Who We Are

We are a First Nation-led think tank rooted in community networks and committed to Indigenous self-determination. 

Hayden King Headshot

Dr. Hayden King
Executive Director

Hayden is Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchi’mnissing in Huronia, Ontario. He is the Executive Director of the Yellowhead Institute and Advisor to the Dean of Arts on Indigenous Education at Ryerson University. King has been teaching Indigenous politics and policy since 2007 at McMaster, Carleton and Ryerson Universities. Hayden’s analysis and commentary on Indigenous nationhood and settler colonialism in Canada is published widely. He is a prolific thinker and contributor to the national conversation on Indigenous issues.

Shiri Pasternak Headshot

Dr. Shiri Pasternak
Research Director

Shiri is an Assistant Professor in Criminology at Ryerson 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 a Principal Investigator with scholars at York University and Carleton University, as well as community partners MiningWatch and the Indigenous Network in Economies and Trade, in a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant called, “Reconciling Sovereignties: New Techniques for ‘Authorizing’ Extraction on Indigenous Territories.”

Damien Lee, Associate Fellow

Dr. Damien Lee
Associate Fellow

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, and often considers how such systems are both impacted by and push back against settler colonial law in the present. Mentored by Anishinaabe knowledge holders Doug Williams and Marlene Pierre, Dr. Lee is joining Ryerson University as Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology.


Dr. Eva Jewell
Associate Fellow

Dr. Eva Jewell (Ma’iingan dodem, she/hers) is Anishinaabekwe from Deshkan Ziibiing (Chippewas of the Thames First Nation) in southwestern Ontario with Haudenosaunee lineage. Dr. Jewell’s scholarship supports community-based, mixed methods inquiry on topics of culture, governance, and language resurgence in her First Nation; with interest on the role of women/femmes in Anishinaabe governance structures. Dr. Jewell joins Ryerson University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology following her postdoctoral fellowship in Indigenous Methodologies at Brock University’s Social Justice Research Institute, where she worked with Niagara region’s urban Indigenous community on perspectives of gender, work and care.
Yumi Numata

Yumi Numata
Project Manager

Yumi 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. Prior to joining Ryerson, Yumi was the Communications and Knowledge Mobilization Manager at Youth Research and Evaluation eXchange, a provincial initiative based at York University. She completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in Equity Studies and Political Science and a Master’s degree at New York University in Media, Culture and Communications.

Past Team Members

Julie Tomiak, Associate Fellow

Dr. Julie Tomiak
Associate Fellow

Julie Tomiak is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Ryerson University, where she teaches courses on Indigenous-Canada relations, decolonization, racism, and qualitative research methods. Working at the intersections of critical Indigenous studies, political economy, sociology, geography and urban studies, Dr. Tomiak’s current research projects examine 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. 

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