Opportunities for Indigenous Persons to Participate in Circles

There are a number of circles starting this March and April that have places open for Indigenous persons to take part. Please register and indicate a particular site if it is a good location for you. We thank all the host sites for allowing us to have a circle on their premises. A full list can be found here.

One girl, thousands of deaths, millions of accomplices

By: Niigaan Sinclair

I have a daughter.

She’s entering teen years.

She’s my life.
It’s hard not to think of her when reading about what happened to Tina Fontaine.

The details are haunting. I can’t talk about them objectively or without emotion. Anyone who can just doesn’t feel.

I especially can’t talk about the way Tina has been represented. She was not a broken person whose blood-alcohol level or choice or whatever resulted in her treatment — regardless of what media or a lawyer says.

Tina Fontaine is a girl who endured a brutal child-welfare system and many who failed her along the way.

She is, however, more than that.

She is a daughter, a niece and a beautiful Anishinaabe young woman who, by all accounts, had dreams, plans and hopes. She is an inspiring human being who not only brought love and light to all she met, but continues to do that today.

Tina Fontaine is someone stolen from all of us, and we are lesser as a result.

It’s hard not to condemn Raymond Cormier, the man charged with killing her. Regardless of guilt, at the very least, Cormier exploited an underage girl and — according to the Crown’s final argument — had a motive: to avoid a statutory rape charge.

Cormier treated an Indigenous girl as an object he could manipulate and exploit.

Maybe even something he could dispose of.

Certainly not a human being.

Raymond Cormier is a person in our community. He is someone’s son, someone who walked our streets, someone who voted. Someone who is a Manitoban and a Canadian. Maybe he is even someone’s uncle or father. I don’t know.

And so, here we are again, at the mercy of a jury determining if a Canadian is guilty of killing an Indigenous person.


Regardless of the verdict, Tina is still gone. The factors that led to her murder are still here. The treatment of Indigenous women and girls remains abhorrent, brutal and violent in all factors of society — from pop culture to policy. There are more Indigenous children in the child-welfare system than the number removed during the time of residential schools. The Indian Act is still here, hammering our communities into brutal, abject poverty.

Canada has a sickness when it comes to the treatment of Indigenous peoples, and Indigenous women and girls bear the brunt of it.

Tina’s death is a product of Canada.

It’s not just one person who did this.

So, as we wait for a verdict, there may come some sense of justice — for Tina’s family, particularly.

Forgive me if I don’t hold my breath after the Colten Boushie decision, though.

In the case of a not-guilty verdict, there may never be anyone held responsible for Tina’s murder. I hope this is not the case, but it just may be.

Injustice is too often a part of Indigenous lives.

Are we tired of living in a place where this happens yet?

Every single person in Canada should ask themselves what leads to the murder or loss of thousands of women and girls like Tina — and commit themselves to stopping it.

We must be better. Men, particularly. Indigenous and Canadian men. All men.

Don’t wait for a #MeToo hashtag to make you aware of the issue. Changing the way Indigenous women and girls are treated begins with us. Now. Today.

If we’re better brothers, uncles, grandfathers and fathers, that’s how to start. If we see Tina as one of our own, as family, that’s how we make sure the violence she lived in stops.

Then the real work begins. We must help educate others and join in a march together. We must help build families. Communities. Revoke, write and implement law. Consult meaningfully. Share land and resources. Demand change and never stop till it happens.

Actually become Treaty people and not just say it at a Winnipeg Jets game.

It all feels so hard to imagine — and even idyllic — because Canada has never been this place. It’s a violent place that creates experiences like Tina’s every day.

I know this, for some, is hard to hear. But it’s true.

And it doesn’t have to be this way.

Tina’s death is on all of us. Now we have to be part of the solution.

We have to listen — especially to Indigenous women. Learn. Act.

In coffee shops, boardrooms and classrooms we have to be better. All of us.

So, as we wait, remember this.

We have a daughter, a niece, a sister.

