June 22, 2016 7:52 pm
Updated: June 22, 2016 8:59 pm

First Nations University of Canada hosts national conference on indigenous issues

WATCH ABOVE: First Nations University of Canada hosts conference with ‘Reconciliation through Research’ theme

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A national conference kicked off Wednesday at the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv).

Reconciliation through Research aims to bring together the latest academic research on reconciliation, hosting over 180 scholars and community members.

The conference features individual paper presentations, panel sessions, and workshops highlighting pathways to achieving the goals laid out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

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Vice-president academic at FNUniv, Dr. Lynn Wells said it’s the first year the university has hosted such a conference, and is confident the open dialogue between scholars will lead to accelerated change.

“Academics work best when they work in collaboration.”

“The idea is that the academic research can actually promote and further the goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Dr. Wells said.

One of the speakers on Wednesday was Theo Nazary, a graduate student from McMaster University in Ontario. Nazary came to Canada from Afghanistan 19 years ago and developed a passion for Indigenous issues while working towards his doctorate.

His research looked at how active indigenous youth are in Canadian politics.

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“Youth want to be engaged in Canadian politics. They want to vote, they want to participate and there [are not] enough mechanisms to participate,” Nazary said.

One of the goals of the TRC is to improve education. Dr. Priscilla Settee, an associate professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, is working on a project called Wahkohtowin.

The project encourages universities to “step up to the plate” in facilitating changes that align with TRC recommendations.

“Education systems in general are failing our students. We have made some advances, but when we look at the balance of who is still in the margins, it’s our people and it’s the youth,” Dr. Settee said.

Scholars travelled to Regina for the conference from the farthest reaches of the country, and even as far away as the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Mexico.

“There’s a great deal of synergy that gets generated at these conferences and the outcomes are always positive,” Dr. Wells said.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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