Last year in May, 2017, a unique conference titled “Building Bridges Between Canada’s Indigenous and Newcomer Groups” was held at Thunderbird House in Winnipeg. The event resulted from discussions on Canada’s 150th and the conflicting senses of pride, frustration, pain and hope alongside the important work of welcoming and successfully settling newcomers to Canada; as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action that mandated a more inclusive history of Indigenous experiences and the history of residential schools in the newcomer information kit, citizenship test and oath.
Robson Hall’s Assistant Professor Shauna Labman led the conference organization on behalf of the Migration Law Research Cluster with support from Aimée Craft, then director of research for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and Shereen Denetto, Interim Executive Director of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM).
Participants from all ages took part, who represented and worked with both newcomer and indigenous groups in Winnipeg and across Canada. Over the past year, the conference organizers created a report that compiles and offers reflections about what they heard, saw and experienced during the conference. The report was officially launched this past Friday, May 11th through a celebratory “Launch and Lunch” at IRCOM on Isabel Street in Winnipeg that included a Gallery Walk where participants could share “bridge building” initiatives. The conference’s full report is available to read on the Robson Hall website.