Senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson is a Métis from Treaty 6 territory in Alberta. She has dedicated her 30-year career to serving her community in Alberta, across Canada and around the world—as the director of a Boys and Girls Club in St. Paul in 1990, through 23 years of service at Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA), and Conference Director and Lead Facilitator of the Nelson Mandela Dialogues in Canada, an international gathering of freedom fighters that took place on Enoch Cree Nation in 2017.
Patti’s PhD research in Human Ecology (University of Alberta) focused on experiences of resilience among Indigenous families and communities in response to multiple forms of trauma. Her lifelong work has become an extended conversation about healing from historic trauma.
Patti’s perspectives on these conversations are rooted in the transformative experiences of Cree ceremonies. The Elders’ teachings of kindness, respect, humility, and honesty have informed her research into best practices for Indigenous offender healing, domestic violence, and historic trauma-informed service delivery. Her most recent research initiatives bridge neuroscience and Indigenous knowledge of child development, as well as Western and Indigenous water sciences.
As a recognized catalyst for change, Dr. LaBoucane-Benson was appointed to Alberta’s Ministerial Panel for Child Intervention in 2017.The Panel was tasked with exploring approaches to reduce the over-representation of Indigenous children in care in Alberta and its recommendations resulted in the adoption of Bill 18: the Child Protection and Accountability Act.
Patti’s PhD research was brought to life through a work of creative non-fiction—The Outside Circle (House of Anansi, 2015)— an award-winning graphic novel that tells the story of an inner-city Aboriginal family who transcend poverty, gang affiliation, and hopelessness. The teaching materials she has developed are used in classrooms across Canada and in training sessions for professionals.
Dr. LaBoucane-Benson continues to share her knowledge of healing and historic trauma with educators, healthcare professionals, lawyers and policy-makers, as well as Indigenous communities. She believes that healing and reconciliation dialogue is the way forward in Canada, with the focus on emphasizing the common ground between Western and Indigenous people. The best, most useful policy and legislation will reflect this shared space that unites us as a society.
Appointed to the Senate in October 2018, Senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson lives fully in the space that helps define Canada. She is an avid gardener, and her husband Allen is a traditional Nehiyaw (Cree) hunter; they believe that food security includes the respectful harvest of food from the land. They live near Stony Plain, Alberta, with their son Gabriel, on an acreage that has hosted ceremonies, workshops, and dozens of transformational conversations with Elders, elected officials, and leaders from around the world.