MySchool News: June 2017

MySchool News is your source for the latest news and information about upcoming courses, events and other learning activities offered by the School.

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Message from the Deputy Minister/President

Reconciliation: A shared responsibility

Deputy Minister Wilma Vreeswijk

In honour of National Aboriginal History Month, this special issue of MySchool News puts a spotlight on the activities underway at the Canada School of Public Service in support of reconciliation.

Reconciliation is a government priority. It's also a shared journey and a path towards a more inclusive Canada. Every one of us has a role to play in building the respect and understanding required for a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples.

This is particularly true of public servants, many of whom work in organizations whose policies, programs and services directly affect Indigenous communities. From new employees to executives, learning on this topic is essential, as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recognized in its report.

Call to Action #57 asked that all levels of government provide education and skills-based training to public servants covering the history, rights and laws of Indigenous Peoples, as well as intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism.

The School has risen to meet this challenge—not only because we're ideally positioned to take it on, given our mandate to address shared learning needs across the federal public service, but because it's the right thing to do. Read on to discover the learning opportunities, partnerships and initiatives we're working on to help create a legacy of lasting change.

Wilma Vreeswijk
Deputy Minister/President


Participants in the March 16 engagement session for the Indigenous Learning Series

Participants in the March 16 engagement session for the Indigenous Learning Series discussed factors that will contribute to the success or failure of the Series. Facing the camera, from left to right: Dr. Wanda Wuttunee, Professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba, and Noreen Gallagher, Acting Regional Director for the Central Prairies and Northwest Territories Region at the Canada School of Public Service.

A new learning series to build new relationships

As Justice Murray Sinclair has stated, "Reconciliation is about forging and maintaining respectful relationships. There are no shortcuts." Understanding relationships with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, in both historical and contemporary contexts, is essential for advancing this process.

The School, in partnership with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, is currently developing an Indigenous Learning Series in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action #57.

The Series will make public servants more aware and understanding of Indigenous realities, their own duties and obligations regarding Indigenous Peoples in Canada and ways to effectively develop and implement policies, programs and services that reflect and respond to the diverse communities they serve.

"Indigenous" includes First Nations, Inuit and Métis. This covers a huge diversity of cultures and traditions. The School's consultations have emphasized the need to recognize the diversity among Indigenous Peoples and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.

As well as consulting with all levels of government, the School is engaging nationwide with Indigenous learning experts and Elders to ensure that the Series is inclusive and informed by Indigenous perspectives.

The first engagement sessions took place in Winnipeg on March 16, 2017, and in Vancouver on May 4, with subsequent sessions scheduled throughout 2017. Engagement within the federal public service is also ongoing through GCconnex, presentations and meetings with committees and networks.

This inclusive approach has resulted in opportunities to forge new partnerships, put existing learning products to new use and work collaboratively withcolleagues across Canada to achieve common goals. It will result in a Series that is relevant and holistic—a concrete step towards reconciliation.

Once complete, the Indigenous Learning Series will feature a range of products including events, videos, armchair discussions, learning resources, job aids, online courses and workshops. It will be complemented by learning activities that will continue to be delivered by other federal organizations.

34 federal organizations are responsible for fulfilling the Government of Canada's obligations, commitments and constitutional responsibilities towards Indigenous Peoples.

Keep an eye on the Indigenous Learning Series on GCcampus as it develops. You can already access job aids, videos, references and information on upcoming events—with much more to come as the engagement process unfolds!

Elder sums up National Orientation Event with one word: hope

On June 1, students recruited through the Indigenous Youth Summer Employment Opportunity joined thousands of their colleagues across the country for the full-day National Orientation Event for Summer Students hosted by the Canada School of Public Service.

National Orientation Event for Summer Students

In addition to on-site audiences of hundreds, like this one in Ottawa, the National Orientation Event for Summer Students reached an estimated 4,000 students by webcast.

Under the theme of "Celebrating Youth and Diversity in the Public Service," students gathered simultaneously in 12 Canadian cities—with even more joining for webcast sessions—for an inspiring day of learning and networking. Reconciliation and other Indigenous themes emerged as a top priority, creating a sense of possibility and optimism about renewed relationships between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.

Robert "Seven-Crows" Bourdon, a Métis/Mi'kmag Elder, opened the event by accepting a tobacco gift from the hosts. He explained that tobacco is sacred: your intentions go up in smoke, with nature as witness. Had he not been the right person to fulfill the hosts' request to open the event, he went on, he would have returned the gift so that it might be offered to someone else. Elder Bourdon performed a smudging ritual and an inspirational song to a captivated audience, setting the tone for the day.

When the Prime Minister took the stage, he had at his side Gina Wilson—the federal Champion for Indigenous Employees, Deputy Minister of Status of Women Canada and the highest ranking Indigenous employee in the public service.

Following the historical timeline exercise drawn from the "Reconciliation Begins with Me" workshop, Elder Bourdon closed the event by saying he felt great hope for First Nations and for all Canadians. He concluded with the Eagle's Song, telling students to take their intentions and raise them up. The eagle looks small when it's in the sky, but nonetheless, it can fly.

