Transformative Social Learning Series

Transformative social learning (TSL) sessions extend the conventions of participatory engagement, to focus on critical reflection by which to enable deeper understanding of complex issues. Through inclusive and interactive forums, these sessions will examine the social, cultural, economic, and political barriers that continue to entrench social and environmental injustices, while also exploring diverse human experiences of systems change. These sessions will expand on topics presented during the keynote panels, and are intended to frame and predicate opportunities for collective shifts in perspectives, beliefs, behaviours, and power dynamics.

Between utopian visions of Earthly paradises and dystopian views of post-apocalypses, cultural narratives of the future leave us torn between hoping for the best and fearing the worst. Meanwhile, recent global events have represented nothing short of our worst nightmares: a widespread pandemic; climate disaster; the uncovering of unmarked graves of Indigenous children; and, armed conflict in the Ukraine. The magnitude of these situations has necessitated rapid response across institutions, at all levels. It is also imperative to account for the localised, human dimensions of adaptation that occurs among times of unexpected change. Through a reflective group process, we will dive into the social complexities of some of the most controversial scenarios with which we have been contending, as a global community, acknowledging the range of experiences and impacts that can arise across diverse populations.

We can never predict outcomes in complex evolutionary systems, but the impossibility of continuing uneconomic growth and the undesirability of worsening distributions of power, wealth, and income demand action. We often hear the call we “need a new story” but if we can’t predict the outcomes is it possible to design a story that avoids disaster? In 2012 Spash and Ryan presented results from a structured survey of ecological and environmental economists revealing three broad EE narratives In this workshop we will play with narrative sensemaking techniques to ask if these narratives are relevant to the assembled ecological economics community.

Conventional research and practice has been instigated, to a large extent, through the lens of Westernised and industrialised worldviews. Not only has this resulted in the exclusion of certain aspects of history, culture, and ecology from scholarship–or deemed certain knowledge types as less scientific–arguably it can also endorse invisible biases under the guise of rationality. In this interactive workshop, we will discuss (i) the dominance of the Western worldview in research and practice (or what Dr. Vandana Shiva has referred to as monocultures of the mind); (ii) how diverse ways of knowing are essential to achieving sustainability and equality; and, (iii) the types of processes that are essential to the revitalisation, resurgence, and regaining of sovereignty for voices and traditions that have been historically overshadowed. We will also work with Gregory Bateson’s concept of transcontextuality as a basis for understanding diversity. This session will include guest presentations and facilitation by Lila Bruyere and Jessica Keeshig-Martin. 

Lila Bruyere
Lila Bruyere is a Residential School survivor from St. Margaret’s school in Fort Frances, Ontario, Treaty # 3 area. She attended residential school from the age of six to fourteen years old. Lila earned her Bachelor of Social Work in 1998 from Carleton University and graduated again with her Master’s in social work in 2014. She has been speaking about her experience in the residential school for 30 years and continues to do so, she specifically speaks about resiliency, and her accomplishments today as an elder. She has had the privilege of being part of the Elder’s Circle through the Truth & Reconciliation Commission from 2017 to 2019. Lila enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot from other survivors. Today, Lila continues her journey speaking to universities and college classes and enjoys speaking to elementary schools and is amazed how much young people know about Residential School in today’s education. Her future endeavors are to work on a documentary called “I Am Water”. A trailer is set up on her Facebook page and hopes to complete this documentary in the summer of 2024. Lila’s motto is: Don’t Forget to Live.

Jessica Keeshig-Martin
Jessica is motivated by the Indigenous Peoples’ movement toward self-determination. Her goal is to make contributions to this journey through the roles she takes on in her personal and professional ventures. She is deeply connected to the Nation, lands, and waters of her Anishinaabe ancestry and is always mindful of Those that are yet to come.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in sociology and Indigenous studies, Jessica began a deepened engagement with Indigenous communities through her work for the Chiefs of Ontario in the Justice Department. She went on to work for her home Nation as Nuclear File Coordinator and Education, Language and Culture Coordinator as well as for the Independent First Nations as Education Coordinator and the Canadian Roots Exchange as a Facilitator. Jessica’s knowledge and perspective has been profoundly shaped by the teachings of Elders and Knowledge Keepers from her home community, Anishinaabe territory, and Turtle Island.  

Upon realizing the significant personal impact of her educational journey and experience with Indigenous issues, Jessica decided to go on to do graduate work in education. She is now a PhD student at York University; her doctoral research will explore Anishnaabe philosophies as part of the movement to revitalize our earth caretaking systems. Jessica honourably carries the name Biidaabinokwe. She is of the wolf clan and a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.