Speakers

James T Arreak

James T Arreak

Executive Director

The Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities

James is the Executive Director for the Coalition of Nunavut District Education Authorities.  He lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut.  James recently completed his MBA from Western University’s IVEY Executive Master of Business Administration program.  He also holds undergraduate degrees in Business and Management.

Mr. Arreak has been a key contributor to the, April 1, 1999, creation of the Nunavut Territory.  As an example, he opened the first bank accounts of the Government of Nunavut; James facilitated the first pre-budget consultations of the Government, as well as framing the unique needs of Nunavut that led to the appropriation of the Territorial Financing Formula.  Furthermore, he played a central role in developing relationships in preparation for financing the infrastructure investment that built the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut as well as the 11 regional Government offices that included Staff Housing.  James assisted with the development of an Investment Policy for the $1.14 Billion Nunavut Trust portfolio.  The Investment Policy determines the overall portfolio asset mix and ranges of variability, investment objectives, establishment of performance measurement standards used to measure progress against long term goals and objectives and the approval of the selection of investment counselors.

James has played a pivotal role in bridging the north to, and from, the south, including bridging between cultures, as well as bridging generational gaps.  Having grown up within a strong family structure that values its Inuit identity, culture, traditions, beliefs and language.  Despite these valuable foundations, James has been able to live in various parts of Canada continuing his education, training, working and gaining valuable experience.  In recent years, James has continued developing the territory of Nunavut by conducting policy and program reviews involving procurement, as it relates to the Nunavut Agreement; conducting the non-emergency medical travel program; furthermore, large scale reviews included the 2nd Review of the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement.  Recent accomplishments involved leading the Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. through settling a $255 Million litigation lawsuit between the plaintiff, Inuit of Nunavut, and defendant, the Federal Crown (Government of Canada) for failing to fulfill their contractual obligations as defined by the Nunavut Agreement. James went through residential school.   Though the residential school era was a very difficult time for the Inuit of Nunavut and Canada, James caught the tail-end of the residential school era.  Carving his way through difficult cross-cultural adjustments, James was able obtain an athletic scholarship at Mount Royal while obtaining an undergraduate Business Degree.

Mr. Arreak has held a number of jobs and positions including: junior officer roles in Government, junior accounting roles; sales & marketing; senior banking positions for a big five bank; senior director positions in finance for the Government of Nunavut; a management consultant; president; Chief Executive Officer; board roles for Nunavut Trustee, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc, arts and performance. James is married to Looee, who is an original recording artist, plus a mother of 6 children.

Christine Bajona

Christine Bajona

Director, Human Resources, Indigenous Inclusion

First Canadian Health

Christine Bajona is the HR Director of Indigenous Inclusion at First Canadian Health and also the HR Advisor to it’s parent company and family of companies. She is responsible for implementing HR strategies for the direction, vision and growth of the business, ensuring Indigenous cultural considerations are interwoven into all strategies. Christine has a shared familial passion for service in support of the Indigenous communities of Canada. With the trajectory to raise awareness and advocate for promises made to the Indigenous Peoples, Christine has charted her professional path in aligning with many esteemed legal and professional change makers to promote knowledge and growth and hold Corporate accountable in their commitments to inclusion of all diverse groups, most specifically to Indigenous People.

Through her academia in Business and Human Resources Management with Guelph University and Humber, Christine is an accredited CHRL with the HRPA, currently on track to acquiring a specialized CCIP designation to be recognized as a Canadian Certified Inclusion Professional with the governing Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion.

Nicole Callihoo

Nicole Callihoo

Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Directorate

Alberta Education

Nicole Callihoo is the Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Directorate at Alberta Education. In this position, Nicole works to advance Alberta Education’s goal of an education system that honours the history, cultures, languages, and perspectives of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities with support from the Directorate and the Ministry. Nicole is from the Treaty 6 Territory (Paul First Nation, AB) and is an alumnus from the Johnson Shoyoma Graduate School of Public Policy. She obtained a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Saskatchewan in 2014 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Native Studies from the University of Alberta in 2002. She brings with her a very strong leadership background with more than 15 years of working with Indigenous communities.

