Couchiching Connects: December 2012

In this Issue:

The President's Message
Award for Public Policy Leadership
The Big Picture
2013 Conference
SickKids Café Scientifique
Conversations and Roundtables
Marketing and Communications

The President's Message - Rima Berns-McGown

Over the past couple of years, the Couchiching community has continued to grow and to become ever more inclusive - 2013 will build our connections even stronger. The 2013 Summer Conference is being designed to reframe the conversation around Canada's relationship with its Indigenous peoples, with the theme echoing throughout our year-round programming.

Our ground-breaking Conversations continue to take place everywhere - from university faculty clubs to law firm board rooms to community centres at Jane and Finch, from Vancouver to Winnipeg to Orillia and the Rama First Nation. Our members are meeting, networking, and talking about Canada on the world stage and at home.

Join us! Come out for a Conversation or a Roundtable. Attend the Summer Conference. Network and chat at our latest initiative - Members Meet-Up - a unique, informal opportunity in a pub setting for conversation about public affairs that matter. Watch this space and our website for details.

And give the gift of conversation for the holidays: Send someone you love to the Summer Conference. 
Contact Nicholas Constantine at

Call for Nominations for the 2013 Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership

DEADLINE: January 4, 2013!

About the Award

"All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership." - John Kenneth Galbraith

The Couchiching Award for Public Policy Leadership honours the accomplishments of Canadians who have demonstrated daring leadership in public policy. Presented annually at the Couchiching Summer Conference, the award recognizes exemplary actions taken by an individual to formulate and implement policy that has had a proven positive impact on Canada or a community within Canada, often in the face of public opposition.

Please visit our website to see the criteria and submit your nomination to

Past Award Recipients

The Big Picture 2013, April 25, 2013

Leslie de Meulles, Co-Chair, Gala Committee

The Big Picture, Couchiching's signature fundraising event, gives us an opportunity to increase the public profile of the Institute we cherish. It's a terrific opportunity to engage in indepth conversation with well-known table hosts, and is an excellent introduction, for those who may be unfamiliar with Couchiching, to what we are all about. Check out our website to read more about the outstanding Canadians who will be our guests of honour at the event. We look forward to seeing you and your guests on April 25, 2013, at what promises to be a great evening.

"Reframing the Conversation: Aboriginal Canada Relations", the 2013 Summer Conference, Geneva Park, August 8-11

Amanuel Melles and Leon Thompson, Conference Co-Chairs; Nicholas Constantine, Conference Coordinator

Amanuel Melles; Leon Thompson; Nicholas Constantine

The Program Committee held two productive conference planning meeting in November during which detailed discussions were held on the conference program sessions, keynotes, and panels. The committee also reviewed the conference description, title, and the list of proposed potential panelists and keynote speakers.


First Nations Drum Newspaper is Canada's largest Aboriginal newspaper, reaching communities all across the country. The First Nations Drum is distributed to Native bands, friendship centres, tribal councils, schools, colleges and university, libraries, and various Aboriginal businesses and organizations from east to west. Designed to inform and entertain its readers while strengthening understanding between the Native and non-Native residents, the First Nations Drum deals exclusively with news and information relevant to Native communities and lifestyles, from politics to music, from culture to sports, as well as profiles on successful Native-run businesses.


Canadian Aboriginals: In and Out - The Pros and Cons of Politics

The TVO program, "Agenda" examines whether Aboriginal Canadians can better improve their lives by participating in Canadian politics or avoiding it. The debate is hosted by Steve Paikin and feature Pam Palmater, Ryerson University; Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Canadian Roots Exchange; Clint Davis, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business; and Paul Martin, the 21st Prime Minister of Canada and founder of the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative (MAEI).

The MAEI was established in 2008 in order to initiate a variety of educational projects designed to provide Aboriginal Canadians with the opportunities they need to succeed. MAEI brings together Aboriginal organizations, the business community, post-secondary institutions, First Nation schools, and provincially-funded school boards to implement programs to support Aboriginal students. MAEI's goal is to support initiatives that improve education at the elementary and secondary school levels for Aboriginal Canadians.

Beat Nation: Art Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture, The Power Plant - Toronto, December 15, 2012-May 5, 2013

Curated by Kathleen Ritter, Associate Curator, Vancouver Art Gallery and Tania Willard, a Secwepemc artist, designer, and curator

Participating artists: Jackson 2bears, KC Adams, Sonny Assu, Bear Witness, Jordan Bennett, Raymond Boisjoly, Corey Bulpitt & Larissa Healey, Kevin Lee Burton, Raven Chacon, Nicholas Galanin, Maria Hupfield, Mark Igloliorte, Cheryl L'Hirondelle, Duane Linklater, madeskimo, Dylan Miner, Kent Monkman, Marianne Nicolson, Skeena Reece, Hoka Skenadore, and Roland Souliere Beat Nation describes a generation of artists who juxtapose urban youth culture with Aboriginal identity to create innovative and unexpected new works - in painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and video - that reflect the current realities of Aboriginal peoples today.

Organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery and based on an initiative of grunt gallery,

SickKids Café Scientifique: Are Stem Cells the Basis for Immortality?

Gwen Burrows Reports

The elections in the United States didn't keep the crowds away: the most recent Café Scientifique hosted by SickKids in partnership with the Institute focused on Stem Cell research and took place on Tuesday, November 6. With standing room only, the University of Toronto's Dr. Derek van der Kooy introduced the hot topic of stem cell research, providing a glimpse into the history, the current advancements, and the issues on the horizon.

Joining van der Kooy were two of SickKids leading scientists, Chief of Research Dr. Janet Rossant and Senior Scientist Dr. Freda Miller. Both Rossant and Miller joined in a friendly debated on the question of whether or not stem cells are the basis for immortality. Each side gave persuasive arguments and rasied points about the science, ethics, and social impacts of such a promising area in health science. Throughout the night, Couchiching board member and past president David McGown played the able host and moderator for the lively Q&A that followed the debate.

The idea behind the Café Scientifique is to make science, and the policy issues science raises, accessible to the general public in a relaxed and informal setting. As Miller noted: "I am here because I feel it is important to engage society in these fields that are moving very quickly in science. These questions shouldn't stay in the hands of scientists; we need to include everyone as we search for answers."

Conversations and Roundtables

Salim Rachid,

News about Toronto Conversations Past and Upcoming
October - The Gun Ban in Toronto

A spike in shootings this past summer in Toronto was followed by a chorus of calls for a municipal, and even nation-wide, ban on handguns. Those favouring the ban included John Gerretsen, the Attorney General of Ontario, various city councillors, and the Roman Catholic Church. The recent move by the Conservative government to scrap the long gun registry added a further layer of complexity. Taking into account Canada's unpatrolled 5,000km border with one of the most heavily-armed countries in the world, is a ban on guns as unrealistic as a ban on narcotics? Or would a ban serve as a significant deterrent to illegal gun activity?

On October 3rd, a sizeable crowd of around 20 people gathered to debate "The Gun Ban in Ontario" with Nathalie Des Rosiers, the general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. The event was hosted by the Criminology Centre at the University of Toronto. This location was, of course, very relevant to the theme. Des Rosiers argued that a gun ban in Toronto, although sound from an ethical standpoint, was not feasible from a policy perspective and would prove difficult to be implemented if such a law was ever passed. The conversation also included a comparison to gun laws in the United States, the long gun registry in Canada, and the gun ban issue from a civil liberties perspective.

January Conversation in Toronto - Muslim Identity in Canadian Media

33 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto, 6 to 8 p.m., January

Representations, generalizations, and stereotypes in Canadian media are common, and Muslims are not exempt, giving rise to a number of important questions. When it comes to Islam, what is a moderate Muslim? Is the Muslim character as portrayed in the Canadian media moderate? What factors decide acceptable and unacceptable Muslim views? Join the conversation as guest speaker Shelina Kassam deconstructs the "Muslim Identity in Canadian Media." Shelina teaches Women and Gender studies at the University of Toronto at Mississauga and has interests in Islam, Gender, Race, and Ethnicity.

February Conversation in Toronto - Youth-Police relations in Toronto

Jane and Finch Community Centre, Toronto (date to be announced)

There is a disconnect between the people of the Jane and Finch community and the Toronto Police Service (TPS), despite efforts by the police to keep the community safe. Complaints of racial profiling and discrimination have plagued this relationship for years. Join the conversation as Toronto Police Superintendent of 31 Division Dave McLeod speaks about modern day policing, efforts to keep enforcement bias-free, and strategies aimed at improving community relations.

Note: Watch this space for news of Conversations to take place in Winnipeg and Orillia. Details will be posted in the next issue.

Marketing and Communications

Chair Melanie Ching and Vice-Chair Sheila Robertson

The Marketing and Communications team is preparing a plan for 2013 and would love your input. Do you have any ideas about what you would like to hear from the Institute? Do you want to help?

Please contact with your suggestions and ideas. The upcoming year promises to be exciting - please continue to visit our web site to learn about current and upcoming events.

2016 Summer Conference

The Canada Project

Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World

August 5-7, 2016
The YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre, Orillia, ON

Read More


Couchiching Connects
April 2017
View Now

Sign Up for our Newsletter!