The Honourable Murray Sinclair
While it is critical that individual health-care providers and their professional associations confront racism very directly, it is equally important for employers and institutions across all our health systems to look in the mirror at the collective behaviours and policies that support — or at least do not penalize — these damaging injustices. With more than 650,000 people employed in hospitals alone, the organizational values, expectations, and tolerances of these institutions can exert massively positive, or equally significantly damaging, impacts on the health of populations such as Indigenous Peoples using their services. A spellbinding storyteller, the Hon. Murray Sinclair will speak directly to employers across health systems today. He will challenge boards of directors, executives, nurse leaders and all the people who manage teams to understand how essential it is that they take on the hard work of identifying and confronting the systemic discriminatory practices that maintain privileges for some groups while putting life-limiting barriers in the paths of Indigenous Peoples and many others.
The Honourable Murray Sinclair’s LLB MSC IPC legal credentials are well known. What is less well known is that he is Anishinaabe and a member of the Peguis First Nation. He is a Fourth Degree Chief of the Midewiwin Society, a traditional healing and spiritual society of the Anishinaabe Nation responsible for protecting the teachings, ceremonies, laws, and history of the Anishinaabe. His Spirit Name is Mizhana Gheezhik (The One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky). He graduated from law school in 1979. He has been involved with the justice system in Manitoba for over 40 years, first as a lawyer representing Indigenous clients, as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Robson Hall, as Associate Chief Judge of Manitoba’s Provincial Court and as a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench. He was the first Indigenous Judge appointed in Manitoba and Canada’s second.
He served as Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba and as Chief Commissioner of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). As head of the TRC, he participated in hundreds of hearings across Canada, culminating in the TRC’s widely influential report in 2015. He also oversaw an active multi-million dollar fundraising program to support various TRC events and activities, and to allow survivors to travel to attend TRC events. In 2017 Governor General Julie Payette awarded him and the other TRC Commissioners the Meritorious Service Cross (Civilian) (MSC) for service to Canada for their work on the TRC.
He was active within the profession and his community and was a member of the faculty of the National Judicial Institute training judges about Indigenous law and social justice issues. He has won numerous awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Manitoba Bar Association’s Equality Award (2001), its Distinguished Service Award (2016) and the CBA President’s medal (2018). He has been named as one of Canada’s Indigenous People’s Counsel (IPC) by the Indigenous Bar Association.
He has received Honorary Doctorates from 14 universities. He retired from the Bench in January 2016, and was appointed to the Senate on April 2, 2016. He retired from the Senate effective January 31, 2021, to return to the practice of law and to mentor young lawyers. He is currently writing his memoirs.
He has been invited to speak throughout Canada and internationally, including the Cambridge Lectures for members of the Judiciary of the Commonwealth Courts. He continues to maintain an active public speaking schedule and became the 15th Chancellor of Queen’s University in July 2021.
Elder Aline LaFlamme
Aline LaFlamme is an Elder with Vancouver Coastal Health, facilitator with Pacific Association of First Nations Women, and a past Board Director of the Canadian Nurses Association. She is a Métis grandmother, pipe carrier, sun dancer, drum maker, singer, traditional healer and workshop facilitator who has held various positions over many years in the health and social fields. “Walk with love, honour, respect and compassion for all things in Creation including ourselves” is the foundational teaching that guides Aline LaFlamme’s life. Over the course of her career, Aline has developed and operated culturally based healing programs for Indigenous people in five prisons, including the first Indigenous specific program for women at the Territorial Women’s Correctional Centre in the Northwest Territories (NWT). She has developed healing programs to support Indigenous Peoples through the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Fort Smith Health and Social Services Authority and many others, and she was the founder and executive director of the Aboriginal Front Door Society in Vancouver’s Downtown East side.
Guest leader: Kerri Nuku
Kerri Nuku has extensive background in the health sector as both a Registered Nurse and Midwife including her current role as the Kaiwhakahaere of Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa, New Zealand Nurses Organisation representing 52,000 members (nurses, midwives, kaimahi hauora, and tauira) including 3,800 Māori members, a position she has held fulltime since 2013.
Kerri’s knowledge and experience in the health sector includes nursing, midwifery, policy development, auditing, management and governance and as a member of the ICN Audit and Risk Committee.
Kerri is a strategist and thinker with governance experience and knowledge. Kerri has worked on the International Council of Nurses, Global Nurses United, and South Pacific Nurses Forum and the World Health Organisation (WHO), Human Resources for Health project.
Her advocacy for Workers’ Rights, specifically pay parity for the workforce within the Māori and Iwi Provider sector as evident in the Human Rights Commission report “A fair go for all”. As a collaborator in the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, shadow report and the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
As an active advocate and published researcher, her national and international accomplishments have seen her present interventions at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019) protecting freedoms and right of indigenous peoples. While leading several legal challenges, the Kaupapa Health Services enquiry, Mana Wahine claims and Oranga Tamariki under urgency.
Kerri is proud to be an Honorary Member of Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa, New Zealand Nurses Organisation.