Austin Sharpe-Phillips (Summer Student)
Hello! My name is Austin and I am a Metis Canadian who was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I am not in touch with either sides of my ethnicity since my Mi'kmaw side was never looked into because of residential schools oppressing my family and my white side is unknown due to my mom being adopted. I might not know the traditions of my background but that doesn't mean I don't want to. I have looked up, researched and asked about my Mi’kmaw side so I can be more in touch with my culture and history. I am currently in high school and taking classes like history, native studies, drama and creative writing. I really enjoy the arts and history very much and once I graduate I want to expand my knowledge on the subjects. I am very blessed to be part of the CRE team as it has given me an opportunity to work on a team as well as learn about Indigenous cultures. I may only be working for the summer but so far it's been a fantastic experience learning and growing.
Delano Kennedy (Summer Student)
My name is Delano Kennedy originally from Sweetgrass First Nation, Saskatchewan in Treaty 6 territory. I am the post sec student working in the Saskatoon office for the summer and really appreciate what CRE does for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous YOUth. I will be returning to SIIT in the fall for my 2nd year of taking the Mental Health & Wellness program and was also a YRI for the past 2 terms volunteering. Now I'm excited to be working with CRE, I will continue to learn and assist any way I can in the Saskatoon CRE office.
HyunGu Kang (Summer Student)
Hi there! My name is HyunGu Kang and I'm a Korean immigrant from a sea city called Ulsan. I was raised on land governed by the Dish with One Spoon Treaty since the age of two. I'm now studying Natural Resources Conservation in Vancouver, on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples (my classes are situated on Musqueam land). I'm grateful to be working with CRE after being part of the Vancouver YRI team. Through my work with CRE I engage my community in understanding what it means to be a settler of colour so folks of diverse minoritized backgrounds can nurture truly decolonial relationships.
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 Facilitator)
Hola! My name is Jessica Esmeralda Alegria. I began my time with Canadian Roots Exchange as a Saskatoon Youth Reconciliation Leader in 2015 and am now staff in the Saskatoon office. Having been born in Texas to Salvadorean refugees and raised in Saskatoon, I describe myself as a mixed Indigenous woman who occupies various cultural spaces at once. I am in my final year of the Regional and Urban Planning program at the University of Saskatchewan, something that has fostered my interest in community-building, and am passionate about mental health issues, refugee and immigrant rights, and conservation of culture and heritage. I’m very excited to be working for an organization that demonstrates such faith in the youth of Turtle Island and that recognizes the legitimacy and power of lived experiences. 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.
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.
Makda Dinberu (Summer Student)
Bonjour and hello!!! I'm Makda Dinberu and I live in Toronto, Canada. As a city gal, in my free-time I enjoy biking, running, hiking (wherever possible), and roller-blading. I am very excited to be working for CRE. I'm so happy to be a part of the team, as I believe it is important to learn about the first people's of this land, which I call my home. Upon my short time at CRE, I have already been inspired by the artistic ability of the youth at our weekly sessions. As I am a part of the organization of the Wall to Action Initiative, I hope to witness all the talent that is yet to be uncovered, as I can't wait for the end result!
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!
Tawny Allison (Financial & Program Officer)
Hello, Boozhoo, my name is Tawny Allison. I am an Anishanabekwe of Walpole Island First Nations. I lived in Chatham, Ontario until I began my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph when I was 18. It was only when I arrived at school that I began to learn about my culture and the unfair treatment of our Indigenous communities in Canada. Trying to absorb everything about my heritage in a short amount of time fueled my intentions to give back to the community I am from. I came from a different experience and privilege than many of my peers which is why it is so important to my narrative to always be vigilant in doing everything I can to honour the sacrifices and determination of my ancestors. It is through role modeling behaviour that we can be true leaders of truth and meaningful reconciliation. I believe strongly that nothing is coincidental and so I am excited to be a part of an organization that shapes a perspective for Canadian youth that both looks to the future and acknowledges the past. My primary passion though, is my 3-lb Chihuahua puppy/soulmate named Bean.
Valene Bill (Program Officer)
Tansi, Kisihko Pisiw Iskwew nisihkahson. Hello, my Cree name is Thunder Angel Woman. 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 am very new to CRE, and have actually just begun in January of 2016. I am loving how this job is helping me connect with people 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. Counselling is a passion of mine and my goal, one day, is to have my Masters in School and Counselling Psychology. I have actually gone out and taught for 3 years around my home community and am just returning to Saskatoon. I have always enjoyed the diversity of people living in Saskatoon and will enjoy being part of CRE’s aim at building bridges between Indigenous and non-indigenous people here and in communities nearby. 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 and ensuring that we ensure there is strong participation of youth from historically under-represented communities. I believe that youth leadership programs need to include strong representation 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.