She has Canadian Roots

April 6, 2011 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Dr.Cynthia C. Wesley-Esquimaux has dedicated her life to building bridges of understanding between people. Having her on our panel of experts for our Root of the Idea Exchange seems only natural. She was gracious enough to take time from her packed schedule at the University of Toronto to write a guest post. Enjoy!

Canadian Roots Exchange

Canadian Roots Exchange team at Mishkeegogamang First Nation, Northern Ontario

As this country evolves and grows we have radically changed the ways in which we communicate and how knowledge is transmitted in schools, between generations, and across geographical boundaries.  As a Nation we are also in the process of assessing what information should be deemed essential and what kind of information will be taught into the future within our academic institutions.

As an educator and an Aboriginal woman, I have long lamented the great divide between the Canadian population and the Aboriginal population and wondered how to bridge that divide in a positive and accessible manner.  Enter, two dynamic young men who in spite of their extensive travels around the globe also managed to garner a curiosity about Aboriginal Canada from my compelling and passionate lectures at the University of Toronto, and decided to learn more about what they called, “their own backyard”.

Together, we decided to set up a new youth to youth organization called the Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE).  It would be a model of education that would step outside of the classroom and the staid lecture halls of their university education and right into Aboriginal communities, organizations, and Native Friendships Centres across Canada.

Canadian Roots Exchange and kids from the Gift Lake Metis Settlerment in Alberta

Our first trip in February 2009 took in 6 First Nations, 3 schools, and multiple Aboriginal organizations.  We filmed elders, healers, teachers, CEO’s, and clinical staff, we talked, we listened, and together we learned tons of positive things about the Native community. Since then, we have run 11 trips across Canada, with hundreds of enthusiastic people of all ages participating.  We have produced two films, written several papers, and made many friends.  We are now planning two field schools: one in the Garden River First Nation and one in Moosonee/Moose Factory, both running for three weeks in the summer of 2011. We will be offering “on the land and in the community” cultural exchanges with youth, elders, political representatives, and certified teachers.

Our 2nd film, “Journey to Oz” is being sold to raise money for our field schools and more exchanges. You can find David Berkal, Ronan MacParland, or myself, at the Canadian Roots Exchange Website.

Please join us in our exploration of Canada, a Canada of grace, beauty, and wonderful and welcoming Aboriginal peoples, and remember, you can keep an eye on our travels through the website and watch our first film at

Cynthia C. Wesley-Esquimaux, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Canadian Roots Exchange

Chippewa of Georgina Island First Nation


Entry filed under: Aboriginal, Canada Roots exchange, Dr.Cynthia C. Wesley-Esquimaux, Root of the Idea Excange, Uncategorized, university of toronto. Tags: , , , , .

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