A VIU media release has relayed that Max FineDay, Executive Director of the Canadian Roots Exchange, will be offering his unique perspective on reconciliation as a guest speaker at VIU’s fifth annual Indigenous Speakers Series.

The event is to be held on Monday, November 25, from 7 pm – 9 pm, in the Malaspina theatre (bldg. 310, on the VIU Nanaimo campus). The annual event, a partnership between VIU and CBC Radio One’s Ideas, aims to further the dialogue on reconciliation between First Nations and non-First-Nations people in Canada.

FineDay is certified as a nêhiyaw napew from the Sweetgrass First Nation in Saskatchewan, included in Treaty 6 Territory. His perspective was molded through his immersion between two different prairie communities growing up. The Sweetgrass First Nation was represented by his father’s side, whereas his mother’s side represented Norwegian farmers who had settled in southern Saskatchewan. 

With the distinct marriage of lineage at work in FineDay’s life, a passion was formed to blaze a trail for the next generation of leaders, help them understand theories of change-making, and increase access to traditional ceremonies for First Nations youth. 

“Both sides of my family aren’t as different as politics or media might suggest and it’s set me on the path to the work I’m doing—the repair of the relationships, reckoning with reconciliation,” FineDay said. “I think this background has given me patience and understanding and hope.”

When FineDay graduated from university in 2015, his grandmother told him that he had an obligation to use his voice to make a difference, by telling stories that would change people’s minds and hearts. 

“She said I had been raised and prepared to do this work and when the time came, I needed to accept that opportunity,” FineDay said. “When your grandmother tells you to do something, you really have no choice, and that set me up for what I do now. I tell stories to people who haven’t seen what I’ve seen so that they can be called to do something, called to learn, called to change their behaviour or learn a new skill.”

FineDay’s goal is to inspire youth to have pride in who they are, and help them obtain the knowledge, skills, and education they need to pursue their dreams. The Canadian Roots Exchange is an organization that delivers reconciliation programs to First Nations and non-First-Nations youth across the country; as Executive Director, FineDay is in an ideal position to reach his goal.

“Indigenous youth are the fastest-growing population in Canada, but they are so often let down by our country—they fill the jails at a disproportionate rate and their health outcomes are poorer,” FineDay said. “After hearing stories from young people who have gone into the corporate sector who have felt tokenized, used, disrespected, and misunderstood, I wonder where the place of young Indigenous people is in Canada’s 2019 economy. Are Canadians ready to debunk the image of a young native person who doesn’t want to work? Is Canada ready to imagine a young Indigenous person ready to lead economic opportunities using the stories and traditions of their ancestors in tandem with a modern education?”

Dr. Deb Saucier, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor, said that through his work with the Canadian Roots Exchange, FineDay is inspiring the next generation of young leaders to embrace their culture rather than leave it at the door when they enter the workforce.

“Max’s true power lies in his ability to tell the kinds of stories that help people see Indigenous people as people,” Saucier said. “Much like Max does in his teachings, VIU also strives to ensure Indigenous ways of knowing and being are recognized and celebrated on the same level as Western ways of knowing and being.”

Following FineDay’s keynote lecture, “The Promised Land: In Search of Freedom, Prosperity, and #LandBack for Indigenous Peoples,” a Q&A session will be hosted by Nahlah Ayed, host of CBC Radio’s Ideas. It will be recorded for national broadcast.

Those interested in attending this free event are asked to register through Eventbrite