Comments from Indigenous students

"Attending the orientation was a very joyful experience that I think will have a lasting impact on my memory. It was very motivating and really affirmed to me the importance of public service workers who work as silent partners to the benefit of Canadians. The best part of the orientation was seeing the passion and support that students showed for Indigenous Canadians in their questions asked of the Prime Minister...the public service is well on its way to furthering its goals to become an inclusive place for Indigenous Canadians."

Inuk student, INAC

"Today's event I found to actually be a great motivator for my work this summer. It helped me realize that when I'm at work I need to focus every day on what I want to get out of my experience and the impact I am having. It was also good to meet other IYSEO students, many of whom I have a lot in common with. The question and answer period with the Prime Minister gave us a chance to have our voices heard...if [the event] was any representation of future public servants, I consider myself encouraged."

Métis student, CBSA

Addressing a national legacy together

The School has been working closely with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) on the development of the Indigenous Learning Series from the beginning. This collaboration involves many stakeholders nationwide, including b regional ties, and affects every element of the Series. The events and initiatives mentioned in the previous articles bear the fingerprints of many partners.

As the country's largest employer and as the "machinery" carrying out the government's agenda, the public service can make a real difference in working towards reconciliation.

Engagement with Indigenous Elders and educators is one example. Julie Mugford, Senior Director in the Modern Treaty Implementation Office, is among the colleagues who have worked on the roll-out of the School's external engagement strategy, attending engagement sessions and identifying participants.

Coordination between the two organizations is also essential. Danielle White, Director General of the Reconciliation Secretariat, co-leads with Myriam Montrat, Director General of Leadership and Transformation at the School, and also acts as a liaison, ensuring alignment between the two organizations' activities. The respective deputy ministers of INAC and the School have been working closely together to launch micromission assignments, engage with National Indigenous Organizations and boost awareness of the Series across the public service.

Leadership is another critical shared role. In addition to her work on engagement, Julie Mugford co-chairs the interdepartmental ILS working group with Grace Paduano, the Assistant Director responsible for the Indigenous Learning Series at the School. And Danielle White is also the INAC representative on the Indigenous Advisory Council, along with Myriam Montrat.

Stakeholder perspective: Dr. Nadia Ferrara

Among the School's passionate and dedicated partners is Dr. Nadia Ferrara, Senior Policy Advisor and Chief of Staff in Regional Operations at INAC and the driving force behind the department's cultural competence training.

"Our message is that successful initiatives are first and foremost community driven," Nadia explains. "We in government need to support community capacity and work better with partners to truly support reconciliation. The people directly affected by policy need to be involved in policy development."

When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued its report and its 94 Calls to Action, moving reconciliation to the top of the government's agenda, demand for such training skyrocketed, and Nadia has been working with the School to meet it.

In addition to facilitating learning events, Nadia is currently working with the School to broaden access to the cultural competence training she developed at INAC. She also contributes to development opportunities like the New Directors Program, where she delivers eight sessions a year. Her team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous facilitators will also be providing training to build the capacity needed to expand training delivery through the School.

"This training fills a huge gap that we've been taught to just accept," says Nadia. "We've been socialized into a certain narrative about Canada, but the survivors of the residential schools tell a different story. It's a legacy that affects us all. The more you connect with it, accept that it's part of our history, the more you can learn from it. We have to know our history to ensure we don't repeat the same mistakes."

As part of the June 1 National Orientation Event for Summer Students, she delivered a historical timeline session based on the workshop "Reconciliation Starts with Me." This workshop was co-developed by the School and the Institute of Public Administration Canada.

This partnership has had valuable results for all parties. Based on feedback from participants in the New Directors Program, organizations ranging from the Canadian Revenue Agency to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to the Canadian military are seeking additional learning opportunities on Indigenous issues.

"We're walking the talk," Nadia says. "When we talk about horizontality, working within the federal family, this is it. I can't do it on my own, but this is where teamwork comes in. There are no words to describe how proud I am of my team, and I love my relationship with the School. Together, we're spreading our wings and our message that we are all Treaty peoples."

Stay tuned for more highlights of the School's work with its partners in future issues of MySchool News!

Video highlight

Video of Why I Joined the Public Service

Watch video of What Does Indigenous Mean?

Title: What Does Indigenous Mean?
Length: 4:27
Date: February 8, 2017

Featured events

The School has a host of activities scheduled over the coming months, including the following. Please consult the School's complete list of upcoming events.

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Good to know

Good to know: Celebrate National Aboriginal Day with learning

June 21 is National Aboriginal Day, offering special opportunities for all Canadians to gain greater knowledge and understanding of First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures, traditions and their contributions to Canada.

It is estimated that between 55 and 70 distinct Indigenous languages are spoken in Canada. Each of them is an invaluable repository of unique histories, cultural practices and political and social systems.

The 150th anniversary of Confederation is an opportunity to acknowledge the resilience and pride of Indigenous peoples and their cultures. As Canadians and public servants, let's move forward together on the road to reconciliation so that we can leave a better legacy for future generations over the next 150 years.

On June 21 and beyond, we can honour the shared history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada by building an understanding of how the past has shaped our present. Together, we can create a better future for all Canadians.

What can you do for National Aboriginal Day?

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