Couchiching Connects: May 2013

In this Issue:

The President's Message
The Big Picture
2013 Summer Conference
Conversations and Roundtables
Couchiching Alumni


The President's Message - Rima Berns-McGown

Dear Couchiching Community:

The Big Picture Gala was an enormous success. We more than sold out: huge thanks to Colette Delaney of CIBC and broadcaster Hana Gartner for stepping in as table hosts for the two extra tables we needed to put on. In accepting the Award for Public Policy Leadership, Governor Mark Carney gave a warm, off-the-record talk that was both substantive and funny. And Olivia Chow remarked on how extraordinary was the mix of people in the room—from different sides of the political spectrum and across the range of passions and accomplishments. It was a beautiful illustration of the power of Couchiching to convene and create great and meaningful conversation.

The Couchiching Conversations’ lead-up to the summer conference continued on May 7 with a moving discussion, led by Bob Watts, former CEO of the Assembly of First Nations, on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. About 45 people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, formed a large circle at the Baha’i Centre in Toronto. I think it is fair to say that it was a profoundly moving experience for everyone in attendance. There is a huge appetite to fix this relationship, which goes to the very heart of what it means to be Canadian.

All of which leads us to the Summer Conference: This one is going to sell out so register early! Speakers are still being added to the sessions, but check out the tremendous line-up to date.


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

Leslie de Meulles, Co-Chair, Gala Committee


It is with great pleasure to report that our second annual Big Picture Gala, held on April 25, was a success! Thanks to the hard work of the Gala Committee, the event was sold-out and lively. Highlights include the presentation of Couchiching's Public Policy Award for Leadership to Mark Carney and hearing what may be some of his last public remarks as Governor of the Bank of Canada before he departs for London as Governor of the Bank of England. It was an honour to have so many of Canada's finest —our illustrious table hosts and our guests —engage in rousing conversations over dinner. The evening wrapped up with an engaging Question and Answer session, and more than one request for Olivia Chow to launch her Toronto mayoral campaign! All in all, it was an excellent evening. It certainly was encouraging to see such strong support for Couchiching, which will help us to continue to do year-round and Canada-wide programming. Again, enormous thanks to the Gala Committee for their truly outstanding, hard work that made the night such a success.

Photos coming soon!


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

Amanuel Melles and Leon Thompson

Conference Coordinator, Nicholas Constantine

August is only four months away and it’s time to solidify your summer plans. If you haven’t done so already, check out our rich array of conference sessions and speakers who will be presenting at the 2013 Couchiching Conference. We are pleased to announce that Phil Fontaine, the former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, will be joining the Right Honourable Paul Martin for a lively and essential conversation on how we can move forward to create a just and mutually respectful relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada. Other speakers who recently joined our conference panels include Métis visual artist Aaron Paquette and Chris Alcantara, author of Negotiating the Deal: Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements in Canada (UTP: 2013) and Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights (MQUP: 2010).

Also, stay tuned for the roll-out of a range of cultural and artistic experiences we are collaborating on with the Cultural Circle of Rama First Nation to inspire you throughout the Conference.

Meet The Right Honourable Paul Martin                                           

The Right Honourable Paul Martin was the twenty-first Prime Minister of Canada, serving from 2003 to 2006, and was the Minister of Finance from 1993 to 2002. In September 1999, he was named the inaugural chair of the Finance Ministers’ G-20. During his tenure as Prime Minister, Mr. Martin’s many achievements included setting in place a ten-year, forty-one billion dollar plan to improve health care and reduce wait times; signing agreements with the provinces and territories to establish a national early learning and child care program, and creating a new financial deal for Canada’s municipalities.

Under Mr. Martin’s leadership, in November 2005, the Canadian Government reached an historic consensus with Canada's provinces, territories, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit leaders that would eliminate the gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians in the areas of health, education, housing, and economic opportunity. This agreement became known as the Kelowna Accord. Further, he introduced the Civil Marriage Act, which redefined the traditional definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

Currently, he is co-chair of a two hundred million dollar British-Norwegian poverty alleviation and sustainable development fund for the ten-nation Congo Basin Rainforest. He also sits on the advisory council of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa, an initiative sponsored by the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank. He is a member of the International Monetary Fund’s Western Hemisphere Regional Advisory Group. 

Domestically, he is responsible for two new initiatives: the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, which aims to increase the number of Aboriginal students attending post-secondary institutions, and, with his son David, the Capital for Aboriginal Prosperity and Entrepreneurship Fund, which helps establish and grow successful Aboriginal businesses. Before entering politics, Mr. Martin had a distinguished career as a business executive at Power Corporation of Canada in Montreal and as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The CSL Group Inc. In December 2011, he was appointed as a Companion to the Order of Canada. This honour recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to the country. Mr. Martin studied philosophy, history, and law at the University of Toronto. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1966. 

