Biographies: Members of the Survivor-led Steering Committee for the Residential Schools National Monument
On April 29, 2022, Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the 16 members of the newly formed Survivor-led Steering Committee that will guide work on the Residential Schools National Monument.
Members were selected through a combination of direct appointments and a public nomination process managed by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
The committee includes representatives from First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. They will convene for the inaugural meeting in May. It is expected that each member will serve a minimum two-year term.
The Steering Committee will oversee the Monument project through to its completion, ensuring the project remains grounded in Indigenous values. Committee members will also provide advice and guidance on such matters as site selection, the design process, and the development of educational content and on-site programming.
Dr. Evan Adams
Intergenerational Survivor and Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Dr. Evan Adams is a Coast Salish actor and public health physician from the Tla’amin First Nation near Powell River, British Columbia. He was the first person to fill the role of Aboriginal Health Physician Advisor in the Office of the Provincial Health Officer in British Columbia, a position he held from 2007 to 2012. He then served as Deputy Provincial Health Officer from 2012 to 2014. In 2014, he was inducted as a TRC Honorary Witness by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Since 2014 Dr. Adams has been Chief Medical Officer with the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia; in this capacity he works closely with government partners on population and public health issues. He is engaged in ongoing health care system transformation initiatives and is proud to bring forward wellness directives generated by First Nations communities. As of May 2020, he is serving a three-year appointment with Indigenous Services Canada as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Public Health.
Residential School Survivor
Elder Eugene Arcand, a Cree from the Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, spent nine years at the St. Michael Indian Residential School in Duck Lake and two years at the St. Paul’s Lebret Students Residence, both in Saskatchewan.
First Nation Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Mr. Arcand has dedicated much of his time to organizing regional and national events—First Nations sports events, cultural events, tourism events, and events geared to the advancement of First Nations youth.
Over the past few years, through the Indian Residential Schools Survivor Committee at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Governing Circle, he has worked to ensure that both the public and Survivor communities are kept informed of the developments and processes associated with the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. Eugene was successful because of the support and love of his wife Lorna Arcand, who he has been married to for 50 years, and his family. Together, they raised three children, seven grandchildren and three chapan.
Residential School Survivor
Madeleine Basile is originally from the Atikamekw Nation of Wemotaci, Quebec. Coming from a family of seven children (four sisters and two brothers), at the age of six Madeleine attended the Pointe-Bleue Indian Residential School for 10 years. As a mother and kokom, family is important to her. She worked for 10 years in communications, mainly in Atikamekw language radio. Following this, she studied social work which led her to work in the urban community of La Tuque for a period of seven years. In 2004, she applied for the position of regional coordinator of the Koskikiwetan healing project at the Atikamekw Nation Council in La Tuque. The Koskikwetan project was one of the many projects funded by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation that ended in 2010. Currently, she is still working with the Atikamekw Nation Council to manage the Residential School Health Support Program, where she and her team members provide emotional and cultural support services.
In 2010 she was a member of the National Survivor Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, whose mandate ended in 2015 with the submission of the report to the federal government.
Residential School Survivor
Dorene Bernard is a Mi’kmaq Grassroots Grandmother, Water Protector, Water Walker, and Survivor of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School.
Ms. Bernard has over 25 years of experience in Social Work, focusing on Native Child Welfare and Community Support with Survivors and families of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. She has worked with Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre (MDCC) for several years, documenting the history and legacy of the Indian Residential School and the Indian Residential School (IRS) Commemoration Project. She was the Coady International Institute Chair in Social Justice 2017, working to educate on Indigenous issues, Environmental Racism, Climate Justice and Truth and Reconciliation. In 2021, she collaborated with Parks Canada and MDCC on the IRS Commemoration of the Plaques for the National Historic Site at the IRS site in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. She coordinated the Healing and Resilience Gathering of Survivors on September 30–October 3, 2021, to coincide with the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. She would like to see all communities honour Survivors with IRS Commemorations in the Atlantic Region and the National IRS Commemoration.
