Our Staff

We currently have three offices where our staff are based: Saskatoon, Toronto, and Montreal. We also have staff working from Terrace, Regina, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

 

Alyssa Luttenberger

Alyssa Luttenberger

Manager of Fundraising and Development - Toronto

Halito! chokma chinchokma. Salhochifoat Lakna’ Hatalhposhik. Chikasha saya. Iksa’ loksi’. My name is Alyssa and I am mixed heritage, Chickasaw Nation and Austrian. I am Turtle Clan and my spirit name is Lakna’ Hatalposhik, which was given to speak to my role as a bringer of change, a listener and a mediator. I was born, raised and live in Dish with One Spoon Territory.

 

Over the past 10 years I have done front-line work in community providing wellness, health and cultural services to youth. I am an advocate for the reclamation of traditional governance systems and support other youth to reintegrate these knowledges into our practices. I sit as a member of the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle’s Youth Council, the Toronto Indigenous Youth Collective and the Toronto Urban Health Fund’s Indigenous Advisory Council. I have a strong background in program development, implementation and evaluation. I am passionate about community and youth-led initiatives that provide Indigenous youth the space to make decisions about their own wellness and future.

Amani Maatouk

Amani Maatouk

Graphic designer and marketing coordinator - Toronto

Hi there/Bonjour!

My name is Amani—often mistaken for Armani, Miami, Aminé—and I am Moroccan and Syrian. Born and raised in Tiotià:ke (Montréal), I moved to Dish with One Spoon Territory (Toronto) this year to pursue studies in Advertising at OCAD University. With an avid interest in design, cinema and fashion, I spend most of my time on the computer or in a movie theatre, although one of my favourite things to do is to travel and discover new places. Working as the Graphic Design and Marketing Coordinator, I have gotten the opportunity to see how profoundly and positively CRE has affected Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, inspiring me to constantly strive to represent this impact through informative and engaging graphics and content.

Thank you/Merci!

Anthony Henhawk

Anthony Henhawk

National Indigenous Youth Network Supervisor - Toronto

Sago! My name is Anthony Henhawk and I am Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and a member of the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse). For the creative side in me/As a foundation for my creative side, I have a diploma in Graphic Design from Mohawk College and an Advanced diploma in Video Game Design and Animation from George Brown. The business side of me counts over 11 years of experience working with Rogers Communications in downtown Toronto. I’ve held more than 5 positions including Business Enterprise Technical Support, Technical Writer, Graphic Designer, and Business Analyst in such diverse divisions as Technical Support, Branding and Marketing, Customer Experience and Training and Enablement. With all this experience under my wampum belt, I am ready to make a positive impact and engage communities to better equip our youth for success. Niá:wen

Avery Velez

Avery Velez

Northern Engagement Coordinator - Ottawa

Kwe’ teluisi Avery, n’in Qalipu Mi’kmaq, tleyawi Mi’kma’ki Taqamkuk. My name is Avery (they/them) and I am Qalipu Mi’kmaq from Mi’kmaq territory on the west coast of Newfoundland. I am currently in the process of (re)learning my language, culture, and histories that were lost to colonialism. I live on unceded, unsurrendered Algonquin territory in what is now called Ottawa, where I have learned in both colonial and traditional contexts. I have a degree in International Development with a specialization in gender studies and I have learned from kookums and Elders about resurgence, activism, and ceremony.

I joined CRE to fill two roles, the first of which is Northern engagement. I recently travelled to the Arctic and fell in love with the land and people and I am thrilled to be able to focus some of my energies on reaching out to Northern youth and communities to involve them in CRE programming and maybe even develop Northern-specific programming! My second role is helping to facilitate the Indigenous Youth Policy School here in Ottawa. I am a total policy nerd and I am looking forward to guiding other Indigenous youth through learning all the ways we can use policy to effect change.

