Think Indigenous is a conference intended to bring together educators doing amazing things in our community. Inspired by media outlets such as RedManLaughing and Ted Talks, Think Indigenous promises to provide a unique and inspiring Education Conference experience. This year we are proud to provide the following Educational Difference Makers to the TIEC 2017 stage. More speakers will be added to the list when confirmed.
Host - Ryan McMahon
Anpao Duta Flying Earth
Anpao Duta Flying Earth grew up on the Standing Rock Reservation in rural South Dakota and North Dakota. He is of the Lakota, Dakota, Ojibwe, and Akimel O’odham tribes. Duta is the youngest of three and a third generation college graduate. He graduated from Cornell University with a BA in Government. He is currently the Head of School and the first Associate Director at the Native American Community Academy (NACA) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Duta joined NACA to assist in founding the charter school in 2006. In NACA’s inaugural year, Duta served as a math instructor, social studies instructor, and an After-School Coordinator. He later served as an Outreach and Community Programs Coordinator, founded and taught the first Lakota language program in New Mexico, was the Director of Enrollment and Community Relations, and taught Indigenous Studies. Duta has served as Associate Director and Head of School since 2012. In his capacity as co-founder and head of school at NACA, Duta has been instrumental in representing NACA as a premiere example of Indigenous education nationwide.
Duta has long been a learner of Lakota language and has participated in language revitalization efforts that his grandmother, Patricia Locke, advocated for and developed during her lifetime. He began his efforts to learn his language when he was inducted into a society of traditional Lakota singers at age 13. For the last five summers, he has participated in and served as adjunct faculty for the Lakhotiyapi Summer Institute, the premier Lakota and Dakota language teacher professional development event in the country. Duta is interested in further developing indigenous language revitalization efforts through learning and sharing with other indigenous communities.
Max FineDay is a nêhiyaw activist from the Sweetgrass First Nation. Max is currently the Co-Executive Director of Canadian Roots Exchange. Max is known nationally for his work on youth leadership development. Throughout his life he has developed ideas and projects that have moved Canada toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. He is focused on delivering results, building relationships, and speaking to both the challenges and opportunities that exist for Canada and Indigenous peoples today. Max has done this most recently as Advisor and Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator working with the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Before that, Max served two terms as President of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union.
François Paulette is A Dene Suline and member of the Smith’s Landing Treaty 8 First Nation. He survived the residential school system before going on to become the youngest Chief in the NWT Indian Brotherhood in 1971. Over the next decade, he served as Chief in his own community and as Vice-Chief of the Dene Nation. In 1972, along with sixteen other chiefs from the Mackenzie Valley, he challenged the crown to recognize treaty and aboriginal rights and title to over 450,000 square miles of land in the historic Paulette case. He was also an outspoken advocate of treaty and aboriginal rights during the Berger Inquiry into the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline and in appearances before the National Energy Board.
As Chief Negotiator for Smith’s Landing First Nation, François drew on his negotiation skills training from the Harvard and Banff Schools of Management and worked diligently to conclude a Final Settlement Agreement in 2000. He continues to serve as a consultant and negotiator for other First Nations, notably the Łutsel k’e Dene First Nation as they participate in the creation of the Thaydene Nene National Park. He also continues to involve himself in efforts to protect the natural environment of Denendeh.
Born and raised in Northern Saskatchewan, Harold Johnson has a Master of Law degree from Harvard University. He has served in the Canadian Navy, and worked in mining and logging. Johnson is the author of five novels and one work of non-fiction, which are largely set in northern Saskatchewan against a background of traditional Cree mythology. The Cast Stone (2011) won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction. .Johnson currently practices law as a Crown Prosecutor in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, and balances this with operating his family's traditional trap line using a dog team. In both his personal and professional life, Cree lawyer Harold R. Johnson has witnessed too many lives ruined by alcohol in his Saskatchewan community. The loss of his younger brother to a drunk driver has inspired his new book Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (And Yours), which is nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award.
