Day 1 - Plenary Session 1
August 28, 2022, 16:30-18:30 PST
Bridging Divides: Turf, Truth and Trust (Plenary)
Our world is divided along many environmental, social and economic fault lines. The Victoria Forum 2022 launches with an inspiring and provocative panel with Ambassador Bob Rae, The Honourable Janet Austin and Ovide Mercredi, Former Assembly of First Nations National Chief. Our distinguished speakers will share their perspectives on the state of the world’s divisions and set the stage for two days of constructive conversations for bridging divides. The panel discussions will be framed by turf, truth and trust perspectives.
Tricia ThomasIndigenous Entrepreneur Salish Eye Productions
Tricia Thomas is an Indigenous entrepreneur, facilitator, business coach, speaker, and a proud member of the Halalt (Xeláltxw) Nation. A mother of two children, Tricia strives to support her community and strengthen culture and language while living and working on Halalt territory near Chemainus BC.
Her personal mission is to create positive change for Indigenous People and build cross-cultural relationships that will inspire Reconciliation and hope for future generations.
As the award-winning Creative Director and founder of Salish Eye Productions, Tricia’s goal has been to provide a voice for her People and empower economic self-sufficiency in Indigenous communities through facilitation, storytelling, media and technology tools. She also serves as an Indigenous Relations Consultant with organizations wanting to build meaningful relationships with the First Nations in whose territories they live and work.
Since 2018, Tricia has been an Indigenous Entrepreneurship Facilitator and Program Manager for Indigenous Advancement of Cultural Entrepreneurship (I-ACE) for the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria, guiding and supporting over 100 business start-ups and expansions.
A sought-after speaker, Tricia loves to share her insightful stories with others to foster awareness and equality of all people. In 2021, she gave the keynote address at the Deloitte National Executive Services Conference, sharing her perspective on the Truth of how Indigenous people experience colonialism today, and ways to incorporate Reconciliation into business practices.
Tricia recently completed her MBA in Sustainable Innovation at the University of Victoria, with a focus on Cultivating Indigenous Sovereignty through Solar Energy. She is an Instructor in the Bachelor of Commerce Program, and a founding Board member and Chair for the WISE (Wellness in Indigenous Sustainable Economies) Centre.
Recognition of Tricia’s efforts include Award Winner at the BC Achievement Foundation’s Indigenous Business Awards 2017; and Indigenous Innovator in Canada – “Indigenous people who are making a difference with bold ideas that have big impact.” (Reporting in Indigenous Communities, led by CBC’s Duncan McCue in 2019).
The Honourable Janet AustinLieutenant Governor Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
The Honourable Janet Austin was sworn-in as the 30th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia on April 24, 2018. Prior to this appointment, she spent 15 years as Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Metro Vancouver, one of the province’s largest and most diversified non-profits. There she oversaw operations delivering services to tens of thousands of people annually at more than 40 locations.
Raised in Alberta, Her Honour spent her early career in public sector roles in Calgary, working in regional planning and public consultation and communications for the provincial government. She eventually moved to British Columbia, where she began working with BC Housing and discovered her passion and aptitude for public office. Prior to joining the YWCA, Her Honour served as Executive Director of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland, and actively volunteered for many organizations in commitment to helping improve the lives of others, as well as serving on various boards ranging from Translink to the Women’s Health Research Institute.
Her Honour is Chancellor of the Order of British Columbia and was invested as a Member of the Order in 2016. As Lieutenant Governor, she has identified three key themes for her mandate: the promotion of diversity and inclusion, democracy and civic engagement, and Reconciliation.
Ovide MercrediFormer National Chief
Ovide Mercredi is a Cree, born in the northern community of Grand Rapids, Manitoba in 1946. He served his community as Chief of Misipawistik Cree Nation from 2005 to 2011 and acted as a councillor for three years after his terms as Chief.
A graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Robson Hall Faculty of Law in 1977, he practiced criminal law and later specialized in constitutional law as an advisor to Manitoba Chiefs. Ovide Mercredi became a national and international leader in advocating for Indigenous peoples’ rights.
In 1989, Ovide was elected Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Manitoba as well as appointed a member of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. He became a key strategist for the Assembly during the time of the Meech Lake Accord constitutional reform discussions. Ovide has always advocated for non-violent methods to resolve conflict and he had an active role in negotiations in Oka, Gustafson Lake, Iperrwash and Burnt Church.
On June 12, 1991, Ovide was elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, a role which he held for two terms from 1991 to 1997, where he represented a diverse group of people who embraced differing traditions and at times, represented conflicting interests. During his first term, he led the negotiations for the First Nations in the Charlottetown Accord. In his efforts to find consensus for policies and to foster unity, he spent much of his time traveling across Canada to meet people and to learn firsthand of their difficulties.
He became the first chancellor of Manitoba’s University College of the North in 2007. He was selected in a traditional manner to be the National Spokesperson for Treaties 1 to 11 which he led from 2006 to 2014. For his work as an advocate of non-violent methods for change, he has been nominated by the Government of India for the Gandhi Peace Prize. He served on the board of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
Among his many honours and awards are; Order of Canada, 2021, the Order of Manitoba in 2005 and honorary degrees from Bishop’s University, St. Mary’s University, Lethbridge University, Athabasca University, the Law Society of Ontario and the University of Manitoba.
Ovide is the author of My Silent Drum a book of poetry and enjoys golfing.
Currently, Ovide is working for Nishnawbe Aski in Northern Ontario on the application of the Declaration of Indigenous Rights as a tool for reform of Canadian laws.
Bob RaePermanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations Government of Canada
The Honourable Bob Rae, P.C., C.C., O.Ont., Q.C., former Premier of Ontario, and former interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, was born in 1948, in Ottawa.
Mr. Rae received his Honours Bachelor of Arts in Modern History in 1969 from the University of Toronto, a Master of Philosophy as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in 1971, and graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 1977. Mr. Rae’s passion for social justice dates back to his early days in student politics and community service. Between 1978 and 2013, he was elected 11 times to federal and provincial parliaments, and served as the Premier of Ontario from 1990 to 1995.
Returning to the practice of law in 1996 as a partner at Goodmans LLP, Mr. Rae led the restructuring of the Canadian Red Cross, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and also chaired the board of the Royal Conservatory of Music. He also wrote Lessons to be Learned on the Air India bombing, and Ontario: A Leader in Learning, a study of the higher education system for the Government of Ontario. Mr. Rae stepped down as a Member of Parliament in 2013 to return to legal practice and, in particular, to work with Indigenous communities and continue his work in education, governance, and human rights. He currently serves as senior counsel at Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP. In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Rae is a Fellow of the Forum of Federations, Massey College, and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. He teaches at the University of Toronto in the School of Public Policy and Governance, the Faculty of Law, Massey College, and Victoria University. He is also a mediator and arbitrator with ADR Chambers. He is the author of five books. In October 2017, Mr. Rae was appointed as Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar. In this role, he engaged in diplomatic efforts to address the crisis in the country’s Rakhine State and wrote the report Tell Them We’re Human in 2018. In March 2020, he was named Canada’s Special Envoy on Humanitarian and Refugee Issues to continue the important work he started as Special Envoy to Myanmar, while also addressing other pressing humanitarian and refugee issues around the world. Bob Rae is a Privy Councillor, a Companion of the Order of Canada, a member of the Order of Ontario, and has numerous awards and honorary degrees from institutions in Canada and around the world. Along with music, reading, and writing, he loves tennis, golf, and fishing. He is married to Arlene Perly Rae. They have three daughters and five grandchildren and live in Toronto.