Fall 2019

Wampum-Belt-symbolizing-Iroquois-Confederacy.jpg

Indigenous Disruptions and Re-learning

If I were to tell you a story…

If you were to tell me a story…

If we could listen to stories…

If we could relearn stories…

The story of Canada has been one sided for a long time. The history that is taught does not tell the whole story. As a storyteller, I want to share a few tales, spin a few yards of yarn, and disrupt the taken for granted narratives of Canada.

Since time immemorial, Indigenous nations have lived on the territories now known as Canada; however, many Canadians do not understand the relationships between the country and Indigenous Nations. I do not want to engage in ‘ancient history’ so I will start with the year  I left this beautiful town to start my education in the ‘city’. Over the past 24 years there have been attempts to understand and build better relations. Starting with a cursory glance at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, this workshop series will guide participants in understanding their individual and collective responsibilities to Truth, Information and Reconciliation.


October 8

      Land Acknowledgments and Language

  • Who am I? Who are you? Who are we, together?

  • Where are we sitting: Learning about a Land Acknowledgment

  • What is a Wampum Belt

  • Screening “I am not the Indian you had in mind” Thomas King

  • Sometimes not knowing how to use language:

  • Words to describe Indigenous Peoples

  • When to use what word

  • How those words prescribe identity


October 15

Legal Frameworks and Treaties

  • Why is the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People so important?

  • Did you know that there is still an Indian Act?

  • What does it do?

  • What is it for?

  • What are treaties and who do they impact?


October 22

The Indian Residential Schools System (IRSS) as seen through

the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

  • People have called this a “sad chapter” in Canada’s history.

  • Is it just sad?

  • Is it just a chapter? 

  • What is the history and the current realities/implications of the IRSS?

  • What did the Truth and Reconciliation Commission find?

  • We will screen “Without Words” by Jules A. Koostachin


October 29

Indigenous Child Removal Systems

  • In the mid 1950s the IRSS was slowly waning. In order to further the assimilation policies as discussed earlier, Child Welfare started to engage more heavily in the lives of Indigenous families.

  • How has child welfare continued to impact Indigenous families?

  • This session will be framed around the novel “In Search of April Raintree” by Beatrice Mosionier. Please read any edition post 1984. Please note that there is sexual and racial violence in this novel. I usually teach from the 1999 edition but the 2008 is easiest to find. The original (1983) has a more graphic rape scene. Even though this novel takes place in the 1960s and 1970s, it has contemporary implications.


November 5

What can ally work look like?

  • Discussion on what solidarity can look like.

  • “What is a Guest? What is a Settler?” a short essay (https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/cpi/index.php/cpi/article/view/29452/21463)

  • Screening of the film “Listen to the Land” by Celia Haig-Brown.


November 12

Reconciliation? Or more information?

  • How have these discussions impacted you?

  • This week we will discuss where the learning has taken people and where they would still like to go?

  • Chance to have open questions

  • Celebration of our time together and closing circle.


Ruth Koleszar-Green ( Mohawk)

Koleszar-Green is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at York University in Toronto. She is the special advisor to the president of York University on Indigenous initiatives.

By the Mohawk matrilineal kinship system, Ruth Koleszar-Green was born into her mother's Turtle clan of the Mohawk people, and through them is part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Koleszar-Green uses the concept of Onkwehonwe in her pedagogy, including their practices of storytelling, experiential learning, and reciprocal relationship building. Koleszar-Green applies Onkwehonwe histories and knowledges to her research areas, which include critical social work educations, HIV/AIDS, food security, and education.

Koleszar-Green is a community activist and volunteers at several Toronto and Ontario Aboriginal organizations. She is a board member at Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, as well as the Indigenous Friends Association.  She was instrumental in the creation of Skennen'kó:wa Gamig, or the House of Great Peace, a cabin that serves as a space for gathering Indigenous students on the York University campus.  She contributed to the development and publication of York University's Indigenous Framework.