Indigenous Speakers Series will challenge “safe ideas” of reconciliation

Monday, November 14th, 2016 12:53pm


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Caption Dr. Tracey Lindberg (photo supplied)

Cree academic and writer Dr. Tracey Lindberg will explore the complexities of reconciliation at Vancouver Island University’s Indigenous Speakers Series in Nanaimo this month. Lindberg, who teaches Indigenous law at the University of Ottawa and recently published her debut novel, Birdie, will deliver a talk entitled (W)rec(k)-onciliation: Indigenous Lands and Peoples' Respect, Reciprocity and Relationships. “I’m going to look at the notion of reconciliation not as a starting point, but as a measure of the health of relationships,” she said. “Reconciliation is supported by a lot of other concepts. I’m going to talk about reconciliation with self, reconciliation with community, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. And then addressing reconciliation with Canada.” The talk is presented by the university’s Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation. Director Douglas White explained that when the Indigenous Speakers Series committee was searching for a presenter for this second annual event, they wanted someone who could speak to reconciliation through the lens of story – connecting in a different way with our communities.

“Dr. Tracey Lindberg will do just that – speaking through the arts, literature and story to reach out to the hearts of our national audience in a way that prompts us all to reflect and grow together in the spirit of reconciliation." The Indigenous Speakers Series is delivered in partnership with the Laurier Institution and CBC Radio One’s Ideas. Lindberg is a member of the Kelly Lake Cree Nation in northeastern B.C. She is thought to be the first Aboriginal woman in Canada to complete a graduate law degree from Harvard University and to receive a doctorate in law from a Canadian university (the University of Ottawa).

In 2007, she received the Governor General’s Award for her dissertation entitled Critical Indigenous Legal Theory. Her bio refers to her as “next in a long line of argumentative Cree women,” a description that Lindberg endorses.

“We were born to lead and govern our people,” she said. “Women play a role in the development of healthy relationships, and healthy relationships are the basis of good governance. You can’t be quiet when you are dealing with issues related to the health and wellness of your community.” She’s also keen to challenge “staid or safe ideas.”

“I want to talk to people about what does reconciliation do; if it’s an active verb, what are some of the steps we have to take to be able to participate in it?” The Indigenous Speakers Series is part of VIU’s Reconciliation Road, a collection of events and activities that address the challenge of reconciliation between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The second annual Indigenous Speakers Series takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at VIU’s Malaspina Theatre (Nanaimo campus).

To register for the event, visit