Indigenous Knowledge Symposium

Indigenous Language Revitalization - Virtual Symposium - via Zoom | November 4th, 2022 

Keynote Speakers: Dominic Beaudry, Associate Vice-President, Academic and Indigenous Programs at Laurentian University

Presenters: See presenter bios below. 

  Download event program here (3.2 MB). 

The theme of Indigenous Language Revitalization during the International Decade of Indigenous Languages brings many important topics together at a conjunctural time. We invite you to this year's symposium to share, learn, teach and mobilize Indigenous traditions, research, knowledge and art towards language revitalization. The symposium will be conducted with respect to Indigenous protocols.

If you have any questions regarding the Indigenous Knowledge Symposium, please email the office

To attend the symposium, register here


Loretta Fox-Assinewai
Loretta Fox-Assinewai a band member from Wiikwemkoong {Wikwemikong First Nations) located on Mnidoo Minising (Manitoulin Island). She is "Gashi" mother to three daughters and "Nookomis" grandmother to 11 grandchildren. Loretta was raised in Wiikwemkoong by her "gitziimaag"parents, the late Thomas and Angeline Fox ba. 

Her professional work experience involves 29 years of service within the realm of Indigenous program and development. She has served as "Enaadmaaged" Post-Secondary Counsellor and "Ekinomaage kwe" Teacher at both the post-secondary and elementary school level where she taught "Anishnaabemwin" and "Anishnaabe Aadziwin" Anishinaabe way of life. More recently, she has acquired knowledge and experience working in the provincial Mental Health and Addictions sector as an Implementation Specialist for Indigenous, Inuit and Metis Wellness. 

Tsi Tyonnheht Onkwawén:na Language and Cultural Centre (TTO)
To learn more about TTO and the services they provide, visit their website

Romaine Mitchell
She:kon  Sehwakwe:kon ( Greetings everyone). My name is Romaine “Are:wah kon” Mitchell from the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne and a member of the Bear Clan. My wife Bonnie and I have walked side by side for 39 years and have 2 children and 3 grandchildren.  In my community, I have the honor to be a sweat lodge conductor and a carrier of several medicine bundles for the community and do so with humbleness and humility. 

I have been working in the field of Education for 30+ years in several capacities. From starting as an elementary teacher, high school teacher, Guidance Counsellor, Principal and an Indigenous Lead within the Upper Canada District School Board to my current role as an Education Officer with Ministry of Education in the Indigenous Education Office.  My educational journey has taken me to several teaching assignments in both the United States and in Canada, in both the Provincial and Federal educations systems.

As a strong advocate for Indigenous Education and wellbeing, throughout my 30 years, I have had the honor to work alongside many Traditional Educators and Knowledge Carriers and I have done my best to carry their work forward by bringing Indigenous Knowledge and Understanding and Ways of Being into our pedagogical practice on a daily basis, as we are entrusted with guiding the young minds we come into contact with daily and those yet to be born.  

Mary Elijah
As the Director of the Oneida Language & Cultural Centre for the past 23 years I have had the unique opportunity to carry out my PhD. research in my workplace along with a team of Oneida mother tongue speakers. Together we have worked with new technologies to develop Oneida androgogies while exposing Oneida policies entrenched in the language and culture. I feel very blessed to have worked with my team of Master Speakers who are now in their late 70’s and 80’s. I cannot talk of just myself in this work as it does no good for me to be the only one knowing what second language methodologies and teaching strategies are. The speakers have to know and filter this through their way of knowing to Oneida-ize the resultant method to be used in our community. It is a long and time consuming process but it is beautiful work.  

I have lived in the Oneida community my entire life. My parents spoke Oneida language at home but like so many others did not share it with their children for fear of punishment at school for speaking it. I am an apprentice learner but not a fluent speaker. I have dedicated 25 years to the survivance of the Oneida language in my community. My undergraduate work was in Sociology (oppressed minorities), and all of my graduate work was geared to second language acquisition and teaching and learning a second language. This presentation is part of a series of Mary Joy Talks that will form my dissertation. 

David Leitch
David Leitch attended the University of Toronto Law School, was called to the Ontario Bar in 1978 and completed an constitutional law at Osgoode Hall Law School in 2000. Since then, he has written and spoken about indigenous language rights in Canada. He also represents First Nations in north-western Ontario whose reserve lands were flooded for hydroelectric power projects. 

Group Presentation: Connecting Indigenous language revitalization with health and wellness in literature and life.

