Exploring the depths of Indigenous homelessness through personal experience and a growing body of ground-breaking academic work, acclaimed Canadian author Jesse Thistle is the featured speaker in Selkirk College’s latest Truth & Justice Series event on June 2.
A Métis-Cree-Scot Ph.D. candidate in the History program at York University in Toronto, Thistle is an assistant professor where he is working on theories of intergenerational and historic trauma of the Métis people.
The author of Canadian bestseller From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way, Thistle will weave his personal story with vital academic work to provide greater scope of understanding for those who attend. Presented by the Mir Centre for Peace and Indigenous Services, the ticketed virtual event will take place between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
“Jesse is a gifted storyteller and an exceptional individual,” says Jennie Barron, Chair of the Mir Centre for Peace.
“For those who have read his book and those with connections to the issue of homelessness, his work to redefine the issue through an Indigenous lens is of tremendous value. What makes this event unique is that it will be more interactive, there will be an extended Q&A with local service providers and those with lived experience who reside in our region.”
Thistle and his two brothers were removed from their family home in northern Saskatchewan in 1979 and moved to Ontario to be brought up by his paternal grandparents. By his late-teens, Thistle was struggling with addiction, homelessness and served several brief stints in jail for petty theft.
After an unsuccessful robbery attempt in 2006, he turned himself in to police and entered a drug rehabilitation program. Thistle began his post-secondary studies at York University in 2012 in the undergraduate History program where he soon found his passion for learning and teaching the history of the Métis people.
A Governor General medalist, Trudeau Scholar and recipient of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, Thistle has used his academic research as a means of healing and understanding of his personal story as an Indigenous person growing up disconnected from his community and its history.
His past experiences with homelessness, addiction and incarceration has formed the basis for his original and innovative research contributions.
Thistle has described coming to better understanding of homelessness through an Indigenous lens by examining his own experience, research with other Indigenous people across Canada and interviews with Elders. Compounding problems for many is what Thistle describes as “dispossession from all my relations” through intergenerational traumatic colonial processes such as residential schools.
Thistle’s academic work has important implications for social service providers, educators, governments and all those who work to build stronger, more resilient communities.
The Mir Centre for Peace and Indigenous Services is presenting the event in the morning hours to make it available to those tied most directly to this work, but everyone who purchases a ticket will have a two-week window to take in the recorded event at their convenience.
Tickets for the Wednesday, June 2 event are $15 adults/$10 seniors/$5 students. To purchase tickets and find out more information, go to: https://selkirk.ca/jesse-thistle
Photo Caption: The author of Canadian bestseller From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way, York University Assistant Professor Jesse Thistle will weave his personal story with vital academic work to provide greater scope of understanding of homelessness and addiction issues facing Indigenous people. The June 2 event is presented by the Selkirk College’s Mir Centre for Peace and Indigenous Services.