Canadian Participant Bios


Dr. Lisa Bearskin Bourque
Dr. Bourque Bearskin is a member of Treaty 6 Beaver Lake Cree Nation, in northern Alberta, Associate Professor and new investigator with Thompson River University, School of Nursing. Over the years she has worked in many capacities as a Licensed Practical Nurse and then a Registered Nurse. She began her teaching career working with Maskwacis Community in partnership with NorQuest College in Alberta, Canada before heading north to Iqaluit, Nunavut where she taught in the first Arctic Nursing program.

Over the next decade, she worked at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Nursing where she developed and delivered Indigenous-nursing initiatives. Lisa recognizes the rights of First Nation, Inuit, and Métis people’s health and to that end works towards enhancing people’s understanding of Indigenous health. Under the guidance of Indigenous nursing knowledge holders, leaders, and healers her research interest lie within Indigenous research methodologies aimed at improving Indigenous nursing led practice and promoting equitable access to health care services for Indigenous people.

Her expertise and research program is focused on creating sustainable Indigenous nurse-led programs that support a network of professionals to create, exchange and mobilize Indigenous knowledge in their local settings. As the Past President of the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association, she provided leadership that enhanced understanding of Indigenous nursing knowledge based on Indigenous social determinants of health. Lisa’s focus on Indigenous wellness includes maintaining cultural integrity of both clients and nurses in support of Indigenous sovereignty as outlined by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Joni Brodziak
Joni is the Executive Director of the Policy, Practice and Program Development for child intervention (protection) in the Ministry of Children’s Services. This branch is responsible for overall program and operational policy related to Child Intervention Service Delivery, which includes Alberta’s Child Intervention Practice Framework and other policy, program and practice development targeted at improving how services are delivered to vulnerable children and their families. Joni has been in the field of child protection for 24 years, working in various roles in the field, starting out in direct service delivery as a front line child welfare investigator and caseworker in 1993 and then leading a variety of large scale initiatives before taking on her current role in 2012.

Justice Beverley Browne
Beverly Browne is a member of Bissell Centre Board of Governors: an inner city organization attempting to relieve poverty. Since moving to Edmonton, she established and co-chaired the Alberta Gladue Committee. We have worked on the quality of Gladue reports and the selection and training of Gladue writers. That committee continues to sit and is always willing to hear compliments or concerns. While working in Nunavut, she was involved in establishing Inuit Elders who participate in the sentencing process in court, hiring Inuit to work in the court system and working with Justice Committees to divert cases. She is also an advocate for local organ donation.


Nora Cummings
Nora was born and raised in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. In 1969, she became a founding member of the Saskatoon Metis Society Local #11, that same year she became a field worker for the Metis Society Local #11 until 1971. SHe went back to work for the Saskatoon Metis Society Local #11 from 1983-1986 where she worked as a Family Worker. Finally in 1987 she was elected President of the Local.

She became the founder of the Saskatchewan Native Women’s Association in 1971, and in 1972 she was appointed Provincial Coordinator of the Association and was eventually elected Provincial President. In 1992, as well as 1995, she was elected to reside on the Election Commission for the Saskatchewan Metis Society for the Provincial Metis Election. The Committee then elected her as Chairperson.

In 1972, Nora was a founding member of the Board of Directors, of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. She sat on the Board until 1975. Nora has helped to establish, through the Saskatoon Native Women’s Association, Women’s Referral Centers in eight locations across the province, Half Way Homes in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert, and they also helped to establish day care centers.

She has worked to encourage Aboriginal women to become aware of their rights in Society. How to make them more aware and to achieve some improvements in the problems they face such as: discrimination, housing, education, alcohol and the care of Aboriginal foster children.

In 1973, she became a member of the Board of Directors for the Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Center and was later elected chairperson. Nora was the only woman elected to the Provincial Board of Directors for the Indian and Metis Friendship Center’s across the province.
She was honored at the Legislative in Regina as an outstanding woman in the province, recognizing all her achievements for Celebrate Saskatchewan. In 1986, she was recognized by having her picture and biography displayed along side other outstanding women in the Saskatoon Diefenbaker Center.

She was chosen Mrs. Batoche in both 1992 and 2005. In December of 1993, she took the Oath of Office as a Metis Senator.
PUBLICATIONS:
Some Outstanding Women (International Women of the Year Project)
A Pictorial History of the Metis and Non-Status Indian in Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission)
Gabriel’s Children (Rita Schilling, Turner-Warick Printers Inc.)


