Impassioned discussions took place among participants who brought a wide range of experiences and knowledge to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s Future Forums consultation in Whitehorse on Tuesday. One major theme which emerged from the discussions was knowledge inclusion, and how some forms of knowledge are systematically left on the sidelines both in the academic world, and in general society.
Mathieya Alatini, past Chief of Kluane First Nation, said even as the Foundation seeks insights at the Future Forums on Inclusive Excellence and Engaged Leadership, the organization itself needs to look in the mirror.
“The Foundation can appear more exclusive, by design,” she noted, observing one key to Inclusive Excellence is “understanding different ways of learning, of being, and seeking awareness.”
Peter Johnston is Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations. He expressed optimism some of the right steps are being taken toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. But he warned there remains much work to do after hundreds of years of Indigenous culture, knowledge, and stories being ignored.
“In the development of Canada as a country, these were put to the side, supressed,” Grand Chief Johnston told the group.
He applauded Yukon College for being a leader in helping to ensure “kids going to school in these institutions see their own values being taught.”
Margaret Dumkee is Dean of Yukon College, which is poised to become the first full-fledged university in Canada’s North. She said the inclusion of all forms of knowledge must be a priority. “Before we can build reconciliation we have to build the truth,” Dean Dumkee said.
Pascale Fournier, President and CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, applauded the heart-felt, sometimes blunt observations which were brought forward throughout the session on Tuesday.
“Ideas are great, but ideas mean nothing if they don’t come from the heart,” she said.