Bayani Jose Trinidad

Bayani Jose Trinidad

National Program Supervisor (West) - Saskatoon
Kamusta! My name is Bayani Trinidad. I was born and raised on Treaty Six Territory in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. My ethnicity is Filipino and Chinese. My family has immigrated to Canada from Philippines. I graduated from the University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina. I hold a Bachelors of Social Work and a Bachelors of Sociology. I am passionate about empowering individuals and bringing communities together. I have a strong desire to constantly learn about different cultures and the way society functions. I have experience working for various non-profit organizations that support youth and their families. In addition, I am involved with various entrepreneurship opportunities.
 

On my spare time, I enjoy being active and growing in  expressive outlets such as breakin’ (aka break dancing), calisthenics, working out, biking, and jogging. My passion for dance has allowed me to perform, to compete, and to teach workshops/classes all around Canada. I am honoured to be apart of the Canadian Roots Exchange family as a Program Co-ordinator to unite all nations and communities together.

Salamat!

Bella Lyne

Bella Lyne

YRI Administrative Assistant - Toronto

Hi! My name is Bella Lyne and I’m a white settler of mixed European descent born and currently living in Dish With One Spoon Wampum Covenant Territory, in Tkaron:to/Toronto, ON, the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Haudenausaunee, and Wendat Peoples. I have a bachelor’s degree from Quest University Canada (located on Squamish Nation unceded territory) where I studied cultural geography, and fed my curiosity about how people create, shape and experience their relationships to place, land and ancestry. For the past two years I have worked as program coordinator/community artist at Arts4All, a non-profit, community-engaged arts organization based in Toronto’s west end making space for creative expression and artistic creation in our neighbourhood. As a former (2018/19) tYRI youth leader, I am thrilled and honoured to continue to be a part of supporting the YRI program, growing my skills and holding up the work of passionate, and dedicated young people from across Turtle Island.

Brijlal Chaudhari

Brijlal Chaudhari

Partnership Assistant - Montreal

Namasté ! My name is Brij. I joined Canadian Roots Exchange as Partnership Assistant. I was born in Népal and was raised by my multi-generational Tharu (indigenous to the southern plains) family. Prior to CRE, I founded and led social-justice oriented projects and programs. I hold a masters in public administration and have lived in diverse cultural spaces around the world. I look forward to the new collaborations and partnerships at CRE.

Brooke Rice

Brooke Rice

Rural Program Coordinator - Montreal

Shé:kon sewakwé:on, Katsi’tsarónkwas iontia’ts. Wakehnhehsí:io niwaki’tarò:ten tanon Kahnawake nitewaké:non. Most people know me as Brooke Rice.  I am snipe clan of the Kanien’kehá:ka nation, member of the Rotinonshón:ni (People of the Longhouse), born and raised in Kahnawake.  I am currently enrolled in a double major of First Peoples Studies and Community Development at Concordia University.  I actively volunteer and I am the Co-Vice President of the First Peoples Studies Members Association.  My previous studies in Ratiwennahní:rats, a Kanien’keha language immersion program, has fostered my passion for cultural revitalization and language reclamation.  My journey really embodies the teachings of the Two Row wampum, being able to walk with balance while I pursue higher education and take the western concepts lightly while upholding my traditional teachings.    Ratiwennahní:rats, helped me to reconnect to my culture and identity, but most importantly to walk with gratitude and to understand the universalism, as we are all beings of the Earth.   I am excited to work with CRE to be a part of empowering our youth and being our ancestor’s wildest dreams.  I’m interested in eco over ego, social justice, wholistic wellness, food, family and community.  It’s my dream to be a part of our youth’s journey to help show them their potential and to help create role models for the next seven generations.

Carlee Kawinehta Loft

Carlee Kawinehta Loft

National Program Coordinator - Montreal

Shé:kon sewakwé:on, Kawinehta iontia’ts. Kahnawake nitewaké:non. My name is Carlee Kawinehta Loft. I am a motivated and community-minded, Kanien’kehá:ka woman. My father’s side of the family and I are from Kahnawake. I am passionate about art, community action, cultural revitalization, and youth empowerment. I strongly believe we each play an invaluable role in shaping the world for the next seven generations; this includes the responsibility to do what we can to empower each other – youth especially – to join in, to shape and craft this world with both hands and whole hearts.