Courtney Copoc

Courtney Copoc

Employment & Training Advisor

Musqueam Indian Band

Courtney is a proud Lenape, person of Delaware Nation of Moraviantown (Eelünaapéewi Lahkéewiit), Turtle Clan from the Hopkins family.  She is a first-generation university graduate, an intergenerational cycle-breaker, traveler, thrill seeker, and an unapologetic dreamer. As an intuitive urban Indigenous woman, Courtney shares a deep-rooted passion for strengthening the voices of her community and has been involved in many initiatives that foster unity and pride of Indigenous culture. She is a Gladue Report Writer, Program Coordinator, Career Coach and Youth Mentor.

Rose Anne Daniels

Director of Operations

Red Earth First Nation

A First Nation Indigenous woman growing up in REFN, living with all the impacts of colonialism, became actively aware the of injustices at an early age for First Nations through oral tradition passed down by her father & mother, John and Stella Mckay and Grandparents, Chief Robert Mckay, grandmother, Medicine Woman, Amelia Mckay(Paternal); Anglican preacher, Alfred Head and Sofia Head. (Maternal). Through their teachings, the strength and resilience was gained to obtain a higher education. Later in years, completed the program of Public Administration from the University of Saskatchewan to understand the Federal and Provincial Government Policies that affected her life and many other indigenous peoples across Canada.

Allen Deleary

Human Resource Developer

Mnaasged Child and Family Services

David Desormeaux

David Desormeaux

Manager of Human Resources

Tsawwassen First Nation

As the Manager of Human Resources with Tsawwassen First Nation for the past five years, David draws from a wealth of human resources management experience spanning 20 years in a variety of industries, including government administration, security services, hospitality, and high tech. David is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR), holds a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Human Resources Management from Royal Roads University and an Executive Leadership Certificate from Cornell University.  David leverages his human resources management expertise and his team’s collective strengths to provide tactical and consultative support to supervisors and management while maximizing the employee’s positive working experience with Tsawwassen First Nation.

Jackson Dionne

Jackson Dionne

Executive Director

Indigenous Wellness Training Society

Jackson Dionne’s mission is to train First Nations Individuals who have addiction issues using Indigenous Health and Wellness principles to achieve financial independence. He has used himself as an example to achieve this. Jackson has been married for 20 years, has been a homeowner for 20 years, is very, very close to being financially independent, and has done a bit of travel in his recovery journey.

Jackson’s core mission is to train other individuals to be financially independent.

To accomplish this Jackson has been working in the Addictions Field since June 2001. He started as an intake worker, then Alcohol and Drug Counsellor, then senior counselor and Team Leader, and manager of 4 programs located in two locations. He has created and developed his society, his website and has created and published recovery-related tips on YouTube. His five main drivers of empowerment are Recovery, Education, Employment, Culture, and Life Skills.

Jackson’s education includes a certificate in Fisheries Technical Assistance Program, a diploma in Forest Resource Technology, a Certificate of Counselling Science with a Specialized Addiction Counsellor Certificate, a BA Psychology Major, and a Masters of Arts Degree in Professional Communication.

Jackson is also very involved in the community. He has completed the Dale Carnegie Course and was also a Graduate Assistant three times. He has been a member of Toastmasters and has led a group of learners for the Aboriginal Run Walk program hosted by SportMed BC for approximately ten years.

Jackson has been an executive director for an Indigenous Non-profit organization located at the corner of Main and Hastings in Vancouver BC where he was instrumental in raising close to $1 Million in one year. He continues to work on and develop a society he was instrumental in developing where he is striving to “Create an innovative, dynamic work environment that supports the health and well-being of the team.” He finds it very difficult to talk about himself and finds it very difficult to fit in all his contributions and accomplishments in such a small space.

Ruth Dorsainville

Ruth Dorsainville

Talent & Culture Manager

Indigenous Friends Association

CEO

DNA Diversity Executive Search

Ruth Dorsainville is the Talent and Culture Manager for the Indigenous Friends Association, CEO of DNA Diversity Executive Search, a Certified Leadership Coach (CLC), Founder of the Recruiting and Staffing World. While working on Wall Street as the Vice President of New York Staffing, a division of Chartwell Staffing Services, a Certified WBENC (Women Owned Business) and  Disadvantage Business Certified (DBE). Achievements and awards in recognition, includes: in 2003, INC Magazine designated New York Staffing Services one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the U.S. It has received many other citations and awards, including an award for Outstanding Business Enterprise by the National Minority Business Council, Inc. in April 2009 and has also been featured on Forbes magazine.

