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Changemakers: Seeking Indigenous Truths
May 4, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm$25
Thursday May 4th from 5PM to 7PM. Doors open at 4PM for time to enjoy a glass of wine from the cash bar and explore Alnoba’s ground and art.
She describes herself as a storyteller through other people’s narratives and an angry activist. She also says of herself, “I am stubborn, and you will listen to me.” For us, she is a daring leader who persistently seeks the truth and the person we choose to receive the first Alnoba Moment of Truth Award for Leadership Gender Equity.
Join us for an intimate conversation with Christa Big Canoe, Legal Director for Aboriginal Legal Services, who served as lead counsel for Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls.
Canada was rocked by the discovery of thousands of unmarked graves at residential schools, where Indigenous children were forcibly sent to strip them of their Native culture and language. Sanctioned by the government and many operated by the Catholic church, this system has been called, ‘cultural genocide.’ Christa spends a big part of her time representing families in inquest and with police advocacy. In Canada, she now has a Special Interlocuter who is addressing these issues and refers families to that process; the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) and Family Information Liaison Unit (FILU).
Her work is emotional, and it is hard, yet Christa feels gratitude that families trust her with their stories. She gains courage knowing that her people have a ‘resiliency that comes from our blood memory, our connection to the land and we have intergenerational strength. We have the truth.’
About the speaker
Christa is the Legal Advocay Director for Aborignal Legal Services (ALS), a nonprofit organization that works with the families of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) navigate the legal system to find justice for their loved ones.
In 2017, Christa was appointed Senior and then Lead Commission Council for Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Christa took a two and a half year leave from her work at ALS to lead thirteen Indigenous lawyers, twenty-six statement gatherers and a support team responsible for collecting truth from survivors and families. The testimonies from “truth finding gatherings” have created one of the largest evidentiary records in Canada.
Christa also represented six of the seven families in the “Seven Youth Inquest” in Thunder Bay. This investigation of the deaths of seven Indigenous students resulted in 145 federal and provincial recommendations to improve accountability, safety and education outcomes for Nishnawbe Aski Nation youths. While at Legal Aid Ontario, she led the province-wide Aboriginal Justice Strategy aimed at removing barriers to the legal system for indigenous people.