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​Relationships at the centre of reconciliation

June 6, 2017

by Pamela Ouart-McNabb

Senior Program Officer, The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

Aaniin! My name is Pamela Ouart-McNabb, I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, an auntie, a PhD Candidate and also a new member of the McConnell team. I am a settler, with German and Ukrainian lineage and I am a part of an Anishinabe family by marriage and ceremony. I feel like I live reconciliation every day in my personal and professional life, and I am continually challenging myself about the ethics of doing so. This morning while scrolling through Facebook, a motivational meme posted by a fitness centre caught my eye, “It’s going to hurt and it’s not going to be easy. But you know you’ll love the results.” I think this is a good way to think about reconciliation.

Challenged with reconciliation, post-secondary institutions are uniquely positioned to catalyze change through teaching and learning. I came to awareness of Anishinabe culture through the Indigenous Studies PhD program at Trent University. It was a bumpy transition from western academic programs to one that centred Indigenous knowledge, and it impacted me in a profound way. The opportunity to learn from community and traditional knowledge holders in ceremony and in preparation for ceremony on the land was, and continues to be, transformative. This approach to learning, while second nature to Indigenous communities, is innovation in post-secondary experiences.

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