Kanyen’kehaka, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Ontario
Over nearly thirty years of work as an artist and curator, Greg Hill has been a unique voice for Indigenous issues in his art, and an advocate for other Indigenous artists as a curator. The first Indigenous curator at the National Gallery of Canada, since 2000 he has dramatically increased the representation of Indigenous artists in the permanent collection and on display in the galleries, nearly doubling the collection in the years since he became the inaugural Audain Chair and head of the Department of Indigenous Art. Greg has curated major retrospective exhibitions and written catalogues for some of the most acclaimed Indigenous artists in Canada including: Norval Morrisseau, Carl Beam, and most recently, Alex Janvier. Greg was co-curator for Sakahan: International Indigenous Art, the National Gallery’s largest ever exhibition and the only recurring global survey of contemporary Indigenous art in the world. Greg is now hard at work on the next one coming in the fall of 2019.
Business & Commerce
Mikisew Cree First Nation, Alberta
Nicole Bourque-Bouchier is a business leader, philanthropist, and an advocate for Indigenous women’s economic empowerment. As co-owner and Chief Executive Officer of The Bouchier Group, one of Alberta’s largest Indigenous-owned companies, she is one of the most influential women in Canada. In 2015, she was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women. Not only does Nicole empower other women through her example as a woman with the top job in a male-dominated field, she is also actively engaged in elevating other Indigenous women. In 2013, Nicole spearheaded an ad series called Paving Pathways to Success, Applauding Aboriginal Women in Business, where eight local women were recognized for adding value and awareness to Indigenous women’s economic security in the region.Nicole exemplifies Indigenous reciprocity through the more than $3 million that she has contributed through both The Bouchier Group and personally to local organizations, initiatives, and Indigenous communities in the Fort McMurray region.
Culture, Heritage & Spirituality
Kye7e Cecilia Dick DeRose
Secwepemc Nation, British Columbia
Despite being discouraged from speaking her language at St. Joseph’s Residential School, Kye7e Cecilia DeRose is a champion of language revitalization. Since 1980, she has been teaching Secwepemctsin to students of all ages and has helped develop university Indigenous language programs. In the 1980s, Cecilia sat on the Katie Ross Inquiry, which recommended that interpreters be provided to Indigenous people and that public servants be provided cross-cultural training. Cecilia then undertook the interpreter course and was available to interpret and provide cross cultural training for the hospital, RCMP, and courts. Cecilia recently created a Hide Tanning Kit and Instruction Book and has assisted in developing and teaching a course on Secwepemc ethnobotany. Cecilia lives by what her father told her the first time she was taken by the missionaries to residential school: “Always be proud to be an Indian.”
Culture, Heritage & Spirituality
Walpole Island Bkejwanong Territory, Ontario
At just fourteen years old, Theland is a singer, dancer, activist and an educator of Indigenous culture and history. Known as the Cree Drummer who led the current Prime Minister and Cabinet into Rideau Hall in 2015, Theland has used his spotlight to elevate Indigenous issues. In 2017, he completed his third annual 130km run from Ottawa to Kitigan Zibi in partnership with Families of Sisters in Spirit to raise awareness for the children of missing and murdered Indigenous women. He is also a facilitator of the KAIROS Blanket Exercise where he lends his wisdom and compassion to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people learning about the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada. In grade three, he wrote a letter to his school explaining why an annual pow wow would be an excellent teaching opportunity for the school and as a result, in 2017, Century Public School celebrated its fourth annual pow wow.
Dr. Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams
Lil’wat Nation, British Columbia
Dr. Lorna Wanosts’a7 Williams is Professor Emerita of Indigenous Education, Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Victoria and Canada Research Chair in Education and Linguistics. She built her career on the principle that quality education for Indigenous children must be characterized by strong cultural teachings alongside a Euro-Western education. As a child, Wanosts’a7 lost her language as a result of her residential school experience, but relearned it with the help of her family and community. She eventually helped to develop the writing system for Lil’wat and co-authored the first curriculum and learning resources for teachers to teach the language in school. At the University of Victoria, Dr. Williams initiated and led the development of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Indigenous Language Revitalization, and a Master’s in Counseling in Indigenous Communities. She also initiated, designed, and implemented a mandatory course in Indigenous Education for all teacher education students, leading to the requirement that all teacher education programs in British Columbia include an Indigenous Education course.
Dr. Evelyn Voyageur
Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, British Columbia
Dr. Evelyn Voyageur is a survivor of St. Michael’s Residential School, a fluent speaker of Kwakwala, and an active matriarch in the Kwakwaka’wakw culture. She has dedicated her life to improving the health of Indigenous peoples through her more than five decades in the nursing profession. In the early 1980s, Dr. Voyageur founded the Native and Inuit Nurses Association of British Columbia to help educate those who work with First Nations communities, and from 1999 to 2003, she supported survivors at the Indian Residential School Society. Since 1980, she has been active in the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association, and was its President from 2010-2012. In 2003, she earned her PhD in Behavioural Science in Psychology. Dr. Voyageur has been working to transform curricula to bring cultural awareness to nursing programs at the University of Victoria and North Island College, where she is the current Elder in Residence.
