Amy Wong (Administrative Officer)
Hello! My name is Amy Wong. I was born and raised in Tkaronto, Dish with One Spoon Territory. As a descendant of Chinese indentured labourers, I recognize the importance of nuanced, inclusive dialogue surrounding settler colonialism, decolonization, and allyship. I am passionate in learning about intersectional feminism, social movements, race and power relations, and systemic oppression. I am thrilled to be working at CRE with an amazing team that shares these passions and values. Having lived, worked, and studied in 9 countries over 5 continents in the past decade, I am looking forward to re-establishing roots of my own and re-engaging in community activism. Recently, I have been inspired to pursue my interests in spoken-word poetry, stand-up comedy, mural art, ASL, and drumming.
Diandre Thomas-Hart (Program Coordinator)
Tansi, my name is Diandre Thomas-Hart, Oskinekiskweo Kawechikapaystawat Mikisewak - Young Woman who stands among the Eagles. I am a young Cree-Ojibwe leader from Winnipeg, MB. I'm a member of the Mayor’s Indigenous Advisory Circle as well as a board member at the Urban Indigenous Theatre Company. I began my journey with CRE as a committed volunteer for the Youth Reconciliation Initiative team in Winnipeg between 2014 and 2016. I have also played an integral role as a lead volunteer at CRE's national youth conference in Winnipeg both in 2017 and 2015. As a young Indigenous woman, I strive to teach reconciliation, promote cultural identity and raise awareness of Indigenous topics throughout Canada. I am excited to be apart of the team here in Toronto and look forward to the work we will be doing together.
Jacqueline Neshkawa (Administrative Assistant)
Hello ! My name is Jacqueline Neshkawa. I am Ojibwe and Ecuadorian. I was born and raised in Toronto but my family comes from Wikwemikong, Ontario as well as Quito, Ecuador. I am really excited to be a part of Canadian Roots Exchange. I continue to look forward to meeting new people during my time here. I have been with CRE for a year now and really enjoy working with indigenous and non indigenous peoples. I especially like that being here has given me an opportunity to grow as a person and to further understand what meaningful reconciliation looks like.
jessica alegria (Program Officer)
Hello, my name is jessica alegria and I am a Program Officer for Canadian Roots Exchange in Saskatoon. Having been born in Texas to undocumented El Salvadorean refugees, raised on Treaty 6 territory, and having mixed Pipil/Lenca and Spanish ancestry, I identify as a Mestiza woman who occupies various cultural spaces at once. I am passionate and interested in culture, education, refugee and BIPOC experiences in settler colonial spaces, mental wellness, community, and family. I'm also very grateful to work for an organization that demonstrates faith in youth, recognizes the legitimacy and strength of lived experiences, and educates and engages in complicated dialogues about power and colonialism. When not working I can be found spending quality time with family and friends, watching movies, being an aunty, and cuddling my miniature dachshund, Science.
Kayla Webber (Program Assistant)
Kwe! My name is Kayla Webber. I am of Mi’kmaq, Carib-Venezuelan, Afro-Trinidadian, French and English ancestry. I have worked with the Urban Indigenous population, specifically in Toronto for the last couple of years and have been able to connect and learn from other Indigenous youths and mentors. I’m proud and honour to have reconnected with my Mi’kmaq ancestry, because it was an identity my Grandmother was not proud to acknowledge during her time of growing up in Nova Scotia. I believe I’m meant to walk and carry the Indigenous ways of knowing and learning because of my Grandmother who had given me a pair of moccasins when I was one-years-old. Out of six grandchildren I was the only one who had received this special gift. For me the moccasins signify my roles, responsibilities and promises to my Community, my Grandmother and my Family.
Leslie VanEvery (Program Coordinator)
She:kon, my name is Leslie VanEvery. I am Haudenosaunee, and was born and raised in Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. I also have ancestral roots from Mississauga's of the New Credit First Nation. As the Program Coordinator for Tkaronto Youth Reconciliation Initiative, it brings me honour to be able to work with such a great team at CRE, and to develop this new initiative. I enjoy working with the youth, and learning alongside of them what reconciliation means, valuable knowledge from our Elders, and so much more! The most important part of this job to me is bringing an Onkwehonwe perspective, and incorporating this in all that I do.
