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Our Team

We are a community committed to Indigenous self-determination

  • Leadership
  • Operations
  • Research Fellows
  • Board of Advisors
  • Past Members
Shiri Pasternak

Dr. Shiri Pasternak

Co-Founder & Research Director (2018-2021)

Shiri Pasternak co-founded the Institute and held the role of Research Director from June 2018 to June 2021. Since launching in 2018, Yellowhead Institute has become a nationally recognized critical voice on issues affecting Indigenous people, in part, due to her contributions. The early days of the Institute included the all-encompassing work of developing operational frameworks and processes, while also co-creating a robust community-centred research program. As Research Director, Shiri co-authored and co-produced the Critical Rights Framework report and both Red Papers, Land Back and Cash Back. Land Back includes groundbreaking research Shiri led on the impact of injunctions on First Nations that has been cited extensively and put to use supporting land defenders in court and at the UN. She also authored one of our most-read briefs, Wet’suwet’en: Why Are Indigenous Rights Being Defined By An Energy Corporation? and facilitated many other Yellowhead projects and collaborations. Shiri’s contributions to Yellowhead are immense and continue to play an important part in Yellowhead’s work.

Shiri is an Assistant Professor in Criminology at Toronto Metropolitan University in Toronto. She is the author of the award-winning book Grounded Authority: the Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2017. Her current research involves studying the risk of Indigenous rights in the natural resource extraction economy. She is now a Co-Investigator on a SSHRC Partnership Grant that pilots projects on Indigenous jurisdiction and infrastructure that think beyond extractivism.

Yumi Numata

Director of Operations

Yumi is a Japanese-Chinese Canadian. She believes that how we work and the processes we use to engage each other are integral aspects of building a sustainable future. Equity, storytelling and capacity building are three areas of focus that have, and continue to inform her work. Yumi is especially interested in facilitating impact through strategic communications expertise that is grounded in empathy and intentional process development. She completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in Equity Studies and a Master’s degree at New York University in Media, Culture and Communications.

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Dr. Hayden King

Executive Director Anishinaabe, Beausoleil First Nation

Hayden is Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi’mnissing. Hayden is the executive director of Yellowhead Institute at Toronto Metropolitan University and has taught at McMaster and Carleton Universities as well as the First Nations Technical Institute, held senior fellowships at Massey College and the Conference Board of Canada, and served in advisory roles to provincial and tribal governments and Inuit organizations. His writing, analysis and commentary on Indigenous politics and policy is published widely.

Judith Sayers

Dr. Judith Sayers

Board Member (2018 - 2022) Hupacasath First Nation

Judith Sayers was a founding advisor on the Yellowhead Institute board from June 2018 to June 2022. Judith helped the organization imagine its governance structure, objectives, and approach generally, rooted in a commitment to sovereignty, justice, and care. In addition, she contributed two policy briefs, Aboriginal Title in British Columbia Examined Under the New Liberal Agenda and A Response to “Decolonizing Clean Energy?”: The Case of the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative, and a chapter to the Yellowhead special report, The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada: Lessons from B.C.

Judith is the President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Adjunct Professor in the School of Business and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. Judith practiced law for 18 years and served fourteen years as Chief of the Hupacasath First Nation. As Chief of her First Nation, she focused on capacity building and sustainable development. Judith was instrumental in several sustainable development projects and put in place mechanisms to help protect the territory. She is on the Clean Energy BC Board and the Chair of the New Relationship Trust Foundation, Co-Chair of the Island Corridor Foundation, Co-Chair of the Joint Working Group on First Nations Heritage Conservation and is on the board of the BC Achievement Foundation. Judith has been recognized many times, including being awarded Clean Energy BC’s Lifetime Achievement Award, inducted into Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame and receiving the Silver Award from the Canadian Environmental Association for Climate Change. She was recently admitted as a member of the Order of Canada.

Kelsi-Leigh Balaban Headshot

Kelsi-Leigh Balaban

Community Engagement Specialist Métis, Treaty 6 Territory

Kelsi is of Métis and Eastern European ancestry from Treaty 6 territory. Her family is from wâwâskesiwisâkahikan (Lac La Biche) and Brosseau Alberta, with roots in Red River and she grew up outside of amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton). Kelsi is passionate about Indigenous governance revitalization efforts and has been active in youth organizing for issues concerning Indigenous people in cities, particularly in harm reduction and urban Indigenous food sovereignty initiatives. Kelsi has a BA in Psychology and Native Studies and a certificate in Indigenous Governance and Partnership from the University of Alberta. She has recently completed her master’s in Political Science at the University of Toronto.

Eva Jewell Headshot

Dr. Eva Jewell

Research Director Anishinaabekwe, Deshkan Ziibiing (Chippewas of the Thames First Nation)

Eva Jewell is Deshkan Ziibiing Anishinaabekwe (Chippewas of the Thames First Nation) with paternal lineage from Oneida Nation of the Thames. Her scholarship supports community-led inquiry on topics of reclaiming Anishinaabe governance, with interest on the role of women/femmes. Dr. Jewell’s recent research areas include urban Indigenous perspectives on gender, work, and care; and accountability in reconciliation. She is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Megan Scribe

Dr. Megan Scribe

Education Director Ininiw iskwew, Norway House Cree Nation

Megan Scribe (Ininiw iskwew, Norway House Cree Nation) is an interdisciplinary Indigenous feminist researcher, writer, and educator. Scribe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Toronto Metropolitan University. Her research establishes connections between violence in the lives of Indigenous girls and settler colonialism. She is a longtime Community Council Member for Aboriginal Legal Services’ Diversion Program and a member of the Planning Committee for the annual Strawberry Ceremony.

John Cutfeet

John Cutfeet

Research Fellow (2018 - 2022) Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation

John Cutfeet was a Yellowhead Research Fellow for two terms, from 2018 – 2022. With expertise in energy, extraction, and the Far North Act, John provided valuable guidance as a participant in our first Red Paper community workshop, and responded generously to media requests. He also co-authored the Yellowhead Brief, After the Far North Act: Indigenous Jurisdiction in Ontario’s Far North. John’s presence always offered the Yellowhead team and collaborators an atmosphere of kindness and perseverance.

John Cutfeet was band councillor for Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation, Ontario, with responsibility for lands and environment, from 1999 to 2007. John has long worked on issues related to mining, development and peace, and coordinating watershed work in Indigenous communities. John lives in KI and continues to engage in the traditional pursuits of living off the land.

Lillian Smallboy

Indigenous Education Programming Coordinator Mushkegowuk Cree, Moose Cree First Nation

Lillian Smallboy is Mushkegowuk Cree and a member of the Moose Cree First Nation. She is also currently a PhD (ABD) candidate within the Faculty of Education, Western University. Her research is on the study of Indigenous land-based education within First Nation School settings within Ontario, which includes an examination of  First Nations education policies and their impacts on Indigenous land-based education. Lillian also has a Masters degree in Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Western University.

Jasmyn Galley

Copy Editor & Research Assistant Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory & London, UK

Jasmyn Galley is a member of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. She lived in England with her parents and younger sister until she was 18 before moving to Toronto to reconnect with her cultural roots and her Anishinaabe family on Manitoulin Island and throughout Ontario. Jasmyn has both an undergraduate and Master’s degree in English from the University of Toronto and currently works as a Gladue Writer at Aboriginal Legal Services and copyeditor for the Yellowhead Insititute. Jasmyn is passionate about social justice and raising awareness of systemic inequalities. She believes the stories we share have the power to make lasting societal change.

Peter DiGangi

Peter DiGangi

Board Member (2018 - 2021)

Peter Di Gangi was one of Yellowhead Institute’s founding Board Advisors, active from 2018 – 2021. He provided valued guidance, encouragement and support during his term. In addition to his contributions as a Board Advisor, Peter also wrote one of the Institute’s early policy briefs, Fraser Institute: Property Rights for Everyone, Just not Indians.

Based in Ottawa, Ontario, Peter has been working with indigenous communities across Canada for over 35 years, focussing on historical, legal and cultural research. This has included work with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Assembly of First Nations, and a variety of associations, tribal councils and communities in the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and B.C. It has also involved dealing with various institutions regarding the release and repatriation of information on behalf of First Nations

Peter has worked extensively with Anishnaabe communities on the North Shore of Lake Huron and Manitoulin Island, and with the Algonquin communities of the Ottawa Valley. He is currently Director of Policy and Research for the Algonquin Nation Secretariat, Timiskaming, Quebec.

Damien Lee

Dr. Damien Lee

Associate 2018-2023 Fort William First Nation

Damien Lee was a Yellowhead Associate Fellow who provided valued contributions, leadership, and guidance during his 5 years with Yellowhead. This includes contributing the Special Report, “Between Membership & Belonging: Life Under Section 10 of the Indian Act” as well as several Yellowhead Briefs. Damien also acted as the lead of the Global Indigenous Solidarity Grant which has supported Indigenous students at TMU through increased learning opportunities across nations.

Dr. Damien Lee is a cis-gendered racially-white man who belongs with Anishinaabeg of the northern shore of Lake Superior. He was adopted as an infant into Fort William First Nation in accordance with Anishinaabe law, and raised as Anishinaabe by his family. Dr. Lee’s research focuses primarily on the resurgence of Indigenous legal and governance systems; he is also considered an expert on First Nations band membership issues. Mentored by Anishinaabe knowledge holders Doug Williams and Marlene Pierre, Dr. Lee is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology at Toronto Metropolitan University and holds the Canada Research Chair in Biskaabiiyang and Indigenous Political Resurgence.

Matthew Wildcat

Research Fellow (2018 - 2022) Nehiyaw (Plains Cree), Ermineskin Cree Nation.

Matthew Wildcat was an inaugural Research Fellow from 2018 – 2022.

Matthew Wildcat is an instructor in Political Science and Native Studies at the University of Alberta. Wildcat’s primary research interest is on the history of Indigenous political orders on the prairies and contemporary Indigenous institutions. His areas of expertise include, First Nation Governments, First Nation service delivery, Indigenous Political Institutions, Prairie Indigenous politics, Indigenous political traditions.

Sage Broomfield

Red Paper Researcher Nehiyaw, Treaty 8 & settler English/Irish

Sage is Neyihaw from Treaty 8 and settler English/Irish. She grew up between Treaty 6 Territory and unceded Coast Salish territory. Sage is passionate about collaborative approaches to learning and intersectional future-building. She has done work and research in youth education, alternative energy, and environmental decision making. She holds a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Development Practice in Indigenous Development at the University of Winnipeg.

Sa'ke'j Henderson

Research Fellow (2018 - 2020) Bear Clan of the Chickasaw Nation and Cheyenne Tribe

Sa’ke’j Henderson was an inaugural Research Fellow from 2018 to 2020.

Sa’ke’j is a noted international human rights lawyer and an authority of protecting Indigenous heritage, knowledge, and culture. During the constitutional process (1978-1993) in Canada, he served as a constitutional advisor for the Mi’kmaw nation and the NIB-Assembly of First Nations. In addition, he was one of the drafters and expert advisors of the principles and guidelines for the protection of Indigenous Heritage and Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the UN Human Rights fora.

His books include Aboriginal Tenure in the Constitution of Canada (2000), Treaty rights in the Constitution of Canada (2007); Protecting Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage (2000), Mi’kmaw Society v. Canada in UN Human Rights Committee (ebook 2005); and Indigenous Diplomacy and Rights of Peoples: Achieving Recognition (2008). For his achievements, he has been awarded the Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel (2005), the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Law and Justice (2006), and Honorary Doctorate from Carleton University (2007) and fellow, Royal Society of Canada (2013).

Anne Spice

Associate (2020-2022) Deisheetan Clan, Tlingit, Kwanlin Dun First Nation

Anne Spice (she/they) is a Tlingit member of Kwanlin Dun First Nation, a queer Indigenous feminist and anti-colonial organizer, and acting Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Ryerson University. Her work is in the tradition of feminist activist ethnography, and supports Indigenous land defense against settler state and extractive industry invasion. She has been actively supporting the Indigenous land re-occupation on Wet’suwet’en territories since 2015, and her work dwells in the intersection of traditional land use, Indigenous geographies, histories of Indigenous resistance, poetry and art. Her writing has been published in Environment and SocietyJacobinThe New Inquiry, and Asparagus Magazine.

