ACT: Decolonizing Thanksgiving 2015

ACT: Decolonizing Thanksgiving Dinner 2015
Join us for an evening of food and conversation as we build dialogue around decolonizing our community.

Friday, October 16th 2015
Guelph Youth Music Centre
75 Cardigan Street, Guelph Ontario (Attawandaron/Neutral Territories)

Free; potluck contribution encouraged but not necessary.

Welcoming with the Women’s Drum Circle Wiiji Numgumook Kwe – 6 pm
Potluck Dinner – 6:30 pm
Facilitated Discussions – 7:30-9:30 pm

Childcare and Kids’ Space available. The GYMC is wheelchair accessible, with an elevator to the second floor.

As always, there will be a raffle to raise funds. This year we’re raising money to send Native youth to a summer camp led by a First Nations elder, and to support a Sun Lodge that older Native youth attend.

We are grateful to the amazing volunteers who make this event possible. To help with childcare, cooking, setup, cleanup, and more, please contact

This is the event’s 10th year, and we are making some exciting changes. In past years, the potluck dinner was followed by a panel of speakers. This year, in an attempt to make the event more engaging and transformative for everyone involved, the dinner will be followed by breaking into smaller discussion groups focused on four topics. Each circle will revolve around a different topic, and afterwards, we will gather again as a whole group to integrate what was discussed at each circle.

Topics for Circle Discussions:

  1. What would a decolonized Guelph look like?
  2. What actions am I taking to actively decolonize my mind/heart/body/community? What local social movements can I connect with to aid in this process?
  3. How can we rebuild trust between settler populations and First Nation/Inuit/Métis peoples? How can we establish conciliation?
  4. What efforts have I made to connect with my own ancestry/lineage?

Each circle will be facilitated by an Indigenous elder from our community. Here’s a bit about them:

Jan Sherman is dedicated to serving her community through the sharing of her story, and how the traditional teachings have become the foundation of all that she is. Her service includes finding ways to empower spirits through personal healing. Likewise, she is committed to her own ongoing learning, healing, and growth in order to be effective in this role as a community helper. Her personal experiences as a teacher/learner, storyteller, drummer/singer, and culture keeper have lead her to understanding how important it is to develop a safe learning environment through the creation of community. She focuses on building, and maintaining trusting, respectful relationships by honouring the traditional ways of being on her daily Earth Walk. Jan’s journey has not always been easy, but each of her experiences have been instrumental in the development of the proud First Nations woman she is today.

Lois MacDonald is a Missanbie Cree First Nation member originally from the Thunder Bay area, and is currently employed at Aboriginal Services – Conestoga College, where she provides support and cultural guidance to students and community members in the Guelph, Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo areas. As a community helper, Lois shares her knowledge and wisdom gained through the teachings and personal life experiences to guide others to follow their hearts as they walk their personal life journey to become their own leaders.

Bruce Weaver is of Mohawk and Anglo-German heritage and has only in the last 5 years learned about his native heritage. He is a retired elementary teacher, having taught in the NWT and Ontario. Bruce has lived in Guelph since 1983. He has been a volunteer in educational computing organizations, at his church and with the Guelph Public Library where he served as the Chair of the Board. Bruce has also volunteered and been active with First Nations activities in this region.

Jennifer Parkinson is Métis. Like most Métis  she did not grow up with her culture. After finding out about her heritage, she obtained her Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizenship and joined the MNO Grand River Métis Council (GRMC) to learn more about Métis history and culture. She served 1 ½ terms as Council chair and is currently the council President. Being active with the GRMC has allowed Jennifer not only to learn about but also to share Métis history and culture with students and adults alike. She currently lives in Guelph with her husband of 30 years. She has 3 adult children and 1 grandchild. Jennifer attended McMaster University after High School and is currently working on an Honours BSc. degree at the University of Guelph.