Dr. James Daschuk
Originally from Timmins, Ontario, James Daschuk has a PhD in history from the University of Manitoba. His book, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation and the Loss of Aboriginal Life has won numerous awards including the Governor General’s Medal for scholarly research in history in 2014. The Literary Review of Canada recently named it to its list of the twenty-five most influential Canadian books of the last twenty-five years. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and health Studies at the University of Regina.


Cindy Gaudet
Janice Cindy Gaudet is a Métis researcher and educator from Saskatchewan. She recently joined the University of Alberta as an associate professor at Campus Saint-Jean. She is committed to a de-colonial approach in research, wellbeing and pedagogy by centering Indigenous knowledge. She completed her PhD at the University of Ottawa, Faculty Health Sciences. Her research with Moose Cree First Nation in Moose Factory, Ontario, focused on Indigenous research methodology and land-based initiatives for Omushkego youth wellbeing and its correlation to milo pimatisiwin.


Susan Haines
Susan Haines is an enthusiastic professional who is dedicated to human rights and meaningful justice. She has been the Executive Director of the National Associations Active in Criminal Justice (NAACJ) for almost 11 years, a membership-based not-for-profit association connecting currently 21 national member organizations, including the Native Counselling Services of Alberta (NCSA). She volunteers with community-based agencies that value the inherent worth of all people, such as the Millhaven Lifers Liaison Group (MLLG), the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project (CPEP) and Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA)-Ottawa. Quite simply, Susan seeks to contribute to healthy communities and reduce our reliance on punishment and incarceration.


Maggie Hodgson
Dr. Maggie Hodgson is a member of the Nadleh Whuten Carrier First Nation who has worked locally, nationally and internationally on Justice and Healing initiatives. Maggie worked in the Justice and Health Promotions area for 18 years, and in education and healing for 22 years. She worked for 13 yrs. On residential schools healing and settlement issues with Assembly of First Nations, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada & the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She was the founder and host for the first “Healing Our Spirit World Wide Gathering” 1992 held in Edmonton, Alberta with 3200 people. This conference has been hosted by Canada, Australia, New Zealand and USA.

Maggie spearheaded in 1988 a National Health Promotions initiative “Celebrating Success” campaign called “Keep the Circle Strong, National Addictions Awareness Week”. This initiative started with 25 communities and has enjoyed the participation of 1500 communities across Canada with 700,000 people involved. She has presented at many conferences across Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Norway on community healing. She has been a community developer, church and government policy lobbyist, co-author of four books, and has managed an Aboriginal education research and health promotions institute for 16 years. 38 colleges and universities utilize.One of the books, “Nation to Nation” which she co-authored. She co authored “Our Spirit Weeps,” on Aboriginal Sexual Abuse. A tree was planted in her name in the Peace Park in Israel for her peace work. She is the co-founder of National Day of Healing and Reconciliation 2002. It was part of an international movement that started in Australia. She has served as a founding board member for foundations, non-profit, regional, national and international. She has served as an advisor to the world health organization on addictions prevention. She was an advisor to four Deputy Ministers on inter-generational trauma/RS.

She has received many awards for her work in community development from various organizations such as the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the United Nations Community Development Award, the Canadian Public Health Community Development Award, the Alberta Aboriginal Role Model Award, the Alberta Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Commission Award of Excellence, “Healing Our Spirit World Wide” International Award for Leadership in International Development from Health Canada in New Zealand. She is the Vision Keeper to the HOSWW International Board, which will co-host the next HOSWW gathering in 2019 in Australia. Further, she received the Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse Award of Excellence. Moreover, she was acknowledged by two universities with honorary doctorates: the University of Alberta and St. Paul’s University in Ottawa.

Maggie is currently working in civic engagement and inter-generational trauma. She received the honour of being appointed to the position of Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006. Maggie is one of the 1000 women selected for the 2000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize project and she was selected from 1000 nominees from across the world. She is the recipient of the Champion of Mental Health Award from the Canadian Mental Health Association. She has sat on the Niwano peace foundations/Japan) selection committee, to select their annual peace prize winner from across the world She is a wife, a mother and an auntie who has helped raise other children. Maggie values building relationships in families of communities within the limits of our humanity and with the Creator’s guiding hand.

Beverly Jacobs – Bio to come


Kim Lavoie
Kimberly Lavoie is the Director, Crime Prevention and Aboriginal Community Safety Division in the Crime Prevention, Corrections and Criminal Justice Directorate of Public Safety Canada, a mother to a ten year old boy and a member of the Qualipu First Nation. Over the past 20years, Kimberly’s work has focused on improving the lives of Aboriginal people and she has worked with Aboriginal communities and organizations across the country. Working within the Federal government, Kimberly has undertaken a number of positions from policy development and managing funding to evaluation. One of Kimberly’s greatest gifts is her ability to bridge the divide between community and government. Kimberly has also been a university guest lecturer for classes in Law, Psychology and Sociology.