Dr. Julie Tomiak

Associate (2018 - 2019) Anishinaabe and European

Working at the intersections of critical Indigenous studies, political economy, sociology, geography and urban studies, Dr. Tomiak’s research examines the material and discursive dimensions of ongoing struggles against the dispossession and erasure of Indigenous people, communities, and nations in and from urban space. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on Indigenous self-determination and resistance to settler colonialism in a variety of contexts, including community building, governance and knowledge production. She is particularly interested in analyses that centre Indigenous resurgence and contextualize agency within the interrelationships between settler colonialism, capitalism and heteropatriarchy.

Russ Diabo

Board Member (2018 - 2019) Mohawk Nation, Kahnawake

Joseph Russell Diabo is a son of a Kahnawake Mohawk Iron Worker, and is a member of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake. Russ has been active in Indigenous politics from a young age. Russell pursued Native Studies, receiving a BA from Laurentian University, and an MA in American Indian Policy Studies from the University of Arizona. He went on to hold positions with the National Indian Brotherhood and the Assembly of First Nations and was a founding executive member of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission of the Liberal Party of Canada. Russell is also the founder and author of an online newsletter called the First Nations Strategic Bulletin and was instrumental in founding the Defenders of the Land Network in 2008 with the late Arthur Manuel. He has over 40 years of policy analysis, community planning, and advocacy experience around Aboriginal Title and Treaty Rights.

Andrea Landry

Red Echo Associates, Lifeskills Coach Anishinaabe, Pays Plat First Nation
Areas of Research/Activism:
Indigenous Kinship Systems and Practices, Indigenous Rights, Family Wellness, Healing

Andrea Landry is a lifeskills coach through Red Echo Associates and can currently run a variety of programs in the areas of parenting, health and wellness, social justice, colonialism, Indigenous kinship, grief and recovery, trauma, and other topics. She is originally from Northwestern Ontario from a small community called Pays Plat First Nation but currently resides on Treaty 6 Territory on Poundmaker Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. She teaches for the First Nations University of Regina and has also done therapist work for schools on reserve. She holds a Masters in Communications and Social Justice from the University of Windsor, with a degree in Child and Youth Care and a diploma in Social Work from Vancouver Island University. She is a mother, an Indigenous rights defender, a freelance writer, blogger, and strives to provide individuals, families, and communities with the tools they need in order to create change for themselves.

Ashley Vols

Research Program Coordinator Métis, Saskatoon SK

Ashley is a Queer+, Métis Ukrainian person from Treaty Six territory, originally from Saskatoon, SK, and now residing in Treaty 13 territory, Toronto, ON. They earned a BA from the University of Saskatchewan in International Studies with a focus on Indigenous Politics and Social Justice, and an MPPA from Toronto Metropolitan University. Ashley is deeply engaged in 2SLGBTQQIA+ issues, Indigenous data sovereignties, knowledge mobilization, and fostering solidarity across political movements. Currently, they serve as the Research Project Coordinator at the Yellowhead Institute.

Christina Gray

Christina Gray

Associate, JFK Law Corporation, Masters of Law Candidate, University of Victoria Dene and Ts’msyen citizen
Areas of Research/Activism:
Gender, Indigenous Legal Feminism, Human Rights, Aboriginal Law, Indigenous Legal Orders, Constitutional Law, International Law

Christina resides in her Ts’msyen laxyuup in Prince Rupert in northern BC. She works remotely as an Associate at JFK Law Corporation in the area of Aboriginal law. She was called to the bar as a lawyer in British Columbia in 2016 and Ontario in 2015. She is currently completing her Masters of Law at the University of Victoria, her research focuses on issues of gender and sex within the Ts’msyen legal order. Christina is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and has both a Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Arts (Art History) degree. Christina has a diverse work experience including working as a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario, legal counsel at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre in Toronto, and articling at Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto. She also is a board of director with Coast Funds, an organization that supports First Nations in achieving their goals for sustainable economic development and conservation management in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. In her personal time, Christina enjoys being with her family, learning the Sm’algyax language, participating in the Ts’msyen cultural activities, legal and governance tradition, and being on the land and waters.

Courtney Skye

Courtney Skye

Policy Analyst Mohawk, Turtle Clan Six Nations of the Grand River Territory
Areas of Research/Activism:
Gender-Based Analysis, Ending Violence, Social Policy for Youth, Child Welfare

Courtney has led policy development for the public sector at local, provincial, and national levels. This includes a framework for youth development, a strategy co-developed with Indigenous partners to transform the governance, design, and delivery of child and family services, and a strategy to end violence against Indigenous women. Courtney strives to end all forms of colonial violence experienced by Indigenous peoples.

