Sébastien Brodeur Girard
Reconciliation is dead, long live reconciliation!
As was demonstrated in particular by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) final report, which was released in 2015, Canada's relations with the First Nations on the territory has been tainted by an unusual violence throughout its history.
Among the assimilation measures that became the agenda of successive governments in the wake of cultural genocide, we must particularly highlight the strategies of territorial expropriation, the imposition of the Indian Act and of the the First Nations Reserve System, as well as the residential schools system, the killing of Inuit sled dogs, the Sixties Scoop, etc.
Even today, Indigenous peoples must fight against the institutional, systemic and intergenerational effects of these violences in order to initiate the healing process on an individual and collective level.
It is thus understandable that the issue of reconciliation (or (re)conciliation) is a complex project that needs urgently to be carried forward by mechanisms of authentic acknowledgement, but above all, by genuine amendments and reparations that can transcend metaphor.
The contentious events that already marked 2020 have shown once again that the path leading to this goal is not a straight line, but one that sometimes seems to reach a dead end or forces a fall back behind what has already been achieved - especially when it comes to the economic exploitation of the land that is now called Canada.
Despite great disappointments and renewed skepticism, many professionals and activists – among them both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples - continue to work, each in their own way, for the recognition of territorial, political, linguistic, cultural and identity related rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
My drawing is intended to pay tribute to this resilience by quoting in a non-exhaustive way some of these key figures, while insisting on the participation, strength and leadership of First Nations women.
As a White privileged, French descendant-settler, Canadian and Quebecer ally, I am deeply convinced that all inhabitants of the territory should feel concerned by questions of coexistence, equality and social justice.
Like Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC commissioner and Anishinaabe senator, justly reminds us, reconciliation is not an Indigenous issue but a Canadian one. Therefore, we are all part of the problem, but also of the solution.
With a dual background in anthropology and the arts, I have been working for nearly ten years in the field of First Nations education. The panel presented here is inspired by my doctoral research-creation Stories to tell: from Ani Kuni to Kiuna, a reflective, relational and conversational graphic novel that has been evolving since 2016 thanks to the contribution of more than fifty Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributors, including the nine personalities presented here.
Each of the coloured backgrounds on this new story board presents one of the communicating sides of the same central figure –that of the encounter - and opens, like a window, onto the work, involvement and achievements of this local personality.
The headings are based on the contributions and quotations gatheredin the course of my research, but also on the areas of involvement of each of the personalities put forward. These choices, as well as their respective portraits, have of course been endorsed by each of them.
Recipient of the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers, Marie-Ève L. Bordeleau has served as the Commissioner for Relations with the First Nation peoples for the City of Montreal since January 2018.
Among other things, she was President of Quebec Native Women (QNW) and the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), as well as Commissioner for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). Since the fall 2019, she has held the position of Senior Advisor on Reconciliation and Indigenous Education at Laval University.
Strongly committed to building healthy communities and dedicated to the defense of First Nations interests, she has found her sphere of influence in various indigenous organizations during the last twenty years: Whether as an employee or as an external consultant, she has been a key player in the development of numerous strategies and policy plans for governmental and indigenous institutions, both at the provincial and national levels.
The various initiatives she has been able to implement have led her to work closely with each of the First Nations of Quebec as well as with many actors of both indigenous and non-indigenous origin, among whom some are rooted in civil society, others in community groups, and even with the governmental authorities of Quebec and other provinces.
She has notably worked as an education support agent at the Lanaudière Native Friendship Centre and the Cégep Régional de Lanaudière. Furthermore, she was a teacher of anthropology at the Kiuna College.
Geneviève is currently responsible for building and managing partnerships with indigenous community advocacy groups at Concordia University.
He received his doctorate in history from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences sociales de Paris and then worked in this field for several years. He authored several popular history publications, textbooks and teaching materials.
Recently he participated in the work of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec: listening, reconciliation and progress as research co-director.
Furthermore, he served as regional director entrusted with negotiation and implementation of contracts for the Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, region Quebec.
His expertise is solicited in the context of various groups and research projects such as the Centre interuniversitaire d’études et de recherches autochtones (CIÉRA) and the DIALOG Network.
In addition to having participated in various scientific committees for different cultural projects such as Les Espaces autochtones (the native spaces) of the Musée de la civilisation de Québec (MCQ), the Indigenous Engineering exhibition of the Science Centre and other projects of la Boîte rouge vif.
Emanuelle Dufour is a Quebecer and lives in Montreal. She is a phD candidate in Art Education at Concordia University and holds a master's degree in Anthropology from the Université de Montréal (UdeM). Her work has contributed to the establishment of Indigenous student services at UdeM. She has also completed a certificate in Film scriptwriting (UQAM) and an interdisciplinary Master's degree in Arts (Université Laval).
Since 2011, she has been working as a coordinator, project manager, assistant and then research professional and as a consultant for various projects related to Indigenous cultural safety and the process of encounter between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.
She is the author of several scientific and popular science articles and has received several prestigious awards and scholarships for her work.
Since 2015 she has also been working as an illustrator, cartoonist and creative consultant for various projects. To date, her career has revolved around intercultural education and a dialogue involving nearly forty countries, including Niger, Mexico, Cambodia and Indonesia. Since 2020 she has been working at the Collège Ahuntsic as an educational consultant for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).
More about her activities: