Gabrielle Scrimshaw on liberating the past and embracing the future
Gabrielle Scrimshaw is a vibrant voice among a younger generation of First Nations leaders. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and is completing her Masters in Public Administration at Harvard. Now 29, she's had quite a journey already. She grew up in Hatchet Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan. She left home at age 17, went to the University of Saskatchewan, then the University of Toronto. Along the way she co-founded the, to co-found the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada. Her dual graduate degrees have informed her views on how reconciliation can be made meaningful for her generation — and not become an empty term of well-intentioned sentimentality. Gabrielle Scrimshaw delivered the third annual Vancouver Island University Indigenous Speaker Series this past November.
"It's frightening to me how many people are still unaware of and don't fully understand the history. I use my story as a catalyst to talk about these bigger issues in Canada. I think when people hear statistics or news reports, it's hard for them to connect the issues with their own sphere of influence. My story is a way to connect with others in a more personal way."
At a time when Canada's relationship with First Nations is at a critical juncture, Gabrielle Scrimshaw's voice is an original and welcome addition to the national conversation. In many ways, her life story reflects and refracts that conversation. She grew in a small, rural First Nations community of 800, in a single-parent family, and never knew what it was like to have a mother. Many might think that the deck was stacked against her. Yet her perseverance and determination are paying off hugely. The youngest of three daughters raised by her father, she's now 29 and has been featured in the Huffington Post as "one of 3 Young Aboriginal Canadians to Watch". She's studied across six continents. And is now widely considered a global thought leader in Indigenous leadership.
After her emotionally moving and thought-provoking talk at VIU, she joined host Paul Kennedy in conversation to talk about ways to make the idea, and the ideal, of reconciliation more than just a noble sentiment. As she tells Paul, it's not merely about acknowledging past transgressions and saying sorry. It's about forming a viable partnership that will last into the next 150 years, and from which everyone will benefit.
Web Extra | Gabrielle Scrimshaw at TEDxToronto
**This episode was produced by Anne Penman.