WINHEC Meets in Canada for Annual Conference

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: 27-2: American Indian Law, Tribal College News

Indigenous peoples from around the globe shared stories, educational strategies, and fellowship at the 2015 WINHEC meeting in Fort Frances, Ontario.

The World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) met last week in Fort Frances, Ontario for the organization’s annual conference. Representatives from Indigenous institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Alaska, Hawai’i, the mainland United States, and Samiland in northern Scandinavia gathered to discuss common educational strategies, instruction, research, and accreditation. Representatives also worked to refine the vision and mission of the World Indigenous Nations University (WINU), which graduated its second cohort at the conference.

The conference opened at the Rainy River First Nation on August 10, which featured a welcoming ceremony that included drumming, dancing, and the annual WINHEC Parade of Nations. Indigenous representatives from around the world sang songs in their native languages and partook in traditional Anishinaabe dancing and gift-giving. Participants proceeded to the Kay-Nay-Chi-Wah-Nung historic site, where they toured ancient Anishinaabe burial mounds.


Delegates from Samiland enter the powwow grounds during WINHEC’s Parade of Nations.

Conference sessions began in earnest the following day at the Seven Generations Educational Institute in Fort Frances. Longtime activist and educator Edward Benton-Banai (Ojibwe) gave the opening presentation and stressed the importance of sovereignty and self-determination. Following Benton-Banai’s talk, conference goers broke out into working groups to discuss WINU, accreditation, or youth initiatives. Later that evening, all representatives rejoined at the Naicatchewenin First Nation for a pipe ceremony, awards presentation, and to honor the second cohort of WINU graduates.


Maori educator and WINHEC founder Turoa Royal addresses WINHEC during the opening ceremony.

Sessions continued on Wednesday with working groups discussing the WINHEC research journal, language, organizational funding, youth and elders, membership and sustainability, and post-secondary access. Following a traditional Anishinaabe lunch featuring rabbit stew and wild rice, the World Indigenous Research Symposium kicked off with a keynote presentation by Fred Kelly (Ojibway). A series of panels on varying facets of Indigenous research findings and methodologies followed. The symposium continued into Thursday with more panels and open discussion.

WINHEC’s 2015 annual meeting concluded on Friday with final reports from various working groups, as well as the presentation of an organizational strategic plan. Conference hosts passed the paddle to Maori representatives during the closing session. WINHEC will meet again next year in New Zealand.

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