Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre

Fall 2016

Pow Wow in the Park a big hit

Building on a partnership with the City of Waterloo, the 13th Annual Traditional Pow Wow was relocated to Waterloo Park this year. The new location was a big hit with vendors, dancers, and visitors.

Several dignitaries were in attendance to help open the event, including Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, MPP Catherine Fife, and City of Waterloo Councillor (and St. Paul's alumnus) Diane Freeman (pictured below).

Bardish Chagger, Catherine Fife, and Diane Freeman speak at opening ceremony

Visit the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre Facebook page to view more photos from Pow Wow and keep up to date on various events organized and supported by the WAEC.

Cindy Blackstock gives keynote, receives honorary degree

Dr. Cindy Blackstock, executive director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, professor at the School of Social Work, McGill University, and director of First Nations Children's Action Research and Education Service, delivered a moving keynote address at the Integrating Knowledges Summit on October 14. The Summit was a university response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, with the aim to develop opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and researchers across disciplines to meet and collaborate.

Dr. Blackstock is a highly sought after public speaker known for her work as an advocate for children and the rights of Indigenous youth. She opened her talk, Reconciliation: Learning from Canada's relationship with First Nations children with the heartbreaking story of Chanie Wenjack, a story now made famous by Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie. 

Dr. Blackstock went on to discuss the current situation of the child welfare system and noted that more First Nations children are in state care today through the child welfare system than were at the height of the residential school era. The issue she argued, is one of chronic under-funding and systemic racism.

Watch the entire keynote address below:

On October 22, Dr. Blackstock was invited back to the University of Waterloo for Fall convocation and to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws.

Cindy Blackstock speaks at convocation

Shawn Johnston wins anti-racism award

Shawn Johnston, Events Coordinator at the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre, received a 2016 J.S. Woodsworth Award (Individual Leadership) for his work on anti-racism, awarded by the provincial New Democratic Party.

"I am honoured and grateful," Shawn wrote to Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife, who nominated him for the award. "Out of 45 nominees, I was selected as one of the recipients for this award. I got a chance to meet with Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and tell her about the work we do at the Centre and, of course, our soup lunches."

Lila Bruyere, Shawn Johnston, Catherine Fife and Amy Smoke pose with award

At a luncheon held at St. Paul's in celebration of Shawn's award, Catherine Fife said, "Shawn has dedicated his life to the elimination of racial discrimination, making him the ideal candidate for this award."

Besides his work at the Aboriginal Centre, Shawn has been active with groups such as Idle No More and has helped combat racism through advocacy, education, and helping to build bridges between campus and Aboriginal communities.

Shawn, Anishnaabe from Treaty #3 Territory, grew up on Couchiching First Nations. He holds a Master of Social Work (Aboriginal Field of Study) from Wilfrid Laurier University, a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) from Western University, and a Social Service Worker diploma from Lambton College.

He has won several other awards in recent years, including the Western University Young Alumni Award of Merit (2015), the King's University College Adult Learner Award (2013), and a WPIRG Social Justice Award. He has also been nominated for a 2016 Premier's Award for Community Services; the recipients will be announced at an awards banquet in November.

The NDP Party presents the J.S. Woodsworth awards annually to individuals and organizations from across Ontario for significant contributions toward the goal of eliminating racial discrimination in our society. The awards are named after J.S. Woodsworth, the first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the forerunner of Ontario’s NDP.