Sheila Watt Cloutier
Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sheila Watt-Cloutier is in the business of transforming public opinion into public policy. Experienced in working with global decision-makers for more than a decade, Watt-Cloutier offers a new model for 21st century leadership. She speaks with passion and urgency on the issues of today — the environment, the economy, foreign policy, global health, and sustainability — not as separate concerns, but as a deeply interconnected whole. At a time when people are seeking solutions, direction, and a sense of hope, this global leader provides a big picture of where we are and where we’re headed.
In 2007, Watt-Cloutier was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy work in showing the impact of global climate change on human rights — especially in the Arctic, where it is felt more immediately, and more dramatically, than anywhere else in the world. Watt-Cloutier is an Officer of the Order of Canada; the recipient of the Aboriginal Achievement Award; the UN Champion of the Earth Award; the Norwegian Sophie Prize; and the Right Livelihood Award, which she won in November, 2015 and is widely considered the “Nobel Alternative”.
From 1995-2002, Watt-Cloutier was elected the Canadian President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC). She was later elected in 2002 to become the International Chair of the ICC, representing the 155,000 Inuit from Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Russia — she held this post until 2006.
Widely recognized for her influential work, Watt-Cloutier gave a TEDx Talk in 2016 titled “Human Trauma and Climate Trauma as One”. She is also the author of the memoir, The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet, which was nominated for the 2016 BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. In 2017, the book was shortlisted for CBC Canada Reads, defended by Chantal Kreviazuk. Watt-Cloutier was also shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize.
Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, Okanagan Nation Jeannette Armstrong is Syilx Okanagan, a fluent speaker of Nsyilxcn and a traditional knowledge keeper of the Okanagan Nation and a founder of En’owkin, the Syilx knowledge revitalization institution of higher learning. She currently holds the Canada Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Knowledge and Philosophy at UBC Okanagan. She has a Ph.D. in Environmental Ethics and Syilx Indigenous Literatures. She is the recipient of the EcoTrust Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership. She is an author and Indigenous activist whose published works include literary titles and academic writing on a wide variety of Indigenous issues. She currently serves on Canada’s Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
Professor Deborah McGregor joined York University’s Osgoode Hall law faculty in 2015 as a cross-appointee with the Faculty of Environmental Studies. Professor McGregor’s research has focused on Indigenous knowledge systems and their various applications in diverse contexts including water and environmental governance, environmental justice, forest policy and management, and sustainable development.
Her research has been published in a variety of national and international journals and she has delivered numerous public and academic presentations relating to Indigenous knowledge systems, governance and sustainability. She is currently the Primary Investigator on two projects: (1) Indigenous Environmental (In)Justice: theory and practice. (2) Indigenizing the First Nations Land Management Regime.
Professor McGregor is Anishinaabe from Whitefish River First Nation, Birch Island, Ontario.
Autumn Peltier is a fourteen year old Anishinabbe-kwe and a member of the Wikwemikong First Nation. She has gained national and international recognition for her advocacy for clean water for Indigenous communities in Canada. In 2018, she addressed the UN General Assembly on World Water Day to tell global leaders to better manage and preserve world water resources. Autumn Peltier has demonstrated strong leadership as an Indigenous youth who advocates for universal access to clean drinking water. She was the only Canadian nominated for the 2017 Children’s International Peace Prize and was nominated again in 2018 and 2019. She was recently named Top 30 under 30 in North America for Environmental Education making a difference. She has inspired youth around the world to stand up and fight for environmental rights.
Christi Belcourt is a Michif (Métis) visual artist with a deep respect for Mother Earth, the traditions and the knowledge of her people. In addition to her paintings she is also known as a community-based artist, environmentalist and advocate for the lands, waters and Indigenous peoples. She is currently a lead organizer for the Onaman Collective which focuses on resurgence of language and land based practices. She is also the lead coordinator for Walking With Our Sisters, a community-driven project that honours murdered or missing Indigenous women. Her work Giniigaaniimenaaning (Looking Ahead) commemorates residential school survivors, their families and communities to mark the Prime Minister’s historic Apology in 2008 and is installed at Centre Block on Parliament Hill commissioned by the Government of Canada. She was named the Aboriginal Arts Laureate by the Ontario Arts Council in 2015. In 2016 she won a Governor General’s Innovation Award and was named the winner of the 2016 Premier’s Awards in the Arts. Author of Medicines To Help Us (Gabriel Dumont Institute, 2007) and Beadwork (Ningwakwe Learning Press, 2010). Christi’s work is found within the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gabriel Dumont Institute, the Indian and Inuit Art Collection, Parliament Hill, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery and Canadian Museum of Civilization, First People’s Hall.
