The June 2017 International Inter-Tribal Trade and Investment symposium taking place at the University of Oklahoma, College of Law is pleased to announce that Dr. Robert Joseph will present on the topic of Maori International Inter-tribal trade.
Dr. Joseph, who is currently Director of the Maori & Indigenous Governance Centre (MIGC) has taught Comparative & International Indigenous Rights for 6 years. In 2017 Dr. Chief Joseph been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to continue his work on Indigenous Governance. He’s just recently co-authored a major study commissioned by New Zealand Government via MIGC on what factors have influenced success in business for several Maori trusts.
A hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation (on Watson Island off the central B.C. coast), Joseph is the founder of Reconciliation Canada. He has described its mandate as encouraging and fostering reconciliation “through dialogue, economic reconciliation, educational outreach, and creating partnerships between multiple segments of society so we can have a more inclusive Canada where we can share prosperity.”
Dr. Joseph was among those the federal government consulted on the wording of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 official apology to the country’s First Nations for the residential school system. He was an advisor to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to Indian Residential School Resolutions Canada. He has served in an executive capacity with the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society, an organization that provides crisis counselling and support for residential school survivors.
In 2012, he was presented The Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.
His group organized the nationwide Walk for Reconciliation marches, including one in Vancouver in 2013 that drew thousands in the pouring rain and ended with a stirring plea by Dr. Bernice King, daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., for political action to deal with the unresolved issues of the First Nations in Canada.
In 2014, he received the Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue from Simon Fraser University and an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Vancouver School of Theology for his work in reconciliation and renewing relationships between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.
In 2015, Dr. Joseph was presented a Deputy Ministers’ Recognition Award for Collaboration and Partnerships and was appointed to the Order of British Columbia, the Province of British Columbia’s highest honour.
In 2016, Dr. Joseph received the Wallenberg-Sugihara Civil Courage Award and the Indspire Lifetime Achievement Award.
His eloquence is a great force because he speaks without animosity. “Everything Robert Joseph talks about is out of love and care,” says former Tsawwassen First Nations chief Kim Baird. “He has a powerful story to tell and a vision for reconciliation that is compelling. He touches a lot of people with his call for healing.”
Dr. Joseph is helping shape the conversation around the role First Nations will play in Canada’s future. Part of that discussion involves coming to grips with the country’s racist past, one outlined in grim detail in the landmark Truth and Reconciliation Commission report released in June. It concluded that Canada’s treatment of aboriginal children at residential schools amounted to cultural genocide, and it called for a nation-to-nation relationship between the Crown and its first peoples. Among its 94 recommendations was a demand that Canada honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the federal government has so far viewed as a non-binding document.
In recent years the Supreme Court of Canada has put aboriginal people on a new economic footing with a ground-breaking ruling that gave First Nations rights over their ancestral lands unless their ownership had been signed away in a treaty. The historic Williams decision of 2014 gave them powerful leverage over development on their land—which, as the Christy Clark government is learning, has far-reaching implications for the province’s resource-industry aspirations. As the First Nations gain new powers and new confidence, forging partnerships is crucial. It’s work that requires patience, understanding, and an outsized capacity for forgiveness—qualities embodied by Chief Robert Joseph.
Dr. Joseph is the Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada and a member of the National Assembly of First Nations Elders Council. He was formerly the Executive Director of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and is an honourary witness to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). As Chairman of the Native American Leadership Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation and Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation with the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IFWP), Chief Joseph has sat with the leaders of South Africa, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia and Washington, DC to learn from and share his understanding of faith, hope, healing and reconciliation.
For more information on the June 1017 International Inter-tribal Trade conference go to the IITIO website (www.iitio.org) to view the draft conference agenda and register on-line to attend the conference.