Learning from Theodore Fontaine: A Call for Lasting Change | Facing History & Ourselves
Facing History & Ourselves
Theodore Fontaine speaks to a group of students.
Community Event

Learning from Theodore Fontaine: A Call for Lasting Change

Explore the wisdom, life and legacy of residential school victor and former Chief of Sagkeeng Anishinaabe First Nation, Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine.

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About this event:

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Single Session

Our single professional learning sessions are designed to easily fit into your day. Typically one hour or less, these sessions explore timely and relevant topics including teaching strategies, current events, and more.

Civics & Citizenship English & Language Arts History
Culture & Identity Genocide Human & Civil Rights Resistance
Civic Education Social-Emotional Learning

Key Points

  1. Join the Facing History & Ourselves community for an engaging and thought-provoking online conversation between Morgan Fontaine and Mitch Bourbonniere about the life, teachings and legacies of Chief, knowledge keeper, elder, author and educator Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine. 

  2. Explore the importance of connecting to the witnesses to history and be inspired by the calls to action left for us today.

  3. This event is intended for middle and secondary students studying the History and legacies of Canada’s residential schools, educators and general public audiences.

Join us for a 60 minute virtual event featuring Morgan Fontaine, writer, advocate and wife of the late Theodore (Ted) Niizhotay Fontaine, and Mitch Bourbonniere, educator, community activist, two time Manitoba Governor General award recipient and a dear friend of the family.   Together, Morgan and Mitch will explore Chief Fontaine’s life, his work, his teachings and the inspiring legacies he planted for current and future generations to care for. 

This event is intended for middle and secondary classrooms and community audiences.  

Educators interested in preparing students for this learning can find lessons and recorded testimony on our blog.   

We invite all event participants to share their reflections and responses after the event and contribute to a digital tapestry to honour the life and legacy of Chief Theodore Fontaine.  More information will be shared with registrants.

This webinar will not be recorded.

Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine (September 1941 - May 2021)

Theodore (Ted) was a Chief and Sagkeeng Anishinaabe First Nation knowledge keeper, elder, author, educator and public speaker. 

All our relations remember Theodore as a residential school victor, a determined and strong First Nations leader, and a truly good man who gave his whole niizhotay (double heart) to his lifelong work, love for family and community, and traditional spirituality guided by sacred teachings.  He was a fearless advocate for First Nations rights, languages, culture, spirituality and traditions.

Theodore was born in September 1941 in the loving arms of family, in comfort and safety, with freedom, his vibrant Ojibwe language, and the guidance of traditional teachings from his kookum (grandmother) and mishoom (grandfather).  

He was incarcerated at the Fort Alexander and the Assiniboia Indian Residential Schools beginning at age 7, from 1948 - 1960.  His testimony of these experiences was published in 2010 in his national best-selling book, Broken Circle, The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools, A Memoir and in 2021 in Did You See Us? a collection of true, historical narratives from survivors of the Assiniboia Residential School.  He was an advisor, contributor and editor for Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools.

Theodore played senior hockey across Western Canada, led a mineral exploration crew in the NorthWest Territories, and graduated in Civil Engineering from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1973.  He worked extensively in corporate, First Nations and government sectors, including eleven years with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs as executive director, lead on Indian residential schools and negotiator of national employment equity claims.  

He served in national and regional leadership and voluntary roles with the Banff Centre for Management, Peace Hills Trust, the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, the Manitoba Museum, the Victorian Order of Nurses, Palliative Manitoba, Facing History & Ourselves Canada and the Assiniboia Residential School Legacy Group.

From 2011 to 2021, Theodore presented Broken Circle and the true history of his residential school experiences to over 1,600 audiences in Canada and the United states, and to countless classes of students.  It was joyous for him to share his language, teachings, history, cultural beliefs and traditions.  He taught the power of knowing, the impact of words and actions, the need for empathy, the strength of belonging, and the importance of family. Theodore’s strength, resilience and courage changed lives. 


Morgan Fontaine

Photograph of Morgan and Theodore Fontaine

Mitch Bourbonniere

 Photograph of Mitch Bourbonniere.

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