Velvalee Georges

Graduate Research Assistant, Office of the Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming & Research), Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization (SILR)
Velvalee Georges is a PhD candidate in elementary education at the University of Alberta.  She is a graduate of the Saskatchewan Urban Teacher Education Program (Saskatoon, 1985) and has a Master of Education degree in Inclusive Education from the University of Manitoba (2007).  She is an experienced teacher and administrator.  Originally from Sakitawak, Sk (Ile-a-la-Crosse) she speaks some Northern Michif and understands a great deal more. Although she left her home community many years ago to pursue employment and study, language resonates strongly in all of her work, no matter where she goes.  She married, has an adult daughter, and is now raising her great niece who is 8 years old. She makes her home in Pigeon Lake, AB

Elmer Ghostkeeper
Advisory Council Member, Office of the Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming & Research), Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization (SILR)
Elder Elmer Ghostkeeper was born to parents Adolphus and Elsie Ghostkeeper at the Paddle Prairie Metis Settlement, Alberta. He is Metis and speaks fluent Bushland Cree and MIchif the language of Metis people and lives with the land. He is a Spiritualist, father, grandfather, teacher, student, learner, philosopher and entrepreneur. His work is “Weche Teachings”, a partnership of Aboriginal Wisdom and Western Scientific Knowledge, a methodology to understand and solve puzzles effecting Aboriginal People. Elmer has a BA in Anthropology a MA in Cultural Anthropology and a Civil Technology Diploma. He is the author of Spirit Gifting: The Concept of Spiritual Exchange which is his Master’s thesis. In 2004, Elmer received the Order of the Metis Nation. He serves on numerous committees to revitalize the four aspects of Indigenous culture, social, economic and politics.

Crystal Wood
Graduate Research Assistant, Office of the Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming & Research), Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization (SILR).

Crystal Wood is a member of Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation from Fort Simpson, NWT but has always resided on Treaty Six or Seven territory in Alberta. She currently lives with her husband, two children and dogs North of Spruce Grove on Treaty 6 territory. Her passion(s) include creating and supporting meaningful change in the community, and currently serves on committees with her children’s school division, and with the Indigenous Graduate Students Association with the University of Alberta. Her drive for meaningful educational change for the inclusion of Indigenous education leveraged her to pursue her PhD. Crystal is excited to be part of the ‘Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization’ research team to help bring forward research and awareness of the importance of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit languages on Turtle Island. 

Sherryl Sewepagaham
Graduate Research Assistant, Office of the Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming & Research), Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization (SILR)
Sherryl Sewepagaham is of Woodland Cree and Dene roots from the Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta in Treaty 8 territory. She is working to complete a M.Ed in Elementary Education focusing on Curriculum & Pedagogy. Sherryl is a long-time K-6 elementary music specialist, music therapist, and Indigenous choral director having focused her passion on infusing the Cree language and culture in her work with students, clients, and educators. She is a published choral composer of Cree repertoire on an international level and created many Cree-based, music education resources for the National Arts Centre’s Music Alive Program and MusiCounts Education Charity. Sherryl has worked on Indigenizing music education nationally and has been invited to conduct research in this field with professors of Music Education across Canada. She is a 23-year member of the 2006 Juno-nominated Indigenous women’s trio, Asani, and has a 19 year-old son and a mini-poodle.
Joline Mearon-Bull/ Osaw Mostosis Iskwew: Educator (Maskwacis Plains Cree)
Graduate Research Assistant, Office of the Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming & Research), Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization (SILR).

All my professional and academic work— including this project—is informed by and emerges from an organic, socio-cultural, spiritual, traditional, and personal realities the Plains Cree are impacted by in the educational world of learning. It is been my journey in education to focus on the views of people speaking the truth about the importance of language revitalization, identity, and empowerment. My grassroots are from the Kisipahtnahk tribe, one of the Four Nations in Maskwacis and where I was raised. When I am not studying at the University of Alberta, my home is on the Peavine Metis Settlement in Northern Alberta. I have used my research and writing as a way to explore, collaborate, and investigate the realities I have grown up around and that have impacted by development as an educator and Indigenous woman on our great turtle island. This project is important to me because our young people face many adversities; they are born into intergenerational trauma and face many dilemmas around language loss and identity shame. I am currently a full-time Ph.D student at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Davina Rousell
Research Associate, Office of the Vice-Provost (Indigenous Programming & Research), Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization (SILR)
Dr. Rousell has specialized in community-driven research and Indigenous research methodologies and has over 18 years of experience working with and for Indigenous communities. Her areas of expertise include the mitigation and prevention of racist beliefs and praxis, Nêhiyaw teaching and learning processes, allyship, leadership, health and well-being. She is honoured to be part of an interdisciplinary research team which is seeking a deeper understanding of the connections between Indigenous languages and wellbeing.


Maria Farfán
Maria Patricia Farfán is a PhD student at McGill University. Her research focuses on the Nasa-Paéz Indigenous community in Colombia, (Toribio reservation) understanding of territory and housing as part of the contemporary Indigenous language and its relationship with their spiritual belief within current discussions in the theoretical fields of mythology, protest, traditional education, legacy, resilience, defence of the territory, and architecture.