Andrea Landry is also known by her Indigenous name, which is Migizi Odey Kwe, meaning Eagle Heart Woman. She comes from Pays Plat First Nation in Ontario, Canada, part of the Anishinaabe (Ojibway) has built a life on Treaty 6 territory in Poundmaker Cree Nation. She has completed her masters in communications and social justice. She has a background in social work and has spent many years working with families and young people in a variety of spaces. Andrea is a former youth executive for the National Association of Friendship Centres and North American Representative for the United Nations Global Indigenous Youth Caucus. Through the work she has spoken up to world leaders and governments about the injustices in which indigenous peoples face in this country, as well as globally. Andrea currently teaches indigenous studies and political science at the University of Saskatchewan. Andrea also is a therapist for Thunderchild First Nation and does community work in the areas of grief and recovery, suicide prevention, sexual abuse, and family systems.
Dr. Lessard’s home community is the Montreal Lake Cree Nation of Northern Saskatchewan, but a non-Aboriginal rural family in North Battleford adopted him as a child. Frequent trips between both worlds allowed him to develop strong attachments to both communities, which shaped his sense of self. He came to realize that there isn’t one singular story of identity, which now makes up the heart of his research.
Dr. Lessard unpacks his personal experiences of place by teaching “sideways”, or narratively, using inquiry to provoke dialogue and counteract the strong stereotypes of Indigenous peoples that exist among many young teacher- candidates.
As co-founder of the Growing Young Movers Youth Program, Dr. Lessard is working alongside community as a pedagogical space. This program forms an inter-generational living space in North-Central Regina, integrating the teachings of Indigenous families and Elders to deliver wellness activities outside of school for Indigenous youth – many or whom are transitioning from Treaty home communities and experiencing many institutional challenges and barriers as they adjust to urban living. Six Indigenous high school students serve as mentors to the younger students while Dr. Lessard’s teacher-candidates challenge their assumptions and contribute their observations to the ongoing research each week during the school year. Changes made from their findings include the use of different teaching spaces and physical movement activities to foster an environment of positivity and inclusion.
Dr. Lessard is building an impressive research agenda that aims to support classroom teachers in pedagogical considerations of what it means to engage meaningfully in fostering success for Indigenous learners with significant socio-economic and socio-cultural challenges in formal and informal learning spaces. His work has the potential to transform education for Indigenous learners in Canada and internationally.
A well-known, long-standing, and highly regarded cultural leader and mentor in our community, Maria Linklater was born at the Thunderchild Frist Nation, and raised by her grandmother until the age of seven, when she was forced to attend residential school. Maria has dedicated much of her life to child welfare. She was employed by many social service agencies, and lovingly cared for over 350 foster children, many with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Maria offered each of these children a safe place, loving environment - one that supported pride in their cultural identify.
Angie Caron is a Métis woman from Saskatoon and a proud descendant of the historic Métis community of Round Prairie. Angie is currently the principal at Westmount Community School in Saskatoon. Prior to her current role, she spent two years seconded from Saskatoon Public Schools to the Ministry of Education to provide Métis perspective in the education sector planning. Angie has spent the majority of her career working in community schools. She has been a Student Support Teacher working with First Nation and Métis students, an Instructional Consultant for First Nations and Métis Education, a classroom teacher, a Resource teacher, and a Vice-Principal. Angie also has experience in working with First Nations and Métis youth involved in the justice system. Angie’s Masters of Education research focused on engaging Métis and First Nations parents in schools.
Sheryl Kimbley is a proud member of the Big River First Nation. Calling her home Prince Albert for most of her life, she promotes pride in where you live. Daughter of Lawrence & Priscilla Joseph, Sheryl surrounds herself with family and friends in the entertainment industry to help her do the projects she does.
Recipient of YWCA Women of distinction award in the arts for Prince Albert, CTV hometown hero, 1st annual FSIN Strength of a Woman awards in arts and entertainment, inducted into the Prince Albert Womens Hall of Fame and most recently named as the 2016 Prince Albert Citizen of the year, it has become her focal point to ensure the youth she works with see her working for them and with them.
Producer of Voices of the North, music has always been her passion and connects her to Northern Saskatchewan. When her good friend Bernice Sayese became ill, she reminded Sheryl that more work needed to be done to reach our Northern Youth. As a result of those words Northern Spirits was developed and it will celebrate its 10th year this year in February. Music and organization of s stage/show has been the model for giving youth confidence and encouragement to move forward with whatever their passions are.
