Biographies of participants
Albert Dumont: Opening prayer - Spiritual Advisor Algonquin, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg
Since October 2016 Albert Dumont has been serving his community as one of 13 Elders on the Elders Advisory Committee of the Ministry of the Attorney General. He worked as Elder for the Parole Board of Canada at Elder Assisted Hearings from November 2013 to March 2017. He was employed by Correctional Services Canada for three years as a spiritual advisor for the Aboriginal men incarcerated at Millhaven Institution’s J Unit located near Kingston, ON. He is an activist, a volunteer and a poet who has published 5 books of poetry and short stories. In recognition for his work as an activist and volunteer on his ancestral lands (Ottawa and Region) Albert was presented with a Human Rights Award by the Public Service Alliance of Canada in 2010. In January 2017 he received the Dream KEEPERS Citation for Outstanding Leadership. Albert has dedicated his life to promoting Aboriginal spirituality and healing and to protecting the rights of Aboriginal Peoples particularly those as they affect the young.
Jennifer David: Master of Ceremony
Jennifer David is an NVision Insight Group (formerly called Stonecircle Consulting) partner, board member and senior consultant who has worked in the field of Indigenous communications and consulting for more than 15 years. Prior to consulting, Jennifer was the Director of Communications for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network after which she started her own communications consulting company. A member of Chapleau Cree First Nation, Jennifer has degrees in Journalism and English literature from Carleton University. As a skilled and experienced communicator, planner, writer and facilitator, Jennifer brings energy, creativity and professionalism to every project, driven by her commitment to the promotion of Indigenous communities and cultures. She is currently a board member of Makonsag, an urban Aboriginal Headstart/preschool program in Ottawa. In her spare time, she loves to read Indigenous literature and play basketball (though not at the same time).
Tracey Lindberg: First Nations representative
Tracey Lindberg is a citizen of As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation Rocky Mountain Cree and hails from the Kelly Lake Cree Nation community. She is an award-winning academic writer and teaches Indigenous studies and Indigenous law at two universities in Canada. Lindberg is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, Harvard University and the University of Ottawa law schools. LL.B (Saskatchewan) LL.M. (Havard) LL.D. (Ottawa). Lindberg is a professor of law (Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law) at the University of Ottawa and an indigenous rights activist. Lindberg writes and publishes in areas related to Indigenous law, Indigenous governance, Indigenous women and Indigenous education. She was the first aboriginal woman to receive a doctorate in law from a Canadian University as well having received the Governors Generals Award in 2007 upon convocation for her dissertation Critical Indigenous Legal Theory. In 2016 at CBC Battles of the Books- Canada Reads 2016 CBC panelist Bruce Poon Tip (founder of G Adventures- largest travel Adventure Company in the world) defended Birdie as one of the top 5 novels that offer different takers on the same theme: starting over. Lindberg is known for her fictional novel Birdie which was published in 2015 and explores the topic of sexual abuse and is an account of a character who overcomes adversity. It offers a more nuanced view of individual triumph.
Zebedee Nungak: Inuit representative
Zebedee Nungak is an Inuit writer, satirist and political leader and grew up in Puvirnituq, which is on the eastern shores of Hudson Bay. On June 22, 2017 Nungak among 33 others is to receive and be honored “ de l’un des trois grades de l’Ordre national du Québec” which is the highest distinction awarded by the Quebec Government. Nungak is known for 3 films; Quallunaat! Why White People are so Funny which was produced in 2007, The Experimental Eskimos documentary (2009) which was produced in 2009 and finally NAPAGUNNAQULLUSI: So That You Can Stand which was produced in 2015. The first documentary Nungak was a collaborating director and this film is a combination of history and satiric humor. The film explores topics such as; how white men have a history of treating Inuit with indifference, appropriating Inuit land, assimilating Inuit culture through public schooling, and how they have attempted to replace the Inuit's oral processes of thinking and socializing with Qallunaat's (Inuit word for white people) writing processes. His second film The Experimental Eskimos documentary tells the story of him and two other Inuit boys who participated in what the Canadian government called a “social engineering experiment in the early 1960’s. They were taken from their Inuit families in the Artic at the age of 12 and were sent to Ottawa to live and learn among white people and in white schools. In this film, the three men recount their stories regarding this experiment and how it affected their cultural identity. This film won several awards such as Directors Guild of Canada, Allan King Award for Excellence in Documentary, Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival, Best Feature Documentary and the Yorkton Film Festival, NFB Kathleen Shannon Award. Lastly the documentary NAPAGUNNAQULLUSI: So That You Can Stand shows the tense negotiations that led to the signing of the James Bay NORTHERN Quebec Agreement in November 1975. This 83-minute long documentary tells the story of the small band of young Inuit leaders (including Nungak) who took up the defense of their lands against Hydro-Québec and the provincial government, and forced a historic settlement.
Cheri Dimaline: Métis representative
Cheri Dimaline is an author and editor from Georgian Bay Métis community. She is the Editor on the Aboriginal magazines: MUSKRAT and FNH. Dimaline is married with 3 kids and is currently living in Toronto. Her day job is being a Writer in residence for the First Nations House at the University of Toronto. In 2014, Dimaline was named 2014 Emerging Artist of the Year - Ontario Premier's Award, and was named the first Writer in Residence - Aboriginal Literature for the Toronto Public Library. Dimaline’s favorite genre of writing is short stories and she is known for her fictional novels such as; Red Rooms published in 2007; Stray Dog Moccasins published in 2009, Seven Gifts for Cedar published in 2010, the girl Who Threw a Galaxy published in 2013, The Gentle Habit published in 2015 and The Marrow Thieves published in 2017. To begin, Red Rooms is Dimaline’s first novel and won Fiction Book of the Year from the Anskohk Aboriginal Book Awards. The book demonstrates a unique journey articulating the lives of the Native patrons of an urban hotel as seen through the eyes of the hotels cleaning lady. Stray Dog Moccasins brings you inside a contemporary urban Aboriginal world you won’t soon forget. The Novel Seven Gifts for Cedar is a children’s novel that teaches the core traditional First Nation cultural values in a contemporary setting. It portrays the strong ties that exist within First Nation families and communities. The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy mixes contemporary Indigenous experience with fantasy and magic and was shortlisted for the 2014 Burt Award. The Gentle Habit is a collection of six new short stories focusing on the addictions of a diverse group of characters attempting normalcy in an unnatural world. This novel was inspired from American poet Charles Bukowski, who wrote, "In between the punctuating agonies, life is such a gentle habit." The most recent book The Marrow Thieves is a fictional novel about the Indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream.