27 Feb Indigenous-Immigrant relations central theme at P2P Conference
Stacey Laforme, elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (MNCFN), set a strong thematic tone to the annual Pathways to Prosperity Conference in Toronto, Ontario with his insights on indigenous-immigrant relations in Canada. COA’s administrative team came together from Ottawa, Geneva, Manila and Toronto to present and participate in workshops. Shaheera Rahin and Nader Kaddour’s presentation, Digital Migration, highlighted the successes of incorporating technology into COA’s youth pre-arrival services, as well as educating guests on present and future technological trends in pre-arrival orientation and migration services.
Nader KaddourCOA Reporting & Communications Specialist
“Aniin.” Stacey Laforme greeted the several hundred attendees of the Pathways to Prosperity Conference in Ojibwe. Academics, immigrant service providers, and other migration professionals had gathered from all over Canada to discuss pressing issues in migration together.
“I respectfully acknowledge Canada’s sesquicentennial, and remind Canada that my people have called this land homes for thousands of years, and not to forget our voice during your 150,” Laforme continued, highlighting the often tumultuous history of colonization, settlement, and migration in Canada.
The Pathways to Prosperity 2017 National Conference featured speakers and professionals representing all aspects of the migrant experience in Canada. The breadth of knowledge represented at the conference was immense, including researchers deep into studies concerning migrant health and settlement outcomes from Canada’s top universities, experts in migration policy, immigrant-oriented media organizations, and front-line immigrant service providers.
As the first guest speaker, Chief Laforme’s opening set a tone of deep reflection of the Canada 150 celebrations, what they signify to the first peoples of Canada, and newcomer joining the ongoing dialogue of the status of Indigenous Peoples Canadian society.
“Diversity is how we grow, it’s how we become better. Welcoming others who bring something different to the table is fantastic,” Laforme remarked during his address. Between moving self-penned poems and practical reflections, the warmth and charm the Chief expressed with every word kept the crowd captivated.
Laforme clearly outlined his thoughts on how First Nations and new citizens could better work together in Canada:
“I was asked to talk a bit about relationships between new citizens and First Nations. Well that speaks to all people who are not really treaty holders in Ontario. What do I want from the new immigrants and citizens who come here? We want to be their friends. We want to understand their language and culture. We want them to understand who we are. We want them to understand our treaty relationship with Canada, because now they are part of that relationship, and we want them to hold themselves and the country accountable for the relationships they make, and to work together with us,” he shared.
“I think that’s an important message to new citizens who come here – is to be reminded of the responsibility and obligations to the planet. See I have been to a few citizenship ceremonies, and I always welcome them here, first – even though some have been here for ten years, I still welcome them home – but I remind them every time that they have an obligation now as citizens not only to the treaties that are here, but also more importantly maybe to the lands and waters that are here.” Laforme continued.
The Chief’s hopeful message resonated well with the crowd, and acted as an important catalyst in encouraging further discussions of newcomer-First Nations relations throughout the duration of the conference. Chief LaForme ended his address with hints at a ‘festival of friends’ he would like to organize in 2018, inviting new citizens and First Nations to come together and exchange cultures. “I think that will go a long way to helping us move forward,” LaForme finished optimistically.
Stacey Laforme is the elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (MNCFN). Born and raised on MNCFN, Chief Laforme has served his community for over fifteen years, being first elected to Council in 1999. Chief Laforme is committed to increasing involvement and communication between Elected Council and both on- and off-reserve membership. He is very active throughout MNCFN’s traditional territory, which encompasses 3.9 million acres of Southern Ontario, not only as a Chief, but as a notable storyteller and poet. His dedication to the land, history, language and culture of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation are helping to guide his First Nation toward a prosperous future.