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CMU Discussion Series Kicks Off with Screening of Award-Winning Documentary

Directed By Alumnus Brad Leitch, ‘Reserve 107’ Explores Indigenous-Settler Reconciliation

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) will host the Manitoba premiere of the new documentary short Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies during its first Face2Face community discussion event of the 2016-17 school year.

Face2Face_Sept2016The documentary explores Indigenous rights and title to the land in the small town of Laird, SK, where an old injustice is providing new opportunities for dialogue, friendship, and a fierce determination to right the wrongs of the past.

The public is invited to watch the 32-minute documentary on Friday, September 23 at 7:30 PM. The screening takes place in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). A Q and A with Brad Leitch, director of the film and a CMU alumnus, will precede the screening, and a panel discussion featuring people from the film will follow. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

“We are excited to screen Reserve 107 and host a discussion about the important themes of Indigenous rights, claims to land, and reconciliation that it explores,” says David Balzer, Assistant Professor of Communications and Media at CMU, who will moderate the discussion.

In Laird, Mennonites and Lutherans discovered that the land they live on is in fact the former reserve of the Young Chippewayan First Nation.

In 2006, Mennonites, Lutherans, and the Young Chippewayan First Nation gathered on the sacred hill of Stoney Knoll/Opwashemoe Chakatinaw. With goodwill and shared goals, they signed a memorandum of understanding, committing themselves to finding justice for the Young Chippewayan First Nation.

“Our film picks up the story a decade later to see what’s happened and how the communities are doing,” Leitch says. “I’m very interested in seeing what peacebuilding looks like in a practical sense, and film is a great tool for showing that.”

The discussion following the film will feature a handful of people who appear in the documentary, including Barb and Wilmer Froese, who run a family farm in Laird; Ray Funk of Prince Albert, SK, who is a board member with Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan, which helped fund the film; and Chief George Kingfisher, hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan First Nation.

The audience will be invited to participate in the conversation.

Balzer notes that in each year of its existence, CMU’s Face2Face discussion series has included an event relating to Indigenous-settler issues in an effort to promote reconciliation and being good neighbours.

Reserve 107 picks up on an element of the story that our discussion events at CMU haven’t addressed before,” Balzer says. “The people participating in the panel are on the ground level of what is happening in Laird, so it will give people who come to the event an intimate look at how people negotiate treaty relationships in their lives.”

Reserve 107 Kingfisher and Funk
A scene from the film Reserve 107 shows Chief George Kingfisher and Ray Funk discuss themes of Indigenous rights, claims to land, and reconciliation.

Described in reviews as “beautifully photographed,” “wonderfully accessible,” and “a valuable resource,” Reserve 107 was an official selection at this year’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver, BC, as well as the Speechless Film Festival in Mankato, MN, where it was given an award of merit. To watch a trailer and learn more about the film, visit reserve107thefilm.com.

Started in 2013, Face2Face is a series of conversations organized by CMU, designed to engage the community on a wide variety of current events and issues at the intersection of faith and life.

“Journey to Renewed Covenants” is the first of four Face2Face events CMU will host during the 2016-17 school year. For details, visit cmu.ca/face2face.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Articles

John Ralston Saul: ‘We have to make sure it keeps moving’

John Ralston Saul reflects on Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous peoples

John Ralston Saul’s interest in Indigenous people dates back further than 2008, when he published A Fair Country, the book in which he argued that Canada is a Métis nation, heavily influenced and shaped by Aboriginal ideas.

Not everyone knows that Ralston Saul has been interested in Canada’s Indigenous peoples for four decades.

In the spring of 1976, when the respected intellectual and award-winning writer was 29, he travelled to Inuvik and the High Arctic Islands as an assistant to Maurice Strong, the founding chair and CEO of Petro-Canada.

John Ralston Saul at CMU
John Ralston Saul speaking at CMU (June 14, 2016)

The trip was nothing short of eye opening for Ralston Saul, who had just spent seven years in France, first earning a PhD and then running a small investment firm in Paris. He thought he understood Canada, but in listening to the Indigenous peoples that he and Strong met with, he realized he didn’t.

“(They were) making arguments I’d never heard (before),” Ralston Saul said. “They weren’t talking for or against, they weren’t talking romantically about nature the way southerners do. And I realized that I’d been deeply lied to—that my education had not prepared me for the reality of my own country.”

Since that experience, Ralston Saul has sought to better understand Canadian history and draw awareness to Indigenous issues.

His most recent book, 2014’s The Comeback, calls on readers to embrace and support the comeback of Indigenous peoples, and highlights the need to rebuild relationships with them

Ralston Saul travelled to Winnipeg last month to talk about the book with students in the course “Reconciling Our Future: Stories of Kanata and Canada” at Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP).