Ms. Bernard coordinates the Grassroots Grandmother Circle in social justice work, child welfare issues, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Environmental Racism, cultural education, and Water teachings, inspired by her nine grandchildren and the late Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, Mother Earth Water Walker.
Residential School Survivor
Terri Brown is a former Chief of the Tahltan Nation and from the Crow Clan. While President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Terri founded the Sisters in Spirit Program to document the deaths and disappearance of Indigenous women and girls. She served six years with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada with a mandate to inform Canadians about the residential schools. She lived a traditional lifestyle until she was forcibly confined in a residential school in Yukon. Terri is a survivor of Canadian genocide, and this motivates her to work for equality, justice and peace for all.
Algonquin Anishinabe Elder
An Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, Elder Claudette Commanda is Special Advisor to the Dean on Reconciliation at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, and also has taught First Nations-related courses across various faculties, including Law, Education, the Institute of Women’s Studies, and the Aboriginal Studies Program.
She was inducted into the Common Law Honour Society in 2009. In 2017, Elder Commanda became the first First Nations individual appointed as Elder-in-Residence at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law and the first person of First Nations heritage to be appointed to the Board of Governors at the University of Ottawa.
Elder Commanda is also the Executive Director of the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres. She has served two terms on the Board of Governors for the First Nations University of Canada, and three terms on the Kitigan Zibi band council. In March 2020, Elder Commanda received the 2020 INDSPIRE Award for Culture, Heritage and Spirituality.
Residential School Survivor
Jimmy Durocher is a Métis and Cree Elder. He currently serves as President of the Al La Baie Métis in Sakitawak territory, Île-à-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan.
Mr. Durocher attended the Île-à-la-Crosse Boarding School in Northern Saskatchewan and has served as the Chairperson of the Île-à-la-Crosse Residential School Committee. A Veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he has also served as a board member of the Gabriel Dumont Institute and as the former President of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan.
Mr. Durocher is a nationally recognized authority regarding Métis rights and an experienced critic of political policies to ensure advancement of Métis peoples. He is fluent in both Michif and Cree.
Tracy is an Inuk, who is an intergenerational residential school Survivor, culturally adopted by her Inuit grandparents from Hopedale, Labrador. She has been a strong advocate for addressing the legacy of the residential school system as a Social Worker, including working on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Residential School Survivor
Noel Kaludjak is a counsellor, facilitator and activist from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. His work focuses on men’s wellness.
He has served as a National Inuit Role Model for Pilimmaksarniq, a program focused on abuse prevention and gender-based violence. In 2009, Mr. Kaludjak founded a men’s support network known as Angutiit Makgiangninga
Georgina Liberty has devoted her life to preserving, protecting and cherishing her Métis identity and spirit. In her teens, she worked as a researcher for the Manitoba Métis Federation, tracing the Métis land script. She has been an active member of the Manitoba Métis Federation since 1969 and is currently the Director of Métis Nation 2020 – Métis 150 for the Métis National Council, which marked Manitoba’s 150th anniversary and the historic role of Louis Riel in bringing Manitoba into Confederation.
She has many years of experience in governance and policy, working for the Métis government within the Manitoba Métis Federation for over 20 years, as well with other Indigenous organizations. Ms. Liberty was appointed Director of the Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages in June 2021.
Reverend Dr. James (Jamie) Scott
Representative of the Church Parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
The Rev. Dr. Jamie Scott was ordained by The United Church of Canada in 1976. Scott served as Project Director at the Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC) from 1985 to 1996, promoting a restorative approach to justice. In 1998, he founded the Collaborative Justice Project at the Ottawa Courthouse. Since 1997, he has been a facilitator of post-sentence engagement between family members of homicide victims and offenders, and a trainer and mentor for Correctional Service Canada’s Restorative Opportunities program.
From 2003 to 2015, Rev. Dr. Scott served the United Church of Canada as the General Council Officer for Residential Schools providing national leadership as the Church addressed the legacy of the Indian residential school system. He represented the Church in negotiations for the historic Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement in 2006 and in the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
In 2019, he was appointed as Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of his advocacy for restorative justice and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Intergenerational Survivor and Executive Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
Stephanie Scott is currently the Executive Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), having been appointed in 2021. She previously served as Director of Operations with the NCTR where she oversaw all budgeting and financial commitments of the NCTR, along with human resources activities.