Sarah MacLauchlan – Bio to come.


Sylvia McAdam
Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum) is from Treaty 6 land. She is a direct descendant of Treaty peoples and is from the nēhīyaw Nation. Sylvia has her Juris Doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan and a Bachelor’s degree in Human Justice from the University of Regina. Sylvia is co-founder of a global grassroots Indigenous led movement called ‘Idle No More’. Idle No More has changed the political and social landscape of Canada as well as reached the global community to defend and protect all lands, water and animals from devastation and climate change.

Sylvia is also co-founder of “One House Many Nations” Campaign that designs off the grid sustainable mini-homes to address and raise awareness about the epidemic unacceptable proportions of homelessness in a wealthy state as “Canada” especially amongst Indigenous and LGBQT people. Through the work of protecting land and water, Idle No More has been selected for several awards namely; Carole Gellar Human Rights Award, Foreign Policy Top 100 Global Thinkers 2014 Award, Social Justice Award, and 2014 Global Citizen Award. More recently Sylvia was selected for the Margolese National Design for Living Prize.


Aideen Nabigon
Aideen Nabigon graduated from Algoma University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science and has and completed coursework towards a Masters in Public Administration at Carleton. Prior to leaving the public service in December, 2014, Aideen Nabigon was involved in efforts to resolve the legacy of Indian residential schools for several years and in different capacities. She was the Director General of Settlement Agreement Policy and Partnerships at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada where she also oversaw preparations for the Prime Minister’s Apology to survivors of residential schools.

She was Director of Mental Health and Addictions in the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada; Director General with the Aboriginal Peoples Directorate of Service Canada; and Director General of the Policy, Partnerships, Communications and Common Experience Payment sector of the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada. She served as Executive Director and Deputy Head of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its first year. Prior to her work on Indian residential schools, Aideen held various posts within Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, including Manager, Northwest Territories Implementation, and Director, Implementation Management.

After leaving the public service, Aideen set up a management consulting business and is currently working on Indigenous prison reform and advising Canada School of Public Service on its Indigenous Learning Series. Aideen served on the Board of Governors of Algoma University and the board of directors of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and is currently a volunteer with the Ottawa Coalition to End Human Trafficking.

Russ Pickford – Bio to come


Lori St. Onge
Lori graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island with a Masters in Business Administration, Bachelor of Arts Degree, and Diplomas in Public Administration and in Human Resource Management. Lori has been the Director of the Aboriginal Justice Program since 2007 and is a strong believer in restorative justice. She is a Circle Keeper and an advocate for positive approaches to behavior where the goal is to repair harm rather than assign blame. Her boundless energy, wealth of experience, and her ability to forge partnerships, enable her to do the work that she does.

She is a proud Mi’kmaq woman and a member of the Lennox Island First Nation Band. Lori sits on numerous committees and boards including the PEI Partners for Safer Communities, Atlantic Community Safety Association, RCMP Commanding Officer’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee, PEI Justice Policy and Planning Forum and the RCMP Commanding Officer’s Cultural Diversity Committee. In 2007, Lori was the recipient of the Joan Taavon Award, and international award for her commitment to missing and exploited children.


Aaron Paquette
Aaron Paquette is one of Canada’s best-known First Nations Metis personalities. He is a bestselling, award-wining author, an artist, and a highly in demand Keynote Speaker and Facilitator. He is also a political commentator, illustrator, goldsmith and cathedral stained glass artist. He was a winner of the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature in 2015 for his debut young adult fantasy novel Lightfinder.

As a painter, his most notable work is a public art mural at Edmonton’s Grandin LRT Station. He also created several iconic images used in the Idle No More movement. Paquette, a Métis of Cree, Cherokee and Norwegian descent, is also the president of Cree8 Success, a consulting firm. Active in his community, Aaron sits on various civic, provincial and National Boards and Advisory Councils.


Tanya Rashmi Muthusamipillai
Tanya was born in Canada to Tamil parents who immigrated from Sri Lanka. She obtained her Honours Bachelor of Arts with distinction in Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 2008. Throughout her undergraduate career, she gained a passion for learning about Indigenous legal issues in Canada and was particularly drawn to parallels between the Tamils’ struggle in Sri Lanka to that of many Indigenous Nations in Canada. In particular with the struggle against colonialism and toward self-determination.

