Meet the 2023/24 ReconciliACTION team!
Updated: 20 hours ago
Hello and welcome back to another year of ReconciliACTION!
We hope this blog post finds you in a good way.
We are excited to introduce the 2023/2024 ReconciliACTION team and to share our plans for the ReconciliACTION blog with you!
The 2023/2024 ReconciliACTION team
Pictured from left to right: Megan Reti, Olive Bensler, Michael McInnis and Bex.
Megan Reti is a 3rd year law student of mixed Metis/settler descent. On her mother’s side, she is Metis and British, with family ties tracing across Saskatchewan and eventually back to the Red River Settlement. Her father’s grandparents arrived in Canada from Hungary and the Ukraine. She grew up in rural Southeastern Alberta on a small beef and horse ranch.
Many of Megan’s great-great-aunts and uncles refused to discuss their Metis heritage, likely out of shame or fear or both. However, her grandmother and mother always taught her the importance of this part of her heritage. Since her grandmother’s passing, Megan’s mother, aunt and cousin have been working together to reconnect with their family and culture.
Through making these connections, Megan learned just how common stories like her family’s are; the assimilationist policies regarding the Metis made it safer to stay hidden.
Megan is involved with the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge, the National Indigenous Law Students’ Association and serves as the Chair of the University of Alberta Indigenous Law Students’ Association. She hopes that by working toward reconciliation a better future is possible for Indigenous people.
Olive Bensler is a third-generation Canadian from Treaty 7 and resides as a guest on Treaty 6 territory. Their family is of broad European origin, including ethno-religious roots as Mennonites. In 2020 Olive learned that some of their ancestors worked at Port Alberni Residential School during the 1950s and 60s.
Olive describes her inner colonial voice as a miniature John Cabot who tells her that she is not responsible to disrupt the status quo. They are candid about how they approach work to challenge their worldview after being raised in a cult mired in white supremacist colonial thinking.
Yet as a third year law student and President of the Law Student’s Association she is learning to do just that. You can expect to hear more from Olive about how she came from viewing land as a resource to be extracted to living her obligations to be a good relative to those around her, the land and her other-than-human-kin.
Michael McInnis is a third year law student from the unceded lands of the Mi’kmaq and Beothuk in Ktaqmkuk, or the place across the water. When this land was found by Europeans, they called it Newfoundland. Practices of reconciliation in Newfoundland are re-storying histories and identities after generations of colonial denial, suppression and distortion; until recently, this was believed by many, including Indigenous people in Newfoundland.
Michael aspires to a legal career that advances justice for Indigenous people. He currently works as a Research Assistant at the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge. Here, he assists with community-led initiatives to revitalize Indigenous law and legal education initiatives. He will be serving on the Indigenous Law Students’ Association Speaker Series Committee.
Bex comes from both Waterhen Lake in Treaty 6 Saskatchewan, and Germany. Bex has other Indigenous and settler heritage, but growing up, these were the two they primarily understood, and felt connected to. Bex was born in Treaty 1, and lived in four different Treaty areas growing up. Bex has moved six times, so it has been nice for them to remain in Edmonton for law school and grow roots where some of their and their wife’s family reside.
As a 2nd year law student, Bex does work that is empowering. Bex is a research assistant at the Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge. She also serves on the executive for the Indigenous Law Students’ Association and OutLaw, to celebrate and advocate with like-minded people. Bex is hopeful that her work revitalizing Indigenous laws will benefit generations to come.
The ReconciliACTION Plan
After many years of the ReconciliACTION blog, our team met to discuss our vision, and we can build on the work of previous blog teams. Our team has new and exciting ideas to bring forward.
Like the many students before us, we believe that reconciliation is one important approach to justice for Indigenous people. We seek to elevate voices who are pursuing reconciliation in a way that puts people first.
However, we are also informed by the knowledge that reconciliation cannot be the only way to ground action to advance justice for Indigenous people. Reconciliation works best when paired with resurgent Indigenous practices and followed by action. This year we will use this understanding to inform our work.
When can you expect to hear more?
In the coming year, regularly scheduled content will be released on Tuesdays and Fridays.
On Tuesdays, we will release a blog post in the format that ReconciliACTION readers will be familiar with: an academic legal perspective on a subject that relates broadly to advancing justice for Indigenous people.
Our Friday content will foster creativity and engage with new mediums of communication like art, podcasts, and more. Our hope is that this approach strengthens and builds relations, expands our audience, inspires action, and sends ReconcliACTIONers into their weekends in a good way. Ekosi and until next time,
The ReconciliACTION team