Jonathan Dewar has been recognized as a leader in healing and reconciliation and Indigenous health and wellbeing education, policy, and research for over a decade. He has published extensively on these subjects, with a specialization in the role of the arts in healing and reconciliation, and has lectured nationally and internationally. He has worked closely with local, regional, and national networks of Survivors and their allies, particularly the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA), national Indigenous organizations, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, and educational and cultural institutions. He is currently the Senior Advisor for the Reconciliation Secretariat at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
From 2012 to 2016, Jonathan served as the first Director of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and Special Advisor to the President at Algoma University, where he led research, education, curatorial, and community service programming, and taught courses in Anishinaabe Studies, Political Science, and Fine Arts. During this time, he was an active participant in the development of a robust collaborative community of creative, curatorial, and research practitioners through projects such as Reconciliation: Work(s) in Progress, a 2012 symposium and artist residency he hosted at Algoma University. The project Practicing Reconciliation: A Collaborative Study of Aboriginal Art, Resistance and Cultural Politics was funded by the TRC and its findings are included in Canada’s Residential Schools: Reconciliation, The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume 6. He continues to serve as a special advisor to the CSAA and is co-curating a historical Shingwauk Residential School exhibition at Algoma University under their direction.
From 2007-2012, Jonathan served as Director of Research at the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, where he led the Foundation’s research and evaluation and knowledge dissemination and publication efforts. Jonathan served as managing editor and co-editor of the Aboriginal Healing Foundations’ three-volume series, Truth and Reconciliation, comprising the titles From Truth to Reconciliation (2008); Response, Responsibility and Renewal (2009); and Cultivating Canada (2011), and co-edited Speaking My Truth. He also designed and directed two major research projects that led to the publications The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement’s Common Experience Payment and Healing: A Qualitative Study Exploring Impacts on Recipients (2010) and Dancing, Singing, Painting, and Speaking the Healing Story: Healing through Creative Arts (2012) and served as a co-editor of the special reconciliation-focused issue of the journal West Coast Line called Reconcile This! in 2012.
Jonathan is also a past director of the Métis Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization, where he led strategic planning, research and evaluation, communications and community liaison, and policy analysis efforts. Previously, Jonathan served as the founding executive director of the Iqaluit, Nunavut-based Qaggiq Theatre Company from its inception in 2002 to 2006. While in Nunavut, Jonathan also served in senior roles with the Office of the Languages Commissioner of Nunavut and the Intergovernmental Affairs and Inuit Relations unit of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Nunavut Region
Jonathan is of mixed heritage, descended from Huron-Wendat, Scottish, and French Canadian grandparents with an academic background in Indigenous arts and literatures and Indigenous studies. A former SSHRC doctoral fellow, Jonathan’s research explores the role of art and artist in truth, healing, and reconciliation. He completed a doctorate in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University. His dissertation is titled ‘Dance with us as you can…’: Art, Artist, and Witness(ing) in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Journey.
Other relevant publications include:
- Commissioned: “The Art of Healing and Reconciliation: From Time Immemorial through RCAP, the TRC, and Beyond.” Sharing the Land, Sharing a Future: RCAP 20th Anniversary. Eds. Katherine Graham and David Newhouse. 2018 [TBD].
- “’Our Roots Go Much Deeper’: A Conversation with Armand Garnet Ruffo.” Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action In and Beyond Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Eds. Keavy Martin and Dylan Robinson. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2016.
- “Art and Reconciliation.” Visions of the Heart: Issues Involving Aboriginal Peoples in Canada 4th Edition. Ed. David Long. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2015.
- “Walking With Our Sisters in Sault Ste. Marie: The Commemoration of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.” The Land We Are: Writers and Artists Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation. Eds. Gabrielle Hill and Sophie McCall. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Press, 2015.
- “Adrian Stimson: Interview with Jonathan Dewar.” The Land We Are: Writers and Artists Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation. Eds. Gabrielle Hill and Sophie McCall. Eds. Gabrielle Hill and Sophie McCall. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Press, 2015.
- “From Profound Silences to Ethical Practices: Aboriginal Writing and Reconciliation.” The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature. Ed. Cynthia Sugars. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2015.
- “Where Are the Children?” and ‘We Were So Far Away…’: Exhibiting the Legacies of Indian Residential Schools, Healing, and Reconciliation.” Museum Transformations: Art, Culture, History. Eds. Annie E. Coombes and Ruth Phillips. Toronto: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.
- “From Trauma and Residential Schools to Art, Archive, and Healing.” Roots and Routes of Displacement and Trauma: From Analysis to Advocacy & Policy to Practice. Eds. Sheila Gruner and Sohelia Pashang. Oakville ON: Rock’s Mills Press, 2015.
- Practicing Reconciliation – a collaborative study of Aboriginal art, resistance and cultural politics: A report commissioned by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools. Jonathan Dewar, David Gaertner, Ayumi Goto, Ashok Mathur, and Sophie McCall. CiCAC Press: Kamloops BC, 2013.
