WestCan/Lighting the Fire 2015: Day Two Recap

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WestCan/Lighting the Fire 2015: Day Two Recap

Day two of the WestCan/Lighting the Fire Education Conference dawned bright and early, and kicked off with readings from the winners of the Lighting the Fire student essay contest.

Grade 12 student Tori Ross

Grade 12 student Tori Ross

Sparrow Kennedy of Bloodvein First Nation and Tori Ross of Cross Lake First Nation both presented their winning essays and each received a laptop for their first place finishes. The topic for the contest was leadership, and how the eagle represents qualities of a strong leader. It was the perfect way to set the stage for the morning’s keynote address by author Joseph Boyden.

Joseph became widely known in Canada following the publication of his debut novel Three Day Road in 2005, which won numerous awards and was nominated for a Governor General’s Award. His second novel, Through Black Spruce, won the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize. And, most recently, his The Orenda won Canada Reads 2014. Boyden’s work focuses on the historical and contemporary experience of the First Nations peoples of northern Ontario.

Author, Joseph Boyden

Author, Joseph Boyden

Both insightful and heart touching, Joseph shared many different anecdotes about his writing process and characters, “Sometimes characters just appear to me, unexpectedly. I was sitting in a coffee shop in New Orleans, trying to write, about to give up, when suddenly this old Oji-Cree woman came to my mind and started telling me stories. Those stories appear almost word for word in The Orenda.” He then took the audience on a journey through his own battle with depression. He read some of his work and spoke about the need to de-stigmatize mental illness, and how he copes with the struggle. “In my case it’s the act of reaching out to help others that keeps the darkness away.” In conclusion he reminded everyone of the important of celebrating our successes as First Nations people. “There will always be failures and successes. They are like two hands on the same body, and we need to make successes our dominant hand.”

Then it was more networking and shopping at the tradeshow during the lunch hour before afternoon workshops got underway.

Having fun at the "Hands-on Science" workshop

Having fun at the “Hands-on Science” workshop

With over 750 delegates in attendance it was inspiring to see so many workshops filled to capacity. Among these were A Grandfather’s Thoughts on Helping Students with Elder Don Robertson; Move Your Struggling Math Students Forward with Carol Shaw of Nelson House; and Incorporating Social Skills with the Seven Sacred Teachings presented by MFNERC Speech Language Pathologist, Loretta Sinclair.

With the workshops for the day concluded, it was time for everyone to let their hair down and enjoy some fabulous music by Leonard Sumner and Winston Wuttunee at the Lighting the Fire Banquet. A late night conclusion to a wonderful day at the WestCan/Lighting the Fire Education Conference.

Thanks for a great day at WestCan/LTF 2015!

Thanks for a great day at WestCan/LTF 2015!

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