Headshot by Ali Eisner

Deneze Headshot

Dëneze Nakehk’o

Founding Member, Dene Nahjo Dene, Liidlii Kue First Nation
Areas of Research/Activism:
Dene Ways of Knowing, Journalism, Broadcasting, Communication, Public Speaking, Northern Political Reality, Basketball, Radio, Television

Dëneze is a strong advocate for Indigenous knowledge systems, particularly Dene ways of knowing. As one of the founding members of Dene Nahjo, he works at encouraging and supporting connections/re-connections to land, language and culture. He is a public speaker that recognizes and actively confronts the impacts of colonization through Dene methods of decolonization. He has over a decades worth of experience in northern media and communications.

Brock Pitawanakwat

Dr. Brock Pitawanakwat

Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies, York University Anishinaabe, Whitefish River First Nation
Areas of Research/Activism:
Indigenous languages, Indigenous governance, Indigenous social movements, Indigenous health

Brock’s current research interests intersect with language revitalization and Indigenous concepts of health and wellness. In 2013 he completed a three-year interchange as a Senior Researcher with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He has also held faculty positions at the University of Winnipeg (Manitoba) and First Nations University of Canada (Saskatchewan). In 2009, Brock completed his PhD at the University of Victoria with a dissertation on Anishinaabe language revitalization.

Gina Starblanket

Dr. Gina Starblanket

Associate Professor, Indigenous Governance, University of Victoria Cree/Saulteaux, Star Blanket Cree Nation, Treaty 4 territory
Areas of Research/Activism:
Treaty implementation, prairie Indigenous politics, Indigenous-state relations, gender and Indigenous feminism

Gina Starblanket is an Associate Professor in Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria. Gina is Cree and Saulteaux and a member of the Star Blanket Cree Nation in Treaty 4 territory. She is the principal investigator of the Prairie Indigenous Relationality Network, co-author of Storying Violence: Unravelling Colonial Narratives in the Stanley Trial (with Dallas Hunt), and has critical work in the Canadian Journal of Political Science, The American Indian Culture and Research Journal, and Constitutional Forum.

Raven Sinclair

Dr. Raven Sinclair

Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Regina Nehiyaw (Cree), George Gordon First Nation, Treaty 4 Territory
Areas of Research/Activism:
Indigenous Child Welfare; Cultural Identity; Intergenerational Trauma; Indigenous Healing; Sixties Scoop; Lateral Violence

Raven’s academic background is psychology and social work; she holds a PhD from the University of Calgary. She is a survivor of the Sixties Scoop and has been researching the issue of the Indigenous Child Removal System in Canada since 1998. As the result of her work on the topic, including a 5-year SSHRC grant, she is a federal court appointed advisor to the Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation arising out of the Brown v Canada (2017) national class action victory and settlement. She has also been involved in the development of Indigenous research ethics in Canada. She is also passionately interested in intergenerational trauma and recovery and is developing lateral violence and racism interventions. Raven is a member of the CIHR College of Reviewers, the Waakebiness Institute of Indigenous Health Research advisory committee, and recent past Chair of the University of Regina Research Ethics Board. Raven is a renovation junkie, a chess addict, and proud mother of a wild and wicked 13 year old daughter who is the light of her life.

Dr. Shalene Jobin

Associate Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies; Director of the Indigenous Governance and Partnership program, University of Alberta Cree and Métis, Red Pheasant Cree First Nation (Treaty Six)
Areas of Research/Activism:
First Nation Governance, Land Based Education, Plains Treaty History

Shalene’s research focuses on Indigenous governance and Indigenous economic systems. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous governance and was the founding director of the Indigenous governance program at the University of Alberta. Her book, Nehiyawak Narratives: Upholding Indigenous Economic Relationships examines settler colonialism through the lens of economic exploitation, using Indigenous methodologies and critical approaches. Shalene is the Vice President Academic at the First Nations University of Canada.

