Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research

The Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research (Leadership Circle) advises the presidents of Canada’s three federal research funding agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council—and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, on the implementation of the interagency strategic plan Setting new directions to support Indigenous research and research training in Canada. Members of the Leadership Circle are drawn from First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across the country and represent a variety of disciplines. Members come from postsecondary institutions, Indigenous not-for-profit organizations, and other research communities. 

The Circle’s mandate is to help the agencies in four specific areas: building relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples; supporting research priorities of Indigenous Peoples; creating greater funding accessibility to funding agency programs; and championing Indigenous leadership, self-determination and capacity-building in research. The Leadership Circle is more than an advisory body, however, as members are active participants in monitoring the strategic plan’s implementation. Members identify issues and opportunities and recommend approaches to support the successful implementation of the strategic plan. Members also provide guidance on additional matters that could help enhance support for Indigenous research and training.

Sherri Chisan, ipkDoc, nehiyaw iskwew onicikiskwapiwinihk ohci

Sherri Chisan is president or the University nuxełhot’įne thaaɁehots’įnistameyimâkanak Blue Quills (UnBQ). She also is director of research and is lead faculty in the doctoral program. She joined UnBQ in 1998 to coordinate the development and delivery of the Leadership and Management Program, and later the Indigenous Artists Program and doctoral program. Chisan has a particular interest in Indigenous research, and her commitment to Indigenous Knowledge and ceremony informs her work. Advancing sovereign Indigenous postsecondary education is a passion, and she believes that Indigenous accreditation is key in that process.

In 2011, Sherri received a PhD in iyiniw pimâtisiwin kiskeyihtamowin from UnBQ. She has a master’s in educational leadership from San Diego State University, a bachelor’s in management from the University of Lethbridge, and a certificate in business administration from Blue Quills First Nations College / Lakeland College.

She has also worked with the Saddle Lake Education Authority as associate education director, and with the Assembly of First Nations as a researcher and policy analyst/advisor and a community liaison in Education, Languages and Literacy.

She is a board member of the First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium; the National Association of Indigenous Institutes of Higher Learning; the National Indigenous Accreditation Board; a country representative of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium; the pro-vice chancellor of the World Indigenous Nations University; and a public council member of the Alberta College of Optometrists.

Kori Czuy, Manager, Indigenous Engagement, Telus Spark Science Centre

Kori Czuy, ᒥᐦᑯᐱᐦᐁᓯᐤ, is Cree/Métis Polish, and was born in Treaty 8 by the banks of the Peace River in Alberta. As manager, Indigenous Engagement at the TELUS Spark Science Centre, she focuses on bringing together multiple ways of knowing science. Kori is on an ongoing journey to reconnect with and learn from the teachings of the land, as well as to help others connect with the complexities of these knowledges alongside global science.

Her PhD in mathematics education focused on storying mathematics; through her doctoral research she worked with children and Treaty 7 Elders to explore the depth of mathematics within Indigenous stories.

Alexander Duncan, PhD candidate, Centre for Indigenous Fisheries, The University of British Columbia

Alexander Duncan (Niigaanweywidan), a member of the Marten clan, is from the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation (Neyaashiinigmiing). As a PhD student, he will contribute to the 3I Project (Indigenous Inclusion and Input) by focusing on enhancing collective understanding of Indigenous perspectives and experiences with sea lamprey control in the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin, and identifying wise practices. Duncan has worked extensively with his home community on a series of community-based committees and research initiatives. Duncan is a strong advocate for Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the ethical governance of the fish and waters we all share across Turtle Island.

Shane H. Forrest, Senior Researcher, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres

Shane Forrest is an Anishinaabe-Métis Two-Spirit educator, community researcher and registered social worker. Shane holds a master’s in social work (Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency) from the University of Toronto, a bachelor of education (Indigenous Studies) from York University, and a bachelor of arts (Honours) in Indigenous Studies and Celtic Studies from the University of Toronto. Forrest has dedicated most of their professional career to co-creating community-driven, youth-led, and trauma-informed research and evaluation. As a senior researcher at the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, they support friendship centres’ communities conducting community-driven research and evaluation grounded in Indigenous methodologies.

Forrest has worked in the fields of sexual health and reproductive rights, land-based education, frontline peer support and crisis intervention, community-based arts, and grassroots community development. They primarily work with 2SLGBTQQIA+ young people and urban Indigenous communities across Ontario. Through their work with the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Forrest has been teaching about cultural safety, youth-voiced health promotion, and Two-Spirit resurgence for over 10 years. They specialize in accessible education regarding Two-Spirit-, trans-, and queer-affirming care. They also serve on the leadership team for the Transgender Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Emily Grafton, Associate Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of Regina

Emily Grafton (Métis Nation) has a PhD in Native Studies from the University of Manitoba. Emily has worked in community, provincial and Indigenous politics. She was the research-curator of Indigenous Content at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, and the Indigenous research lead and executive lead, Indigenization, at the University of Regina. As a life-long volunteer, she has held several board positions with not-for-profit organizations. As a researcher and educator, her work concerns settler colonialism, reconciliation, and feminist theories.

Ry Moran, Associate University Librarian, Reconciliation, University of Victoria

Ry Moran is the inaugural Associate University Librarian, Reconciliation, at the University of Victoria. Moran’s role at UVic Libraries focuses on building and sustaining relationships to introduce Indigenous approaches and knowledges into the daily work of the libraries and more broadly across the campus community.

Moran came to this position from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) hosted by the University of Manitoba. As the founding director, he guided the creation of the NCTR from its inception. Along the way, he contributed to major national initiatives such as the creation of the National Student Memorial Register, designation of multiple residential schools as national historical sites, development and launch of the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada, and a major educational broadcast which reached over three million Canadians.

Prior to the NCTR, Moran worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). On the TRC’s behalf, he facilitated the gathering of nearly 7,000 video/audio-recorded statements of former residential school students and millions of pages of archival records.

Moran’s lifelong passion for the arts and music continues to be an important part of his life as he continues to write and produce original music. His music can be found on the podcast he produces, called Taapwaywin: Talking about what we know and what we believe.

Moran is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Victoria and was awarded a Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross. He is a proud Red River Métis.

Diane Obed, Research Assistant, University of Ottawa

Diane Obed is Inuk mixed with white settler ancestry from Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. She currently lives in Waqmiaq—“where freshwater flows”—in Mi’kma’ki, where she completed the master’s program in Atlantic Canada Studies at Saint Mary’s University in 2017. Her thesis focused on Inuit land-based education from Nunatsiavummiut perspectives. She subsequently applied this research to education and pedagogy by developing and teaching the Indigenous Peoples in Canada course in the Department of Anthropology at Saint Mary’s. Obed is currently a doctoral student in the Educational Foundations PhD program at Mount Saint Vincent University. Her doctoral research project explores the intersection between Indigenous land education and contemplative studies to draw on ancient wisdom for current social issues such as the climate change crisis.

Amy Parent, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Governance in Education, Faculty of Education, and Inaugural Associate Director, the Cassidy Centre for Educational Justice, Simon Fraser University

Amy Parent is Nisga’a from the Nass Valley of northwestern British Columbia on her mother’s side of the family. Her Nisga’a hereditary name is Sigidimnak' Noxs Ts’aawit (Mother of the Raven Warrior Chief). She belongs to the Ganada (frog) clan from the Village of Laxgalts’ap. On her father’s side of the family, she is of settler ancestry (French and German). Parent's research is grounded in Indigenous methodologies through collaborative partnerships with British Columbia First Nation communities to support self-determination priorities through Indigenous-led research. To learn more about her research and scholarship, visit Amy Parent.

Jesse Popp, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Science, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph

Jesse Popp is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Science at the University of Guelph. She is a member of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory and strives to promote inclusive science that embraces multiple ways of knowing while on her journey of learning and sharing. As the principal investigator of the Wildlife, Indigenous Science, Ecology (WISE) Lab, she and her research team weave together Indigenous and western knowledge systems to contribute to the advancement of environmental and ecological science. Popp’s interdisciplinary research investigates the causes and consequences of wildlife population fluctuations in ecosystems and to Indigenous People’s ways of life. Her work contributes to conservation, sustainability and the progression of the natural sciences in the spirit of reconciliation.

Nicole Redvers, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University

Nicole Redvers, ND, MPH, is a member of the Deninu K’ue First Nation (Northwest Territories) and has worked with Indigenous patients, scholars, and communities around the globe her entire career as a naturopathic doctor. She is a Western Research Chair and Director of Indigenous Planetary Health at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. She has been actively involved at regional, national and international levels promoting the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in both human and planetary health research and practice. Redvers is the author of The Science of the Sacred: Bridging Global Indigenous Medicine Systems and Modern Scientific Principles (Penguin Random House, 2019).

Lee Wilson, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Saskatchewan

Lee Wilson is of Métis ancestry and grew up in the small rural community of Lake Francis, Manitoba. After obtaining a bachelor of science at The University of Winnipeg, he completed a PhD at the University of Saskatchewan, followed by postdoctoral fellowship training as an NSERC Visiting Fellow at the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences at the National Research Council of Canada. Wilson has established an internationally recognized research program examining the chemistry of biopolymers and sustainable materials. His current research is focused on understanding structure-function relationships related to sorption processes in various physical, chemical and biological phenomena. Wilson has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles with more than 8,400 citations. His research group is actively involved in studies focused on the modification of biomaterials using green chemistry, and characterization of their structure and physicochemical properties to address a range of fundamental scientific questions and practical problems relevant to water, food, energy security and sustainability. Over the past three decades, he has served as a role model and mentor to Indigenous youth, encouraging them to pursue their goals through education and using his scientific knowledge to benefit Canada.

Jacques Kurtness, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi

Born in Mashteuiatsh (Pointe-Bleue), an Ilnu community on the shores of Piekuagami (Lac Saint-Jean) in Quebec, Jacques Kurtness is an Ilnu thinker and researcher who has combined an academic career with political engagement. He holds a PhD in psychology from the Université Laval and was a professor and researcher at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi between 1979 and 1999. He was also chief negotiator for the Atikamekw and Montagnais Council and the Mamuitun Tribal Council from 1991 to 1997, and, in 1999, was appointed regional director, Negotiation and Implementation, for then Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Quebec Region. Over the last two decades, he has been on several boards of directors, including for the Centre interuniversitaire d’études et de recherches autochtones (CIÉRA) and the Réseau DIALOG (Institut national de la recherche scientifique). He is a member of the Scientific Committee for the Indigenous permanent exhibition at the Musée de la civilisation de Québec and has been a co-applicant and collaborator on several SSHRC-funded research projects since 2006, including the current 2022 Partnership Grant-funded Piiskuutamakuunipiijuu : coconstruire les nouvelles territorialités du savoir. He has also been an advisor and director of education and employment for his community. In 2014, he published Tshinanu, nous autres, et moi qui appartiens aux trois Amériques [Tshinanu, We and Me Who Belong to Three Americas] (Presses de l’Université Laval).

Leona Makokis, Nêhiyaw nôcikwesiw (Elder) Member of Kehewin Cree Nation, Past President, University Blue Quills

University Blue Quills is situated in a former Indian Residential School near St. Paul, Alberta, where Leona attended as a child. Leona has extensive teaching and research experience, with a focus on leadership and revitalization of nêhiyawêwin (the Cree language). Leona’s contributions have been widely recognized, including an honourary degree from the University of Calgary and an Indspire Award, for outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of Indigenous education.

Leona facilitates omanitew and nêhiyaw kesi wahkotok (Cree relationship mapping), which are experiential learning opportunities guided by the nêhiyaw teaching of kiskinohâmakewin—learning by modelling and doing.

Ex-officio members

Brenda Gunn, Academic and Research Director, National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

As a proud Red River Métis woman, University of Manitoba law professor Brenda Gunn combines academic research with activism pushing for greater recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ inherent rights as determined by their own legal traditions. After earning a JD at the University of Toronto and an LLM in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy at the University of Arizona, Brenda worked at a community legal clinic in Guatemala on a case of genocide submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. She has also worked with Manitoba First Nations on Aboriginal and treaty rights issues. Brenda continues to be actively involved in the international Indigenous Peoples’ movement. She developed a handbook that is one of the main resources in Canada on understanding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and has delivered workshops on the Declaration across Canada and internationally. She has also provided technical assistance to the UN’s Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In 2013, Brenda participated in UN training to enhance the conflict prevention and peacemaking capacities of Indigenous Peoples’ representatives, which continues to impact her research. She aims to do research that will contribute to building a more just world for her daughter, her nieces and all their relations.

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