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Roberta Jamieson

Speaker Featured

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Leader, Builder, Visionary

Roberta Jamieson is a Mohawk woman from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and lives a life dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion. She was Canada’s first Indigenous woman to earn a law degree, first female Ombudsman in Ontario, and the first woman to be Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is a constructive disrupter of the status quo and continuously demonstrates the courage and tenacity required of leaders in a changing environment. 

Keynote Speeches

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Education

Roberta believes education is the key to transforming both this country’s Indigenous communities and the nation itself. She calls on us to make constructive change in order to better our economic circumstances. She outlines how education of Indigenous youth would addresses Canada’s growing shortage of skilled labour, while making the case that education is a sustainable investment which exponentially increases benefits over future generations and in a short time pays for itself.

Negotiation and Conflict Resolution: New Ways of Resolving Issues 

Roberta honed her vision and skills as a leader and constructive disrupter during two of the most important changes of post-war Canada: the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights and for women’s rights. 

In this presentation, she explores the ins and outs of alternative conflict resolution and how it is crucial in making change sustainable.

Globalization: What it Means to Real People 

The rewards promised are greater employment and higher standards of living – but the question is, for whom? What can be done by public and private sectors to protect the interests of real people?

 

Governance, Accountability and Human Rights: The New Political Imperatives

Roberta believes that governments and businesses must increase their credibility and the trust of the public by enhancing their accountability and transparency. She first saw the benefits of this approach when she was Ombudsman for the Province of Ontario and as a result of her accomplishments and approach to good governance, was recognized by Deloitte Canada.

In this presentation, Roberta explores what the public expects of public servants, and the problems public servants have in meeting the expectations of politicians.

The Challenge, The Opportunity: Establishing Personal & Corporate Relationships with Indigenous Peoples to Achieve Lasting Change

It is not easy to speak or hear about the wrongs that have been committed against Indigenous Peoples, but Roberta Jamieson does that with mastery and authenticity. She tells a difficult and painful story while putting forward a cathartic vision that Canadians can work together to make a difference for future generations. One where each diverse individual, each diverse group, has the opportunity and freedom to make their distinct contribution to Canada and the world. She inspires each audience member to play a role in making that original promise good.

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Panelist/In Conversation

Audience reviews:

  • Roberta Jamieson was absolutely wonderful. She gave what can only be described as a powerful address, receiving a sustained round of applause at the conclusion. Her comments resonated with our delegates and her challenges to the organization were precisely the themes that originated from the conference and that we need to pursue during the next year. It was a total success.

    - Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario (AMAPCEO)
  • Thank you for taking the time to get to know our organization and the work we do, and for tailoring your talk to suit our needs...your remarks touched [the audience] deeply and you really made them think about how they do their jobs.

    - Canadian Association of College & University Student Services
  • You spoke to movingly at the Dinner and in case you didn’t notice, the silence and the attention in the room was palpable. Thank you for your inspiring words and the passion you bring with each and every word you say.

    - Pier 21 Foundation

Speaker Biography

Roberta was one of eight siblings, and in this tight-knit family living on the Six Nations reserve, she learned the art of non-adversarial conflict resolution. After attending school on reserve, she set her sights on medicine as a career, following in the footsteps of a great uncle who had been a doctor. But while enrolled in pre-med studies at McGill University, she became embroiled in the situation of the James Bay Cree whose traditional hunting grounds were to be flooded as part of a massive hydroelectric project in the early 1970s. She realized that the best way to help First Nations defend their rights and interests was to learn the law.

Since then, she has provided decades of leadership and strategic advice to the private, public and not-for-profit sectors in and outside of Canada. She has a unique ability to inspire people to work together towards systemic and structural change, believing change only succeeds when everyone has a role in shaping their futures. In recognition of her skills and accomplishments, Canada’s Prime Minister asked her to join the G7’s inaugural Gender Equality Advisory Council, in order to embed gender equality in every decision made by the group of the world’s seven most advanced economies. 

Most recently, Roberta was the president and CEO of Indspire, an Indigenous-led charity which funds the education of Indigenous post-secondary students and educates Canadians about Indigenous accomplishments. Under Roberta’s leadership, Indspire disbursed over $132 million through bursaries and scholarships to more than 42,000 Indigenous students. Seeing the need to educate Canada about the reality of Indigenous life, she also produced the Indspire Awards to honour Indigenous accomplishments though out the country. In 2021, Roberta L. Jamieson was appointed to the Board of Directors of Royal Bank of Canada. 

Roberta’s ability to boldly shape the future in an inclusive way comes from a lifetime of experiences and accomplishments. She has carved out a notable career as an advisor, leader, advocate, and consensus builder — always with a keen eye to social justice, problem-solving, and, above all, the rights and interests of First Nations people. Currently, she is the co-chair of the Canadian National Railway (CN)’s new Indigenous Advisory Council, and is on the board of directors at Deloitte Canada.

Roberta has spoken to national and international audiences about conflict resolution, Indigenous and women’s rights, governance, accountability and transparency. She is the recipient of 27 honourary degrees, including honourary doctorates from McGill, the University of Ontario and Western University.