Her name is Tina.

We never really knew her until it was too late.

But she is our life.

She is our life.

Niigaan Sinclair is an associate professor in the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba.

First published in the Winnipeg Free Press on 02/21/2018. Republished with permission.

Clayton Sandy signing the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord with Raymond Currie in the Background, June 20th 2017

On June 20, 2017, 80 signatories from organizations in the city gathered at the Forks for a formal signing of the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord. Clayton Sandy and Raymond Currie both signed on behalf of Circles for reconciliation. The goals of each organization were read as the signings took place. Signatories will meet four times a year and will be expected to report annually on the progress they are making in achieving the goals to which they committed.

Institute for International Women’s Rights
Panel Presentation

Opening afternoon of 16 Days to End Gender-based Violence – hosting 5 Voices , indigenous voices with co-chairs of MMIWG, Sandra Delaronde and Hilda Anderson-Pyrz and voices of women far away, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Yazidi women and girls.

CBC Provides Circles for Reconciliation with National Exposure

CBC’s national radio program “Now or Never” featured our Circles for Reconciliation in its broadcasts on Saturday, June 10th and Thursday, June 15th , 2017. Canadians from across the country responded. There were well over 79,000 views on Facebook. In addition, close to 75 emails came in from people in 23 different communities, all who wanted a circle in their community so they could participate and some willing to organizes such circles. CBC provided an update on this wonderful response in their show on June 24th.

See CBC Facebook for the video and to hear the documentary about the circle on the CBC website.

Finally, the interview with Raymond Currie can be heard on the CBC podcast.

The feedback we are receiving suggests that the simple, straight forward nature of our circles, its grassroots approach and the parity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants are the features that attract people. “There should be circles in every community,” one person wrote. “I have been looking for something just like what you o er” is a common theme.

Our participants con rm the value of our circles.

“It is one thing to read the TRC documents,” wrote one of our participants, “it is quite another to sit across the room and share what is near and dear to our hearts.” “I have learned so much,” is also a common refrain in the responses from participants who have completed our circles.


11th Annual Sobriety Social

click on image to enlarge


Colonization Road

The award winning documentary “Colonization Road” will be shown on CBC T.V. on January 26, 2017.

The Rising Above Band

Please join us for a time of praise and worship, November 2, with the Rising Above Band at 730 McPhillips Street. The concert starts at 7:30. Admission is Free. We will also have a service of Holy Communion at 6:30. Join us for one or both.


Reconciliation Happens on Lunch Breaks

Trends  Winnipeg Conference
September 13th, 2016 8:50 AM – 9:05 AM

Club Regent Event Centre
1425 Regent Avenue West
Winnipeg MB R2C 3B2


Ko’ona Cochrane and Raymond Currie
When Raymond Currie adopted an Indigenous son and a Metis daughter, he didn’t know he was participating in the ’60s scoop or that years later he’d be moved by the calls to action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. With the guidance of community voices such as Ko’ona Cochrane, Raymond’s grassroots plan to bring reconciliation to the lunchroom is gaining traction with big employers.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: How Circles for Reconciliation can build a safe space for your team to have vital conversations.

Treaty One Commemoration

Lower Fort Garry

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
9:30 a.m.-3 p.m

Explore the history surrounding the making of Treaty No. 1. In 1871, representatives of the Crown, Anishinaabe, and Muskegon Cree peoples made a commitment to each other with the first of the numbered treaties in western Canada.

  • Pipe Ceremony with Elder Peter Atkinson, Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation – Treaty One
  • Screening of the film, “The Pass System” by Alex Williams
  • Panel Discussion with Aimée Craft, Steve Greyeyes, Brian Rice and Jean Friesen
  • Treaty Tours led by Allen Sutherland, Treaty Project Officer, Parks Canada

For inquires phone: 204-785-6050

Regular national historic site admission applies
Light refreshments provided

This event is being held in collaboration with the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba.