Brunette-Debassige receives Atlohsa Peace Award

By: Gerry Rucchin
November 26, 2019

Humility is a virtue that can remove barriers between people and bring them together.

For Candace Brunette-Debassige, the Special Advisor to Western University’s Provost on Indigenous initiatives, and instructor at the Faculty of Education, her humble service for truth and reconciliation has been recognized.

She received the Atlohsa Family Healing Services’ Peace Award.

“The award means a lot to me because I respect a lot of people who work in the organization,” said Brunette-Debassige. “It’s really a grassroots initiative that engages Indigenous Peoples.”

Atlohsa is a social services organization that provides an emergency women’s shelter, housing support, men’s support group and legal and mediation services as well as initiatives to prevent human trafficking and homelessness for the Indigenous community in London, Ontario.

Each year, Atlohsa honours seven individuals or organizations for their work in truth and reconciliation. The nomination categories are represented by The Seven Grandfather Teachings of the Anishinaabe – bravery, honesty, humility, love, respect, truth and wisdom.

Brunette-Debassige received the humility award. While it’s nice to be recognized individually, she stresses truth and reconciliation requires team work.

“We can’t really do the work alone,” she said. “Everything that gets us to reconciliation at Western is a collective effort.”

For the last 16 years, Brunette-Debassige has been collaborating with colleagues in education to improve the lives of Indigenous Peoples.

She’s worked in the Thames Valley District School Board as well as at Western in a number of capacities. She’s been the Director of Indigenous Services, the co-chair of the university’s Indigenous Strategic Planning Committee, which launched Western’s first Indigenous Strategic Plan in 2016. Today, she’s special advisor to the provost and is working on a PhD in Education Studies concerning the Indigenization movement in Canada while instructing at the Faculty of Education.

“I believe in what education stands for. It’s made a big difference in my own life and I’ve seen the transformative impacts in other people’s lives,” she said.

Brunette-Debassige is proud to be a member of the Faculty of Education because it has been instrumental in the Indigenization movement at Western. She highlights the Master of Professional Education degree in Aboriginal Education and the number of Indigenous students who are studying at the Faculty.

“The Faculty of Education is a real leader on our campus. It’s the only Faculty that has a mandatory course and I’m super proud of that.”

Read more about Candace Brunette-Debassige.