Keynote Speaker – Waneek Horn Miller: Indigenous Reconciliation
September 19 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
While working for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Waneek Horn-Miller knew process was just as important as results. The inquiry sought to expose the underlying causes of violence in this country—and make recommendations to eliminate them—in a timely, organized fashion. But this had to be balanced with the emotional needs of participants—their deep need to be heard, validated, and humanized. In other words, it needed to grant victims, and their families, the opportunity to heal. In this keynote, Horn-Miller unpacks the hard but necessary work ahead of us if we want to escape our history of conflict and move to a place of shared understanding. If we embrace the true spirit of reconciliation, we need to make it a way of life—a cornerstone of how we proceed as a multicultural society—and not just a destination. To Horn-Miller, this takes listening, and dialogue; it means extending empathy to those with different outlooks, and not shying away from debate; it means solutions-based thinking rooted in our shared aspirations. But if we can do this, we can do something unique in this country. And we can embrace what reconciliation is all about—a way of addressing wrongs, living in harmony, and healing for those who need it most.
What does it mean to fight for what’s right, and truly succeed? That’s the story of Waneek Horn-Miller: a true inspiration, whose story from hardship to triumph is the stuff of legend. As a teenager from Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, she was stabbed near the heart by a Canadian soldier while protesting the infamous Oka Crisis—and nearly lost her life as a result. Battling PTSD, she persevered, becoming a champion swimmer: representing Canada at the Olympic Games, and winning gold at the 1999 Pan American Games. Today, she’s turning more hardships into triumphs, as one of the most articulate and vibrant Indigenous advocates today.