Celeste Beauchamp

Celeste Beauchamp

National Program Coordinator - Ottawa
Shekon, sewakwekon! Katsitsanoron ionkia’ts. Wakathahionni. Kahnawake nitewakie:non.
Hello! My english name is Celeste Beauchamp; I am wolf clan and my roots are from Kahnawake. My passion lies in working with and for the youth; connecting them with our traditional land based knowledge, and with the Elders that carry the language and teachings from our ancestors. I believe the most important work we can ever do is to lift up our young ones, and maintain that traditional relationship. My knowledge in our Indigenous histories and cultures influences my holistic working style. Working so closely with Elders in my personal life and in a work setting has allowed me to gain knowledge of spiritual Indigenous healing as well as practical mental health promotion. I also focus on having a strength-based, trauma-informed, culturally relevant, and gender based approach to all aspects of my relations. My passions for hope and life promotions for young Indigenous women and gender diverse people truly drive my commitment. My goal is to continue to be able to advocate for uplifting and creating opportunities for Indigenous women, two-spirit, and gender diverse people across Turtle Island.

 

Akwe nia’ tetewa:neren
All my relations

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

Graphic Designer - Toronto

Taliaq! My name is Chris Mitchell and I’m Mi’kmaq and Irish originally from Halifax, NS. I graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with concentration in Marketing. When I’m not doing Graphic design I spend my time writing music, making art, and beading. Shortly after graduating college I moved back to Canada and started doing freelance design for many Indigenous owned companies and artists. I look forward to bringing my design skills, extensive knowledge on Indigenous cultures, and creativity to the Canadian Roots Exchange team.

Wela’lin/ Thank you

Claudia Escobar

Claudia Escobar

Finance Coordinator - Toronto

Hola/ Hi, My name is Claudia Escobar and I was born and raised in the Dish with One Spoon Treaty Territory, Toronto, to parents who forcely migrated from Cuscatlan/ Kozkatlan (El Salvador). I have ancestral roots stemming from the Pipil, Lenca and Spanish people. Currently, I seek to reconnect and learn more about my own roots, which is why I am very excited and honoured to be able to work with CRE as they actively advance in creating a reconciled community in Canada between indigenious and non-indigenious youth. I am very grateful to be able to contribute to CRE as a Finance Coordinator. In my spare time I enjoy playing sports (especially soccer), engaging in outdoor activities or reading.

Dona Nham

Dona Nham

National Program Coordinator - Montreal

Xin chào! Dona is Vietnamese-Chinese, born and raised in Treaty 6 (Edmonton) and has been living in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal) since 2009. She has a profound passion and curiosity of the natural world and so, for almost the last decade, she has had the privilege to work alongside and learn from farmers, Earth activists, teachers, and elders both local and global within “permaculture” and sustainability fields. Her love of the natural world combined with her wonder for the arts eventually manifested into years of being a spoken word artist and an arts based facilitator, with a focus and centering of marginalized issues and voices (including the Earth’s). She is the co-founder of SistersInMotion in Montreal, an organization that centers BIPOC women and/or femmes through the joys of art, nature, and sisterhood. It is with a deep excitement and humility that she continues to learn, grow, expand, and do meaningful and impactful work with Canadian Roots Exchange as the National Program Coordinator. She loves to cycle, dance, build things, do art, community organize, and has a skateboard at home that one day she hopes to master.

Eagleclaw Bunnie Thom

Eagleclaw Bunnie Thom

Communications Manager - Ottawa

Tansi and howdy! My name is Eagleclaw Bunnie Thom (he/him) and I am Saulteaux from Treaty 4 territory. I currently reside on unceded, unsurrendered Algonquin territory in what is now called Ottawa. I’m not very fond of talking about myself, but I’m also a big fan of telling stories. I’ve been working in communications since I first graduated university. I once organized a powwow that had about 10,000 people in attendance in a week and I once hitchhiked a ride on a helicopter in the middle of the bush.I strongly believe we have a responsibility to the future generations of our people to try make this place better while we are here. I strive to do that everyday in the work I do with this organization and in my personal time.

Emily Iannucci

Emily Iannucci

tYRI Program Coordinator - Toronto

Hi. My name is Emily Iannucci. I was born and raised in Tkaronto, Dish With One Spoon Wampum
Covenant Territory to European settler parents. I graduated from Mount Allison University with
honours in Religious Studies and a minor in Sociology. Professionally, I have a background in youth
work, particularly around arts-based education and leadership. I am currently pursuing a Master of
Social Work degree at York University. I am committed to the daily struggle and discomfort of
reconciling the past and current place of the institution of social work in colonization and the
oppression and pathologization of Indigenous communities. I feel honoured to work, learn, unlearn
and rebuild alongside the CRE staff and youth participants.

Erica Kopyto

Erica Kopyto

Manager of Special Projects - Toronto
My name is Erica and I’m a settler born to Eastern European Ashkenazi immigrants and raised in Tkaron:to, Dish With One Spoon Wampum Covenant Territory/Toronto. I’m passionate about designing opportunities to advance progressive social change. Most recently, I was the Events Curator at the Broadbent Institute where I developed programming and produced events to support a more just and fair Canada. Before that I was Literary Manager at Toronto’s Nightwood Theatre, leading the development process of new plays written by women to stages across the country and around the world.  

As an educator and facilitator, I’ve liaised with various organizations in politics, labour, culture and the arts, to bring creative strategies to their outreach and communication initiatives. I’ve been a dramaturg and director for a myriad of interdisciplinary festivals and have curated and hosted events with the purpose of engaging audiences with specific calls to action.  

I hold a Masters of Arts from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Art from the University of British Columbia and am the mom of two daughters. I am thrilled to be part of the CRE team.

Forrest Eaglespeaker

Forrest Eaglespeaker

Program & Community Engagement Coordinator - Saskatoon

Oki! My name is Forrest Eaglespeaker, I am a Blackfoot/Cree/French singer-songwriter, from Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7 territory residing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Treaty 6 territory and I am the Program & Community Engagement Coordinator in CRE’s Saskatoon office. I am a singer-songwriter and Multi-instrumentalist under the alias The North Sound, where I use my gift of songwriting to share the stories of my life connecting me to my identity as an Indigenous person that I was separated from at a young age. As I continue to learn and reconnect with my culture, I passionately seek and create opportunities to have a positive impact on the community for vulnerable populations and at-risk youth supporting the youth voice anyway I can. I am very excited to work with the team here at CRE working together to bridge the various gaps present in today’s society.

Gabrielle Veilleux

Gabrielle Veilleux

Rural Program Coordinator - Terrace

Allo! My name is Gabrielle Veilleux and I am a Rural Program Coordinator at Canadian Roots Exchange. I am a settler of French-Canadian heritage who has spent most of their life on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe and the Cree in Northern Ontario. I have an academic background in Biology and Science Communication which is a fancy way of saying I am a nature nerd and I am most definitely going to talk to you about it. I now live on Tsimshian Territory in Terrace, BC, where I enjoy spending time in my garden and building relationships with the people, the land, and the water of this place.

Galya Bravo

Galya Bravo

Special Projects Assistant - Montreal
Bonjour/Hi/Hola! 
My name is Galya and I have just joined CRE as the Special Projects Assistant. I was born in the Dish with One Spoon Territory (Toronto) and moved to Tiotià:ke (Montréal) 4 years ago for University. Since I was a pre-teen I have been committed to fighting for social justice. At 14 years old I started volunteering on local election campaigns, and now I have participated in electoral politics at every level of government. Although this kind of social activism can be fulfilling, I am so excited to be a part of the Canadian Roots Exchange so that I can fight for social justice in a way that prioritizes a decolonial, collaborative and grassroots perspective on change and development. My work philosophy is that “I’m here to learn” and I know I couldn’t be in a better place to do just that. 
Merci/Thank you/Gracias.
Jacqueline Neshkawa

Jacqueline Neshkawa

Finance and Program Coordinator - Toronto

Hello! My name is Jacqueline Neshkawa. I am Ojibwe and Ecuadorian. I was born and raised in Toronto, Dish with One Spoon Territory, but my family comes from Wikwemikong Unceded Territory as well as Quito, Ecuador. I am really excited to be a part of the Canadian Roots Exchange team. I continue to look forward to working with and meeting new people during my time here. I especially like that being here has given me an opportunity to grow as an individual and to further understand what meaningful reconciliation looks like. I am currently studying Business Administration and continuing on my own journey to better reconnect with my culture. During my free time, you can find me spending time with family and friends as well as spoiling my dog.

jessica alegria

jessica alegria

National Operations Supervisor - Saskatoon

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.

Kimberley Hartwig

Kimberley Hartwig

Community & Partnerships Coordinator - Saskatoon

Hi there, my name is Kimberley and I am from Saskatchewan. I completed my bachelor’s degree in English and French from the University of Saskatchewan and recently finished a European Master of Migration and Intercultural Relations.
This lovely photo was taken by Adrianna Oskineegish while I was on Nibinamik First Nation teaching community members the ins and outs of journalism while working for Journalists for Human Rights’ Indigenous Reporters Program. While there, I also discovered my deep and very unexpected love for fishing. Miigwech to Adrianna for immortalizing this photo of the first fish I ever caught.

After being away for quite some time, I am excited to be back in my home province working with Canadian Roots Exchange.

Lance Morrison

Lance Morrison

Research Assistant - Toronto

I’m called Northern Thunderbird, but generally go by Lance Morrison for tax purposes. I’m the child of Red Butterfly Woman who is my mother and guiding light. I also come from a proud line of nēhiyaw (Plains Cree), Métis, and secwépemc ancestors. I’m a multi-genre writer, student, activist, dog lover, researcher, and bad joke teller, raised in Sǫ̀mbak’è (Yellowknife) though I now live in Tkoronto (Toronto). I am a fourth year student at York University, completing a Specialized Major in Indigenous Studies, an (unofficial) second major in Human Rights & Equity Studies, and a concurrent Certificate in Anti-racist Research & Practice through the Department of Equity Studies. My research interests lie specifically in cultural revitalization and language reclamation for Indigenous people, and I’m very excited to see what the Youth dream, create, and evolve through their research projects! 

Marissa Campbell

Marissa Campbell

Eastern Program Supervisor - Toronto

Hello !! My name is Marissa Campbell and I am joining Canadian Roots Exchange as a Program Coordinator on the YRI team. I was born and raised in Tkaronto, Dish with One Spoon Territory. I am descendant of European settlers, I also have ancestral roots from Qalipu-Mi’kmaq First Nations. I am excited to work with Indigenous and non Indigenous youth around reconciliation, which I see as being a part of an ongoing open and respectful dialogue around the processes of decolonization. I am passionate about community activism and relationship building between local and national communities and organizations. My previous work experience focused on gender-based violence advocacy and peer support counselling. I hold a degree in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Toronto where I was an active member on my student union as the Political and Educational Liaison; in this role I was able to utilize my passion for engaging in community activism through relationship building based on youth involvement and empowerment. I look forward to growing from my experience at CRE and learning from others that I work with.

Max FineDay

Max FineDay

Executive Director

Max FineDay is a nêhiyaw napew from the Sweetgrass First Nation in Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 Territory. He is currently serving as Executive Director of Canadian Roots Exchange, a recognized leader in delivering reconciliation programming to Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth across the country. Max is passionate about training the next generation of youth leaders, understanding how to make change, and increasing access to traditional ceremonies for Indigenous youth. 