Ralston Saul came at the invitation of his friend, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, who taught the course.

During his visit to CMU, Ralston Saul also gave a public lecture at the university exploring immigration that drew a capacity crowd.

“What’s happening all over the country at a growing rate is that Canadians who were totally ignorant on Indigenous issues are gradually becoming less ignorant,” Ralston Saul said in an interview prior to the lecture.

He credits courses and books taught and written by Indigenous people with leading the charge.

“I’m kind of the exception to the rule that in the new wave, there aren’t that many non-Indigenous people that are writing in the nonacademic world,” he said.

He added that he has always been careful to write neither to, nor for, Indigenous people. If anything, he is writing to a non-Indigenous audience.

“I use my voice to say, Wake up guys. There’s a life and it’s got the word ‘Indigenous’ written all over it. So, you better wake up.”

Ralston Saul likens publishing A Fair Country to leaping off a “great, big diving board.” Given the nature of the book’s ideas, he thought it could be the end of his career.

Instead, he was thrilled to see Indigenous people embracing it.

He recalls talking about the book with Indigenous young people in Rainy River, a town in northwestern Ontario.

“(That was) very exciting because I think that so much of Canada is in the south, written by the south, for the south, and there’s a real denial of two-thirds to three-quarters of the country,” he said.

Before writing The Comeback, Ralston Saul wasn’t planning to return to the topic of Indigenous affairs. In fact, he had an entirely different book planned.

Still, he woke up one day with the feeling that he had to write something before the 2015 federal election that expressed his belief that rebuilding right relationships with Canada’s Indigenous peoples was of utmost importance.

“I had to intervene in the election as a writer to say that for me, and I think for the country, this is the single most important issue, and people should be voting on the basis of how the political parties stood on this issue,” he said.

He is pleased that Canadians voted in a government that says that it believes that the Indigenous question, unresolved as it is, is the single most important issue in Canada.

“We’ve come a long way, (us) non-Aboriginals,” Ralston Saul said. When it comes to these topics, there’s momentum now. “Suddenly, it’s moving. We have to make sure it keeps moving.”

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Video

Indigenous Education Blueprint Signing Ceremony (video)

CMU President Cheryl Pauls (centre) with leaders of Manitoba’s universities, colleges, and Manitoba’s school boards photo: University of Manitoba
CMU President Cheryl Pauls (centre) with leaders of Manitoba’s universities, colleges, and Manitoba’s school boards
photo: University of Manitoba

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is proud to announce its participation in the Indigenous Education Blueprint as part of Manitoba’s education sector.

CMU joined five other Manitoba universities, three colleges, and the Manitoba School Boards Association in a landmark signing of the Indigenous Education Blueprint on December 18.

Working together in unprecedented fashion, the participating institutions developed and are now committed to the plan, which acts upon the recommendations the Truth and Reconciliation Commission presented this past summer.

The Blueprint commits the participating institutions to concrete practices in order to respect, celebrate, and support Indigenous peoples, knowledge, and success.

For more information about the event and the author, please see the related news release.

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Events General News News Releases

CMU part of historic commitment to advancing Indigenous education and reconciliation

Manitoba’s education sector units in effort to follow Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) joined five other Manitoba universities, three colleges, and the Manitoba School Boards Association in a landmark signing of the Indigenous Education Blueprint on December 18.

CMU President Cheryl Pauls (centre) with leaders of Manitoba’s universities, colleges, and Manitoba’s school boards photo: University of Manitoba
CMU President Cheryl Pauls (centre) with leaders of Manitoba’s universities, colleges, and Manitoba’s school boards
photo: University of Manitoba

Working together in unprecedented fashion, the participating institutions developed and are now committed to the plan, which acts upon the recommendations the Truth and Reconciliation Commission presented this past summer.

The Blueprint commits the participating institutions to concrete practices in order to respect, celebrate, and support Indigenous peoples, knowledge, and success.

“The story has always been told by someone else. Now it’s your turn, and today we honour that,” Elder Harry Bone said during his opening remarks at the signing ceremony.

Steven Heinrichs, Director of Indigenous Relations with Mennonite Church Canada, was in attendance to witness the signing.

“CMU took an amazing step today in the pursuit of right relations with host peoples,” Heinrichs said. “This isn’t only good for Indigenous peoples. It can help us settlers in the paths of decolonization and bring us life. I’m looking forward to seeing how CMU will grow into this.”

Indigenous Education Blueprint_037
CMU President Cheryl Pauls signs the Indigenous Education Blueprint alongside Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology President & CEO Paul Holden
photo: University of Manitoba

CMU President Cheryl Pauls participated in the signing ceremony on behalf of the university.

She cites a number of events and initiatives, such as CMU’s partnership with the Peguis First Nation post-secondary transition program and hosting of community forums to discuss the possibilities of an urban reserve at the Kapyong Barracks, as examples where CMU has already cultivated Indigenous-settler relationships.

“We are proud to be a part of this historic commitment,” Pauls said. “CMU’s mission statement places significant importance on reconciliation in our church and society. Through education, reconciliation can be fostered, understood, and turned into a new reality.”

Moving ahead, there will be numerous all-faculty conversations at CMU to engage the Indigenous Education Blueprint.

These conversations will identify opportunities where programs and courses can be enlivened in light of the Blueprint, particularly within Peace and Conflict Studies at CMU’s Shaftesbury campus and Conflict Resolution Studies at the Menno Simons College campus in downtown Winnipeg.

In addition to CMU, the educational partners that signed the historic Blueprint include: University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg, Brandon University, Université de Saint-Boniface, University College of the North, Red River College, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, Assiniboine Community College, and Manitoba School Boards Association.

BY SIGNING THE INDIGENOUS EDUCATION BLUEPRINT, CMU and OTHER SIGNATORIES COMMIT TO:

  1. Engaging with Indigenous peoples in respectful and reciprocal relationships and to realize the right to self-determination, and to advance reconciliation, language and culture through education, research and skill development;
  2. IEBBringing Indigenous knowledge, languages and intellectual traditions, models and approaches into curriculum and pedagogy;
  3. Promoting research and learning that reflects the history and contemporary context of the lives of Indigenous peoples;
  4. Increasing access to services, programs, and supports to Indigenous students, to ensure a learning environment is established that fosters learner success;
  5. Collaborating to increase student mobility to better serve the needs of Indigenous students;
  6. Building school and campus communities that are free of racism, value diversity and foster cultural safety;
  7. Increasing and measuring Indigenous school and post-secondary participation and success rates;
  8. Showcasing successes of Indigenous students and educators;
  9. Reflecting the diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures in Manitoba through institutional governance and staffing policies and practices; and
  10. Engaging governments and the private and public sectors to increase labour market opportunities for Indigenous graduates.

Media coverage of December 18 signing:
Winnipeg Free Press, CBC, Globe and Mail, The Metro News, CJOB AM 680The Brandon Sun

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About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Events News Releases

Youth Learn About Indigenous and Settler Relations at Peace It Together Conference

“A Meeting Place: Hearing God in Indigenous Voices” was the topic of Peace It Together (PIT) 2015, Canadian Mennonite University’s youth conference, which took place October 23-25, 2015.

The conference focused on making Biblical and Anabaptist themes of peace and justice relevant for today.

Seventy-five youth, youth sponsors, and pastors from across Canada gathered to hear stories from Indigenous and settler speakers, participate in acts of peace, and build new friendships.

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The KAIROS blanket exercise, facilitated by MCC Canada’s Sue Eagle and Miriam Sainnawap with MCC Canada, kicked off the national youth conference

“It was a very valuable experience to be surrounded by likeminded people,” says Marnie Klassen, a grade 12 student from Abbotsford, BC. “It was so good to have meaningful conversations in an open space—to be open to questioning with both head and heart.”

The weekend began with the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, a workshop that explores the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Sue Eagle and Miriam Sainnawap, coordinators of Indigenous Neighbours with MCC Canada, led the workshop, which helps participants understand how the colonization of land impacts those were here before settlers arrived.

Steve Heinrichs, Director of Indigenous Relations at Mennonite Church Canada, and his daughter Abby, shared about settler colonialism and the importance of learning the stories of both Indigenous and settler peoples.

“If you want to love someone, you need to know their story. If you want to know someone, you need to learn their story,” said Heinrichs.

IMG_4463
Larry Monkman, an elder with the council of elders at Winnipeg’s Circle of Life Thunderbird House speaks to PIT participants

Christy Anderson (CMU ’11) shared about the impact colonialism has on her life as an inter-generational Residential School Survivor.

Clairissa Kelly and Wayne Mason spoke about the Peguis First Nation Indigenous Transition Program that CMU is hosting this year. Kelly, Mason, and Della Mason sang ceremonial songs of healing, love, and thankfulness.

Participants had the opportunity to take part in one of six ‘acts of peace’ including: learning about seed-saving at the CMU Farm; learning about solidarity activism and creating a solidarity activism art peace; going on a prayer walk through the Canadian Museum for Human Rights; hearing from an elder at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House; visiting Indigenous Family Centre and beading medicine bags; or learning about Christian Peacemaker Teams’ work on Turtle Island.

