Couchiching Connects: January 2013

In this Issue:

The President's Message
The Big Picture
2013 Conference
Conversations and Roundtables
Member Meet-Up
Marketing and Communications

The President's Message - Rima Berns-McGown

As I write this, there is an urgency in the air about the wound that is the rupture between Indigenous people and Canadians. It is high time to heal: We all need - desperately - to learn and to talk, and we need to do so in large groups and small ones, at our kitchen tables, and with people who have spent their lives thinking about this issue. Perhaps never before has a Couchiching Conference been so vitally important.

The 2013 Summer Conference - Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians - organized in the spirit of the 8th Fire, will be a unique forum for open, non-partisan discussion aboutt he significant historical and contemporary issues that affect the relations of Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Canadians, and what to do about those issues.

Although we are in the early stages of putting the pieces in place and sending out speaker invitations, I am delighted to announce that Aboriginal lawyer Roberta Jamieson, President and  CEO of Indspire and long-time dedicated activist, has agreed to be one of our opening keynote speakers. The Right Honourable Paul Martin, Former Prime Minister and founder of the Martin Aboriginal Inititative, is doing his very best to adjust his schedule so he can co-keynote alongside Roberta.

Watch this newsletter and our emails for news of Conversations and Roundtables we will be hosting between now and the Summer Conference on various related topics. The first of these, in Barrie, Ontario, on January 29th with Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux's guidance, will focus on food (see Simcoe County Conversation below).

Others - on the growing Idle No More movement, Indigenous rights, the environment, and natural resources; on governance; on racism; and on storytelling - will be held over the winter and spring in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Midland, Ont., and on the territory of the Chippewa of Rama First Nation.


The Big Picture 2013, April 25, 2013: Couchiching's Signature Fundraising Event

Leslie de Meulles, Co-Chair, Gala Committee

Couchiching's 2nd Annual Big Picture Gala is fast-approaching and we are pleased to showcase the venue for our event. Storys is a brick and beam beauty in downtown Toronto. If you'd like to get a better sense of the venue, take a sneak peek of the inside here using the flash page flip. The warm, intimate feel inside Storys is sure to be the perfect space to have engaging discussions with our Table Hosts.

Meet John Manley, the Chair of The Big Picture

The Honourable John Manley, P.C., O.C., is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE). He is a former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and was first elected to Parliament in 1988. From 1993 to 2003, he was a Minister in the governments of Jean Chrétien, serving in the portfolios of Industry, Foreign Affairs, and Finance, in addition to being Deputy Prime Minister. The Couchiching Institute is proud to have John Manley return as the Gala chair in 2013.


"Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship between Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Canadians", Geneva Park, August 8-11, 2013

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

The Program Committee continued its conference planning meetings in December and has now confirmed the conference title and description. We have fine-tuned panel sessions and identified great speakers and leaders across the country and are now busy reaching out to them. An Arts and Culture Working Group within the Program Committee will soon start exploring creative ways of integrating arts and culture throughout the conference. We have also started working closely with other Committees such as Marketing and Communications, Conversations and Roundtables, and Fundraising to support and promote the conference.

Conference Description 
One of the Indigenous prophecies, the 8th Fire, speaks of an era of building a new relationship between Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Canadians. Many believe we are living in this era. 2013 marks the 250th anniversary of the 1763 Royal Proclamation that affirmed Indigenous rights to land and self-government. In 2013, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada will release its report and recommendations on the Indian Residential Schools and hopes to "guide and inspire Aboriginal peoples and Canadian in a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships that are based on mutual understanding and respect."

The 2013 Couchiching Conference is a unique forum for open, non-partisan discussion about the significant historical and contemporary issues that affect the relations of Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Canadians. The conference is organized in the spirit of the 8th Fire. It will explore, under different frames, including constitutional, social justice, economic, and environmental, how we can move forward to create a just and mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians.


Video: The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Idle No More: Protest to Change? 
Momentum and a movement: Idle No More organizers, supporters, and observers discuss the objectives and significance of the movement with Steve Paikin.

With Pam Palmater, Hayden King, Russell Diabo, Terry Glavin, and Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux

Idle No More
. This site provides details of the mission and action plan of Idle No More, its history, and calls for action. The site includes indepth description and analysis of legislative bills that contravene the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights. This website also gives media access to some of the Indigenous advocates and leaders active within the grassroots movement.

9 Questions about Idle No More 
The Idle No More grassroots movement has gained a serious following and significant media attention through rallies, teach-ins, and social media. This site provides answers to some of the questions asked about Idle No More.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples This document provides the details of the UN Declaration that affirms the rights and freedoms of Indigenous Peoples of the world, and recognizes minimum standards for their survival, dignity and well-being. The Declaration includes 46 articles. One of the key articles is one that affirms the right of Indigenous Peoples to maintain and develop their political, economic, and social systems or institutions.
Canada is a signatory to the UN Declaration.


Conversations and Roundtables

Salim Rachid,

News about Upcoming Conversations

SIMCOE COUNTY CONVERSATION - A Conversation about Aboriginal and Canadian Approaches to Food and Resilience

Barrie Community Health Centre - - January 29th, 7 to 9 p.m.
 Co-Hosts Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux and Gary Machan

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


Member Meet-Up

We are delighted to extend a warm invitation to members of the Couchiching community to attend our inaugural Member Meet-Up at the home of Couchiching's president, Rima Berns-McGown, on Sunday, January 27, 2013.

Everyone is welcome. We promise mind-tingling conversation and mouth-watering food (Melanie Ching and David McGown have offered to cook). You don't have to be a member to come, but we will ask you to become one before you leave. (A donation of $75, or $25 if you're a student, makes you a voting member for a year, and your donation is 100% tax deductible.)

Email Rima at to RSVP and for details.


Marketing and Communications

Chair Melanie Ching and Vice-Chair Sheila Robertson

The marketing and Communications Committee will hold its first meeting of 2013 on February 6th at 7:00 p.m. Please email if you would like to be invited. The meeting will be held via teleconference, so no matter where you are, you can attend.



Long-time Couchiching supporter and current board member Martha Hall Findlay has declared her candidacy for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Debates begin on January 20th in Vancouver and will offer a first chance to see all the candidates in action.

Couch has changed lives in many ways, not the least of which is romantic. Not very long ago, board member Doug Gibson and his wife Jane Brenneman Gibson met when she was a board member and he a speaker - and we are absolutely delighted to announce that it has happened again. 

Board member Alex Himmelfarb writes in The Toronto Star: "As we enter 2013, how is Canada doing? How do we stack up against other rich countries? Emerging from the year of the 50th anniversary of Medicare, the 30th anniversary of the Charter, are we making progress? Do we even have any shared notion of what progress would look like?"

Writing in The Globe and Mail, board member Wenran Jian says: "The national debate over the CNOOC-Nexen deal in the past few months has polarized policy makers and the general public - raised some 'difficult policy issues' as Prime Minister Stephen Harper put it - and generated global media interest in the Canadian government's final decision."

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
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