Ruth has a proven record of success assisting world-class organizations with their executive recruitment and leadership development requirements. A trusted advisor to senior management, she builds long-term relationships, and has an established reputation for her commitment to excellence and focus on results.

Although she was living the “Canadian and American Dream”, deep inside she knew something needed to change because even with all her successes, she still felt unfulfilled. Thus she began her transition to find her career of passion. She discovered that in order to live a fulfilled life she needed to pursue her soul’s purpose. By taking charge of her destiny and following her dreams, Ruth finally found peace and felt complete.

Today she inspires individuals to live their essence through their career, entrepreneurial business and promote diversity in the workplace. She does so through many different mediums including her peak performance leadership coaching practice. She has studied and has been coached by world leaders such as Anthony Robbins, Bob Proctor, Darren Hardy, John Maxwell, Barbara Bruno and Chelt Holmes.

Ruth left Wall Street to become a humanitarian and conscious entrepreneur devoted to empowering millions of people to live their true purpose on earth and change the world towards positive consciousness.

She is a member of several professional associations, supports various charitable and community based organizations, and also offers her time coaching recent graduates. She is author of DNA of HappYness: 30 Minutes Success Strategy for a Better Work Life Balance to help individuals find passion in their career by being true to their life’s purpose. She also wrote, A CEO Guide to Diversity and Inclusion to help organizations create a legacy company.

Janet Hanuse

Janet Hanuse

Director, Indigenous Programs

Ministry of Advanced Education & Skills Training

My name is Janet Hanuse.  I am a member of the Gwa’sala-‘Nak’waxda’xw Nations and the ‘Wuikinukv Nations, located off the west coast of BC. Born and raised in rural Port Hardy, BC, I have grown accustomed to limited access to services, which has resulted in my passion for innovative approaches to program delivery and leadership.  I am currently a guest in the WSÁNEĆ Territory, specifically the land of the Tsartlip First Nation.  For the last two years, I have had the privilege of leading a team in the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, where we have been able to work with Indigenous communities across the province of BC to access training and post-secondary education in community. My approach to leadership was first developed while I was a part of the Friendship Centre movement with the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.  As part of a provincial committee, I supported executive directors, board directors, and organization managers in all areas of organizational development and leadership.  My passion and inspiration for resilience derives from the untold experiences of my parents who were both residential school survivors.  I live and breathe each day in honour of my ancestors, my family, and future generations of all Indigenous people across Canada.

Aaron Kaatz

Aaron Kaatz

Human Resources Advisor, Policy and Programs

Employment and Social Development Canada

Helping people is my passion! I always knew from a young age that helping people is my passion and the driving factor for my future success but I never knew I could find a career in that. I always thought it was a myth or something that would be good to do “some-day”. But that someday is my daily life now as I slowly gravitated to my current position after figuring out what I wanted to do.

I was recently a part of Aboriginal Centre of Expertise team at the Public Service Commission where I lead the Indigenous Student Employment Opportunity Initiative to help Indigenous students across Canada currently enrolled full time get experience in various government departments. In my later stages at the PSC I was leading the Indigenous Career Pathways which served as an opportunity to further connect hiring managers directly with Indigenous candidates. What’s unique about this is that it is a national recruitment initiative and all the support and programs I run have been delivered virtually with a lot of success. The support and resources I provide to Indigenous students across the country are opportunities for networking, mentorship, training, and career development .

I came to Employment and Social Development Canada where my current position is, after first entering the public service with the Canada Border Services Agency. I worked in Human Resources in a student recruitment hub, but the entirety of my public service career to date, has been primarily in recruitment and program delivery.

When I am not in the office, I am in a hockey rink doing what I love: Coaching. I dedicate my spare time to head coaching youth AAA hockey teams.

EJ Kwandibens

EJ Kwandibens

Indigenous Cultural Educator

Miino Ayah Dah

EJ Kwandibens, also known as Anikay-Keesic, is a member of the Loon Clan and is of Northern Woodland Anishiinaabe (Ojibway) of the Waahbiidaahgaah (Whitesand) First Nation community which is a part of the Robinson Superior 1850 Treaty region located 21 hours north of Toronto. ​​

EJ has over two decades of work experience for cultural awareness development in healthy living. He has worked across many sectors such as, Educational Institutions, Correctional Services, Social Services, Child Welfare and Mental Health.  He advocates the power of change through Indigenous Cultural Modalities.

The values and principles guiding his Indigenous ways of knowing and being stems from intergenerational knowledge transfer. Oral traditions form the foundation of Aboriginal societies, connecting speaker and listener in communal experience and uniting past and present in memory. The philosophy of “Miino Biimaahdizewin: Balanced Good Life” is a reclamation of the self and one’s ability to be interconnected through a holistic cultural lens.

EJ’s philosophy is quite simple: “…life is a precious gift given to us from the creator. The physical form of life is merely an instrument or a vessel that we must nurture and protect as this is our individual sacred lodge. The key is to unite the physical and spiritual aspects of the self which creates a balanced holistic self. This process requires time, patience and understanding of the unique kinship one has with the land and all its spiritual entities. It is through this reclamation of the self, true happiness and heightened consciousness manifests itself”.

Patty Lemky

Patty Lemky

Learning and Development Consultant

Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority

Patty Lemky is a Learning and Development Consultant with the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) and is passionate about the importance of lifelong learning. She is a member of the Black Lake Denesuline First Nation and has been with SIGA since 2013. Her career with SIGA started at Dakota Dunes Casino in the Guest Services department but with a growing interest in Human Resources, Patty was successful in obtaining a Human Resource Officer position in 2018. In her current role as L&D Consultant at SIGA Central Office, she supports the personal and professional growth and development of SIGA employees by sourcing, designing and delivering relevant and effective training on a wide variety of subjects. Prior to joining the SIGA family, she spent many years in hotel management, sales, and marketing for different hotels in Saskatoon, including Director of Sales at the Saskatoon Inn. When she is not working, Patty enjoys playing various sports including golf, beach volleyball, and slo-pitch, as well as competing in various pool tournaments with her all ladies pool team.

Nelson Onwuliri

Nelson Onwuliri

Manager, Human Resources

Tsay Keh Dene First Nation

Nelson Onwuliri, Head of Human Resources, is a professional with 5+ years of human resource management experience, the last 3 years have been with First Nations and Indigenous Government. Nelson has a notable experience in strategic human resource planning, performance management, staffing, federal and provincial law compliance, employment contract negotiations, employee benefits, compensation and payroll, training and development, and management coaching.

Nelson Onwuliri holds a master’s degree with a merit in International Relations and Security from University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom and a bachelor’s degree with a second class upper in Political Science from Madonna University, Nigeria. Additionally, Nelson Onwuliri also has a Post-Diploma in Human Resources Management with a Honours from College of New Caledonia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. Nelson Onwuliri has worked with Prestigious National Multicultural Institute in West Africa to become a master level trainer in cultural competency. Nelson Onwuliri is a member of Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia/Yukon and a member of Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). Nelson Onwuliri is also a Registered Professional Recruiter under the Association of Professional Recruiters of Canada.  Nelson Onwuliri is also pursuing his Master of Business Administration with specialization in Project Management with Aspen University.

Nelson Onwuliri works with professionals who are in leadership roles in public education and are looking to understand the strategies they can employ to balance themselves between their personal life and their work life so they can be more effective in their leadership role.

Jeff Robert

Jeff Robert

Workplace Harassment Prevention Advisor

Nokiiwin Tribal Council

Owner

Workplace Ki

Jeff launched ‘Workplace Ki’ as a model to better understand common threads leading to success. Workplace Ki blends thinking from business leaders, traditional practices, and academic research to create inclusive working cultures.

Jeff is a proud member of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek with several family ties to the Fort William First Nation Community. As a seasoned workplace harassment prevention advisor, Jeff has a passion for supporting national Indigenous communities from coast to coast. Jeff has worked on a multitude of initiatives within his community of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek. Over the last 5 years, Jeff has worked alongside Northern Ontario Indigenous organizations in an HR capacity with a focus on compensation, benefits, performance management and employee relations.

