Indigenous Directions Leadership Group
Reporting to the provost and vice-president, Academic Affairs with a three-year mandate, the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group will explore, identify and recommend priority areas in which Concordia can improve its responsiveness to the Truth and Reconciliation’s (TRC) Principles for Reconciliation and Calls to Action.
At the end of its mandate, the group will have ideally also provided input and recommendations on the creation of administrative and governance frameworks that will support these efforts going forward.
The group will do this by:
- Identifying and recommending structures for community participation to ensure that design and decision-making is consonant with our goals. Such an approach will enable the establishment of trusting relationships and the building up of institutional capacity.
- Designing and recommending an advisory framework by which community participation can be integrated into decision-making in specific domains (e.g. curriculum and pedagogy, research, governance, space, services, opportunities assessment).
- Preparing a comprehensive inventory of existing Concordia initiatives that are relevant to the TRC’s Principles for Reconciliation and Calls to Action.
- Providing input and recommendations, where possible and appropriate, on:
- strategies, programs and services that support and facilitate Concordia’s recruitment, admission, retention, and graduation of indigenous learners;
- strategies, programs and services that support and facilitate Concordia’s recruitment and retention of indigenous faculty and staff;
- integration of Indigenous knowledge and the Principles of Reconciliation into existing courses, programs, and governance structures at Concordia; and
- that could be undertaken to enhance the cultural climate at Concordia for indigenous learners, staff, and faculty.
Ron Abraira has worked in the field of entrepreneurship and economic development for the past twenty-two years. After serving in the United States Navy, he attended the State University of New York at Buffalo where he achieved a BS in Business Administration in 1986. Subsequently, he worked as a Business Services Officer in the community economic development agency in Kahnawake primarily writing business plans for local entrepreneurs, and performing industry and market research duties for community economic development projects and studies.
In the spring of 1990 he was named the Executive Director for the economic development agency in Kahnawake and guided the development of both the capital corporation (a business development investment fund) and the employment and training agency (a program that amongst its training activities helps educate potential entrepreneurs). During this time he also attended Concordia University and achieved his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 1995. His MBA research paper was a cross cultural study of entrepreneurship. Besides teaching entrepreneurship at the John Molson School of Business (Concordia University), he also works as a management consultant, and is a member of the Investment Committee of the First Nations Venture Capital Fund of Quebec.
Born in British Columbia and raised on Vancouver Island, Vicky Boldo is a transracial adoptee from the ‘60’s Scoop Era – although she was placed for adoption at birth she is a strong ally to the survivors of this time. Vicky is of Cree/Coast Salish/Métis heritage. Vicky is a registered energy medicine practitioner (ANQ) and has a certificate in journalism for Concordia. She is passionate about effecting change in policy, education and attitudes in social work, health care and education for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
She is currently Co-Chair of the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy NETWORK and Vice-president First Peoples Justice Centre of Montreal, she sits on the board of the Native Women’s Shelter, on the (Police Service of Montreal) SPVM Aboriginal Advisory Committee, and has recently accepted to be the In-House Cultural Support at Concordia University’s Aboriginal Student Resource Centre at Concordia, as well as to work with the IDLG as a Cultural Support worker.
Chad Cowie is Anishinaabe and from the Mississaugi community of Manominiiking (also referred to as Hiawatha First Nation) and of the wolf clan. Chad has been involved in the field of education not only as a student but through student governance and employment since 2004. While working on his undergrad in Political Science at Western University he was also actively involved with the First Nations’ Students Association now the Indigenous Students’ Association) and the Social Science Students Council. Upon completing his undergrad, Chad was a researcher and policy analyst for the Chiefs of Ontario. Between September 2011 and August 2013 he obtained his M.A in Political Studies from the University of Manitoba, where he also served a term as the Vice-President Internal of the Graduate Students’ Association. Most recently, since the fall of 2013, Chad has also been working on his PhD in Political Science at the University of Alberta.
It is through the experiences that Chad come to the role of Indigenous Student Recruitment Officer with a breadth of knowledge on what it is like to be an Indigenous person entering the world of post-secondary school, from applying to scholarships/funding to persevering and succeeding in accomplishing my education goals. As part of his role, Chad works alongside the Aboriginal Student Resource Centre at times.
Orenda K. Boucher-Curotte is the Coordinator of the Aboriginal Students Resource Center at Concordia University. Previous to this, she served as the Coordinator of the First Peoples’ Centre at Dawson College, and she has taught at Kiuna Institute, the only First Nations College in Quebec, as well as both McGill University, and Concordia University. She is of the Bear Clan from the Kanien’kehá:ka community of Kahnawake.
Undergraduate student, Management
Brooke Wahsontiiostha Deer is Mohawk from Kahnawake. She is in her final year as a management student at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business and is the president of the Indigenous Student Council.