- “Alex Janvier: Reflections.” Reconcile This! Eds. Jonathan Dewar and Ayumi Goto. West Coast Line 74, vol. 46, no 2 (Summer 2012).
- “Heather Igloliorte: A Conversation with Jonathan Dewar.” Reconcile This! Eds. Jonathan Dewar and Ayumi Goto. West Coast Line 74, vol. 46, no 2 (Summer 2012).
- “Traditional Indigenous Approaches to Healing and the Modern Welfare of Traditional Knowledge, Spirituality and Lands: A Critical Reflection on Practices and Policies taken from the Canadian Indigenous Example” (with Julian Robbins). The International Indigenous Policy Journal: Vol. 2: Iss. 4, Article 1 (2011).
- “Creative Arts, Culture, and Healing: Building an Evidence Base” (with Linda Archibald). Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Indigenous and Aboriginal Community Health 8:3 (Jan. 2011).
- “Rights of Restoration: Aboriginal Peoples, Creative Arts, and Healing” (with Linda Archibald, Carrie Reid, and Vanessa Stevens). The Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal 2:23 (Fall 2010).
- “From Copper Woman to Grey Owl to the alterNative Warrior: Exploring Voice and the Need to Connect”. Drew Hayden Taylor: Essays on His Works. Ed. Robert Nunn. Guernica Editions: Toronto, 2008.
Relevant presentations include:
- Presenter: “Alex Janvier, in conversation with Jonathan Dewar” at the 16th Annual New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts: An Energy Worthy of Healing, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, March 4, 2017.
- Presented “Arts and Creativity,” one of the thematic background papers prepared for the Sharing the Land, Sharing a Future: RCAP 20th Anniversary Conference, Winnipeg, MB, November 4-6, 2016.
- Presented “The power of the arts in healing and reconciliation,” one of four thematic papers, at Sharing the Land, Sharing a Future: A Special Reconciliation Forum at Congress 2016, Calgary, AB, June 1, 2016.
- Invited participant: “Reconciliation and/or Resurgence: Emerging Research Pathways” roundtable at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, March 9-11, 2016.
- Presenter: “(Re)Claiming Shingwauk: Charting the Development of a Difficult Exhibition-in-Development” at Healing Our Spirit Worldwide: The Seventh Gathering, Hamilton, New Zealand, November 16-19, 2015.
- Presenter: “The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and Digital Archive Projects” at the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective’s Iakwé:iahre (we remember) Colloquium, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Oct. 16-18, 2014.
- Presenter: “The Impact on/of Art and the TRC: R. G. Miller’s Mush Hole Remembered – And Ignored?” at the Evaluating the Impact of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Conference, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, May 8, 2014.
- Presenter: “The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and the TRC’s National Research Centre” at the “Institutions of Memory” session at the Vancouver National Gathering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Vancouver, BC, September 21, 2013.
- Presenter: “(S)He Who Commissions: Ethics and Responsibility in Social Engagement Practice” in the “Not Ready To Make Nice: Indigenous Arts in the Era of Conciliation” session at the Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAISA) 2013 Annual Meeting, Saskatoon, SK , June 13-15, 2013.
- Co-Presenter: “Performing Resistance: Unsettling Residential School Legacies Through Radical Collaborative Art” (with Ashok Mathur) at the Canadian Communications Association session at the 2013 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Victoria, BC, June 7, 2013.
- Presenter: “13th Annual Aboriginal Roundtable: Indigenous Resurgence or Reconciliation: Contestations and Conversations” at the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies session at the 2013 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Victoria, BC, June 2, 2013.
- Keynote Speaker: “Serving Survivors and Community through Residential Schools Healing, Truth, and Reconciliation Research and Education” at the Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, in partnership with the Indigenous Health and Well-being Initiative, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, October 25, 2012.
- Keynote Speaker: “It Matters to Us: A Dialogue Around Truth and Reconciliation” at Althouse College, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, June 11, 2012.
- Presenter: “12th Annual Aboriginal Roundtable: Indigenous Languages & Indigenous Literatures” at the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies session at the 2012 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Waterloo, ON, May 27, 2012.
- Presenter: “The Beneficiaries of Colonialism and Reconciliation in Canada: A Panel” at the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies session at the 2012 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Waterloo, ON, May 27, 2012.
- Featured Presenter: “Living through Violence: Transitional Justice Considers Everyday Memory Practices and Performances of Social Repair” – A Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Exploratory Workshop, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, February 23-24, 2012.
- Presenter: “Reconciliation: Conversations of Change” at The Oral, the Written and Other Verbal Media Conference on Poetics and Discourse, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, December 12-14, 2011.
- Featured Presenter: “Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation Through the Lens of Cultural Diversity” at the Inaugural Event for The Public Humanities @ Western, Co-Sponsored by UWO’s Indigenous Health and Well-Being Initiative,” The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, October 3, 2011.
- Featured Speaker: “Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation through the Lens of Cultural Diversity,” hosted by the National Day of Healing and Reconciliation, Edmonton, AB, June 10, 2011.