On Monday, 20 February 2023 at 7pm, St Paul’s Cathedral hosted a panel discussion on the Voice to Parliament and its significance ahead of the upcoming national referendum. The event featured high-level experts in the field of Indigenous rights and cultural understanding, Canadian First Nations Leaders Lewis Cardinal, Chief Lee Crowchild and Rainbow Cardinal, as well as the Cathedral’s First Nations Canon, Uncle Glenn Loughrey.
Lewis Cardinal is a communicator and educator from the Sucker Creek Cree First Nation in northern Alberta, Canada. He has received numerous awards for his work in promoting cross-cultural connections and human rights. As Vice-Chair for the North American Interfaith Network Council and Trustee of the Council for a Parliament of World Religions, he has been conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Sacred Letters from St. Stephen’s College at the University of Alberta. He is the Project Manager for “kihciy askiy–Sacred Land” in the City of Edmonton, Canada’s first urban Indigenous ceremony grounds, and the founder of Cardinal Strategic Communications, which specialises in Indigenous education, communications, and project development.
Chief Lee Crowchild is a Traditional Knowledge Keeper of Tsuut’ina Nation, a third generation of Crowchild Xakijis. He has been an Xakiji (Chief) of the Tsuut’ina First Nation. A sought-after speaker and writer on environmental and sustainable energy practices, Chief Lee Crowchild is passionate about protecting the environment and finding ways to ensure the rights of Treaty are preserved.
Rainbow Cardinal currently lives in Treaty 6 Territory, in Canada’s central west (present-day Alberta and Saskatchewan). The daughter of a Residential School Survivor, she has recently collaborated on a short version of her personal story of experiencing the effects of intergenerational trauma. She is working on a book to tell the story of her personal healing journey, as well as her first poetry collection, and is excited to also be working on a documentary project with her brother, Lewis.
Together with St Paul’s Cathedral First Nations Canon and Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council, Uncle Glenn Loughrey, the panel discussion provided members of the Cathedral community and the wider public with the opportunity to inform themselves about the Voice to Parliament, and to learn from the perspectives of leading First Nations experts.
In opening the panel discussion the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, Dr Andreas Loewe, affirmed the Cathedral’s support for the Statement from the Heart and the Yes Campaign for the upcoming Voice to Parliament Referendum which was formally endorsed unanimously by the Cathedarl’s Chapter (the Cathedral’s Governing Body) at their meeting earlier in February.
If passed, the proposal of a Voice to Parliament would establish a representative body for Indigenous Australians to give them a greater say in policy and decision-making that affects their communities. The Voice to Parliament is a crucial step towards reconciliation and self-determination for Indigenous people in Australia.
This event was presented by St Paul’s with the support of the Victorian Council of Churches, and organised in association with Initiatives of Change, a multi-faith network dedicated to ‘building trust across the world’s divides’ who are hosting the visiting Canadian group.