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Indigenous Circle Chair Q&A: Waasmowin-Mnidoo talks systemic change, upcoming Circle meeting, and Indigenous History Month

Publish date: Wednesday, May 25, 2022 update

Photo of Waasmowin-Mnidoo

Timna Ben-Ari, Labour Relations Specialist and one of the staff supports for the union’s equity caucuses, recently sat down with Indigenous Circle Chair, Waasmowin-Mnidoo, for a question-and-answer session on the important opportunities for dialogues offered by the Circle, and what AMAPCEO members should reflect on throughout Indigenous History Month and on National Indigenous Peoples Day and Anishinabek Nation Holiday.

Timna Ben-Ari: Hi Waasmowin, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today. To start us off, can you give AMAPCEO members a little background on yourself and your roles both at work and within the union? 

Waasmowin-Mnidoo: Absolutely. I was born in Wiikwemikong, grew up in Sudbury, went to school in Saults Ste. Marie, taught in South Korea, and now work in Toronto.

My day job is an Advisor for the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs with the Ontario Public Service (OPS). 

Within AMAPCEO, I have served on the Indigenous Circle as an active member, then as Vice-Chair, and now Chair. I was also an Alternative Delegate at the Annual Delegates Conference (ADC).

TBA: When you’re not at work or engaging in union activities, what do you like to do with your time? Do you have any interests or hobbies you wouldn’t mind sharing with us?

WM: I like to spend my time being active – specifically bike riding, walking, and swimming. Beyond physical activity, my hobbies include reading, playing Nintendo Switch, watching movies, and beading.

TBA: That sounds like a great balance! You mentioned earlier that you have a history of participation within the Indigenous Circle at AMAPCEO. When did you join the Circle and what prompted you to join and to take on a leadership position?

WM: I initially joined the Indigenous Circle to learn about my rights as a new OPS employee. But I became more involved at the recommendation of Darlene Kaboni, an active Indigenous Circle member. I started attending Circle meetings and took part in dialogues about the Indigenous experience within the OPS, heeding the need for change. These dialogues formed the basis of a vision that I and other Circle members had for systemic changes within the OPS. I believe AMAPCEO would be a good ally to help spark these changes.

TBA: What activities or initiatives does the Indigenous Circle have planned for 2022?

WM: The Indigenous Circle’s first meeting of 2022 is set for June 1 at noon ET. It will be held online and I strongly encourage all members of the Indigenous Circle to attend. If you are a member of the Circle, you should already have received the calendar invite, but if you have not received it, please reach out to IndigenousCircle@amapceo.on.ca. If you’re not yet a member of the Circle but you would like to join, you can do so at https://amapceo.on.ca/joinequitycaucus. It only takes a few minutes!

TBA: June 1 also marks the beginning of Indigenous History Month, with National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, and Anishinabek Nation Holiday (Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin) on June 6. Do you have a specific message for AMAPCEO members throughout this month and on these specific days?

WM: Yes, I encourage AMAPCEO members to acknowledge the land, the people, and the history of Canada. I urge you to commit yourself to truth and reconciliation, and to address your leaders at all levels to continue their commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s 94 Calls of Action.

TBA: Thank you so much, Waasmowin – that is important for all our members to hear. Finally, can you tell us a little about these commemorations mean for you personally?

WM: For me, National Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to celebrate the history of Indigenous peoples’ contribution to modern society. It is a day to honour my ancestors and their resistance to colonialism. It is a day to spend with family and friends through ceremony and feast.

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Ontario Health (Quality Unit); Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).