Stanley "Bobby" Henry
Stanley “Bobby” Henry is of the Ball Deer Clan and he is member of the Cayuga Nation. His Traditional Name, “Hanadawęhę:s” means “He Goes Over a Town”. He is a community member of Six Nations of the River Territory and has spent 15+ years of his life in K-12 Cayuga language immersion education. He is a Ph.D. student in Trent University's Indigenous Studies Ph.D. program. His doctoral research explores Haudenosaunee Culture-based education in secondary education and how Haudenosaunee Culture-Based education can sustain Cayuga language for adolescent learners. Bobby is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers and is a graduate of Lakehead University’s Master of Education program with a specialization in Indigenous Education. Since becoming an OCT member in 2018, Bobby has garnered an array of teaching and work experiences in education, including curriculum development (K-8 lesson plans on Indigenous mathematics) for the National Centre for Collaboration in Indigenous Education; serving as an interim program coordinator for Trent University’s Indigenous Bachelor of Education program; and designing a micro-credential for Six Nations Polytechnic’s Cayuga Language Enrichment. 
Bobby is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Brock University. His research explores issues in Indigenous education, decolonizing/Indigenizing education, Decolonial research methodologies, the regeneration of Cayuga language, and pre-service teacher education. Central questions to Bobby’s research in Cayuga language regeneration are “(1) how can our community regenerate our ancestral language whereabouts the L1 speakers are members of the grandparent generation and (2) how can we reframe what we know about Indigenous language learning in the 21st century while being recognizable to our ancestors?” With these philosophical questions in mind, Bobby believes that approaching problems with new questions and new tools yields positive outcomes, new ideas, and improves Cayuga language learning for future generations. 

Ian Martin
Ian is an Associate Professor of English at Glendon College, York University. In 2016,  he was the principal author of The Glendon Declaration on Indigenous Language Policy in Canada, a policy paper which helped the federal government to promise legislation to respond to the TRC Calls 13, 14 and 15. He has also worked as a consultant for the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated on language-in-education policy in Nunavut from 2000 to the present.  

Damian Webster
Damian is the director for Honöta:önih Hënödeyësdahgwa’ program which serves pre-k through third grade with part time programming, as well as an adult cohort of Seneca language learners. He has been working with this program for just under six years and has been gradually building up the program and increasing language usage, as well as his own.

Damian is also on the board of directors for the Indigenous Language Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico where they put together language symposiums for students, educators, and administrators from all over Turtle Island. 

Sandra Lamouche
Sandra Lamouche is a Nehiyaw Iskwew (Cree Woman) from the Bigstone Cree Nation in Northern Alberta and lives in Southern Alberta with her husband and two sons from the Piikani Nation. She is a champion hoop dancer, an award-winning Indigenous education leader and a two time TEDx Speaker, writer, and choreographer. She received her B.A. in Native American Studies from the University of Lethbridge in 2007. Currently she is completing a M.A. Thesis at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario in Indigenous Studies titled “Nitona Miyo Pimadisiwin (Seeking a Good Life) Through Indigenous Dance” which examines Indigenous Dance as a Social Determinant of Health and Well Being.  

She has over fifteen years of experience in ten international styles of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, contemporary, hip hop and powwow styles, and the hoop dance. She has gained most recognition as a Hoop Dancer and has been showcased and performed internationally. 

Ian McCallum
Ian McCallum is a member of the Munsee-Delaware First Nation. He works with his community promoting culture, and history and is an educator working with the Munsee language. As a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto, Ian is currently researching strategies to support Munsee language revitalization. His most current work looks at connections between the Munsee language and the Thames River.

Ian is an Education Officer in the Indigenous Education Office for the Ministry of Education in Ontario. He has worked in the field of education for more than 20 years in the capacity of classroom and resource teacher as well as supporting teacher candidates as a seconded faculty of education member  

Barb Nolan
Barbara Nolan is grateful to have survived the attempts by Canada’s Indian residential schools system to take her Nishnaabe language from her. As a vibrant first-speaker of Nishnaabemwin, she has spent several decades working with a variety of organizations to revitalize our language.

Sixteen years ago, Barbara teamed up with John Paul Montano as his language mentor to pass-on her Nishnaabe language. John Paul, being a committed and determined individual, whose mission was to acquire the language, has been successful at doing so. He is now a speaker of the Nishnaabe language.

Dominic Beaudry
Dominic is the Associate Vice-President, Academic and Indigenous Programs at Laurentian University. As an Anishnaabe historian and language advocate, Dominic brings extensive experience in Indigenous education, and strategic and land-based learning. Most recently, Beaudry served as an Education Officer with the Ontario Ministry of Education. Prior to that, he served as a Teacher and Anishinaabe Language and Culture Facilitator. For more on Dominic, visit here