In his spare time Max can be found serving as an advisor to the President of the Economic Club of Canada, the Laidlaw Foundation and serving on the interim National Council on Reconciliation. Max divides his time primarily between Toronto and Saskatoon. 

He can often be found laughing at his own jokes, or on twitter: @MaxFineDay

Megan Lewis

Megan Lewis

Policy and Research Manager - Toronto

She:kon! My name is Megan Lewis; I am a Kanien’kehá:ka woman currently residing in Tkaronto, Ontario. As a member of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, but having grown up off reserve in rural areas of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, I did not grow up very connected to my culture or community. However, over the past 10 years I have started to learn more about my family history and culture and that sparked a journey of self-discovery and reclamation that I am still on. With a BA in Child and Youth Care, and an MA in Public Policy and Administration, I have developed a passion for the advocacy of Indigenous people and communities through education. Over the years I have held various roles both on the front-lines in community organizations and in the federal government and continue to strive to make connections between policy and practice. Motivated and solutions-focused, I look forward to taking on my role as Policy and Research Manager and making an impact in this growing organization.

In my spare time I enjoy photography, organizing, and have recently taken up archery.

Mike Carlson

Mike Carlson

Policy School Instructor - Toronto
Hi, I’m Mike. I’m mixed Indigenous with family connections to the west coast interior (Osoyoos Band/Interior Salish). I’ve been in Toronto for about a decade and am grateful for my time on the traditional lands of the Wendat, Anishinaabe and Haudenausaunee Peoples.
As a jack-of-all-trades I’m very excited to bring my varied skill set to the Canadian Roots Exchange and the policy school. I currently work as a high school teacher, financial planner and non-profit director. I teach math/science at the Toronto District School Board often working at the Urban Indigenous Education Centre supporting Indigenous youth from grades 9 to 12. I also run my own business as a Qualified Associate Financial Planner, supporting people to build a healthier relationship with money. I have also worked in policy analysis, dramatic arts, scientific research, politics, international development and outdoor education.
I’m a big picture thinker who can take seemingly opposite sides to find common ground. I love meeting new people, developing meaningful connections and devouring any and all new information I can get my hands on.
Naithan Lagace

Naithan Lagace

Digital Curriculum Developer - Winnipeg

Greetings, my name is Naithan Lagace. I am Metis currently living in the heart of the Metis nation Winnipeg, Manitoba for nearly 10 years. My role at the Canadian Roots Exchange is the Digital Curriculum Developer. Upon graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Native Studies department with a Masters degree focusing on Indigenous representations in digital media I plan on contributing my knowledge and experiences involving digital formats to incorporate CRE programs into the digital space. I look forward to contributing to the multiple programs offered by the CRE. During my time away from CRE I am involved in volunteering my time to my current Metis Local, the Bison Local to support young Metis peoples here in Winnipeg.

Nicole Maxwell

Nicole Maxwell

Executive & Administrative Coordinator - Toronto

Hi, I’m Nicole Maxell and I was born and raised in Sioux Lookout, Ontario on Anishinabewaki and Metis land under Treaty 3. My Nonna and Kokum had a large hand in raising me and my siblings and I base a lot of my understanding and values from the love they gave me. I came to Toronto to study Fashion Design at Ryerson and then graduated in 2015. After 3 years in garment production my career shifted to something I find more valuable: working to empower and engage youth. I believe the art and handcrafts of our grandmothers and fathers is one of the most powerful and accessible tools to reintroduce youth to their culture. I’m honoured to work at CRE to support the people and programs that strive to enact real change.

Patricia Eve

Patricia Eve

Human Resources Coordinator - Toronto

Ahneen, Patricia Eve n’dijnicaas, mizeekay dodem. Toronto n’donjibaa.
Hello! My name is Patricia Eve of M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Sagamok and Newfoundland. I am turtle clan. Born and raised in Toronto, I have been working in various Indigenous organizations since graduating high school. I am passionate about making our community stronger, and I am so excited to be helping CRE advance the reconciliation movement in Canada.
In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, painting, singing and napping.

Robbyn Zwaigenbaum

Robbyn Zwaigenbaum

Director of Indigenous Knowledge & Curriculum - Toronto

My identity, as is many, is multifaceted—with many experiences that have brought me to the important work that I am doing now. My maternal ancestry is from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and my paternal were German Jews largely erased during the Holocaust. The history of Genocide has had a great impact on my identity and the trajectory that my life had taken. I was raised on Anishnawbe territory in the Elliot Lake relocation project. It was from this space that I learnt about the importance of Tradition, community and many teachings. I have more than twenty years working around the sex trade and issues around human trafficking. The majority of my career has been focused on the needs of Indigenous youth within an urban setting; identifying gaps and implementing solutions. I have created numerous of programs that focus on harm reduction, sex trade, street-involvement, trauma and spaces of safety. I have provided these programs to the community with the intention of empowering our community to be leaders and to increase quality of life. I have developed training modules for larger systems such as child welfare, police services, emergency medical staff, clinical service providers and criminal justice workers to work together to attain a positive outcome for the community.

As a previous clinician, and a Senior PhD candidate, it is my passion to bridge Western clinical practices and international Indigenous healing practices to combat intergenerational trauma and produce safe and accessible trauma-informed practices. It is an honour to bring my experiences to this position of Director of Indigenous Knowledge and Curriculum to work together to strengthen our capacity as a community and elevate our youth leaders as experts in their field.

saima butt

saima butt

Director of National Programming - Toronto

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!

Sam Kloestra

Sam Kloestra

Program Coordinator - Toronto
Sam Mukwa Kloetstra is an Anishinaabe youth from Mattagami First Nation. Sam is an advocate for Indigenous youth, nation-building, and community wellbeing. He has been an advisor to Ontario Minister of Education and has sat on the Ontario Premier’s Council for Youth Opportunities.
Sam works in influencing change in youth focussed health and education policy. He is a vocal advisor on the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle, Toronto Indigenous Affairs Committee, and the Toronto Drug Strategy Panel. Sam continues to amplify Indigenous youth voices through his work with the Toronto Indigenous Youth Collective.
Shanese Steele

Shanese Steele

Rural Program Manager - Ottawa

Shanese Steele is a 27 year old, fat, queer,  Mukaade Anishinaabe Kwe (Afro-Indigenous person) with ties to the Nbissing, Metis communities and Trinidad and Carriacou, Grenada and a member of the Crane Clan. She is now living on the traditional unceeded territory of the Omàmiwini (Algonquin), but grew up on Edoopikang, which is the Anishinaabemowin word for North York. Over the last 10 years Shanese has been focusing her work on bridging the gap between the Black diasporic Indigenous community and Indigenous communities belonging to Turtle Island. She is passionate about youth led initiatives that don’t only centre youth voices but also allows them to play a part in shaping the organizations, institutions and societies around them. Shanese is the Rural Program Manager and will be working to support, advocate, uplift and connect the voices of youth living in rural communities.

Shayla “Gwikitch’ihkheh” Snowshoe

Shayla “Gwikitch’ihkheh” Snowshoe

Northern Engagement Coordinator - Edmonton

My name is Shayla “Gwikitch’ihkheh” Snowshoe and I am a Tetlit Gwich’in from Tetlit Zheh, Northwest Territories. As a young, Indigenous woman, I have to come to understand the value of heritage and education and how the two are intertwined into my life, just like a braid. There are three strands. One strand is my culture – hunting, fishing, sewing, the language, the land and my Jijuu. The next strand is education – learning and experiencing new things everyday, as well as my desire to obtain a degree in order to give back to my community through education. The last strand is me– my heart, soul, strength, beliefs, dreams, goals and my love. Each strand is just as important and inspirited as the next. My ultimate goal in life is to live a healthy and happy life with my daughter, Dani-Mae.