She also works as a marketing and campaigns intern at the Concordia Food Coalition and is interested in sustainable food systems, Indigenous food sovereignty, and agricultural economics.
Indigenous Directions Leadership Group
Marie-Ève is of French-Canadian ancestry who was born and raised in Kanien'kehá:ka Territory (Montreal). Working on understanding her identity as a settler, and assuming the responsibilities that come with this position, as a PhD candidate at Concordia’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, her research currently addresses the colonial aspects of the education system (especially higher education) and the socio-cultural theories it relies on.
This research considers Indigenous higher education as a tool for decolonization in the Americas, and she has been working with Indigenous institutions and programs of higher education in Ecuador and the United States. She believes the concrete initiatives, innovations and theoretical challenges that emerge from Indigenous higher education are learning opportunities for decolonizing mainstream higher education and research.
Dr. K. S. Hele is a member of the Garden River First Nation community of the Anishinaabeg people and was educated at schools in Sault Ste. Marie. He earned a B.A. (Waterloo) in 1993, a M.A. (Toronto) in 1994, and a Ph.D. (McGill) in 2003. His dissertation examined the Ojibwa encounter with nineteenth-century missionaries to Sault Ste. Marie. He has served as the joint editor of the Algonquian Proceedings (vols. 39 to 41) and has presented and published papers on the history of the Anishinabeg and Métis communities in the Sault Ste. Marie region. More recent publications have examined how the international border has affected First Nations communities in the Great Lakes region. Additionally, Dr. Hele is a contributor of columns and book reviews to the Anishinabek News and a columnist to the Sault Star (Sault Ste. Marie). He continues to work on topics related to the international border and the Hiawatha Pageant as well as other items of interest not only to himself but the Bawating Anishinaabe and Metis communities.
Assistant Professor, Art History,
University Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement in Montreal
Heather Igloliorte is an Inuk from Nunatsiavut who is an independent curator of Inuit and other Indigenous arts, in addition to her work at Concordia
Her teaching and research interests focus on Native North American visual and material culture, circumpolar art studies, performance and media art, the global exhibition of Indigenous arts and culture, and issues of colonization, sovereignty, resistance and resilience.
Heather had four exhibitions opening throughout 2016: the two-person show Disrupt Archive: Dayna Danger and Cecilia Kavara Verran at Galerie La Centrale (March-April); the permanent exhibition Ilippunga: The Brousseau Inuit Art Collection at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (opened June 2016); the co-curated circumpolar Inuit night festival iNuit blanche (October 2016); and the nationally touring SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut (opened October 2016 at The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery).
University Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary, Professor of Design and Computation Arts,
Jason Edward Lewis is a digital media artist, poet and software designer. He founded Obx Laboratory for Experimental Media, where he directs research/ creation projects developing intriguing new forms of expression by working on conceptual, creative, cultural, and technical levels simultaneously.
He is the director of the Initiative for Indigenous Futures, a seven-year SSHRC-funded partnership focused on how Indigenous communities imagine themselves seven generations hence.
He co-founded and co-directs the Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace research network that investigates how Indigenous people can participate in the shaping of digital media as well as the Skins Workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Video Game Design.
Jason’s creative work has been featured in five solo exhibitions as well as at Ars Electronica, ISEA, SIGGRAPH, Urban Screens, Elektra, and Mobilefest, among other venues, his writing about new media has been presented at conferences, festivals and exhibitions on four continents and his work has won multiple awards. He is Cherokee, Hawaiian, and Samoan, born and raised in the mountains of northern California.
Co-chair, Indigenous Directions Leadership Group,
Senior Director, Office of Community Engagement
Charmaine Lyn is one of two special advisors to the provost on Indigenous Directions. In her role as senior director of the Office of Community Engagement, she oversees leads efforts to support and promote community-engaged scholarship, research and learning at Concordia.
Charmaine is an experienced higher education professional who has led admissions, recruitment, and community outreach initiatives for professional programs in law and medicine.
She has extensive experience in developing equity and diversity policies and programs in university settings. She has a particular interest in dismantling unnecessary barriers to higher education for marginalized and under-represented populations.
Charmaine is a first-generation university attendee who studied at McGill University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Common Law and a Bachelor of Civil Law. She is of Chinese ancestry who was born in Jamaica and raised on Kanien'kehá:ka Territory (in Montreal).
Interim Project Coordinator, Indigenous Directions Leadership Group
Charlie in non-status Métis, with family ties to the Bourassas and St. Germains of northern Alberta (Treaty 8 territory), and a long list of white settler ancestors. He grew up in Toronto, Ontario, and has lived in Montreal since 2001. He began working as Project Coordinator with the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group (IDLG) on May 15th, and will continue until Tiffany Ashoona returns from maternity leave. He recently completed a B.A. in First Peoples Studies at Concordia University. Under the supervision of Louellyn White, Charlie completed a small research project, and found that 19 out of 20 Concordia students had not learned anything about the TRC or residential schools through their studies at the University. In September, 2017, He began studying in the M.A. - Second Language Education, thesis option program at the Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE) at McGill University.
