Concordia’s new center for social transformation welcomes its first innovator in residence
Earlier this month, Concordia announced the launch of its new SHIFT Center for Social Transformation. The first multi-stakeholder collaboration center of its kind was made possible thanks to a recent donation of $10 million from the Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation and the Amelia & Lino Saputo Jr Foundation.
On November 25, SHIFT welcomes its first Innovator-in-Residence, Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse, for a series of conversations and workshops. Weaving Our Worldviews: Social Transformation and Indigenous Practices is a one-day event open to the public and taking place at 4E SPACE from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Calahoo-Stonehouse is founder and co-owner of Miyo-Pimatisiwin Productions and co-producer and host of the award-winning native radio show Acimowin.
Her work focuses on sharing positive stories of Indigenous peoples and improving the realities of marginalized Indigenous youth. Her interests include Indigenous media, Indigenous legal traditions, Indigenous feminism, social innovation and Indigenous futurisms.
The event will be co-hosted by Aleeya Velji, who has extensive experience supporting transformational change in large and small-scale organizations and has worked closely with Calahoo-Stonehouse over the past few years to develop the lab. Edmonton SHIFT.
The two innovators will use a variety of media, including storytelling, interactive activities and a keynote discussion. This is part of a week-long residency at Concordia, where Calahoo-Stonehouse will work with Indigenous students and community members on social innovation challenges.
Social innovation is this wonderful tool where we can start to see the problem from the other’s point of view
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Jodi Calahoo – Stonehouse: I am Cree and Mohawk from the Michel First Nation.
I like to think of myself as a transmogrifier – a kind of secret agent who specializes in making money. However, lately my profile hasn’t been kept as secret as I had hoped. I love doing my work behind the scenes listening to people and shining a light on Indigenous people who are doing a great job.
How did you start your life’s work of shining a light on the great stories and work coming out of your community?
JSC: There wasn’t really a defining moment, more of a cumulative impact as I got older and witnessed the disparity in resources and quality of life between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the community. where I grew up.
And as I got older, I spent more time on reservations, studying the education system and water quality between communities. I knew that until Indigenous people lived the same quality of life as non-Indigenous people in this country, I would have a lot of work to do.
And it’s not just my job, but also that of Johnny Calahoo, my great-grandfather, who was the first president of the Indian Association of Alberta. Its mandate was to ensure that Indians – as indigenous peoples were called at the time – had access to education and support for their children.
And, while I love following in my great-grandfather’s footsteps, it also saddens me deeply that we haven’t solved the problems he identified over a hundred years ago.
Who were the mentors who helped you become someone who works to improve conditions for Indigenous peoples and their communities?
JCS: My mother was integral in that she raised me to think very critically about the systems that impact our lives. She is incredibly intelligent and has always questioned authority roles and the influence of politics and legislation. She also made me realize how privileged I was. She planted seeds at a very young age that our family would help ensure a better quality of life for Indigenous people.
And then from there comes a whole list of beautiful, strong indigenous women who mentored and taught me. Although all of my formal teachers have been women, as a little girl my grandfather played a pivotal role in teaching me about relationships, especially relationships with the earth and non-humans.
So my gender balance has been between my grandfather and my mother, who were the main fundamental sculptors of my identity.
How do you see Indigenous worldviews contributing to social transformation?
JCS: As smart as we are as humans, we’ve fundamentally overlooked one thing: we see the world differently. Indigenous peoples do not see the world the way settlers and immigrants see it.
And, within that, there are many ways that settlers, immigrants, and Indigenous people see the world. So we have this layered complexity of how people understand who they are, why they’re here, and the work they’re going to do on the planet. So we have to go back to those very basic things about how we understand what water means, how we understand what wellness means, how we understand what solving a problem means.
Often we come to negotiating tables, laws, policies, and we try to make decisions to help people, but we don’t see the problem the same way. So I see social innovation as this wonderful tool where we can sit together and start seeing the problem from each other’s perspective. We may be able to come up with some prototyping solutions if we can see the problem collectively.
What are your hopes for your week-long residency at Concordia?
JCS: I hope to give hard working people some love. It is not easy trying to solve these complex, difficult, uncomfortable and overwhelming problems that we face in society. And sometimes we forget to do community care. There is a lot of research on self-care and its importance, but Indigenous peoples have a collective identity.
Community care is integral to how we nurture our Indigenous identity, our well-being, so that we can continue to do good work. If I can contribute to this, I will be very happy with my energy to come to this territory.
I am really looking forward to visiting Concordia and its spaces. I’ve heard that some really proactive things happen on the ground at university working directly with people.
There’s one thing about academia: we can write academic papers and produce truly brilliant minds, but it’s another thing to take that brilliance and apply it to everyday life in order to change people’s reality. . That’s what I intend to do at Concordia.
How can the Concordians communicate with you while you are here?
JCS: I suggest you contact the SHIFT Center for Social Transformation!
Meet SHIFT’s first innovator in residence: Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse is in conversation with SHIFT at Concordia’s 4E SPACE (1400, boul. De Maisonneuve O.) on November 25.