Sherry Pictou

Dr. Sherry Pictou

Assistant Professor, Faculties of Law and Management at Dalhousie Universit Mi’kmaw from L’sitkuk (Bear River First Nation)
Areas of Research/Activism:
Indigenous Women, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Struggles for Social Justice

Dr. Sherry Pictou is a Mi’kmaw woman from L’sɨtkuk (water cuts through high rocks) known as Bear River First Nation, Nova Scotia. She an Assistant Professor in the Faculties of Law and Management at Dalhousie University focusing on Indigenous Governance. Dr. Pictou is also a former Chief for her community and the former Co-Chair of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples. She is a member of The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)Task Force on Indigenous and Local Knowledge. Her research interests include decolonizing treaty relations, Social Justice for Indigenous Women, Indigenous women’s role in food and lifeways, and Indigenous governance.

Vanessa Watts

Dr. Vanessa Watts

Assistant Professor, Indigenous Studies and Sociology, McMaster University Six Nations of the Grand River
Areas of Research/Activism:
Indigenous onto-epistemologies, Indigenous feminisms, Indigenous social lives, Indigenous governance systems, Non-human/other-than-human relationships, Settler colonialism

Vanessa’s research centres on how Indigenous peoples and their lands are influenced by colonialism and efforts to revitalize traditional governance systems amidst this. Her work has an emphasis on how Indigenous women are affected by colonialism. She presents her work nationally and internationally, and consults for Indigenous-focused initiatives on issues such as governance, education, cultural competency and justice. Her experience in non-profit, government and post-secondary settings giver her a unique understanding of the impacts of colonialism and legislation on Indigenous communities.

Elisa Levi

Elisa Levi

Chippewas of Nawash First Nation
Areas of Research/Activism:
Food sovereignty, Health equity, Community food planning

After several years in the non-profit sector strengthening Indigenous Peoples health and the reclamation of Indigenous Food Systems, Elisa is complementing this experience studying medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. She contributes her leadership as a community elected Trustee for her First Nation, Chippewas of Nawash and as a Board Director for the Anishnawbe Health Foundation. As a Registered Dietitian, Elisa holds a Master of Public Health from Lakehead and BaSc from Ryerson University.

Ellen Gabriel

Ellen Gabriel

Cultural Consultant, Human Rights and Environmental Advocate for Indigenous peoples Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), Kanehsatà:ke
Areas of Research/Activism:
Human Rights, Environment, Gender Equity, Language and Culture Revitalization

Ellen began her public activism during the 1990 Siege of Kanehsatà:ke (1990 “Oka” Crisis) as the spokesperson for her community.  Since 1990, Ellen has worked consistently and diligently as a human rights and environmental advocate for rights of Indigenous peoples. In addition to being President of the Quebec Native Women’s Association from 2004 – 2010, she has also presented nationally and internationally and participated in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She has won multiple awards including the Indigenous Women’s Initiative “Jigonsaseh Women of Peace Award” for her advocacy work.

Emily Riddle

Emily Riddle

Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations, Edmonton Public Library nehiyaw, Alexander First Nation,Treaty 6

Emily Riddle is nehiyaw, a member of the Alexander First Nation in Treaty 6 territory. She grew up in and is currently based in Edmonton. She has experience working with First Nations and Metis communities on policy, governance, and communications projects. Prior to her current role, she worked for the First Nations Education Steering Committee, a non-profit that represents over 100 First Nations. She is currently the Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations for the Edmonton Public Library and was named Top 30 Under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation in 2019. Her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Teen Vogue, Vice, and other publications.

Fallon Simard

Fallon Simard

Artist and Policy Analyst Anishinaabe-Metis
Areas of Research/Activism:
Child welfare, ending violence against Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA, and art

Fallon Simard is an Anishinaabe-Metis artist and policy analyst whose work investigates intensity and burden as products of injustice(s), human rights violations, and colonial violence. Simard’s memes and videos capture the conflicts created by colonial-capital-racial policy. His work mobilizes grief, intensity, and trauma as mitigation tools to colonial-capital policy.

