16 May 2017

The 12th edition of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Summer Institute took place this year from 7 to 11 May on beautiful Treaty 1 territory, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Designed to help Foundation community members refine their understanding of Canada and its dynamics, the Foundation’s institutes gather some 100 scholars, fellows, and mentors in a different province or territory each year. Only open to members of the Foundation’s community, this year’s Summer Institute explored some of the major issues and local characteristics of the Winnipeg area, and gave Foundation community members the opportunity to learn from each other’s interests and work.

Better understand the field

These four-and-a-half days were an occasion for Foundation community members to meet policymakers and practitioners rooted in their communities to discuss such issues as farming, the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, municipal policy, health care, sustainable development, and francophone minority language rights in Manitoba.

Theses exchanges were complemented by field visits to Turtle Lodge, an international center for Indigenous education and wellness; to Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata, a community center for Indigenous families; and to St Boniface for a guided tour exploring the area’s relevance to Winnipeg’s francophones and the Métis community. Foundation members also met local leaders at the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

In addition, some participants volunteered with Got Bannock by bringing food to homeless people while others patrolled the streets of Winnipeg’s North End with the Bear Clan Patrol. Others taught in secondary schools. A group of 30 scholars participated in the Foundation’s first ever media training seminar, coached by Foundation mentors, fellows, and alumni scholars as well as by journalists and technicians at the Aboriginal People’s Television Network.

Interdisciplinary, intersectoral and intergenerational networking

The Summer Institute was also an opportunity for Foundation community members to meet the new cohorts of scholars, fellows, and mentors, to update themselves on each others’ research projects, and to connect personally. It was also time to celebrate the graduating scholars during a gala evening hosted by two scholars. The gala was preceded by the traditional Roy L. Heenan Lecture, given this year by author Katherena Vermette. Mr. Heenan left us in February; our thoughts were with his wife and family.