Who We Are

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

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.

Dr. Eva Jewell
Research Director

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 X University.

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; 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 Ryerson University and holds the Canada Research Chair in Biskaabiiyang and Indigenous Political Resurgence.

Dr. Megan Scribe
Associate Fellow

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 Ryerson 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.

Jas M. Morgan
Associate Fellow

Jas M. Morgan is a Toronto-based Cree-Métis-Saulteaux SSHRC doctoral scholarship recipient, a McGill University Art History Ph.D. candidate, and an assistant professor in Ryerson University’s Department of English. They previously held the position of Editor-at-Large for Canadian Art and twice served as the Arts and Literary Summit programmer for MagNet. Morgan’s first book nîtisânak (Metonymy Press, 2018) won the prestigious 2019 Dayne Ogilive Prize and a 2019 Quebec Writer’s Federation first book prize, and has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and an Indigenous Voices Literary Award. Morgan is the co-founder of gijiit: a curatorial collective that focuses on community-engaged Indigenous art curations, gatherings, and research dealing with themes of gender, sex, and sexualityThey are a REVEAL Indigenous Art Award recipient, and have been awarded national Magazine Awards in the Essay category for “Stories Not Told” and in the Best-Editorial Package category for “#MeToo and the Secrets Indigenous Women Keep.” For their work as lead editor for the summer 2017 issue of Canadian Art, an issue on the theme of “Kinship,” they were also nominated for a National Magazine Award in the “Best Editorial Package” category. Morgan’s writing has appeared in The WalrusMalahat Review, Room, GUTS, esse, Teen Vogue, CV2/Prairie Fire, The New Inquiry and other publications.

Dr. Shiri Pasternak
Research Director (2018-July 2021)

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.” 

Yumi Numata
Operations and Communications Manager

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.

Kelsi-Leigh Balabnan
Communications & Research Assistant

Kelsi is of mixed Métis and settler (primarily Ukrainian) ancestry from Treaty Six territory. Her family is from wâwâskesiwisâkahikan (Lac La Biche) and she grew up in Vegreville near amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton). Kelsi is passionate about Indigenous governance revitalization efforts and has been involved in youth organizing in amiskwacîwâskahikan for interconnected issues of climate justice, houselessness and poverty, as well as active in harm reduction initiatives. Kelsi has a BA in Psychology and Native Studies and certificate in Indigenous Governance and Partnership from the University of Alberta. Currently she is completing her masters in Political Science at the University of Toronto.

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