Janice Makokis

Janice Makokis

Indigenous Education Advisor/Instructor, Faculty of Extension, Yellowhead Tribal College nehiyaw iskwew, Saddle Lake Cree Nation, Treaty 6

Janice Makokis is a nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman) and mother to son Atayoh Kan Asiniy (Spirit Rock) Makokis from Onihcikiskwapiwin (Saddle Lake Cree Nation) of Treaty No. 6 Territory (now known as Alberta). Her roles at the University of Alberta includes working to develop curriculum/programming within the Faculty’s Indigenous programs. She is also involved in International Indigenous advocacy work through various International bodies and United Nations mechanisms to advance the discourse on Indigenous People’s rights.  She holds a B.A. in Native Studies (minor Political Science) from the University of Alberta, an M.A. in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria and an L.L.B. (Bachelor of Laws) from the University of Ottawa. Janice is thankful to her family for teaching her how to live as a nehiyaw, to her Nation, to Indigenous knowledge holders who hold sacred teachings in trust for those who wish to learn the ways of her People so future generations will have something left for them.

Karihwakeron Tim Thompson

Karihwakeron Tim Thompson

Policy Analyst Mohawk Nation, Bear Clan Family, Wahta Mohawk Territory

Karihwakeron is a strong proponent of Indigenous language revitalization, and is a proud graduate of the Onkwawén:na Kentióhkwa Kanienkéha/Mohawk language immersion program. Karihwakeron has held many roles, including: Policy Director of the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, Education Director and Director of Languages for the Assembly of First Nations, President and CAO of First Nations Technical Institute. Karihwakeron was named as one of twelve defenders of human rights in the “Speak Truth to Power” initiative.

Kris Statnyk

Kris Statnyk

Lawyer and Advisor Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

Kris is Gwich’in and a citizen of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow, Yukon. His partner Shawna and their children Armayah and Jackson are Gitxsan of the Lax Skiik (eagle clan) Wilp (house) of Sakuum Higookw. Kris is a lawyer practicing law in the Yukon and British Columbia providing community-focused legal advocacy, strategic advice and negotiation support to Indigenous peoples in their pursuit of self-determination.

Kunuk Inutiq

Consultant Clyde River Inuk

Kunuk (Sandra) Inutiq is newly self-employed. She previously served as the Director of self-government at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), studying self-government for Nunavut. Before that, she was the Chief Negotiator for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association for the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area’s Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement. She has also worked as a Senior Associate for Inuit Nunangat at the Tides Canada Foundation (now known as MakeWay). Inutiq received her law degree from Akitsiraq Law School in 2005, and in 2006, she became the first Inuk woman in Nunavut to pass the bar exam (headshot by Niore Iqalukjuak).

Dawnis Kennedy

Minnawaanigogiizhigok a.k.a Dawnis Kennedy

Waabizheshi Marten Clan of the Anishinaabe Nation and descendant of Canadian setters
Areas of Research/Activism:
Anishinaabe Izhichigewin (ways of life), Onakonigewin (ways of law) and Inendamowin (ways of thought), Culture-Based Education, Impact of the Canadian Indian Act, Intergenerational Change and Responsibility, MMIWG2S Advocacy, Indigenous Women, Parenting, Surviving Colonization Daily

Minnawaanigogiizhigok is a second degree Midewiwin (Way of the Heart) person and was raised as Ogijiidaakwe (Warrior woman/Woman of a Big Heart) by the Ogijiidaa Society of and elders of her home community Bagwaanishkoziibing (Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation). She is of both European and Ojibwe Anishinaabe lineage and is dedicated to reclaiming both traditions in her life and in her work. Minnawaanigogiizhigok is dedicated to the pursuit of Minobimaadiziwin (Good Life). She seeks and creates opportunities to live life from her heart. She builds on the good choices her family, mentors and friends made in their lives: their choices to work hard, raise their families, put down alcohol, help their relatives, support the people and reconnect to Midewiwin, living the ways of life, languages and traditions that our ancestors sent forward to us. In the footsteps of her all ancestors, Minnawaanigogiizhigok continues to learn and to grow, taking joy in this good life and doing what she can to support others who seek to do the same.

