Five Good Ideas Podcast

Listening and learning – Indigenous Peoples and human rights

Five Good Ideas Podcast
Listening and learning – Indigenous Peoples and human rights

In this session, originally recorded on April 30, 2018, two commissioners of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Karen Drake who is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, and Maurice Switzer who is a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation, joined Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane to discuss ways to move forward with human rights in the era of reconciliation and nation-to-nation relationship building.

Good Ideas

Note: Only four ideas are presented, based on the “principle of four” that is so important in Indigenous culture.

  1. RESPECT: Learn about Canada’s history and the responsibilities of our collective treaty relationship with Indigenous Peoples, and the perspective and experiences Indigenous Peoples bring to this relationship.
  2. HONESTY: Begin by humbly acknowledging what you don’t know, and making a commitment to work with the Indigenous community to fill in the missing knowledge.
  3. SHARING: Share in the responsibility for reconciliation by making a commitment to act on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, including honouring the treaty promises made to share the land and its resources to ensure that everyone can share in Canada’s prosperity.
  4. STRENGTH: Combine the lessons learned and the steps taken through respect, honesty and sharing, to make your commitment to reconciliation, an ongoing process of moving forward together as genuine treaty partners, travelling on separate paths but with a joint purpose to make Canada the best country it can be.

Related resource:

  1. Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action
  2. Call it Out: Racism, Racial Discrimination and Human Rights (OHRC eLearning program)
  3. Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres Cultural Competency Training
  4. We Are All Treaty People by Maurice Switzer, illustrated by Charley Herbert, available in bookstores and can be ordered from the Union of Ontario Indians office, 705-497-9127
  5. A First Nations Grandmother, Josephine Mandamin, from Manitoulin Island, who walked around the Great Lakes talks about importance of water

For the full transcript, visit

About Karen Drake, Renu Mandhane and Maurice Switzer

Karen Drake - Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission

Karen Drake is an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University (formerly at Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, Lakehead University), a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, and a Commissioner with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Her teaching and research interests include Canadian law as it affects Indigenous peoples, Anishinaabe law and Métis law. She previously clerked with the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Federal Court, and currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Bar Association, as a commissioner with the Métis Nation of Ontario’s Commission on Métis Rights and Self-Government, and on the Thunder Bay Métis Council.

 Renu Mandhane - Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (2015-2020)

Renu Mandhane was the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from October 2015 until May 2020. Renu appeared before parliamentary standing committees and led public inquiries into discrimination in policing, education and child welfare. Under her leadership, the OHRC obtained an order from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario requiring Ontario to prohibit segregation for prisoners with mental health disabilities. Renu’s work has been recognized by the International Commission of Jurists, the Office of the Correctional Investigator, Excellence Canada, Canadian Lawyer Magazine, and Desi Magazine. In 2018, she was gifted an eagle feather in recognition of her efforts to advance Indigenous reconciliation.

Maurice Switzer - Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission

Maurice Switzer Bnesi is a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation. He is the principal of Nimkii Communications, a public education practice which focuses on the treaty relationship between First Nations and the Canadian government. He has served as the director of communications for both the Assembly of First Nations and the Union of Ontario Indians. Commissioner Switzer was also the first Indigenous publisher of a daily newspaper in Canada and currently resides in North Bay.

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