This year's conference was primarily focused on helping professionals to help and "Heal Others" by providing support, guidance, tools and care. There has been an unspoken, and very real need for self-care amongst professionals making it equally important to help and "Heal Ourselves”. This conference provided the opportunity for participants to address both.
Participants acquired innovative tools and strategies to extend and hone their ability to work with clients who have diverse and complex needs. Participants shared and reflected on best practices, as well as connected with other professionals.
The QAE along with Champlain College RAC/SCC with the support from the AEESQ and the CIUSSS-West Island played host to over 250 participants from across the Province. Our Keynote Speaker Nakuset, Executive Director Native of the Native Women's Shelter led the day with a powerful and inspirational address about her own journey dealing with identity issues.
When Nakuset was young, her Jewish adoptive mother in Montreal would instruct her to tell people that she was Israeli and not First Nations. Born to a Cree family in Manitoba, Nakuset says she spent many years wrestling with her identity.
She has come to terms with being " a Jewish Indian. I'm proud to be both."
It wasn't always the always the case. Nakuset, (her Mic Mac spirit name "Sun" was given to her by an Elder), was a child of the infamous "60s Scoop".
From the 1960s to the mid 1980s, more than sixteen thousand First Nations and Métis children were taken from their own families and communities, without their families' consent, and placed for adoption.
The majority were taken into non-Aboriginal homes and grew up unfamiliar with their own culture.
"I think it's the social workers who told the parents who adopted these Aboriginal children that it's better not to go into their Aboriginal identity."
Today Nakuset is the Executive Director of the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal. Many of the clients are still dealing a painful past she shares.
As a mother now herself, she's determined that her own children be aware of their heritage.
"My kids since they were babies have been to been to pow-wows, to any cultural event that I go to. They're not going to have any issues about whether they are or not. [Native] They'll know they are.
The selection of workshops included 5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. Most sessions were at full capacity and the feedback received was extremely positive. The one recommendation received was to get workshop speakers to share their documents/presentation materials on line on our web site. ). During the lunch hour it was suggested to have tables that provide networking opportunities on specific topics, as well as consider holding a two-day conference because, many wanted to attend more workshops. The lunch hour buffet was enjoyed by all with one recommendation being having box lunches for people who have special dietary needs. This will be taken care of next year....
This year we also had several gifts that were drawn at the closing remarks. (See photos).
As appreciated this year for the first time, was the ORDER of Social Workers approved our conference for a 6 hour training. Close to 50 attendees benefited from this!
A special thank you goes out to all the staff at Champlain College RAC/SCC (audio visual, IT, Support staff) in particular to Laura Malbogat, Francesca Johnston and Nathalie Masson for their unconditional support to making this conference a success.
Sponsored by: QUEBEC ASSOCIATION OF EDUCATORS (QAE) & AEESQ
*** See the conference flyer.