Shelby Gagnon

Shelby Gagnon

Community Animator - Thunder Bay

Boozhoo!

My name is Shelby Gagnon, I am an Anishinaabe artist from Aroland First Nation, Treaty 9 territory but have been living in Thunder Bay most of my life. I’m a graduate of Lakehead University in the Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts program where I explored the reclamation of identity and traditions of being an Indigenous woman in Canada. Through involvement with community-engaged arts organizations and projects, I use multi-disciplinary mediums to express and share holistic feelings.

Currently, I am working part-time with CRE as a community animator and Thunder Bay District health unit and Lakehead University working to build food sovereignty in northwestern Ontario, I also teach and facilitate art workshops in and around Thunder Bay. I thrive on expanding my knowledge on traditional ways of living and being through methods of art, food systems and healing practices for the community. I am very excited to work with other young leaders and grow with the CRE team to build healthier relationships with people and the land.

Miigwech!

 

Summer Leigh Cardinal

Summer Leigh Cardinal

Rural Program Assistant - Regina

My name is Summer Leigh Cardinal of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation Treaty 6 territory located in Central Alberta, currently residing in Regina, SK Treaty 4 territory. I found my passion in educating people on reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous people when learning about Residential School Days and the intergenerational trauma that has occured stemming from it. I would love to be a part of the journey of bridging the gap between Canada and Indigenous peoples and come to a place of balance.

Tija Hauta

Tija Hauta

Community Animator - Thunder Bay
Aniin!  My name is Tija.  I am a Metis woman, living and working in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Robinson-Superior Treaty territory.  I moved from Treaty 3 territory in 2013.  Aside from working for Canadian Roots Exchange, I am working toward my Honours of Science in Forestry from Lakehead University.  I also have a technical diploma in Forestry: Ecosystem Management from Confederation College.  I am passionate about sustainability and working with youth.  I seek out opportunities which allow me to share my passion for the environment with youth, and help connect people with the land and their traditional knowledge! In my spare time, I can be found doing anything outside or reading while hanging out with my cat.   I am incredibly excited to be working with CRE and bringing youth of all walks of life together to share their visions of reconciliation! Chii-Miigwetch!

 

Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

Office Coordinator - Toronto

Sge:no (Greetings) My name is Tony Johnson and I am from the Cayuga Nation, Bear Clan born and raised on the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. For the past 2 years I have resided in the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Covenant Territory, in Tkaron:to/Toronto. I have experience in the administrative field as well as program and event coordination. Previously I have worked with many Indigenous organizations including: Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Mississauga’s of the Credit First Nation, Brantford Native Housing and the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre. It’s an honour to be a part of the CRE team and I look forward to growing and learning from the experience. Nya:weh

Tristan Smyth

Tristan Smyth

Director of Finance, Strategy & Impact - Toronto

Hi! My name is Tristan, a descendant of European settlers, and I was born in Treaty 8 Territory, raised in Treaty 7 Territory, and now a resident of the Dish with One Spoon Treaty Territory. Previously, I worked in consulting, legal services, librarianship, and higher education, but most importantly, I am a super nerd who plays Dungeons and Dragons every Friday night. Also, I hold a Master of Information from the University of Toronto, and my research focused on the intersection of anti-capitalist thought and organizational management policies of knowledge workers, especially around mental health issues.

Zaheen Karim

Zaheen Karim

Financial Controller - Toronto

Hello! My name is Zaheen, I was born in Bangladesh and have cultural and ancestral roots from that land. My family migrated and settled in unceded Algonquin territory (Ottawa) which is where I grew up for most of my life, since then I have been residing in Dish with One Spoon Treaty Territory (Toronto) for the past 5 years. As someone who has had a complex migrational story, I value that CRE is invested in engaging in the very meaningful and necessary work of reconciliation. I am honoured to be able to practice my professional interests in finance, project management and education through a decolonial and social justice lens. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, music, fitness and spending quality time with my friends and family.

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