Walking together: Speaker series takes steps toward reconciliation

October 30, 2020
Stephanie Johnson

The recent launch of a unique speaker series featuring prominent Canadian authors and thought leaders is designed to move the dial on truth and reconciliation, one step at a time.

Learning with Syeyutsus is an online speaker series organized by Royal Roads Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies student Stephanie Johnson. Johnson is Syeyutsus Saays’um or “the one who does the work to support walking together” for Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools.

The 12-part series, organized in collaboration with UBC Press, runs through May 2021 and features topics including Aboriginal law, early allyship and the healing power of storytelling. Guest speakers include Jody Wilson-Raybould, former minister of justice and attorney general and James (Sa’ke’j) Youngblood Henderson, an internationally recognized authority on Indigenous knowledge, heritage and human rights.

“I think it’s absolutely critical that we engage in these topics,” Johnson says. “We need to understand Indigenous worldviews and who better than Indigenous people who are at the forefront of some of these topics?”

While the series was developed for BC School District 68 in support of its commitment toward the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission’s calls to action, the free, virtual series is open to anyone.

“It’s part of our gift we’re giving back to this important call to action,” Johnson says, referring to Call to Action 57, which calls on governments of all levels to educate public servants on Indigenous law, treaties and the history of residential schools. “It’s this notion of teaching the true history of Canada through Indigenous teachings and Indigenous knowledge systems,” she says.

The talks can be viewed live and will also be available as a recording following each event.

Johnson, who is of Métis and Norwegian descent, says it’s exciting to have the opportunity to engage with respected thinkers who are leading the way in their disciplines.

“This is a valid way of knowing and I invite all Canadians to attend and engage in these deeper conversations.”

Visit the Learning with Syeyutsus Speaker Series page to register for an upcoming event or view a recording of past events.