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Future of reconciliation top issue at upcoming Ryerson conference

Social science researchers will present ideas on how to shape the country's future as part of Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences series of events.

Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences executive director Gabriel Miller says education must play an important role in the process of reconciliation.

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Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences executive director Gabriel Miller says education must play an important role in the process of reconciliation.

The next 150 years of the reconciliation journey could very well begin to take shape in Toronto this week.

Canada’s top social science minds will gather at Ryerson for a series of events, starting Saturday, tackling the country’s most pressing issues, from social justice and equity to world politics and immigration.

This year’s Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences will also take a critical look at the existing opportunities and challenges for a successful reconciliation process.

“We are going to have to move into that future together, working hand in hand with the people who were here before confederation,” said Gabriel Miller, executive director of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

“It’s part of a recognition that there’s a history that we all have an obligation to be confronting, and Indigenous people take the lead in sharing their stories and their vision for the future.”

While researchers and social scientists will explore their role in laying a strong foundation for the reconciliation process, a particular focus will be put on improving education.

For example, Miller said universities and other learning institutions have an obligation to be protecting, preserving and passing on the languages of Indigenous people.

“That requires a great deal of research and documentation, and without the right people we risk losing those Indigenous cultures,” he said, applauding some universities that are working to make Indigenous studies a requirement.

“Higher education did not come to terms with the challenges facing Indigenous people and did not provide as full an account of the past,” he said, “and that has to change as we go forward.”

Details:

The 2017 Congress takes place at Ryerson from May 27 – June 2.

Here are some of the events to check out:

  • Indigenous tepee art installation: Artists belonging to Turtle Island bring a critical reflection of 150 years of assimilation. The exhibit opens May 27 at Pitman Hall.
  • Truth and Reconciliation on the Streets of Toronto: A tour of city churches, government, and education sites to learn about residential schools’ history. May 28 from 1 p.m. starting at the Student Learning Centre.
  • Present and Powerful Indigenous Women: A panel discussion on the role of women in building today’s Indigenous communities. Featuring Tracey Lindberg, Maria Campbell and Maatalii Okalik. May 30, at Ted Rogers School of Management, starting 12:15 p.m.

More information about the conference is available at congress2017.ca

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