by 2015-17 Sauvé Fellows

The learning partnership that we share with McGill University has always been among this Foundation’s greatest assets. Last month, we were especially grateful as five of our Public Leadership Fellows were invited to participate in an exclusive Executive Education Program hosted by McGill’s Institute for the Study of International Development.

The course was called Reconciliation, Conflict Prevention and the Promotion of More Inclusive Societies, and ran intensively through the final week of October. Participants came from ten different countries, as well as indigenous communities from six provinces and territories across Canada, and represented a mix of government, business, and civil society leadership.  

Throughout the week, course activities ranged from discussions on theories and histories of reconciliation with international experts to dynamic workshops with leading practitioners. The course opened with a comprehensive theoretical overview from ISID’s founding director Dr. Phil Oxhorn, who recently spent a year with the Foundation as a Jeanne Sauvé Senior Fellow.  

To complement this shared intellectual framework with a sharing of lived experiences, several sessions were dedicated to powerful dialogue circles among participants. The course had a strong focus on practical solutions, with several sessions led by prominent indigenous organisers such as Karen Joseph from Reconciliation Canada and Jessica Bolduc from the 4Rs Youth Movement.  Other highlights of the week included an extremely candid and illuminating conversation with The Right Honourable Joe Clark, as well as a galvanizing discussion on Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission process with Commissioner Marie Wilson.  

Our Fellows deeply appreciated ISID’s efforts to centre indigenous perspectives on reconciliation throughout the program. Indeed, a majority of course participants were indigenous women, and many of the week’s richest moments arose within the spaces that were opened for them to share their incredible wealth of personal insights and experiences. Organisers and participants also joined together outside the classroom, attending a vigil organised by course participant Philippe Meilleur of Native Montreal as well as a community screening of the film Highway of Tears.

Reflecting, we find that ISID’s conference both taught us about concepts of reconciliation as well as encouraged us to integrate it into our personal areas of action and interest. The powerful calls to action and moving stories that were shared will resonate deeply in our work, both across Canada and in our international contexts.  

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