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Webinar | Cleveringa Dallaire critical conversation series

Ethical decision making and moral dilemmas

Thursday 30 September 2021
11:30 MST • 13:30 EST • 14:30 AST

This conversation considers the challenge of legal and ethical decision making when faced with moral dilemmas. How do leaders and witnesses maintain their moral compass? Witnessing the evidence and impact of war can lead to stress and burnout at work and at home. Is there a way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this outcome? In honour of Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.

This webinar was part of the Cleveringa Dallaire critical conversation series Moral courage: Leading in times of conflict and crisis

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Audio transcript

Read or listen to what was said during this session.


Director, Heroes in Mind Advocacy and Research Consortium (HiMARC)

Suzette Brémault-Phillips is an occupational therapist and associate professor in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta, and director of the Heroes in Mind Advocacy and Research Consortium (HiMARC), a provincial hub for research, teaching and service for military, Veteran, public safety personnel and their families. An experienced clinician-scientist who holds a PhD in spirituality, she has been sought out for her subject matter expertise in resilience, moral injury and PTSD by the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada.

Clinical Psychiatrist and Professor, Leiden University

Eric Vermetten is a clinical psychiatrist and Colonel working with veterans and other uniformed officers as strategic advisor of research at the Military Mental Health Service with the Dutch Ministry of Defence and ARQ National Psychotrauma Center. He holds professorship in psychiatry at Leiden University and is on adjunct faculty of New York University. Vermetten’s research is in the field of stress, trauma, complex PTSD and neuroscience. His research has special focus on combining biological-based interventions in psychotraumatology with novel technology and novel drug developments, in particular MDMA, psilocybin, ketamine and medical cannabis. He is a subject matter expert on resilience, PTSD and moral injury.

Special guests

Ms. Betty is a traditional Cree/Métis woman from the Papaschase Cree Nation. She is a direct descendant of Papastewo with lineage to Chief Big Bear. She grew up northeast of amiskwasciwaskahikan (Edmonton, where her Cree parents, her first teachers, traditionally lived off the land. As a result of this traditional upbringing, Ms.Betty is grounded in her Cree language and culture. Her guiding principle is "Pimatisiwin," or Indigenous way of Life," which refers to Cree tradition and culture. Identity of a strong heritage knowing where one comes from, therefore defining one's identity.

In her current position, Ms. Betty provides leadership to the Council of Elders, her role as Manager of Edmonton Catholic School District's Council of Elders. Which serves as an Authentic Indigenous voice for Edmonton Catholic School District. Ms. Betty is a highly respected Kehteya (Cree for Elder) which she carries all with humility and grace. Ms. Betty carries the knowledge and wisdom acquired through many years of working with those who have taught her the ceremonies of her people, balancing her life from these sacred traditions. Many years of serves as an Elder (Kehteya) to the City of Edmonton, Edmonton Police Commission and the University of Alberta, Alberta Education.

Ms. Betty is an honoured professor working with the University of Calgary's Werkland School of Education, providing knowledge and increasing the understanding of the "Call to Action" set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Canada's History of Indigenous People. "When we understand where we come from, we can then help all educators make a change."

Betty was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Esquao Awards in 2013 and 2018, Indspire awarded for education. These awards are for

Indigenous women, and Indigenous youth who have provided leadership in education, aspiring to the importance of Canada First Peoples history and western education. As a well-respected Kehteya (Elder in Cree), mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Ms. Betty works tirelessly with a host of different government bodies, municipal representatives, and community agencies in striving to improve the lives of all Canadians.

Cree mother, researcher, student, University of Alberta 

Shannon is an urban member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation living in Edmonton, Canada. Shannon's adventurous spirit has taken her to live abroad in the UK, Germany, and most recently Northern Iraq with her children and cat in tow. Life has continuously presented Shannon with both opportunities for change and lessons in human kindness, including taking her B.A. in Native Studies at the age of 51, and training to be a police constable in the 1990s. As an Indigenous Peoples interpreter at Fort Edmonton Park, Shannon strives to communicate the effects of intergenerational trauma and PTSD on the children of residential school survivors to the general public.


Associate Provost and Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Fresno Pacific University

Gregory Zubacz researches and teaches in the fields of victimology, criminology, corrections, restorative justice, peacemaking, mediation, church conflict and conflict management. He is currently associate provost of Fresno Pacific University, where he also served as director of the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies. He is a bi-ritual Ukrainian Catholic priest with the Eparchy of Chicago and Diocese of Fresno, and previously served as a military chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as in prison and hospital chaplaincy.


Professor of International Institutional Law

Niels Blokker has been a staff member of the Grotius Centre since it's beginning, as professor of International Institutional Law (Schermers Chair). He graduated from Leiden University (1984), where he also defended his dissertation (1989). From 1984 he was a lecturer, subsequently a senior lecturer in the law of international organizations at Leiden University. His publications include International Regulation of World Trade in Textiles, International Institutional Law, Proliferation of International Organizations and The Security Council and the Use of Force. He is co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of the journal International Organizations Law Review. His main current research project is about the governance of international courts and tribunals.

Attorney, Writer and Activist

Delia Opekokew is a Cree lawyer and writer from the Canoe Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. She was the first woman First Nations lawyer to be admitted to the bar association in Ontario and in Saskatchewan, and the first woman ever to run for the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations. During her childhood, she experienced residential schools first hand. As an attorney, she has specialized in Indigenous treaty rights and Aboriginal Law, been an adjudicator with the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Process, and continues to be involved in Indigenous activism, paving the way for numerous Indigenous women to follow in her footsteps.

Former Dutch Chief of Defence

General Peter van Uhm served 40 years as an infantry officer in the Royal Netherlands Army. He held important positions from battalion commander to Ministry of Foreign Affairs liaison officer to the head of the military-strategic affairs division of the defense staff before being promoted to full general and assigned chief of the Royal Netherlands Army and chief of defense. Today he serves as a board member of the National Parc De Hoge Veluwe and of Thales Netherlands, as an ambassador for the Dutch Assistance Dogs Foundation, and as consultant to the firm PwC.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and former member of the Argentinian armed forces

Virginia Gamba is the fourth special representative of the UN Secretary-General for children and armed conflict. She has had a long career in peace and security, human security and disarmament issues. She previously served as deputy director on safety and security at the Instituto Superior de Seguridad Publica, Ministry of Justice, Buenos Aires. Prior to that she served as peace and security consultant to the Africa Union, deputy director of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, and director for South-South Interactions of Safer Africa. She previously taught Latin American security studies at King’s College, London.

Presented in collaboration with

Logo of HiMarc
Heroes in Mind, Advocacy and Research Consortium at the University of Alberta
Logo of the Dallaire Institute
The Dallaire Institute at Dalhousie University
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