Lecture by The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould: "Moving Slow While Urgent Change is Needed: Why Governments Struggle to Effect True Reconciliation"

May 18, 2021

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C, M.P.

Tuesday, May 18, 5:30PM–7:00PM PDT, Via Zoom Webinar (Registration Required)

Co-sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities and J.S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities

Register HERE


Politicians increasingly affirm that addressing Canada's legacy of colonialism, and achieving racial justice for Indigenous peoples, requires transformative social, economic, and cultural change. Every day we see evidence of the need for bold action whether it be the lack of access to clean drinking water, the disproportionate presence of Indigenous people within the criminal justice system, reduced educational and economic opportunities, and many other realities. But despite political rhetoric that promises change, and some incremental progress, the fact remains that this transformative change is yet to happen. Why has this urgently needed change been so slow in coming? What should governments, Indigenous peoples, and the public be doing today to drive forward the real change that is needed? What role can the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples play in this work? The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P. (Puglaas)––Canada's first Indigenous Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and Canada's first elected female Independent Member of Parliament––will answer these questions, and others, while sharing insights from her unique experience as an Indigenous and Canadian politician and leader.


The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould was first elected as the Member of Parliament for the new constituency of Vancouver Granville on October 19, 2015.

On November 4, 2015, Ms. Wilson-Raybould was appointed the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada making her the first Indigenous person to serve in this portfolio. She then served as Minister of Veterans Affairs of Canada from January 14, 2019 until her resignation on February 12, 2019. Following the 2019 election she was re-elected as the Independent Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, making her the only Independent in the 43rd Parliament.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould is a lawyer, advocate, and leader among British Columbia’s First Nations. She has a strong reputation as a bridge builder between communities, and a champion of good governance and accountability. Prior to entering politics, she was a provincial crown prosecutor in Vancouver and later served as an advisor at the BC Treaty Commission, a body established to oversee complex treaty negotiations between First Nations and the Crown. In 2004, she was elected as Commissioner by the Chiefs of the First Nations Summit.

In 2009, Ms. Wilson-Raybould was elected Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations, where she devoted herself to the advancement of First Nations governance, fair access to land and resources, as well as improved education and health care services. She was re-elected as Regional Chief in 2012 and served until 2015, holding responsibilities for governance and nation building on the Assembly of First Nations Executive. Ms. Wilson-Raybould also served two terms as a councillor for the We Wai Kai Nation.

An active volunteer in her community, Ms. Wilson-Raybould has served as a Director for Capilano College, the Minerva Foundation for B.C. Women, the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre, and the National Centre for First Nations Governance. She was also a director on the First Nations Lands Advisory Board and Chair of the First Nations Finance Authority. 

Ms. Wilson-Raybould is a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples, which are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw and also known as the Kwak’wala speaking peoples. She is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation. Her traditional name, Puglaas, means "woman born to noble people.”


Samir Gandesha is currently associate professor in the Department of the Humanities and the Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University. He specializes in modern European thought and culture, with a particular emphasis on the relation between politics, aesthetics, and psychoanalysis. He has contributed chapters to numerous volumes including The Cambridge Companion to Adorno (2003), Herbert Marcuse: A Critical Reader (2004), The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought (2014), The Sage Handbook on Frankfurt School Critical Theory (2018), The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx (2018), as well as to a wide range of journals including Political TheoryNew German CritiqueConstellationsInternational Forum of PsychoanalysisThe American Journal of PsychoanalysisLogosKant StudienPhilosophy and Social Criticism, the European Legacy, the European Journal of Social Theory, Discipline Filosofiche, Estudios PoliticosZeitschrift für kritische TheorieRadical Philosophy, and Constelaciones: Revista de Teoria Critica.

Svend Robinson was one of the longest-serving federal Members of Parliament (MP) in British Columbia history, representing the community of Burnaby, including SFU, with the New Democratic Party for over twenty-five years (1979–2004). Since leaving federal politics, he has continued this tradition of public service internationally, and for almost a decade has worked with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, based in Switzerland. From his first election at the age of 27, Svend has charted a number of important firsts: he remains the only MP to be imprisoned for civil disobedience, at Clayoquot Sound in 1993; and was Canada’s first openly gay MP. His experiences of standing in solidarity with Cuba and the Palestinian people in occupied Israeli territory; being adopted into the Haida Nation in 1985; running for the leadership of his party in 1995; and tackling Big Pharma, bring an important perspective that will enrich ongoing discussions within and beyond the university community.