Max Fineday (Co-Executive Director)
Tansi, my name is Max FineDay, and I’m from the Sweetgrass First Nation in Treaty Six Territory, Saskatchewan. Coming from a mixed Norwegian-Nehiyaw family, reconciliation between Indigenous & non-Indigenous peoples has been something I’ve understood to be crucial for not only my families, or community, but Canada as a whole. I’ve spent time working on youth leadership development initiatives and projects that help move Canada toward reconciliation. Most recently, I worked as Advisor and Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator working with the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Before that, I served two terms as President of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union. I served as a board member for Canadian Roots Exchange between 2014 and 2016, and began serving as Co-Executive Director in August 2016.
Sahar Golshan (Program Manager)
! سلام | 你好 ! | Aanii ! My name is Sahar-e Golshan. I am extremely proud to be a young person of mixed ancestry from Chinese and Iranian origins living in Tkaronto, Dish with One Spoon Territory. It means a lot to me to be a part of the Canadian Roots Exchange team. I am honoured to have the opportunity to collaborate with Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth who commit their lives to social justice on Turtle Island. I am inspired by young people who challenge themselves and their communities to engage in conversations about the history, reality and possibility of this Land. Before joining the CRE team as a volunteer and then a staff member, I have coordinated educational programming alongside young people of diverse identities in both Canada and in international communities with Canada World Youth and the Ontario Council for International Cooperation. I am passionate about learning languages and writing creative non-fiction.
Sahar Ibrahim (Program Coordinator of TYRI)
Salaam! My name is Sahar, I’m a first generation Muslim Canadian. My parents are from Tanzania in East Africa, and my ancestry is South Asian (pre-partition). I grew up in Treaty Seven territory, in the city of Calgary, have spent time in Treaty 6 Territory in Amiskwaciwaskahikan, and now live in tkaronto. I have done some reseach in medical anthropology examining how race impacts mental health outcomes in various communities and am also a passionate anti-racism educator, facilitator, and agitator. I am incredibly honoured to be able to work with this amazing CRE community, having served as a YRI leader during the 2016-17 year. For me, this work enables me to untangle and become more conscious of my identity as a first generation Canadian and also as a settler on Turtle Island. There is so much power in community and I can’t wait to engage with it!
Saima Butt (Program Coordinator of TYRI)
My name is Saima and I am a mixed-race migrant-settler born to Scottish and Pakistani parents on Treaty Eight Territory. I'm an artist and facilitator with roots in critical pedagogy and community education and channel my passion for social change through youth engagement and empowerment.
I hold a Masters in Migration Studies, with a thesis focus on narrative journeys through decolonization. Prior to my time with CRE, I've managed a youth centre, worked with academic and community organizations focused on race, migrant justice and combating gender-based violence. I'm excited to bring my energy and skills to the CRE team!
Valene Bill (Program Officer)
Tansi, I was born and raised on Treaty Six territory. I am a Plains Cree (y-dialect) from Pelican Lake First Nation. I am a mother of three beautiful daughters and have graduated with my B.Ed from the University of Saskatchewan. I also hold a Community Services Addictions Counselling Certificate from the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies. I started working for CRE in January of 2016, when the Saskatoon office officially openned. I am loving how this job is helping me connect with youth across Canada and how it is allowing me to hear people’s stories. I believe that telling our stories and listening to other people’s stories is one of the ways we can heal, learn from each other and begin moving forward on Turtle Island. I have always enjoyed the diversity of people living in Saskatoon and enjoy being part of CRE’s aim at building bridges between Indigenous and non-indigenous people. Hi-hiy Thank-you
vibhor garg (Co-Executive Director)
Hello! Ainee! Bonjour! I am very happy to be working with Canadian Roots Exchange. Since arriving in September 2012, I have met so many talented and inspiring youth from across the country and continue to be impressed by all the young people who are doing amazing work across the country. I grew up in Sudbury, Ontario and I have had a chance to live in a few different parts of Canada and the world. Prior to joining CRE, I gained valuable experiences managing youth exchange programs in both Canada and internationally and have worked in the non-profit sector my entire working life. I’m fully committed to ensuring that CRE programming is accessible in particularly to youth from historically under-represented communities. I believe that all youth leadership programs need to have a strong voice from Indigenous communities and as well include youth from other communities often excluded from many leadership opportunities. When I’m not working, I enjoy exercising, travelling, eating out and checking out random events in the community which includes supporting the Raptors and the Blue Jays. I'm very excited to be part of a team that facilitates better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities on Turtle Island.