Couchiching Connects: November 2012

In this Issue:

The President's Message
The Big Picture
2013 Summer Conference
Marketing and Communications
Roundtable Inspires

The President's Message - Rima Berns-McGown

Dear Couchiching Community:

This past summer's conference on the Arab Spring: Implications and Opportunities for Canada was a groundbreaking success. With the help of superb speakers and thoughtful, respectful audience participation, we shattered stereotypes and held open, honest conversations on all matters pertaining to the Arab Spring and what it means for Canada. Thank you to all who attended. If you missed it, the speakers' presentations are up on the website:

Co-chairs Amanuel Melles and Leon Thompson are in the throes of coordinating input for next summer's conference, which already promises to be extraordinary in its reframing of the way we talk about Aboriginal issues in Canada. Please consider this your invitation to help shape the conference. Contact Nicholas Constantine:

And finally, stay tuned for the related series of Conversations and Roundtables that Salim Rachid will be coordinating in cities across the country. If you want to be involved, or have an idea for a Conversation, write to Salim @


The Big Picture 2013, April 25, 2013 - Leslie de Meulles

The Big Picture, Couchiching's signature fundraising event, has been rescheduled to April 25, 2013.

The Big Picture is an important event for Couchiching and 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.

The 2013 Summer Conference - Conference Co-Chairs, Amanuel Melles and Leon Thompson

The 2013 Summer Conference, Geneva Park, August 8-11, 2013

The Conference coordinator is Nicholas Constantine,

2013 marks the 250th anniversary of the 1763 Royal Proclamation that affirmed Aboriginal rights to land and self-government. In 2013, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will release its report and recommendations on the Indian Residential Schools and hopes to "guide and inspire Aboriginal peoples and Canadians in a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships that are based on mutual understanding and respect."

The 2013 Couchiching Summer Conference will offer a unique forum for open, non-partisan discussion about the significant historial and contemporary issues that affect the relations of Aboriginal Peoples of Canada and Canadians. It will explore, under different frames, including constitutional, social justice, economic, and environmental, the enabling factors for moving forward to create a just an mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal Peolpes and Canada.

The 2013 Summer Conference

  • is an opportunity to reframe the conversations and tackle topics that have not been addressed before.
  • as a non-partisan form, will elevate the discourse by moving away from platitudes, guilt, and reducing the issues of Aboriginal Peoples as intractable.
  • will engender conversations between Aboriginal Peoples and Canadians that move us forward.
  • in the traditional spirit of Couchiching, will be a place for safe but difficult and courageous conversations.
Conference preparation will promote engagement with various and relevant Aboriginal Canadians and other stakeholders.


Through Black Spruce, a novel by Joseph Boyden, Penguin Group, 2008. Winner of the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden's first novel. Penguin Group, 2005.

 Isuma TV is an independent online interactive network of Inuit and Indigenous multimedia. Isuma TV uses the power and immediacy of the Web to bring people together to tell stories and support change.
 Canada's World was a collaborative project between 15 universities and over 40 organizations with one big goal - to engage Canadians and non-traditional voices in an ongoing conversation about what Canadians want our nation's role in the world to be. oct 25 2011.pdf
 Toronto Aboriginal Research Project (TARP) is a research study that focuses on Aboriginal people in the City of Toronto. Areas the report focuses on includes Aboriginal children and youth, Aboriginal men, Aboriginal women, Aboriginal seniors and elders, the Aboriginal Two-spirited community in Toronto, Aboriginal poverty and social issues, the Aboriginal middle class in Toronto, housing in the Toronto Aboriginal community, Aboriginal homelessness in Toronto, Aboriginal culture and identity in Toronto, law and justice and Aboriginal people, Aboriginal urban governance, and arts in the Toronto Aboriginal community.

Marketing and Communications - Chair Melanie Ching and Vice-Chair Sheila Robertson

The current marketing and communications strategies are under review with the goal of unifying the messages of the Institute and thereby improving communications internally and with the public. A new marketing and communications strategy will be presented to the board of directors at the January 2012 meeting and will incoporate support for year-round events and the summer conferences.

The 2013 promotional video is nearing completion. Ongoing support is being provided for both The Big Picture 2013 and Conversations and Roundtables in the form of regular updates on the website. As well, print support for The Big Picture will include a program and an insert about the Institute's year-round activities. Conversations and Roundtables are further promoted through an email to the appropriate regional list and publicity on both Facebook and Twitter.

The final stages of the second phase of development of the new website will include event registration and donations web forms.


Margaret Lefebvre, a member of the board of directors, has been awarded a Diamond Jubilee Medal for the lifelong contributions and exceptional leadership in "advancing the opportunities of women and children in the Montreal community."

Says Rima Berns-McGown: "Margaret has been an indefatigable, passionate, and compassionate volunteer throughout her career, and all of us at Couchiching have been the beneficiaries of that leadership and skill. Those of us who have served with her on the board know these wonderful things about her, but it is thrilling to see them recognized publicly and in the wider community."

Roundtable Inspires

I recently moved to Ottawa for post-graduate studies in Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and thought that getting involved in events outside the immediate sphere of the university would improve my social capital and open up new networking opportunities.

I am a member of the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs and regularly receive its electronic correspondence. A recent piece involved information about the Roundtables the Institute hosts for members and the general public. I attended the roundtable that featured former Lieutenant-General and now Senator Romeo Dallaire. Since I had read both his official writings as well as first-hand accounts of his conduct during his role during the United Nation's 1994 mission in Rwanda, I felt this would be the perfect event to attend.

I easily signed up by e-mail, rode my bicycle to the event, stocked up on hors d'oevres and a beverage and took a seat. The evening began with a powerful speech by Senator Dallaire. In a nutshell, he told me, (and specifically addressed Canadians under 25), that Canada needs a revolution to make our country great again, that we need to restore our place in the world not by looking back at who we were, but by looking forward and knowing what we can be.

During question period, I noticed that the room was full of Ottawa's elite and that this was more of an opportunity than I had previously realized. Questions were posed by the vice-president of CIBC, professors, and a former employee of the World Bank.

I found people very receptive to newcomers and was rewarded with a series of introductions, amazing conversations, and above all, future contacts. I even managed to shake Romeo Dallaire's hand, even though I was embarrassingly speechless in his presence.

On my cruise homeward, I realized what a whirlwind the whole experience had been. In a mere two hours, I had been inspired, felt invigorated, and left knowing that I had made a positive step towards exploring events outside of the university environment. Furthermore, I had been given a chance to hear an individual I respect very much and had always wanted to meet in person. All this, because I decided to take a chance on something in my personal e-mail inbox.

A very heartfelt thank you to the Institute ... Jacob Hrycak

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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