Panel Discussion: Indigenous Awareness

Friday, August 18

6:45PM, Petun Room, Village Conference Centre - FREE

Panel Discussion: Indigenous Awareness with DELILAH SAUNDERS, MICHAEL MCLUHAN, and BRANDEN EMMERSON.
Delilah Saunders is an urban Inuk woman from Nunatsiavut. She is a passionate and dedicated advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Her voice for MMIWG was amplified when her sister, Loretta, was silenced far too soon. Delilah was awarded the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award for her work on the issue and a 10 day hunger strike to oppose the violence inflicted upon Mother Earth regarding the Muskrat Falls hydro-electric dam project in her hometown, Happy Valley – Goose Bay in Labrador.

Michael McLuhan has resided in the area near Owen Sound since 1986. He has been socially and politically engaged all of his life. In the Grey Bruce area, the divide between First Nations and non-native populations has been a concern of his for many years.

Branden Emmerson is an indigenous rights advocate and activist as well as the founder/organizer of the upcoming, December 21st 2017, cross country prayer walk to raise awareness of Canada's plight commonly referred to as "Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women" and to begin our healing journey. He actively engages in public discussions, educational teaching resource videos and joins his support through active participation in indigenous resistance, such as the stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock North Dakota and the proposed liquefaction natural gas plant in Tacoma Washington. Branden's most recent endeavors have led him to present in front of the annual general assembly of the Assembly of First Nations in Regina Saskatchewan. Branden is eager to continue an open dialogue with outside communities in hopes of not only achieving reconciliation but also a new working relationship for the prosperous future for both Canadian and indigenous communities.

Journalist Laura Robinson started covering Indigenous issues in 1990 when, immediately after Oka, she followed Mohawk warrior and Olympic kayaking gold medalist Alwyn Morris to Norway House, a fly-in community in Northern Manitoba, in 1990. Her coverage has appeared in the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian Living, Winnipeg Free Press, Ottawa Citizen, the CBC, TSN and many other media outlets. Her essay "An Athlete's Lament", which was included in the Banff Centre's Press first anthology of cultural journalism in 1997, looks at how she was able to escape from an often abusive elite world of competitive cycling to First Nation communities in the 1970's and how those friendships led to her first Sacred Run of nearly 300 km in 1992. As writer in residence at U of Calgary in 2000, she wrote the play "Niigaanibatowaad: FrontRunners" about 10 First Nation teenage boys who used their gift as long distance runners to escape residential school in Manitoba. In 2007 she coproduced and rewrote the script as a screenplay for the film by the same name. The film won Best Short Live Film at the American Indian Film Festival in 2008, and in 2015 was cited in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Report as a way in which the arts can be used to tell the difficult stories of residential school and the rich stories of traditions, such as running. Laura also volunteered with Cape Croker School, now Kikendaasogamig Elementary School, to establish and coach a very fast cross-country skiing and mt bike team from 1993 to 2012. In 2008 she was given the Chippewa of Nawash's Chief's Award for this, while in 2010 the Union of Ontario Indians awarded her their Debwewin Citation for research that showed Canada's team to the 2010 Winter Olympics had no Indigenous athletes on it. She is a former member of the Canadian Cycling Team, a former Canadian Rowing Champion and likes to compete in Master's cross-country skiing. In 2012 York University conferred an Honourary Doctorate of Laws to her for this work.