Version 3.2_September 2016
Speaker: Derek Rasmussen
Derek Rasmussen is part of the meditation teaching team for the Morin Heights Dharma House in Quebec. He came to meditation practice via activism inspired by Noam Chomsky, the Berrigan brothers, and Quaker and Christian activists involved in East Timor solidarity work and the Alliance for NonViolent Action (ANVA). He has worked with Inuit organizations for 20 years in Nunavut, resisting the Euro-Canadian theft and destruction of Indigenous land and culture. He presented - 'The Priced vs. The Priceless' at Degrowth Montreal (2012).
Derek Rasmussen lived in Iqaluit for 12 years, working for the Inuit representative group Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. as a Senior Policy Advisor and as Director of NTI's Social Cultural Dept. For the past 7 years he has worked as an independent researcher, mostly focused on interviewing witnesses and reviewing documentation for NTI's implementation litigation against Canada. In May 2015, the Cdn govt settled this case out of court by agreeing to a precedent-setting unilateral arbitration provision on financial matters to be included in the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement (NLCA) and by making a $255m payment to Inuit, 3/4 of which will be used to create Inuit training programs to fulfill the 85% Inuit employment in govt jobs required by the NLCA . Prior to working in Nunavut, Rasmussen helped organize a Toronto-NYC peace walk, and participated in the work of the Cruise Missile Conversion Project, the Alliance for NonViolent Action, and helped co-found the first East Timor advocacy organization in Canada. Rasmussen graduated from the 3 year Buddhist seminary program at the Kinmount Academy and Seminary studying with such faculty as David Bohm, David Peat, Tarchin Hearn, Sonam Senge, Karma Chime Wongmo, Cecilie Kwiat, Sayadaw U Thila Wanta and Namgyal Rinpoche. Rasmussen has served as a visiting meditation teacher at the Queenstown Dharma House (NZ), Dharma Centre of Canada (Ont), and Morin Heights Dharma House (Quebec). Rasmussen is currently a PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University, working with Professor Heesoon Bai to study the intersection of education and meditation -- particularly meditation on the "four immeasurables"-- loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity--and how cultivating these states may support insights into anatta (non-self) and sunyata (emptiness) and support those working for social and ecological justice.