Guest Panel

Shirley Williams - Midewiwin and a member of the Bird Clan from the Wikwemikong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island.

Elder Williams is Midewiwin and a member of the Bird Clan from the Wikwemikong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island. She credits her parents and Elders for teaching her the language and knowledge of her people, motivating her to teach the language and giving her the framework upon which to do so. A survivor of Canada’s residential school system, Elder Williams vowed to always make learning inspirational and fun for her students. Identified by former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson as a Role Model for Survivors, Elder Williams is Professor Emerita at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, where she has taught and researched the Anishinaabe language since 1986. She is the only Indigenous person in Canada to achieve the rank of full Professor as a Dual Traditional Scholar, recognizing her traditional Indigenous knowledge, as well as her outstanding research and publication record. Elder Williams is a Student Cultural Advisor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College. She also contributes as an Elder at Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College’s campuses in Peterborough and Lindsay. She continues to design and deliver language and cultural knowledge courses. Elder Williams has published important Anishinaabemowin-language teaching resources on topics ranging from animals to hockey to treaties through her publishing firm, Neganigwane Co. She contributes simultaneous translation services for various organizations including the Ontario Ministry of Education, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Heritage Canada and the Union of Ontario Indians. She advises the Chiefs of Ontario and Aboriginal Physicians of Canada on health programming. Her work has resulted in significant service delivery changes in major regional health-care centres in Sudbury and most recently, Toronto General Hospital. As an early advocate of computer technology as a teaching tool, one of Elder Williams’ first significant publications was a language CD-ROM using hockey as a platform to engage Elders and youth in learning the Ojibwe language and sharing intergenerational knowledge. In 2016, she received the Canadian Union of Public Employees Award for Excellence in Teaching, confirming the integral role Elders play in the learning environment of universities. A lifelong learner, she is currently working towards her second-level Midewiwin degree. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Indigenous Studies from Trent University, a Native Language Instructors diploma from Lakehead University, a Certificate in Curriculum Development from the University of Oklahoma and a Master in Environmental Studies degree from York University.

Bernard Nelson - Residential School Survivor of Pelican Lake Indian Residential School

I Bernard Nelson am a Residential School Survivor of Pelican Lake Indian Residential School in Sioux Lookout, ON. I come from a background of Cree and Ojibway, Cree coming from my mother’s side; originating in Eabmontoong (Fort Hope) First Nation and Ojibway on my father’s side; his people coming from White Sand First Nation. I was born in Ombabika in 1958, where my grandmother delivered me. I live my life according to the Seven Grandfather Traditional Teachings, Love, Respect, Honesty, Humility, Bravery, Wisdom, and Truth and by practicing the Ceremonial ways of our ancestral people. I work with the ALOY Program at the Royal Military College in Kingston, ON and have worked there for 10 years. I am a sweat lodge conductor, a Sundancer, Eagle Staff Carrier and a Men’s Traditional Dancer. Being a First Nations person does not make me superior to my fellow brothers and sisters. When I began living this way I was a helper to my elders. Today I carry a pipe for the people and I humbly respect the responsibilities that come with it. I will continue to do Creators work and help the people wherever requested. Mii Gwech, Bernard Nelson

Mary George - Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle President

Mary is an Algonquin Anishnawbe Kwe from Pikwakanagan First Nation who has made Oshawa her home for the last 18 years with her husband and daughter.  Mary has worked diligently within the Aboriginal Community of Durham Region for the past 8 years.  She is currently the Aboriginal Project Coordinator with Carea Community Health Centre and the President of Bawaajigewin Aboriginal Community Circle. Mary is a strong advocate for Aboriginal Families and Children in Durham Region and continues to strive to bring forward cultural programs and services for the benefit of all.  She believes strongly in the Indigenous Worldview of our 7 Generations.  The work she does is to help create better opportunities for the next 7 generations of our Indigenous children and youth.

Cheri Maracle- is a multi-award nominated Singer and Actress from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Ontario.

Cheri Maracle is a multi-award nominated Singer and Actress from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Ontario. Cheri has been performing in Canada, the U.S. and Europe in the last 20 years, and has extensive music, theatre, television & film credits to her name. Cheri’s early music influences began in Women’s traditional handrum group Tiyoweh. She then penned two original music albums, Closer To Home (2006), and If I Am Water (2013), to critical acclaim, both available on iTunes. Cheri’s original music style is jazz fueled, percussion driven, layered with her trademark smooth, sultry smokey vocals at once evocative, haunting and unforgettable.  Her recent release, jazz CD, titled Ache of Love, reflects her passion for fiery torch driven diva inspired songs and is her most complex writing so far. Cheri nominated for the prestigious K.M. Hunter Theatre award 2007, and 2014 for her body of theatrical work, and from 2006-2008 was an artistic associate of the Dora award winning Aboriginal women’s theatre company, Turtle Gals. Selected theatre credits include; Paddle Song, One woman show, for High Performance Rodeo 2016, The Road to Paradise (Crow’s Theatre), The Road Forward, (Red Diva Projects), The Rez Sisters, (Belfry Theatre), Death of a Chief (The National Arts Centre, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre). Cheri’s role as Sarah Bull, on the critically acclaimed drama series Blackstone, earned her a Canadian Screen Award nomination for best supporting actress in a featured role, 2014. Selected tv credits include; DeGrassi,(CTV), Blackstone Three Seasons (APTN), Murdoch Mysteries(CBC), Moccasin Flats, 2 seasons (APTN, Showcase), Blackfly, 2 seasons (Global), Dead Man’s Gun, (Showtime), Co-host of the Indspire Awards, 2007 & 2014 (Global, APTN) Indian:suite (film), and award winning feature film Tkaronto (APTN).

Jeremy Hoyle - Strictly Hip Cover Band

Strictly Hip is perhaps the only Tragically Hip cover band south of the border. Hoyle, who hails from St. Catharines, Ont., moved his band to Buffalo in 1999, where he quickly found gigs playing four or five nights a week in the city and surrounding area—mostly Lake Ontario towns where Canadian radio wields some influence. Strictly Hip has likely introduced thousands of new American listeners to the Tragically Hip’s music; in 2010, they won the inaugural Buffalo Music Awards’ Hall of Achievement Award. “The interest in the music is bigger than it ever was,” says Hoyle, “and I say that having done this since Day For Night came out in 1994 when the Hip were at the height of their powers.” Every Friday in January, Strictly Hip played a 500-person capacity venue in Buffalo, with each show dedicated to one of the Hip’s first six albums; all the shows sold out but one. They’ve filled the place three more times since, and are set to perform an outdoor gig with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on June 30, doing symphonic adaptations of Hip songs. On the side, Hoyle visits high schools in Ontario, giving a lecture about Canadian identity illustrated through Tragically Hip songs. “It worries me that people who don’t know our story will think we’re opportunists or something,” says Hoyle. “We’re very careful about it, and I think people understand.”