Activities such as square dancing, outdoor games, karaoke, and a scavenger hunt provided additional opportunities for youth to get to know each other.

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PIT participants discussed how to take what was learned and apply the lessons to their daily lives

Krista Loewen, Associate Pastor of Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, SK, says “Attending PIT reignited a passion for justice within me as a peacebuilder. I was reminded that working to build relationships with my Indigenous neighbours is integral to my faith and how I feel called to live in this world as a follower of Christ.”
The weekend closed with a sharing circle, providing participants with an opportunity to speak about what they will take away from the conference.

“I am inspired and challenged to go home to a place whose land I know it should be, to step out of my comfort zone, and to build relationships,” says Klassen.

Youth from Wildwood Mennonite Church also attended: “My youth were pushed to reimagine the history and legacy of Mennonites in Canada—most notably having to reconcile the fact that Mennonites were given stolen Indigenous land to farm and live to this day,” says Loewen.

“The youth were also challenged to emotionally connect to this topic that they had learned about in school…and hopefully use their thoughts and emotions to inspire others to consider their relationships with their Indigenous neighbours.”

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program. 

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Video

“From Truth to Reconciliation” with Rt. Hon. Joe Clark (video)

A conversation with Rt. Hon. Joe Clark on reconciliation with aboriginal peoples, presented byCanadian Mennonite University and MCC Manitoba.

Recorded on Saturday, October 18, 2015.

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Events Lectures News Releases

Discussion at CMU to explore the possibility of an urban reserve at Kapyong Barracks

What would it mean to turn the Kapyong Barracks into an urban reserve?

That’s the key question Canadian Mennonite University’s next Face2Face community discussion will explore. Titled, “On Being Good Neighbours: An Urban Reserve at Kapyong?,” the event takes place on Thursday, March 5 at 7:00 PM in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). Admission is free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

face2face_mar5_15Participants in the discussion include Chief Glenn Hudson, Chief of the Peguis First Nation; Jamie Wilson, Commissioner for the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba; and Leah Gazan, Faculty/Special Projects Coordinator at University of Winnipeg and President of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.

David Balzer, Assistant Professor of Communications and Media at CMU, will moderate the event, which is being organized with the participation of Steve Heinrichs, Director of Indigenous Relations for Mennonite Church Canada.

Together, the participants will explore opportunities and practical challenges of an urban reserve at Kapyong Barracks.

The discussion will include treaty details, site vision, exploring possibilities, the current stumbling blocks, the concerns that some have raised, and a look at what it might mean to be good neighbours in this place.

Balzer believes this is an important conversation for CMU to host because the Kapyong Barracks are located less than three kilometres away from the university. Nearly everyone at the university drives past the barracks every day.

“It’s a visual reminder of the question, ‘How do we best use this land?’” Balzer says.

He adds that over the past few years, CMU has become increasingly interested in what it means to be good neighbours to Canada’s First Nations community.

“We’re trying to understand how to have a conversation around our history as a country, as a province, and as a city,” Balzer says.

Formerly a Canadian Forces base, Kapyong Barracks was vacated in 2004. The Department of National Defence declared the 159-acre site, located on Kenaston Boulevard, surplus.

The Canadian government and four Manitoba First Nations are currently involved in a dispute regarding control of the land. According to a CBC report from January 2014, the First Nations argue that under a treaty land entitlement process, they are allowed to negotiate for federal property that has been declared surplus.

Gazan says she doesn’t understand why the land isn’t given to the First Nations.

“Nobody questions it when IKEA goes up, nobody questions the strip malls going up, there’s no big community debate when we see new restaurants coming up, so why is this an issue?” she says.

Gazan adds that she is looking forward to delving into the topic on March 5.

“Any time you have people willing to come together to discuss these difficult issues, it’s positive,” she says.

Steve Heinrichs agrees.

“My hope is that we would be able to have a conversation about what some indigenous people are envisioning for that space—a conversation that would demystify and speak into some of the misconceptions about what an urban reserve is,” he says.

Started in 2013, Face2Face is a series of conversations organized by CMU, designed to engage the community on a wide variety of current events and issues at the intersection of faith and life.

“On Being Good Neighbours: An Urban Reserve at Kapyong?” is the last of four Face2Face events CMU is hosting during the 2014-15 school year. For details, please visit www.cmu.ca/face2face.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences and social sciences, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury campus and in its Menno Simons College and Outtatown programs.

For information about CMU, visit: www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:

Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2