PhD student, Communication Studies
Cherry Smiley is from the Nlaka’pamux (Thompson) and Diné (Navajo) Nations. From B.C., she is a feminist activist and artist and is currently a Trudeau Scholar and PhD student in Concordia’s Department of Communication Studies.
She has nearly a decade of experience working with Indigenous women and girls in different capacities, including as a front-line anti-violence worker at a transition house and rape crisis centre, assisting in the coordination of an anti-violence group for Indigenous girls, and as a project manager in violence prevention and safety for the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
Cherry’s research, through the creation of a documentary, focuses on ending sexualized male violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
Associate Professor, First Peoples Studies Program
Louellyn White is Kanienkeha:ka (Mohawk) from the community of Akwesasne. She has extensive experience working with urban and rural Indigenous communities and organizations primarily in the United States in the areas of mental health research and experiential education.
Her research focus has been on Kanienke:ha (Mohawk language), holistic education, and identity as well as Indigenous Language Immersion and reclamation more broadly. Her current research is focused on Indian Residential Schooling, and in particular, has been aimed at her family’s history at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
She is the co-founder of the Carlisle Indian School Farmhouse Coalition, aimed at historic preservation and planning at the Carlisle Indian School Heritage Center.
Undergraduate student, First Peoples Studies Program (Major)
Wahéhshon Shiann Whitebean is a Wolf Clan member of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Nation at Kahnawà:ke. Her knowledge is rooted in her extensive background within the Longhouse and her work as a community activist.
She is currently enrolled in Concordia’s First Peoples Studies program (major) and has received several scholarships and academic awards.
She has been a student support worker and volunteer at the university’s Aboriginal Student Resource Centre. She founded and is the current pPresident of the First Peoples Studies Member Association. She also founded the Indigenous Student Council, a student group focused on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students at Concordia. She is the primary coordinator of First Voices week 2017.
She recently started the Solidarity Food Movement, an initiative to help support people at Concordia and within the Montreal community that are facing food insecurity. Her research interests include Kanien’kéha language and culture revitalization, human rights, education, social policy, food security, and environmental issues.
Indigenous Directions Leadership Group
Tiffany Ashoona is of mixed French-Canadian, Mi’kmaq and Irish ancestry. At a young age she became an active member of the Oshawa Métis Council as well as a youth representative for the Métis Nation of Ontario.
She later moved to Montreal to complete her studies at McGill University, where she obtained a BA Joint Honours in Ad-Hoc Indigenous Studies and Anthropology and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Tiffany is a TD Scholar ’11, Top 20 Under 20 recipient ’11, and a Dalai Lama Fellow ’13.
For the past several years, she has worked with Indigenous youth and communities from across the country including; Montreal, Haida Gwaii, Yellowknife as well as internationally in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Together with her husband, who is from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, she offers a program called Inujunga for Inuit youth in Montreal.
Co-chair, Indigenous Directions Leadership Group,
Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Human Sciences
Elizabeth Fast has Métis and Mennonite ancestry and was born in St. François-Xavier, Manitoba. She is one of two special advisors to the provost on Indigenous Directions at Concordia and also teaches in the First People’s Studies Program.
She is a community-based researcher with two decades of experience working in social service organizations and community settings that focus on child welfare issues in Québec and across Canada.
Her research focuses on Indigenous youth, with a particular focus on understanding of the cultural needs of Indigenous youth raised outside of their biological families or disconnected from their cultural roots.
Emilee Gilpin a graduate diploma student in journalism at Concordia University. She is of Saulteaux-Cree, Métis, Filipina, Scottish and Irish ancestry and considers a multi-layered identity a strength and responsibility.
Her form of storytelling is one rooted in community and relationship-based protocol and cross-cultural consideration. She is excited to be a part of a team dedicated to indigenizing the academy.
Cheryl Lahache is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Kahnawà:ke. As Student Mentor and Support Worker, she was an important part of the team at the Aboriginal Student Resource Centre (ASRC) from August, 2015, through August, 2017. Cheryl graduated from Concordia with a B.A. in Human Relations, and a minor in First Peoples Studies, in 2015. She has also completed training in Applied Suicide Prevention Skills, Mental Health First Aid, and Family Life Education. She has been an active member of the Peacekeeper Ethics Committee, which reviews community complaints about policing. In summer, 2017, she returned to working in her home community as an Employment and Training Counselor with Tewatohnhi’saktha.
January 31, 2017
‘I’m excited to bring new voices into the arena’
January 30, 2017
‘This leadership group was planted by our ancestors long ago’
January 16, 2017
‘We are taking control of our own image’
November 11, 2016
Cree ways of seeing and knowing