With a long-term plan of going to law school to learn more about Indigenous law, Tanya wanted to ensure that she was culturally competent and respectful of Indigenous ways. Thus, in 2009, Tanya moved to the Northwest Territories, living and working with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation on the Dettah Reserve.

After a life changing and eye-opening experience in the Northwest Territories, she returned to Toronto and accepted a position working for the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada where she served as an Aboriginal Project Coordinator for the Roots & Shoots program. In this role, she traveled across Canada encouraging Indigenous youth to engage in change-making projects that addressed people, animals, and the environment. After one year, she decided to pursue her Masters of Arts in Indigenous Governance at the University of Winnipeg to better understand Indigenous perspectives and knowledge. Here, Tanya learned under some of the most influential Indigenous leaders and gained a heightened understanding of the challenges Indigenous peoples face in Canada. In 2014, she graduated from the University of Winnipeg with the Graduate Student of Highest Distinction award and began working at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto as a Research Consultant. There, Tanya conducted research in the areas of Cultural Competency, community engagement, and health for Toronto’s urban Indigenous peoples.

In September 2014, Tanya decided to attend Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law in Thunder Bay. She deliberately chose Bora Laskin Faculty of Law as it has as its mandate a focus on Indigenous legal traditions and law. During law school, she served as Director of the Indigenous Law Students Association (ILSA) for one term where she and other members worked to find ways to assist with issues facing the local Indigenous population. She also worked as Research Assistant to her Indigenous Law Professor, Professor Karen Drake during two academic school years assisting with research related to Indigenous legal issues in Canada.

During the summers in between law school, Tanya worked at the Ministry of Attorney General as a summer law student. Tanya just completed law school and will be graduating in June 2017. Tanya will be articling with the Ministry of Attorney General, Crown Law Office-Civil, beginning in August 2017.


Noah Richler
Noah Richler is an author, journalist, cultural critic, occasional broadcaster and a failed political candidate. He is the winner of three gold National Magazine Awards. His first book, This Is My Country, What’s Yours? A Literary Atlas of Canada, won the 2007 British Columbia Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, was nominated for a Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction prize and named one of the Top Ten Books of the Decade by Maclean’s magazine. What We Talk About When We Talk About War was a finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing and the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and short and long-listed for other prizes.

His most recent book, The Candidate, was published in 2016 and nominated for the Writers Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing. He divides his time between! the Digby Neck, in Nova Scotia, and Toronto, Ontario.

Howard Sapers
On January 1, 2017 Howard Sapers was appointed Independent Advisor on Corrections Reform for the province of Ontario. Between 2004 and 2016 Howard Sapers was the Correctional Investigator of Canada. Previously, Mr. Sapers has been the Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Alberta, an elected member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta representing Edmonton Glenora, Director of the National Crime Prevention Centre Investment Fund and Vice Chairperson (Prairie Region) of the Parole Board Canada. Currently, Mr. Sapers serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman and between 2012 and 2016 served as a North American Regional representative to the International Ombudsman Institute. Mr. Sapers represented the community of small federal departments and agencies on the Government of Canada Small Department Audit Committee and was Chairman of the Department of National Defence/Canadian Forces Ombudsman Advisory Committee. Mr. Sapers is an Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Criminology, and has been awarded with a Honourary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Ottawa.


Sherryl Sewpagahan
Sherryl Sewepagham is a First Nations music therapist and educator from the Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta, Canada. She has worked as a classroom teacher, music specialist, choir conductor, and teacher-consultant for over 14 years with various school districts in Alberta and British Columbia. In April 2017, Sherryl completed a Bachelor of Music Therapy from Capilano University in North Vancouver, BC adding therapeutic skills to her work with children. She is also an accomplished traditional hand drummer and singer-songwriter with 2006 Juno-nominated trio, Asani, for 20 years and as a solo performer.

Most recently, Sherryl worked with children facing issues of emotional trauma and abuse and with families facing poverty, homelessness, and addictions in Vancouver’s downtown east side. She plans to continue working with children and youth as a music therapist using the traditional drum with the voice as her tool for spiritual and emotional healing.


George Tuccaro
George Tuccaro is a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Tuccaro began a career in broadcasting in 1971, when he became an Announcer-Operator with CBC North Radio in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. In 1979, Tuccaro joined the public service, becoming a communications officer with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. George Tuccaro was the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. He served in that position from May 12, 2010 until May 10, 2016.

In 2002, Tuccaro retired from public broadcasting to start his own company, GLT Communications, through which he aimed to bring major events to the territory. Tuccaro has been awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and a 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal.