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Michael Etherington Kindness + Humour + Insight

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"Breaking Down Barriers"

Sought after at the local, regional, provincial and national levels, Michael Etherington has captivated audiences such as the United Nations, Canadian Government, Pan Am Games, and many other large corporate and educational venues.

Rooted in the Indigenous perspective, Michael focuses on relationship building, promoting awareness and cultivating sensitivity with the “Truth and Reconciliation” recommendations as his platform.

Influenced by his northern upbringing, Michael has always stayed connected to community, spending much of his personal time volunteering through Passages Canada as a speaker to schools, colleges, and universities. This, along with his experience as Cultural Program Manager of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, and trainer for the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, have garnered Michael the personal and professional recognition as a valued speaker.

Michael grew up in poverty and saw many social issues such as addictions, violence and suicide. However, is family instilled within him a strong belief of being a leader to change the stories people tell themselves. Direct lived experience allowed Michael’s capabilities to embody compassion, empathy and a strong resiliency.  His strong voice and profile at institutional levels have raised his recognition as a leader yet Michael remains grounded with his community.

With family roots and heritage from James Bay, ON, but growing up in the urban setting, Etherington is a proud yet humbled Indigenous speaker and representative of Omushkego-Culture. Michael attributes his speaking messages to his experiences growing up both on-reserve and off-reserve. Having developed a unique perspective by being able to see conditions in both remote communities and urban spaces, Michael is able to share insight of the barriers, misconceptions, and assumptions within communities that can perpetuate a narrative not reflective of Indigenous peoples. Michaels presentations challenge the status-quo to break down barriers, by identifying opportunities to enhance representation of Indigenous peoples, build leadership capabilities and encourage meaningful engagement. 

Michael’s late great-aunt was the oldest residential school survivor in Canada at 111 years of age – and in 2008 was one of four invited attendees to House of Commons to hear Stephen Harper’s formal apology to Canada. When asked about her legacy Michael’s great-aunt said ‘poonenamok’ – (forgiveness).  Today, Michael strives everyday to honour his great-aunt’s wishes, in every presentation he delivers.

  • Bridging the Social Gap of Indigenous Struggle

    This keynote addresses the on-going systemic challenges of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The conversation also addresses social justice efforts of non-Indigenous allies to establish self-awareness and sensitivities when aligning with various social issues impacting Indigenous peoples

    Indigenous Governance and Principle Based Thinking

    The recognition and value of Indigenous Governance practices can be used as ways to enhance cultural norms within various sectors such as nonprofits or corporate organizational development. This message aims to address challenges of personal and professional growth.  The strategic visions which are rooted within Indigenous principles help us challenge the status-quo.

    Child of the North: Challenges of remote to urban transitions of Indigenous Peoples

    Indigenous migration to urban spaces is on the rise and also the fastest growing demographic in Canada. Addressing the impacts of low levels of attainment within educational and employment sectors while providing insight into the narrative of transitioning from on-reserve to off-reserve from lived firsthand experience.

  • Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training

    Truth and Reconciliation is a platform within Canada to shape the narrative of educational awareness regarding Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is to highlight key historical events from pre-confederate and post-confederate history that shaped the current landscape politically, socially, and economically for Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. This message is delivered within a culturally safe space to promote dialogue and facilitate self-awareness amongst attendees.

    Breaking down barriers: meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples

    This workshop is to re-shape the current perceptions of contributions Indigenous people have made to the social fabric of Canada. It is also to promote conversations of cultural safety and effective communication to enhance engagement for either personal or professionals who aim to establish or foster relationships with Indigenous peoples.

    Traditional Storytelling: Restoring the circle and reshaping the history

    Rooted within the cultural teachings of the OMushkegowuk Culture this workshop discusses Indigenous education to promote understanding of sharing a narrative of one’s personal journey to create a process of healing that is intended to promote community development.

  • "Michael was an energetic and informative speaker. He provided an informative overview of Indigenous history in Canada, and provided an open and trusting learning environment. We were happy to host such a wonderful event and look forward to booking more sessions with Michael in the future."

    - Laurel Stroz, Employment and Equity Manager, Rogers Communication

    "I received wonderful feedback and kudos with respect to Michael’s delivery and interaction with our group. Michael’s personal antidotes and experiences woven together with historical facts and aboriginal traditions engaged our group in such a way that we all took something special away from his presentation. Our goal at the outset of our retreat was wellness – for our staff to take away messages and techniques that would benefit them not only at work, but beyond as well. Michael’s messages gave us a lot to think about. He translated his own personal experiences with respect the teachings of his elders and community members and gave us more lessons to consider including forgiveness, personal investment in others, assumptions, wellness and growth. 

    Michael has a gift. What he can do is very special and I feel very blessed to have been able to participate in one of his sessions. I would recommend his talent and services both inside and outside of my role at the Ministry of the Attorney General and I would be happy to provide a client reference for Michael’s services."