Indigenous Leadership Initiative
Valérie is a registered professional forester who specializes in Indigenous issues, forest ecology and ecosystem-based management and planning. She is a member of the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh, located on the shore of Peikuakami, or Lac-St-Jean.
Courtois holds a degree in forestry sciences from the Université de Moncton. She has served as a forestry advisor for the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador, forestry planner for the Innu Nation, and as a consultant in Aboriginal forestry, including certification and spatial planning, and caribou planning. In 2007, she was awarded the James M. Kitz award from the Canadian Institute of Forestry for her early-career contributions to the forestry profession.
Courtois has been the Director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative since 2013. In addition to her work in conservation and planning, Courtois is an avid photographer. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Corporation du Mushuau–nipi, a non-profit that encourages cultural and professional exchanges on the George River. She lives in Happy Valley—Goose Bay, Labrador.
Enaahtig Healing Lodge and Learning Centre
Nena was born and raised along the Seneca territory of New York and Pennsylvania, a member of the wolf clan. As a young adult she moved to southern Ontario and has lived around the Great Lakes all her life. While she has traveled extensively in North and Central America, her work experience has been exclusively in Canada among Native peoples.
With over 35 years in Aboriginal organizations, Nena has worked in the field of community development including: Native way education, Aboriginal family support, human resource and organizational development training. Nena worked for many years as a trainer/developer for the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centers. She became the first executive director for the Enaahtig Healing Lodge and Learning Centre in 1995, a position she still holds today.
Throughout her career, Nena has had the opportunity to learn and study with numerous Elders and Traditional people and has actively incorporated those teachings into her personal and professional life.
A mother of four, grandmother to three and foster mother to dozens, Nena resides with members of her family at the family horse farm in south central Ontario. Aside from breeding and training horses, the farm strives to maintain indigenous seed stock through planting, sharing and storing seeds.
With her busy schedule, Nena strives to stay in tune with the changing times and is usually at some government table or community board, assisting where possible in the development of our collective community, ensuring that our voice and views are shared.
Jan Kahehti:io Longboat
Jan Kahehti:io Longboat, Turtle Clan of the Mohawk Nation, is an Elder, educator, writer, herbalist, cultural advocate, and visionary, having dedicated her life to the dissemination and learning of Indigenous language and culture.
Kahehti:io is currently an Elder Advisor to the Ministry of Justice: Indigenous Peoples’ Court in Brantford. She taught at Mohawk College, McMaster University, and the University of Toronto and has worked with several Indigenous health centres.
Kahehti:io received her degree as a Natural Health Practitioner from the Canadian College of Natural Medicine and received a degree in counseling from Laurentian University. She continues to live, teach, write, and garden on the Six Nations of the Grand River, where she was born and raised.
Brenda Macdougall is a leading expert in the history of Métis and First Nations and Ontario’s first Chair in Métis Research.
Professor Macdougall established The Métis Family and Community Research Lab at the University of Ottawa that is creating a genealogical map of Métis history in Ontario and the Great Plains. She has presented her findings in scholarly articles and books, including her first book, One of the Family: Metis Culture in Nineteenth-Century Northwestern Saskatchewan, and in a collection of essays she co-edited, entitled Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History.
She is an enthusiastic and committed educator and currently teaches a third-year undergraduate course entitled “Social Landscape of Métis Communities,” which is open to all students of various academic backgrounds.
Thomas R. Porter (Sakokwenionkwas-“The One Who Wins”) has been the founder, spokesperson and spiritual leader of the Mohawk Community of Kanatsiohareke (Ga na jo ha lay gay) located in the Mohawk Valley near Fonda, New York since 1993. He is a member of the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. (Akwesasne, also known as the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, straddles the New York State/Canadian border near Massena, New York.) He is married to Alice Joe Porter who is Choctaw, and has six children.
Tom “Sakokwenionkwas” Porter has been a nationally recognized figure in Indian Country since the 1960’s when he co-founded the White Roots of Peace, a group of Iroquois Elders who toured the country sharing traditional teachings and encouraging Indians to embrace their respective Native traditions. Recognizing that Mohawk language and culture were dying out, he also co-founded the Akwesasne Freedom School for grades K-8, with a curriculum entirely in Mohawk. Mr. Porter is recognized nationally as a compassionate and inspirational speaker about the destructive effects of substance abuse on Indian families, communities and nations. As an educator, Tom has taught a range of subjects at the Akwesasne Freedom School, Trent University, Akwesasne and the Tyiendinaga Reserve, and has worked as a cultural researcher and consultant for the North American Indian Traveling College. Mr. Porter is the author of the book Our Ways, a study of Iroquoian clan systems, published by the North American Indian Traveling College, and has received the Rothko Chapel Award for commitment to truth and freedom.
For further information, please see: http://www.mohawkcommunity.com/tomscorner.html