Chief Dr Robert Joseph, OBC, is a true peace-builder whose life and work are examples of his personal commitment. A Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, Chief Joseph has dedicated his life to bridging the differences brought about by intolerance, lack of understanding and racism at home and abroad. Chief Joseph is currently the Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, a member of the National Assembly of First Nations Elders Council and an honourary witness to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). As Chair of the Native American Leadership Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation, and Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation with the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IFWP), Chief Joseph has sat with the leaders of South Africa, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia and Washington to learn from and share his understanding of faith,hope, healing and reconciliation.

1. In one sentence, describe why career development matters.

Career development matters because it can lead you to work or to a profession that is most aligned with your own sense of purpose and with your values.

I think what is really important for this generation to understand is that they have the power to bring about the changes that they need for their time – to create peace, joy, love, happiness and equality. This generation has the potential to bring it about in a significant way.

2. Which book are you reading right now?

Right now, I am reading Embers by Richard Wagamese. It’s a wonderful book. Wagamese is a mentor of sorts, a person who writes to educate others about knowledge, both contemporary and ancient. If you’re trying to discover a deeper meaning for life, then Embers is probably a good book to read.

3. What did you want to be when you grew up?

As a little child, I always wanted to become a teacher. There was something glamorous about teachers, and they were the first authority figures that I ever met. There were some really good teachers who were caring and compassionate. I wanted to be that, to give enlightenment to kids.

4. Name one thing you wouldn’t be able to work without?

I could never work without inspiration, without having a goal that in some ways would achieve success for others. All my life I’ve been driven by that.

5. What activity do you usually turn to when procrastinating?

Watching the news and the odd movie.

6. What song do you listen to for inspiration?

“How Great Thou Art.” It’s the words that inspire me – “Oh Lord, my God, how great Thou art.” It makes you feel like you are part of creation.

7. Which word do you overuse?

“Yes” – I don’t know how to say no!

8. Who would you like to work with most?

The late Nelson Mandela, who’s a big hero to me. Another person I’d like to work with is Desmond Tutu. They talk about freedom – and it’s not just freedom from political oppression, but also freedom of the heart and mind and soul. It’s accepting who you are – once you know who you are and accept it, you’re free. That’s real freedom.

9. Which talent or superpower would you like to have?

In the legends of my people, there was a deity called The Transformer – “He Who Descended from the Heavens.” He could transform anything; he could create the kind of change that was necessary. I’d like to be a transformer, one who would bring peace and joy and love.

10. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement has been working with Indian residential school survivors in their journey of hope, help, healing and reconciliation, which now is a process that is underway in this country. That’s my greatest achievement. Of course, I didn’t do it by myself but personally, that’s where I get the most sense of satisfaction.