Working with the Prince Albert Grand Council has given Sheryl opportunities to network with community organizations and help each other get involved and learn more about each other. Sitting on several boards/councils, volunteering and working as a special events coordinator at PAGC keeps her plate very full, but not too full to enjoy her family, husband Grant and sons LJ, Kyle and Kolton... Not to mention the beautiful youth she has grown to love across Northern Saskatchewan!
TJ Warren & Omiyosiw Warren
T.J. Warren is a Diné Navajo. He is of the Tł’ógí diné Tódích’íi’ni, the Zia Pueblo Bitterwatter Clan of the Diné. He is born for the Bit’ahni, the Folded Arms Clan. His maternal grandparents are of the Tł’ááshchí’í, Red Bottom clan, his paternal grandparents are of the Kinłichíi’nii, the Red Towering House clan. Now a resident of Saskatoon, he is originally of the Diné Nation Red Mesa Arizona. At 32 years old he has a vast background of experience from traveling across North American and participating in many capacities as a youth ambassador for Native American/First Nations Culture. Now married to his wife Dabney Warren of the Big River Nehiyawak First Nations, he has 2 children - one 10 years old, Omiyosiw Nazbah Warren and another 5 years old, Kiihibaa Acahkos Warren. While working as an advocate for the Resurgence of Indigenous culture, and language he has worked extensively with Saskatoon Public and Catholic schools, Saskatchewan Indian Culture Centre, the Whitebuffalo Youth Lodge, Wanuskewin Heritage Park and has worked with SaskTourism as great representive and role model for all Native American/First Nations people. He is Curently a student in the Indigenous Teachers Education Program with the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan, majoring in Indigenous Studies and a minor in Art.
Omiyosiw Nazbah Warren is 10 years old. She is of the Nehiyawak people, and is born for the Tł’ógí diné Tódích’íi’ni, the Zia Pueblo Bitterwatter Clan of the Diné, her maternal grandparents are of the Nehiyawak people and her grandparents are of the Bit’ahni, the Folded Arms Clan of the Diné people. She is a grade 5 student with the S.A.G.E Saskatoons Academically Gifted Education program at Caswell school, she is a great representative of our First Nations youth. Not only a great student in our schools but a great student of our language, culture and traditions. She is a champion in the classroom and on the dance floor as a jr girls jingle dress dancer.
Simon Bird comes from the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and was raised in the community of Southend, Reindeer Lake: home of the Rock Cree. He is the proud father of two children; Sabriya and Kiyanaw. He has been married for 15 years to Naomi Thunderchild-Bird from the Thunderchild First Nation. Simon is proud of the fact that his first language is Cree as it was taught to him as a child and continues to surround himself with fluent speakers to ensure the language is retained. He was raised to be an avid hunter, fishermen and taught the essential skills necessary to thrive in his people’s traditional ways.
One of Simon’s most valued skill is the work ethic he has learned from home through the practice of his traditional pursuits. In transferring these skills from life on the land to his journey beyond his people’s traditional boundaries. Today Simon acknowledges this as a foundation of his character. He is a strong believer in both learning traditional skills and formal education. The lessons taught in the bush are just as valuable within the classroom and are directly applicable in every walk of life. Simon believes it is critical to continue learning and keep asking questions from elders while they still hold open the door to our past.
It is his philosophy that continues to serve Simon well in his professional working career in education or in politics. He has served as; a teacher, a Principal, Liaison, coach and as a Superintendent of Education. Prior to returning to the field of education, he served as Vice Chief of the F.S.I.N where he held the Education portfolio for the majority of his term. Three months shy of the completion of his three year term, he and his family decided to spend more time together and relinquish his public service.
Shortly after leaving politics, Simon continued to follow his education passion by assuming the position of Superintendent of Education for the Stoney Education Authority. The Stoney Nakoda territory is home to three communities with a total of four schools. While holding the position Simon enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan for his second Master degree. He is currently one class shy from receiving his Master of Northern Governance and Development.
Currently, Simon is the Principal/Education Director for the Senator Allan Bird Memorial School located in the Montreal Lake Cree Nation. It is here where is able to once again return to Northern Saskatchewan, but also focus more on his second passion; Cree language revitalization and retention. Simon’s spare time he hosts a language initiative that is aimed at making learning fun through social media. He hopes that every user will not simply take what is being taught on the social media site, but will take the lessons learned and ask others to confirm; thus spreading the dialogue of one our largest First Nations language groups in Canada.