Indigenous Advisory Circle
As we work hard to respond to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, to serve all students in Alberta and to honour First Nations, Metis and Inuit families and communities we recognize that we need to hear the voices of Indigenous people. We believe that honouring Indigenous governance practices and learning processes will serve all education communities better and specific individuals have been identified to assist us in learning growing as an organization of education leaders.
The roles of each individual in the ASBA Indigenous Advisory Circle include:
- Advise board of directors regarding governance, leadership and education needs of students, families and communities
- Provide guidance for professional learning planning
- Provide guidance to board in their respective territories where invited by the boards
- Provide direction on protocol for respective Nations, communities and territories
- Provide guidance and support for the student award redesign process
- Provide guidance and support to the Executive Director and ASBA staff
Indigenous Advisory Circle
The creation of the Indigenous Advisory Circle (IAC) has been a huge step for ASBA both in terms of supporting First Nations, Metis and Inuit students across the province and in supporting professional learning for trustees across Alberta. The Indigenous Advisory Circle includes voices representing Dene, Cree, Salteaux, Nakota, Blackfoot, Tsuut’ina, Inuit and Metis families and communities. In nine short months–since the inception of the circle–our wise and generous members have already provided professional learning opportunities around:
- Foundational Indigenous knowledge
- The history of colonialism
- Indigenous governance
- Collective social justice
- And more
Recognizing the multiplicity of nation, voice, community and teachings of Indigenous peoples in Alberta, along with the diversity of experience of school board trustees, the Indigenous Advisory Circle members envisioned a series of videos in which they could provide a foundational level of knowledge upon which Boards could build within the territory where they live and work. The Indigenous Insights series is the result of their vision and commitment to support trustee learning for reconciliation in Alberta.Check out the videos
Gerald Johnson, Cree
Gerald Johnson is originally from Treaty 6 –Samson Cree Nation and at age seven, he relocated to Treaty 8 – Calling Lake. He committed the past 19 years as an elected official to the Municipal District of Opportunity, and his focus was improving the quality of life for the people and community. His passion is sport, and he believes that it can be used to empower the youth.
He is proud that the community of Calling Lake is built by the people, for the people, with the passion and skills of the people.
Brenda Semantha, Dene
Brenda Semantha is a 54-year old mother of three beautiful daughters and a proud grandmother of two precious grandchildren. She speaks fluent Dene, and works very close with Elders to guide her in all that she does to promote living a healthy lifestyle. She has worked in the addictions field for 23 years before her current position as a Health Support for the Indian Residential School Program at North Peace Tribal Council.
Jenna Joyce Broomfield, Inuit
Jenna Joyce Broomfield Jenna Joyce Broomfield is an Inuk from North West River, Nunatsiavut (Labrador) and is currently Articling after graduating Law School at the University of Alberta. She has a prior educational background including a certificate in Pre Law Studies for Native Peoples, a Degree in Native Studies, and a Certificate in Aboriginal Governance and Partnership.
As a result of many generations of colonization and the Residential School in her community, Jenna’s early upbringing was only semi-traditional, and she always felt as though something was missing. As a teen she began a conscious cultural revitalization journey and began seeking and learning the traditional teachings of her culture. Jenna uses her teachings to spark safe cultural dialogue between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples through cultural performance and educational workshops. She is an avid throat singer and drum dancer and continues the journey of learning her traditional language, Inuktitut, and promotes the re-learning of her language to other non-fluent Inuktitut speaking Inuit on social media. Jenna is a member of the Indigenous Bar Association, a member of the Law Society of Alberta, a founding member of the National Indigenous Law Students Association, and is a founding member of Inuit Edmontonmiut, an Urban Inuit Organization representing Inuit in an official capacity, the Alberta Region.
Sharon Morin, Métis
Sharon Morin was born into a large politically active Métis family of 7, and has spent a lot of time participating in many political and cultural activities. In many ways, she lived and was taught in a traditional Aboriginal way by Elders, Knowledge keepers and Community Activists.
Sharon volunteered for her Mother, retired Senator Thelma Chalifoux, and together, they started the Michif Cultural Connections– a Métis Living Museum, Resource Center ad Gift Shop located in historical Mission of St. Albert.
She has worked for the past 13 years at the Musée Héritage Museum as the Program Manager and Aboriginal Lead, developing curriculum-based aboriginal educational and community programs. The program is now being expanded with Truth and Reconciliation, with Blanket Exercises for both Children and Adult,s for the general public and Educators.
Theresa Strawberry, Cree
Theresa Strawberry is an Elder advisor from the O’chiese First Nation. She provides cultural awareness education to the public. She shares her personal and professional experience to send a strong message of empowerment. The past, present and future can be measured in the strength of our resilience to move forward. “Time to let go and embrace on the true power of teachings.”
Providing an overall connection to communities with Cultural education, programs and services, she is the founder of the “Kis Sai Wah Toe Tat Towin Society”. Her vision is to be the model of connectivity used for all communities to break down barriers, to come together, understand each other in First Nations, Cities, Provinces, Countries and the World. “To join, heal, honor, to celebrate the birth of a new spirit coming to life.” She is a very powerful speaker with a wealth of knowledge. Speaker to Conferences, Elder Strawberry was honored with the Culture Award at the 2015 Esquao Awards.
Currently, Theresa plays a key role as an Elder Liaison providing counselling, ceremonies for healing, along with other Elder duties at the Edmonton Institution for Women. Her work is very meaningful, as she draws a very special connection with many.
Dzinizi Guja, Sizi Valerie McDougall A’ta, Tsuut’ina istłini at’a
Valerie McDougall is from Tsuut’ina, Alberta. She is the Director of Tsuut’ina Education. Valerie McDougall has been employed for the Tsuu’tina Nation in her home community for the last 15 months. Before returning to her home community, Valerie, was employed with the Holy Spirit School Division in Lethbridge, Alberta, for 10 years.
Her teaching experiences were in Pincher Creek and Lethbridge, Alberta. Valerie has a degree in B.A./B.Ed from the University of Lethbridge and a M.Ed in School Administration from the University of Gonzaga.
Sykes Powderface, Nakoda
Sykes Powderface is from the Stoney Nakoda Nation in Morley, Alberta. He attended a residential school at Morley and moved to Mount Royal College. He majored in Business and Communications and graduated from Coop College Saskatoon. He briefly studied Criminal Law at the University of Alberta. Due to a conflict with Aboriginal Law he withdrew. He has researched and studied indigenous, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights for many years.
Sykes served as Treaty 7 Vice President of the Indian Association of Alberta for six separate one-year terms from 1966 to 1990. In 1979 he was elected Vice President of the Nation Indian Brotherhood (now AFN) for a two year term and appointed by the Chiefs Constitution Committee as lead negotiator on the Canada Constitution. He remained in Ottawa as parliamentary liaison for Alberta Chiefs till 1986. He then returned home to work for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics for recognition of Treaty 7 First Nations as the original people of Calgary and area. He has always been working for recognition of and adherence to Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.
His work experience includes administrative duties in various capacities with the Stoney Nakoda Nation, federal and provincial governments. Recently he served a two year term on the Alberta Child and Family Services Appeal Panel hearing disputed cases for resolution. He has also done a bit of movie work from 1949 to 2010 as a stunt man to performer. He now has his own consulting services in treaties and the Canada Constitution, traditional cultural teachings and policy analysis. His work continues to bring awareness of who the aboriginal peoples are to the non-aboriginal peoples. His retirement plans included raising quarter horse paints, at 84 still trains horses to continue to occupy his time as a hobby. He loves to golf and working with indigenous young people to help them find their identity.
Charlie Fox, Blackfoot- Kainai
Piita tonnistah(pee ton iss tah) (Eagle Old Man) Charlie Fox, is a member of Kainai Nation, of the Blackfoot confederacy. Piita tonnistah is an Elder for the tribe’s sacred Horn Society as he was under the tutelage of the late Dan Weasel Moccasin Sr. where he assisted in many sacred pipe bundle ceremonies for over twelve years.
Piita tonnistah believes in the revival of the Blackfoot language, traditional indigenous customs, and other aspects of traditional culture and indigenous spirituality. He believes they are to be shared with everyone with strong focus on the youth to aid and assist them with skills and knowledge to assist them throughout their lives.