Research Fellows

Yellowhead Research Fellows are researchers and practitioners doing community-based, critical Indigenous policy work. 

Fellows work with Yellowhead to support First Nation assertions of self-determination, engaging in public education, research and analysis on Indigenous policy.

For media requests, please email info@yellowheadinstitute.org.

Our 2020-2022 Fellows:

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.

Robert Houle

Wapsewsipi (Swan River) First Nation, Treaty 8 

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Numbered Treaties, Genealogy, Archival Research and Government Policy

Robert Houle

Writer/Researcher/Political Advisor/Policy Analyst

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.

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 (Happy/Joyous Day Woman), a.k.a Dawnis Kennedy

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.

Andrea Landry

Anishinaabe
Pays Plat First Nation

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM:
Indigenous Kinship Systems and Practices, Indigenous Rights, Family Wellness, Healing

Andrea Landry

Red Echo Associates, Lifeskills Coach

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.

Elisa Levi

Chippewas of Nawash First Nation

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Food sovereignty, Health equity, Community food planning

Elisa Levi

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.

Renée Monchalin

Anishnaabe
and Métis

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Culturally safe urban health service access; reproductive justice

Renée Monchalin

Assistant Professor, School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victoria

Renée (Anishnaabe/ French/ Métis/ Scottish) has recently completed her PhD at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She has worked in the area of Indigenous health (re)search for the last decade. Her current areas of (re)search include improving access to culturally safe urban health and social services, Métis Peoples health and identity, reproductive justice with a primary focus on access to safe abortion services, Indigenous feminisms, and sexual health outreach by and for Indigenous youth.

Fallon Simard

Anishinaabe-Metis

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Child welfare, ending violence against Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQQIA, and art

Fallon Simard

Artist and Policy Analyst

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.

Dr. Gina Starblanket

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

Dr. Gina Starblanket

Associate Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies; Director of the Indigenous Governance and Partnership program, University of Alberta

Gina Starblanket is a Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in the Politics of Decolonization and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary. 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.

Riley Yesno

Anishinaabe
Eabametoong First Nation

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Indigenous Futures, Gender and 2SLGBTQIIA, Youth, Climate Justice

Riley Yesno

Writer, Speaker, Student

Riley Yesno (she/her/hers) is a queer Anishinaabe writer, researcher, and public speaker from Eabametoong First Nation. Riley grew up primarily in Thunder Bay, ON and currently calls Toronto, ON, and St. John’s, NL, home. She has experience working at all levels of change making, from the grassroots to the international, and has participated in over 100 panels, workshops, and conferences. Riley has attended climate negotiations at the United Nations, delivered a TEDx Talk, and travelled the world public speaking. You can find Riley’s writing in The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Maclean’s, and many others. She is currently studying at the University of Toronto.

Our 2018-2022 Fellows:

John Cutfeet

Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Lands, Resources, Energy, Criminalization, Far North Act

John Cutfeet

Communication & Negotiation Support for the Health Transformation Initiative, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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.

Ellen Gabriel

Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk)
from Kanehsatà:ke

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Human Rights, Environment, Gender Equity, Language and Culture Revitalization

Ellen Gabriel

Cultural Consultant, Human Rights and Environmental Advocate for Indigenous peoples

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.

Christina Gray

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 Gray

Associate, JFK Law Corporation, Masters of Law Candidate, University of Victoria 

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.

Shalene Jobin

Cree and Métis,
Red Pheasant Cree First Nation (Treaty Six)

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
First Nation Governance, Land Based Education, Plains Treaty History

Shalene Jobin

Associate Professor in the Faculty of Native Studies; Director of the Indigenous Governance and Partnership program, University of Alberta

Shalene is the co-creator and founding Academic Director of the Indigenous Partnership Development Program, a partnership between Executive Education and the Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta. She is working on a book manuscript titled Nehiyawak Narratives: Upholding Indigenous Economic Relationships. Shalene is involved in numerous community centred research projects, including the Wahkohtowin Project, a land-based research and pedagogical initiative grounding university learning with Cree Elders and knowledge keepers on the land..

Tanya Kappo

Sturgeon Lake
Cree Nation

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Indigenous Political Institutions, Prairie Indigenous Politics, Indigenous Political Traditions, and Indigenous Women

Tanya Kappo

Activist and Lawyer

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. 

Dëneze Nakehk’o

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 Nakehk’o

Founding Member, Dene Nahjo

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.

Sherry Pictou

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

Sherry Pictou

Assistant Professor, Faculties of Law and Management at Dalhousie University 

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.

Brock Pitawanakwat

Anishinaabe
Whitefish River First Nation

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Indigenous languages, Indigenous governance, Indigenous social movements, Indigenous health

Brock Pitawanakwat

Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies, York University 

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.

Raven Sinclair

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 Sinclair

Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Regina 

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.

Courtney Skye

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 Skye

Policy Analyst 

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

Tim Thompson

Mohawk Nation, Bear Clan Family, Wahta Mohawk Territory

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Education, Language Revitalization

Tim Thompson

Policy Analyst

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.

Vanessa Watts

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 Watts

Assistant Professor, Indigenous Studies and Sociology, McMaster University

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-proft, government and post-secondary settings giver her a unique understanding of the impacts of colonialism and legislation on Indigenous communities.

Tara Williamson

Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Gaabishkigamaag (Swan Lake, MB)

AREAS OF RESEARCH/ACTIVISM
Governance, Law & Policy, Gender, Arts & Culture

Tara Williamson

Independent Researcher & Consultant

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.

Past Fellows:

Sákéj Henderson
Bear Clan of the Chickasaw Nation
and Cheyenne Tribe

Matthew Wildcat
Nehiyaw, Ermineskin Cree Nation

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