Prior to joining the NCTR team, Ms. Scott worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada as the Manager of Statement Gathering: she was responsible for the gathering and documenting of ‘Residential School Survivors’ audio and video recorded statements. Prior to her work with the TRC, Ms. Scott enjoyed a long and successful career operating her own production business, which she still oversees part-time.
Government of Canada Representative
Gina Wilson rejoined Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) as Deputy Minister on September 1, 2021. She previously served as Deputy Minister of WAGE from 2017 to 2019, where she led the establishment of WAGE as a new department, ensured that GBA Plus was fully instituted in government, and served as the first Chair of the federal Indigenous Women’s Circle.
Gina was in the role of Deputy Minister, Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, and Senior Associate Deputy Minister, Canadian Heritage, to which she was appointed on January 27, 2020, and where she oversaw the release of Canada’s first-ever State of Youth Report; engaged Canadians in a series of round tables and summits on anti-racism; led the co-development of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Action Plan; and launched the development of a Canada-wide LGBTQ2 Action Plan. She is also currently the Deputy Minister Champion for Indigenous Federal Employees.
In 2019, Gina was appointed as Deputy Minister, Public Safety Canada, and Senior Advisor to the Privy Council.
She joined the Federal Government in 1996 and has held several senior executive positions at several departments, including the Privy Council Office, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada and the Correctional Service of Canada.
Gina is Algonquin and began her career in her First Nation community of Kitigan-Zibi as Executive Director of Health and Social Services. She was also CEO of the Assembly of First Nations.
Gina is the recipient of the 2020 INDSPIRE Award for her leadership and her lifelong work on Indigenous issues and support for Indigenous employees.
Gina holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences from the University of Ottawa.
She has three beautiful children—Dylan, Kayla and Royce—and treasures her granddaughter, Charlotte.
Dr. Marie Wilson
Former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
From 2009 to 2015, Dr. Wilson was one of three Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). Prior to her work in reconciliation, she spent more than 20 years with CBC/Radio-Canada as an award-winning journalist and broadcaster.
Dr. Wilson founded northern Canada’s first daily television news service, which operated in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. She also served as an associate board member for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and was appointed to the Board of Directors of CBC/Radio-Canada on December 19, 2017, for a five-year term. Dr. Wilson is currently a consultant in the field of reconciliation.
She is the recipient of a CBC North Lifetime Achievement Award, a Northerner of the Year Award, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. She holds six honorary doctorates as well as the Order of the Northwest Territories, the Order of Canada, and the Meritorious Service Cross.
Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
David Wong is an architect, community activist and author. As the founding architect and principal of Sea to Sky Architecture, his work with Indigenous peoples and affordable housing has earned him honours, including adoptions by First Nation communities across North America.In 2013, he was inducted as an Honorary Witness by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Mr. Wong resides in Vancouver and has previously worked in the city’s Engineering and Planning departments. A proponent of diversity, he promotes intercultural knowledge sharing as an incubator of creativity and innovation and received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012 in recognition of this work.
Residential School Survivor
Doris Young is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation Treaty 5 area in Northern Manitoba. She spent 13 years in 3 Residential Schools.
Recipient of the Order of Manitoba in 2014, Ms. Young is a retired educator and researcher who specializes in policy, program development and evaluation. She has lent her extensive experience to various boards and committees, such as the University of Manitoba Board of Governors, various Boards with the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, and the Women’s Advisory Council to the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimananak. Ms Young also served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada Survivor Advisory Committee to the TRC Commissioners.
In March 2022, Ms. Young was appointed to the Board of Directors of Shared Health Manitoba. She is also a member of the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba and was formerly the Director of Housing with the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood and a founding board member of Kinew Housing, a Winnipeg-based Indigenous housing authority.
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