right from the start, there was a sense of hope and excitement. Drawing on the deep wisdom carried by the natural world and women’s connection to that, we quickly renewed living our values as women. We were all leaders, teachers and learners. There was strength in sharing our pain, our vulnerabilities.

“It’s being led by women and its going to end well.”

We shared our stories – stories of the impact of colonialism from Vietnam, Korea, and African Nova Scotian to the intergenerational impact of residential schools, the 60’s scoop and many community killing policies. And yet what shone was the astounding fact that women were still resilient, still looking for hope, looking how to move forward and make things better for their children and those to come.

“What is the story of Indigenous women? It is not the story of trauma. It is the story of resilience, power, hope and love embodied. I do not want to be defined by my trauma. It is time to change the story.”

We talked about the importance that this is a women led project. That is what drew people to it. Women are sacred. We carry life. And yet western society sends many messages causing confusion and pain for women and men. First Nations men are going against their natural grain. When women reclaim the language and culture, they are empowered and this brings a balance to our families and communities.

“I trust this circle, the process and the experience of women’s ceremonies because it’s not hierarchical, it’s collective, everyone has responsibility.”

“Change is happening, there’s a shift happening and it has everything to do with women, and I need that on a personal level, that is the thing that is keeping me going – connecting with strong women, believing that something else can happen and we need to make it happen.”

We all were working in very different ways to make the world a better place. When we thought of what we could do together, there was an overflowing of ideas. We soon came to realize that we couldn’t support a hundred different projects but we could support and strengthen each other. We are always giving to others, concerned for other. If we strengthen women, we strengthen our families and our communities.

“We’ve been divided – different cultures – we’ve been doing our own work in isolation. We need to stand together as sisters and walk together and do this work at the same time in our communities, empowering ourselves and each other.”

“Change is happening, there’s a shift happening and it has everything to do with women, and I need that on a personal level, that is the thing that is keeping me going – connecting with strong women, believing that something else can happen and we need to make it happen.”

“Developing a women-centered way of living.”

Through building an alternative; modelling what a women-led approach is, we are creating a model that is based on respect for all life; nourishing and strengthening our spirit. We are encouraging each other to overcome the “you are not good enough” attitude that we have internalized and to share our gifts with our families, communities and the wider society.

“The time is right for women to take the lead, especially our Indigenous communities – they are the carriers of knowledge of so much on how to take care of Mother Earth.”

“Rebuilding Canada from the ground up with right relations.”

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