Naiomi Metallic

Naiomi W. Metallic

Assistant Professor, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University; Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation

Naiomi is from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Gespe’gewa’gi. She holds a BA (Dalhousie), an LLB (Dalhousie), an LLL (Ottawa) and an LLM (Osgoode). She was also a law clerk to the Hon. Michel Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2006-2007. Naiomi still continues to practice law with Burchells LLP in Halifax (where she practiced for nearly a decade before joining the law school, primarily in the firm’s Aboriginal law group). She has been named to the Best Lawyer in Canada® list in Aboriginal law since 2015. As a legal scholar, she is most interested in writing about how the law can be harnessed to promote the well-being and self-determination of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Riley Yesno

Riley Yesno

Writer, Speaker, Student Anishinaabe, Eabametoong First Nation
Areas of Research/Activism:
Indigenous Futures, Gender and 2SLGBTQIIA, Youth, Climate Justice

Riley Yesno (she/her) is a queer Anishinaabe scholar, writer, and public intellectual from Eabametoong First Nation. She is highly sought after for her words and analysis— called an ‘Indigenous powerhouse’ by the Toronto Star— she has been a contributor and commentator for some of the largest media outlets in Canada and the world, including the New York Times, BBC World News, The Globe and Mail, and CBC National News. Riley has also travelled the globe speaking at internationally renowned institutions and events, including the UN climate negotiations, the Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality, TEDx stages, and many others. Her major project right now is teaching at TMU while finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. She studies Indigenous/Canadian politics and is a Vanier Scholar.
Robert Houle

Robert Houle

Writer/Researcher/Political Advisor/Policy Analyst Wapsewsipi (Swan River) First Nation, Treaty 8
Areas of Research/Activism:
Numbered Treaties, Genealogy, Archival Research and Government Policy

Rob maintains close relationships in Treaty No. 6 and 8. He has also married into the Stoney and Blackfoot Nations in Treaty No. 7. He continues to write and research the aspects of Treaty, relationships and obligations of all parties. He enjoys archival research and the information contained in centuries old documents. He has been actively outspoken regarding Indigenous Rights, traditions and their relationship with Policing bodies.

Shady Hafez

Shady Hafez

Algonquin Anishinabe and Syrian, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg
Areas of Research/Activism:
Community Development; Urban Indigenous Issues; Anishinabe Governance and Law; Cultural and Spiritual Revitalization; Cultural Identity; Solidarity Building with Black/POC and newcomer/refugee communities; and Francophone/Indigenous relations

Shady Hafez
Special Projects Advisor, National Association of Friendship Centres; Instructor, Canadore College; Independent Consultant

Shady Hafez is a passionate advocate for the liberation of Indigenous nations through the revitalization of Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Much of Shady’s work has been dedicated towards community development and front-line service provision in both on-reserve and urban settings. Beyond his current position at the National Association of Friendship Centres, Shady is also an instructor in the Indigenous Wellness and Addictions Program at Canadore College which is currently hosted in his home community. In his spare time Shady is an avid writer, commentator, dancer and learner/practitioner of Anishinabe arts, culture and land-based practice which he hopes to pass on to his amazing daughter, Ayah.

Tanya Kappo

Tanya Kappo

Activist and Lawyer Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation
Areas of Research/Activism:
Indigenous Political Institutions, Prairie Indigenous Politics, Indigenous Political Traditions, and Indigenous Women

Tanya played a key role in Yellowhead’s beginnings. Celebrated as a prominent leader, Tanya was invited as a panelist speaking on Indigenous Strategies for Transformative Change at the launch of Yellowhead Institute. Tanya’s efforts are focused on working towards creating space for an authentic existence of Indigenous people. As a lawyer, she represented survivors of Residential Schools and she recently worked with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She speaks often on Indigenous issues and is a member of the National Collective for Walking with our Sisters. 

Tara Williamson

Tara Williamson

Research Director, Indigenous Law Research Unit, University of Victoria Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Gaabishkigamaag (Swan Lake, MB)
Areas of Research/Activism:
Governance, Law & Policy, Gender, Arts & Culture

Tara holds degrees in social work, law, and Indigenous governance. In the last 9 years, she has been a professor and Instructor at Fleming College, Trent University, Ryerson University/First Nations Technical Institute, the University of Winnipeg, and the University of Victoria. As an independent researcher and consultant, she has worked with and for Indigenous communities and organizations at the local, regional, provincial and national level. Tara is also a professional writer and musician and was the recipient of the 2020 Joseph S. Stauffer Prize in music from the Canada Council for the Arts. She is currently a Senior Researcher with the Indigenous Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria.

Photo by Summer Faith Garcia, RezKat Studios.