Reconciliation and Indigenous Entrepreneurship, a major focus of TEDxKitchenerED

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

On February 22, fascinating and engaging presenters hit the stage to share their passions and discuss their visions for the world at TEDxKitchenerED.  

Of the 11 presenters, one was our very own Lori Campbell, Director of Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC) and another was Max Kakekagumick, a high school student from Fort Hope, Ontario, who participated in the first Leadership Entrepreneurship and DesignThinking (LEAD) camp offered by St. Paul’s last May.

Campbell gave a timely, powerful talk, entitled Reconciliation is dead. While the title speaks to the current politicized views on reconciliation, Campbell explains that “reconciliation isn’t dead, unless you choose to let it die”.

With her track record as an Indigenous leader in education, it’s no surprise Campbell was chosen to speak out of hundreds of applicants. She has made it her mission to advocate for social justice and advance the processes of Indigenization and reconciliation. Her talk focuses on how reconciliation can be done on a small, yet impactful scale, while also acknowledging what does not contribute to successful reconciliation.

To Campbell, reconciliation is, “what you do at your dinner table. It’s the conversations you have with your families when you’re watching the evening news. It’s providing your children with the right knowledge so that they can respectfully get along and play with Indigenous children”.

Within the St. Paul’s community, Campbell continually works with her team at WISC to amplify the voices of Indigenous students and youth while providing a safe space for learning and development.

Kakekagumick was one of 17 high school students to recently experience the impact of WISC, by attending the LEAD camp with Indigenous youth from across Ontario. His team won the LEAD pitch contest, which took place at the Google Canada office in Kitchener. Following the camp, Kakekagumick was encouraged by staff at Google and WISC to consider speaking at TEDxKitchenerED.

For Kakekagumick, “the best part about LEAD, was that we learned to look at a problem creatively and find a solution, humanely.”

In his talk, Us and the rez dogs, Kakekagumick discusses being a victim of a dog attack and how this issue spans across Indigenous communities.

“These wild dogs often start as cute puppy pets but then get abandoned later in their life. Once in the wild, they start reproducing. So, while the problem starts with people abandoning their dogs, there’s another one that’s reproducing in the wild, uncontrolled,” explained Kakekagumick.

He finalizes his talk by presenting a four-step solution to address the health issues of canine overpopulation in these communities, with a solution for safe-breeding and a compelling case for government funding.   

The second LEAD camp was scheduled to take place at Google Kitchener this May but has since been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Paul’s and the WISC team look forward to setting a new date and continuing to provide excellent opportunities for youth like Kakekagumick to explore entrepreneurship and design thinking, rooted in Indigenous knowledge and practice.

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