    - Lisa Leclerc, Senior Manager, Business and Strategic Planning Ontario of Ministry of Attorney General

    "Michael is an excellent presenter and workshop leader. I had the opportunity to participate in Cultural Awareness Training led by him. He clearly presented concepts and facts in a way that was easy to follow along by the group. He encouraged discussion and involvement by the participants. His use of personal stories and humour illustrated his points while causing us to examine our views of history, empathy, resilience, reconciliation and equity. Thank you, Michael!"

    - Julie Cookson, Executive Director, Anishnawbe Health Foundation

    "Michael’s story provided us with valuable insight into the indigenous culture and heritage. This insight will help inform our relationships with indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. His presentation was very enlightening."

    - Kalinkov Nelea, Human Resources Generalist, Express Scripts Canada

    "Michael has an exceptional ability to captivate audiences of all sizes and backgrounds. He makes presentations meaningful to ‎each participant so that they feel respected and engaged. His ability to manage any space, especially during difficult conversations and topics is one of his most valuable assets, which allows participants to feel safe, supported and able to ask questions. Michael can make meaning of any topic to any person. He was always a go-to Facilitator when dealing with difficult topics or groups because I could be confident that he would use his talent for relationship-building and human connection to educate and engage participants."

    - Brittany Young, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

    "Michael delivered a wonderful presentation to our staff retreat, the overwhelmingly positive reception is certainly a testament to his ability as a communicator and command of the topic."

    - Matthew Casselman, Policy Analyst, Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services

    "It has been an absolute pleasure to have had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from Michael over the past couple years.  Michael has a true gift for facilitating, teaching and working with young people; he is the ultimate adult ally.  Michael creates a safe space for young people to share their stories and engage with the materials.  Michael has a wealth of knowledge and is able to bring content to life for participants."

    - Kristy Ste Marie, Acting Manager, The Youth Advocacy Training Institute

    "Michael’s Cultural Awareness presentation at our office on July 13, 2016 called attention to important issues and attitudes from Canada’s past and present to explain the effects of colonialism on Indigenous Peoples and communities, and to contextualize contemporary issues. Over the course of the day his personable and engaging style, group activities, and stories about growing up in Mushkegowuk Territory, whether they were humorous or from the heart, helped me understand some of these experiences on a very personal level. His conclusion was an uplifting discussion about cultural competency and wellness showing that we can all contribute meaningfully to reconciliation by being mindful, curious and willing to learn in our daily lives. I highly recommend Michael to any company or organization that wishes to engage staff in diversity and equity initiatives and improve their awareness and understanding of Indigenous Peoples in Canada."

    - Karen Travers, Research Analyst, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB)

  • Clients

    • Bank of Montreal 
    • Rogers Communication 
    • Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB)
    • REEL Canada
    • Express Scripts Canada
    • Passages Canada
    • Prince's Charities Canada
    • Royal Ontario Museum 
    • Ministry of Environment and Climate Change
    • Ministry of Community and Social Services
    • Ministry of Advanced Skills and Education Development 
    • Ministry of Attorney General 
    • United Nations Climate Change Conference
    • Power shift Climate Change Conference - Ottawa, ON
    • University of Toronto
    • Trent University
    • Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto
    • Toronto District School Board 
    • Peel District School Board 
    • Upper Canada College
    • Ontario Lung Association
    • Youth Alliance Training Institute (YATI)

Influenced by his northern upbringing, Michael has always stayed connected to community, spending much of his personal time volunteering through Passages Canada as a speaker to schools, colleges, and universities. This, along with his experience as Cultural Program Manager of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, and trainer for the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, have garnered Michael the personal and professional recognition as a valued speaker.

Michael grew up in poverty and saw many social issues such as addictions, violence and suicide. However, is family instilled within him a strong belief of being a leader to change the stories people tell themselves. Direct lived experience allowed Michael’s capabilities to embody compassion, empathy and a strong resiliency.  His strong voice and profile at institutional levels have raised his recognition as a leader yet Michael remains grounded with his community.

With family roots and heritage from James Bay, ON, but growing up in the urban setting, Etherington is a proud yet humbled Indigenous speaker and representative of Omushkego-Culture. Michael attributes his speaking messages to his experiences growing up both on-reserve and off-reserve. Having developed a unique perspective by being able to see conditions in both remote communities and urban spaces, Michael is able to share insight of the barriers, misconceptions, and assumptions within communities that can perpetuate a narrative not reflective of Indigenous peoples. Michaels presentations challenge the status-quo to break down barriers, by identifying opportunities to enhance representation of Indigenous peoples, build leadership capabilities and encourage meaningful engagement. 

Michael’s late great-aunt was the oldest residential school survivor in Canada at 111 years of age – and in 2008 was one of four invited attendees to House of Commons to hear Stephen Harper’s formal apology to Canada. When asked about her legacy Michael’s great-aunt said ‘poonenamok’ – (forgiveness).  Today, Michael strives everyday to honour his great-aunt’s wishes, in every presentation he delivers.

Speaker Summary

Location: Canada

Language: English

Website: Click Here

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