Law & Justice
St. Laurent, Manitoba
Paul Chartrand is a legal practitioner and a retired Professor of Law who has lent his expertise to some of the most significant developments in law and policy for Indigenous peoples in recent history. In 1991 Paul Chartrand was appointed one of the seven commissioners to Canada’s Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The resulting report included 440 recommendations for transforming the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and governments in Canada and has become a framework for reconciliation. The report has led to historic initiatives like the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. For nearly three decades, Mr. Chartrand participated as a representative and an advisor to Indigenous organizations in the process leading up to the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The creation and adoption of UNDRIP is a significant milestone in the protection and promotion of Indigenous rights not only in Canada, but around the world. The Declaration was officially adopted by the Government of Canada in 2016.
Dr. Mike DeGagné
Animakee Wa Zhing #37, Ontario
Dr. Mike DeGagné is President and Vice Chancellor of Nipissing University. He hopes to “indigenize the academy” and is especially committed to helping Indigenous students find and achieve their life’s purpose. Dr. DeGagné has over 25 years of leadership experience in public service. He was an Executive in the federal public service, serving with Health Canada, and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. His career began in the addictions field, and continued to comprehensive claims negotiation. In 1998, Dr. DeGagné became the founding Executive Director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. In that role, he worked on a national level to encourage and support community-developed, community-delivered, and culturally-based initiatives addressing the intergenerational effects of abuses suffered in the Indian Residential School System. For his dedication to this work, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2014 and Member of the Order of Ontario in 2010.
Thunderchild First Nation, Saskatchewan
Michael Linklater is the top-ranked three-on-three basketball player in all of the Americas. In 2010, he led the University of Saskatchewan Huskies basketball team to their first CIS national championship. In 2017, he played with Team Saskatoon in the 3×3 World Tour Final in Beijing. Perhaps even more impressive than Michael’s athleticism is his commitment to being a positive role model for Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. He is the owner and head coach of Prime Basketball Development, where he teaches young basketball players how to become champions on and off the court. He also travels to First Nations communities and hosts individual and team development clinics. As a kid, Michael was bullied relentlessly for his braids, so when his sons suffered the same racism, the proud Nehiyaw (Cree) started an international movement called Boys with Braids to teach Indigenous youth and those who work with them, about the cultural significance of long hair for Indigenous men.
Youth – First Nation
Enoch Cree Nation, Alberta
In 2015, Ashley Callingbull became the first Canadian and first First Nations woman to be crowned Mrs. Universe. In the ensuing media frenzy that followed her historic win, she began to use her platform to be a voice for Indigenous issues. During the federal election happening at the same time, she helped push the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls to the forefront of political discussion. She shares her own story of using her Cree culture to overcome childhood physical and sexual abuse to show young people going through the same thing, that there is hope. Ashley is deeply rooted in her culture and through her visibility, has managed to break down stereotypes of Indigenous peoples. In addition to her work in the community, she is an accomplished actor, appearing on APTN’s Blackstone, was part of the first First Nations team on The Amazing Race Canada, and is a spokesperson and model for the Nike N7 organization.
Youth – Inuit
Dr. Donna May Kimmaliardjuk
Dr. Donna May Kimmaliardjuk is the very first Inuk to become a heart surgeon. Currently in her fourth year of a six-year residency program at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, she was accepted in 2014 as one of only ten cardiac surgery residents in all of Canada. In 2016, Dr. Kimmaliardjuk joined the National Aboriginal Council on HIV/AIDS as the Inuit representative, where she provides the council with a unique and crucial perspective combining her knowledge of medicine and Inuit culture. While earning a Bachelor of Sciences Honours at Queen’s University, she served as president of the Queen’s Native Students’ Association for two years and was a student representative on the Queen’s University Aboriginal Council. Through her hard work and dedication, she is not only bridging the gap for Inuit accessing medical services, but she is leading the way for the next generation of Inuit youth to follow in her footsteps.
Youth – Métis
St. Laurent, Manitoba
At just nineteen years old, Tracie Léost is a young Indigenous leader, activist, and track and field athlete. In 2014, Tracie won three bronze medals under the Métis flag at the North American Indigenous Games in Regina. In 2015, after learning of the disappearance of more and more Indigenous women and feeling a growing sense of frustration about the lack of political will to launch an inquiry into the issue, Tracie set out on a four-day 115km run to raise awareness. She raised over $6,000 for the Families First Foundation and garnered international attention. In September 2016, the Government of Canada launched the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Now in her second year in the Indigenous Social Work Program at the University of Regina, she continues to advocate for Indigenous peoples.
Dr. Gloria Cranmer Webster
‘Namgis First Nation, British Columbia
Dr. Gloria Cranmer Webster is recognized for her work in cultural reclamation, artifact repatriation, and language revitalization. In 1921, the federal government confiscated masks, regalia, and other treasures from a Potlatch ceremony hosted by Chief Dan Cranmer, Gloria’s father. As Assistant Curator at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, Gloria helped to return the collection to her community. In 1975, Gloria returned to her home in Alert Bay to lead the design and construction of the U’mista Cultural Centre, which would house the Potlatch Collection. The Centre remains a place for cultural revitalization for the community and the many visitors who travel to the island to learn about Kwakwaka’wakw culture. Dr. Cranmer Webster is also a champion of the Kwak’wala language. At a time when it was on the verge of extinction, Gloria, along with the Old People and Dr. J. Powell, a linguist from the University of BC, developed an orthography and a series of twelve language books, which paved the way for its preservation.