A fresh look at immigration policies

How did Indigenous communities historically view immigration to Canada? As immigration is predicted to rise in the following decades, it is important for fresh voices to join in on matters of global importance.

Marking its 50th anniversary, the Immigrant Society Services of BC (ISSofBC) will offer, in a joint effort with the Ismail Centre Vancouver, three public events to be held between September 2022 and March 2023.

The New Perspectives series delves into pressing issues likely to shape Canada’s future immigration policies, including Indigenous voices on immigration: How can greater inclusion of Indigenous communities improve immigration policies today and in the future?

The series will be open to anyone interested in the topic of immigration wherever they may be based across the globe.

Getting to know Turtle Island

The first webinar of the series, Indigenous views on immigration to Turtle Island, online Sept. 13, 2022, will feature a panel of Indigenous leaders from across Canada. Moderated by ISSofBC’s Indigenous advisor, Kwakwaka’wakw Kory Wilson, who is the executive director of Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships at BCIT.

Kory Wilson. | Photo courtesy of ISS of BC

As a lawyer, writer, speaker and educator, Wilson has developed and taught several innovative programs and courses such as Langara College’s Haida Gwaii Field School and Aboriginal Studies program and SFU’s Good Governance, Moving Beyond the Indian Act course, among many others.

She was instrumental in the creation of six open-sourced BC Campus Indigenization Guides and recently created and launched the BCIT Indigenous Vision. Wilson assists BCIT in Indigenous awareness training, cultural activities, policy reviews, hiring and student support. As a founding member of UBC’s President’s Advisory Committee, she has been involved in two UBC Indigenous Strategic Plans.

A varied panel

Wilson will be accompanied by four other panelists from across Canada, including Celeste Haldane, who is of Musqueam (Coast Salish) and Metlakatla (Tsimshian) from the Sparrow and Haldane families and also has European ancestry She is a practicing lawyer who was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2019. She specializes in Indigenous law and corporate governance. Haldane is in her second term as Chief Commissioner of the BC Treaty Commission.

Brenda Gunn.| Photo courtesy of ISS of BC

Another panelist, Brenda Gunn, is academic and research director for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. As a Metis woman, she combines her academic research with her activism pushing for greater recognition of Indigenous peoples’ inherent rights as determined by Indigenous peoples’ own legal traditions. She teaches at the University of Manitoba.

Serving as the executive director for the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre (VACPC) since May 2016, guest panelist Norm Leech is trained in facilitation with the Canadian Human Rights Foundation (now Equitas) and with St’at’imc Restorative Justice in Lillooet. A well-known speaker, facilitator, and storyteller, Leech worked with the National Centre for First Nations Governance to develop Indigenous governance models.

Norm Leech.| Photo courtesy of ISS of BC

Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and Syrian Shady Hafez: (he/him), currently a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Toronto, a Yellowhead Institute Research Fellow, will also be part of the panel. Rich with over 15 years experience working directly with and for Indigenous communities, he has assisted communities in the development of programs and services relating to health and social well-being, cultural resurgence, political and economic autonomy. He is also the special projects advisor to the National Association of Friendship Centres.

This event will be recorded and will include a Q&A session. The public is invited to send their own questions – immigration in Canada and impact of climate change – to the panelists ahead of the webinar.

The chosen time ensures everyone across Canada can attend. The panelists also welcome participation from anywhere in the world.

For more information visit: https://issbc.org/blog/new-perspectives-series