Jeff actively demonstrates his commitment to building strong, healthy, and sustainable First Nation Communities. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Lakehead University and a post-graduate diploma in Human Resources from Confederation College.

Tanya Thomas

Tanya Thomas

Senior Manager, Human Resources

Williams Lake First Nation

Tanya Thomas is the Senior Manager, Human Resources at a progressive, First Nation government, Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN). A CPHR Candidate since summer 2020, Tanya is leading human development for a growing First Nation government that is nearing 90 employees – while still under the age of 30. Ever prepared, meticulously detailed, quietly tenacious, and always up for a challenge, Tanya has empowered the WLFN leadership team and employee groups to rethink coaching and peer support throughout the organization. There are 198 First Nation governments in British Columbia. Many of these governments follow an antiquated administration model that is championed by the Indian Act. Traditionally, First Nation governments would place abnormal responsibility and oversight on the shoulders of the Band Administrator (or Chief Administrative Officer), particularly around HR management. The First Nation government landscape has changed significantly over the past 2-3 decades, with many Nations finding new socio-economic outcomes that support independent governance and oversight.

The Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) has enjoyed exciting success over the last 5-10 years, with program delivery and economic enterprises growing at a rapid rate. This organizational growth demanded a new, modern approach to HR administration that necessitated a new HR role to evaluate the employee experience. Tanya has perfectly complemented this transition, taking WLFN from an “Indian Act” organization to where we stand today – a progressive First Nation government that has implemented many initiatives that create measurable outcomes. Tanya has worked tirelessly to compare “old ways” dictated by Indian Act models, to modern employee experience outcomes that would be acceptable in any private practice, local government, or corporation. This accomplishment is not just one of pure function – but of empathy, leadership, and forward-thinking. Born and brought up in Mumbai, India, Tanya has completed her Bachelor’s in International Hospitality Management and Post Diploma in Human Resources Management from India. In 2014, Tanya started her journey in Kamloops, Canada and successfully graduated as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops.

Tanya discovered a passion for service at a very young age and strongly believes that giving has its own rewards. She interned for the Borgen Project, which is a not-for-profit organization that aims to eradicate poverty in developing nations. Tanya facilitated several fundraising events by selling her paintings at coffee shops and spread awareness about the project through the local news channel and radio station.Tanya’s final MBA project encouraged universities to help students learn the importance of intercultural communication during their learning phase. The world is coming closer day by day and organizations have diverse employees from different countries, cultures, religions, languages, races, come together and work with each other. As suggested in Tanya’s MBA project title, “Take the confusion out of the fusion”, it is important that we live a life of acceptance and curiosity and have an open mind to break down the barriers of intercultural communication. As an HR Professional, Tanya takes advantage of the opportunities in her personal and professional life to make a positive impact on her colleagues, friends, and family.

Stephanie Zamora

Stephanie Zamora

Director, Human Resources

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

Stephanie Zamora is currently the Director of Human Resources for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.  For 13 years, she has held various positions within large, multi-disciplined, unionized workplaces, such as a Director of Human Resources and Organization Development and Vice President of Human Resources and Indigenous Initiatives.  She has been a leader in the development of various human resource strategic initiatives, organizational change initiatives and program development, as well as projects and partnerships to increase diversity and equity.

Stephanie is a Dakota/Dene woman who holds a certificate of professional membership as a chartered member of the Canadian Professionals of Human Resources of Manitoba.  In 2018 Stephanie was nominated as Executive of the Year with CPHR Manitoba. Dedicated to continuous learning she is currently completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Manitoba with a double major in Labour Relations and Industrial Relations.  She holds a Human Resource Management Diploma from the University of Manitoba as well as a Health Services Management and Leadership Diploma from Red River College

Stephanie is a board member for Canadian Aboriginal Human Resource Management Association Council, a Council Member on the Indigenous Relations Council for the United Way of Winnipeg and a previous Board Member for Mount Carmel Clinic.  Stephanie has been an active member of the Indigenous community for over 25 years volunteering at various Indigenous community organizations in both Winnipeg and Toronto.