Join us! Register now!  


Conversations and Roundtables

April 2 Toronto Conversation: Couchiching’s upcoming 2013-2014 series on "The Spirit of Social Change" tackled the complex dimensions and intersections between youth, spirituality, and social action. This series is in partnership with the InSpirit Foundation and with support from the Baha'i Community of Canada. The series was kick-started by an intimate and open conversation about the role that spirituality plays in the personal, professional, and social lives of Toronto's youth. Many thanks to our generous host, the University of Toronto Multi-faith Centre. We will bring you more news on this series in future issues of Connects. Visit for thoughts and reflections gathered from this Conversation.

April 17 Toronto Conversation: With the recent designation of Toronto as the first 'Sanctuary City' for undocumented residents in Canada, the debate around Canada's immigration laws was once again in the spotlight. Dr. Stephanie Silverman led an engaging conversation comparing immigration detention in Canada with cases in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. How do Canada's detention centres impact its democratic health, and how sustainable are they as a model? What can Canada learn from detention models in other countries? These were some of the many issues that were tackled during the two-hour conversation. Many thanks to our host and partner, the Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement.

April 30 Toronto Roundtable: In partnership with the SickKids Research Institute and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Couchiching held its second Cafe Scientifique for 2012-2013. Entitled "Gasping for Answers: Air quality, asthma, and other chronic conditions”, the Conversation was led by three experts from the University of Toronto: Dr. Sharon Dell, Dr. Padmaja Subbarao, and Dr. Teresa To. The talk shared research evidence linkages between asthma, other chronic diseases, and air quality, as well as how our genetic makeup interacts with environmental factors.

May 7 Toronto Conversation:  In anticipation of this year's Couchiching Conference, “Coming Together as One: Navigating the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and Canada”, the Institute was honoured to have Bob Watts lead a Conversation on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission is partway through a five-year mandate to document Canada's history of systemic abuses of Aboriginal communities and to set the stage for healing and repairing the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. Bob spoke about the critical work currently underway by the Commission and led a discussion on how to make the apology work in terms of policy, regulations, and legislation. Barbara Hall, the former mayor of Toronto, was also present to share her thoughts and reflection as an honourary witness of the Commission.

News about Upcoming Conversations and Roundtables

May 21 Toronto Conversation: In partnership with members of the Tibetan-Canadian community and Amnesty International Canada, Conversations will hold the Thonsur Memorial Lecture entitled “Tibetan Self-Immolations: Shedding Light on China's Rule in Tibet”. Dr. Tsering Shakya will shed light on Tibet-China relations, a conflict that continues to provoke much global thought and action. The Conversation will take place at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue, University of Toronto from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Dr. Shakya is the Canada Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia at the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia. He is a renowned scholar on both historical and contemporary Tibet, an independent consultant, and a widely respected analyst who is regularly invited to advise Western governments on Tibet/China policy. His book The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947 (Pimlico, London 1999) was acclaimed as “the definitive history of modern Tibet” by The New York Times, and "a prodigious work of scholarship” by the United Kingdom’s Sunday Telegraph. (link to website)

May 27 Ottawa Roundtable: Join a Roundtable on "The Future of Legal Education in Canada" to be led by Bruce Feldthusen, the outgoing Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. This Roundtable comes at a crucial time, when enrollments in American law schools are sharply down due to decreased demand for graduates. Opportunities for new graduates in Canada are decreasing, and many competent graduates cannot even find articling positions. Yet we are seeing the creation of new law schools in Canada. There are many challenges and opportunities ahead for legal education in Canada. Dean Feldthusen has agreed to share his thoughts and experiences around these important issues. The Roundtable will take place at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP Board Room, 2600-160 Elgin Street, Ottawa, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Bruce Feldthusen is best known for his book, Economic Negligence. His analysis of pure economic loss has been adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada and now provides the organizing framework for all negligence actions in that field. He was one of the first legal academics in the world to study and write about civil remedies for victims of sexual assault. 



Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of Canada and the recipient of the 2013 Public Policy Award for Leadership, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws on April 5th.


Couchiching Alumni in the News

Dave Meslin, a past Couchiching Conference speaker, is pushing for a Ranked Ballot initiative in the City of Toronto for 2018.

Calling all readers of Couchiching Connects! Please send us information on Newsmakers, Couchiching Alumni in the News, and Opinions: Our Members Write ... to Sheila Robertson, Vice-Chair, Marketing and Communications,

2016 Summer Conference

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Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World

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

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April 2017
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