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 and growing as an organization of education leaders.

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.
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The Indigenous Advisory Circle includes voices representing Dene, Cree, Salteaux, Nakota, Blackfoot, Tsuut’ina, Inuit and Metis families and communities.

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, much more.

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

Top row (left to right): Brenda Semantha, Gerald Johnson, Charlie Fox, Sharon Morin

Bottom row (left to right): Theresa Strawberry, Sykes Powderface, Jenna Joyce Broomfield, Dzinizi Guja, Sizi Valerie McDougall A’ta

Zone 1

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.

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Zone 2/3

Jenna Joyce Broomfield, Inuit

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. Jenna uses her teachings to spark safe cultural dialogue between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples through cultural performance and educational workshops.

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Zone 2/3

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, where she has worked for the past 13 years.

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Zone 4

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."

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Zone 5

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.

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Zone 5

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 has researched and studied indigenous, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights for many years. His work experience includes administrative duties in various capacities with the Stoney Nakoda Nation, federal and provincial governments. 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.

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Zone 6

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.

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Connect with the Indigenous Advisory Circle

If your board is interested in learning what it can do to further Truth and Reconciliation, contact Layla Dumont, Indigenous Relations Coordinator

Layla Dumont
Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Awards

These awards offer the opportunity to celebrate exceptional students nominated by members of their education communities, based on their exemplary leadership, courage, and commitment to their cultures and educational paths. They inspire their peers, teachers, education leaders, and community members while respecting the agency of other students to do the same in their own ways.

Learn more
Indigenous Insights Series

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