First Nations’ conference seeks practical solutions

Singing a New Song: Creating a Renewed Relationship with First Nations takes place in Victoria next weekend

  • Apr. 20, 2013 12:00 p.m.

As the Idle No More movement continues to resonate across Canada and abroad, a local conference aims to focus on practical solutions to the problems facing First Nations and the federal and provincial governments.

Singing a New Song: Creating a Renewed Relationship with First Nations takes place at the Church of St. John the Divine, April 26-27, and features several leading Aboriginal researchers and stakeholders who are creating real change.

“It’s an opportunity for those of us who are not First Nations to listen, to open our minds and reflect and engage with really impressive First Nations activists and scholars,” said organizer John McLaren.

The reasons behind the Idle No More movement are complex, he said, but there are practical solutions that have already reinvigorated First Nations communities and economies.

“One of the things you see in indigenous groups is tremendous poverty, but at the same time, my experience is you also see a tremendous resilience and adaptation,” said Ana Maria Peredo, the director of the Centre for Co-operative and Community-based Economy and an international business professor at the University of Victoria.

Through her years spent working with indigenous groups in Central and South America, Peredo understands how indigenous groups use economic development to benefit their family and neighbours, often at the expense of personal profit.

“They’re becoming entrepreneurs to preserve their own way of life,” she said. “There’s a sense of concern for the collective.”

Peredo hopes attendees take away that understanding, and see that there is more than one model for a thriving community.

Other speakers include First Nations lawyer and Prof. John Borrows of the University of Minnesota, who will discuss his experiences and success fighting for Aboriginal rights in the court system, and human rights lawyer Robert Morales, a Cowichan Tribes member and lead negotiator with the Island’s Hul’quminum Treaty Group.

Tickets to the two-day event are $15 and include lunch on Saturday. For more information, call the church at 250-383-7169 or visit