As a testament to Trent’s strong national reputation as a leader in Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies, the University welcomed the newly-elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations as the inaugural speaker of the 2015 North at Trent lecture series.
As the newly-elected national chief, Perry Bellegarde has a busy calendar meeting with the prime minister, provincial premiers, party leaders, and prominent business people. Despite his full schedule, he found time to visit Trent and deliver a dynamic lecture to a packed room.
“Trent’s expertise in this area is well known across the country,” said Dr. Milloy, who is professor of History and director of the Frost Centre, who helped coordinate the visit. “Our faculty have national connections, so we can pick up the phone and invite people like Chief Bellegarde, who know they will be well-received and treated respectfully. Past speakers include aboriginal leaders Matthew Coon Come, Mary Simon, and Gary Potts.”
Entitled First Nations and the Resource Future: The Path to Economic Partnership, Chief Bellegarde’s presentation was an engaging overview of his 100-day plan to work on closing the socio-economic gap that exists between First Nations and the rest of Canada.
Recent Trent graduate Mehrangiz Monsef pointed out that presentations by people such as Chief Bellegarde are an important part of the Trent learning experience. “This was critical for me as a Trent student,” said Ms. Monsef, who received her BA in Indigenous Studies and Psychology. “A lot of my learning and personal growth happened in these experiences that are outside of the classroom.”
Ms. Monsef would like to see departments provide incentives for students to attend these special gatherings. “It really helps to consolidate the information we are receiving in the classroom and reading in books,” she said.
North at Trent is an annual lecture series focusing on issues facing Canada’s north and the First Nations. This year’s theme examines the ability of aboriginal people to participate in resource extraction and development or defend their lands from further encroachment.
Paul Joffe and Jennifer Preston will deliver the next lecture, UN Declaration: Blueprint for Reconciliation, Justice and Hope, on February 10, 2015, 7:30 p.m., at Bagnani Hall, Traill College.