Ogimaawabiitong (Kenora Chiefs Advisory) is proud to have helped further discussions and action on climate change in northwestern Ontario and Manitoba by hosting hundreds of people at the KCA Youth and Family Wellness Camp this week.

People from across the country, including a number of guest speakers, doctors, professors, architectural design companies,  and students from the University of Manitoba all gathered for the Re-Futuring: Indigenous Knowledge, Design, Innovation, and Climate Action conference held at our property on October 22 and 23, 2023.

Discussions focused on a number of Indigenous teachings and paradigms as they relate to future community planning, the design of buildings, and the future of green energy initiatives in Canada – and how teams can actively incorporate reconciliation into their work.

The two-day retreat also included an opening from KCA’s drummers, a walleye feast, cedar tea, cultural teachings with wild rice and bear grease, and a tour of the KCA Youth and Family Wellness Camp.

Architect, University of Manitoba Professor, Indigenous Scholar with the Metis Nation of Ontario, and the lead of the Re:Futuring Conference – Shawn Bailey – says the landscape and experience allowed for important reflection, sharing and discussion.

“The KCA Youth and Wellness Camp proved to be an excellent venue for our recent event. Its immersive natural setting underscored the significance of our conservation efforts,” says Bailey.

“As students, academics, and practitioners hailing from various parts of Canada and the US, the experience was pivotal in fostering a deeper connection with the land. The camp provided a magical space for open sharing, reflection, and discussion, allowing us to dream about our future collectively.”

“The dedicated team at KCA played a crucial role in both initiating and concluding the event in a good way. The profound impact of this experience has been echoed in numerous feedback received since last week, highlighting its importance. We eagerly anticipate further collaboration and strengthening our partnership with KCA,” he adds.

Bailey says he aims to introduce Indigenous knowledge into curriculum development and design. His research resolves around understanding how Indigenous teachings can guide us toward renewed sustainability practices, emphasizing the importance of our relationship with the land and each other.

“Seeing the property filled with so many faces from all over, and meeting so many people where there are opportunities for new partnership truly was an amazing experience,” says Jennifer Coulis, Recreational Wellness Manager at the Youth and Family Wellness Camp.

Coulis adds at the Youth Camp they try to always approach things from a new and innovative lens, so being able to listen in on the various topics provided a great educational opportunity for all.

Other panel speakers included Managing Director of the Prairie Climate Centre Christey Allen, U of M’s Dean of the Price Faculty of Engineering Marcia Friesen, Knowledge Carrier Hetxw’ms Gyetxw, KCA’s Jyles Copenace, Head of the Department of Architecture at South Dakota Brian T. Rex, Dr. Shirey Thompson, Elder Valdie Seymour, and more.

Ogimaawabiitong (KCA) sends a huge Miigwetch to Professor Bailey for leading the discussions over the two-day retreat, to all of the speakers and leaders who offered their knowledge and wisdom, to the students who were able to learn and take in the Youth and Family Wellness Camp, and to our staff for hosting the gathering. We look forward to continuing our partnerships together in the future.

The KCA Youth and Family Camp notes its new Venue Space for conferences, gatherings, meetings, and more is up and running and will be accepting new bookings by early 2024. For more information, please contact wellness.camp@kenorachiefs.org or call 1-807-467-8144.