Indigenous Peoples’ Commission
NATIONAL EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
Co-Chair (Male) – Chadwick Cowie
Chad (Chadwick) Cowie is from the Anishinaabe community of Manominiiking (Mississaugas of Rice Lake – also referred to as Hiawatha First Nation) just outside of Peterborough Ontario. Currently, Chad is a ‘Prospective Ph.D’ student within the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta, where he focuses on Canadian, Comparative, and Indigenous politics. Prior to attending the University of Alberta, Chad obtained his Masters of Arts (M.A) in Political Studies from the University of Manitoba) and his Honours Bachelors of Arts (B.A) at Western University (2008).
While attending Western University, Chad first became involved with the Liberal Party of Canada through the Western Liberal Campus Club in 2005. Following his joining of the LPC, Chad quickly became involved at an executive level – becoming the Model Parliament Director (2006-2007) as well as the Vice President of Outreach (2007-2008). Following his time within the Western Liberals, Chad successfully ran to be the Vice President Indigenous Youth of the IPC and YLC (2009-2012) and, lastly, Co-Chair (Male) between 2012-2014.
Throughout Chad’s involvement in executive positions of different components of the LPC, Chad also has volunteered on many campaigns, whether during a federal election or internal elections within the party, on a regular basis.
In addition to Chad’s Liberal involvement, he has also served as a First Nations Department Rep at Western University (2006-2007), President of Western’s First Nations Students’ Association (2006-2008); Policy Analyst and Researcher at the Chiefs of Ontario (2009-2010), President of the Students of Masters of Public Administration and Political Studies (SAMPA) at the University of Manitoba (2011-2012), Vice President Internal of the University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association (2012-2013), as well as the PhD Representative of the Political Science Graduate Students’ Association at the University of Alberta (2014-2015).
Currently, Chad resides on the traditional territory of the Mohawk and within Montreal, Quebec (where he continue to work on his dissertation through the University of Alberta, which focuses on Indigenous participation in Canadian federal electoral institutions).
Contact: Chad Cowie
Co-Chair (Female) – Suzy Kies
Ahniin, Kwékwé, Tansi, Sago
Zhinkwak Biinoojiiss ndizhhnikaaz. M’kinak Dodem. Wabénaki ndojeba.
I am the female co-chair for the Indigenous People’s Commission and former co-chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Commission (Ontario Region). I have bee active in our community for over 17 years, mostly working to bring culture and language back to our children and families. I have sat on many boards of Indigenous accommodation agencies in urban centres and many advisory circles dealing with everything from youth justice, problems with the child welfare system and education.
As a member of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association and the International Positive Psychology Association I focus on promoting well-being through culture. My paying job is developing culture based programs for Indigenous youth that are life affirming and increase the youth’s sense of mastery, well-being and life satisfaction. As the female co-chair for IPCO and our regional rep a the National Indigenous People’s Commission, my main focus has been education and child welfare. I feel it is important for all to understand that we have a rich and diverse cultural history and for non-Indigenous people to see us as we really are not as a Hollywood stereotype. Most recently, Suzy served as Co-Chair (Female) for the Indigenous Peoples’ Commission Ontario (IPCO)
Contact: Suzy Kies
Nat’l Vice-Chair, Organization and Membership – Ronda Evans
Ronda is an urban Indigenous woman living in Ajax, Ontario and a member of the North Timiskaming First Nation in Quebec, and member of the Wolf Clan. She graduated from the University of Toronto and pursued her business-oriented ambitions, but soon discovered that helping people to help themselves was her true career calling, and bid farewell to “Bay Street”.
She spent the majority of her federal public service career consulting primarily with Indigenous community groups. Ronda engaged in community and organizational development support, thereby satisfying her ambition to help people help themselves and was a consultant for the Aboriginal Head Start Program where her servant leadership style contributed to the strengthening of Indigenous families, organizations, and communities. In addition, she also facilitated Aboriginal Women in Leadership workshops.
An active community volunteer, Ronda served on figure skating and soccer club boards. She founded the women’s soccer league in Ajax and was part of a small team tasked with revitalizing a local soccer club from the ground up and organizing a soccer exchange between Ajax-Pickering and Iqaluit. She was also a board member of an Indigenous Women’s Shelter and an Infant Loss Facilitator. After retiring Ronda joined the IPC Ontario, joined the executive of her local Riding Association, and became an active participant in the Liberal movement at the national level as IPC VP Women. She also became an active volunteer and supporter of the local Provincial Liberal Association.
Ronda is well traveled and maintains a healthy lifestyle through soccer, hiking mountains around the world (notably reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro), personal training, cycling, running, and all this helps her keep up to her very active grandsons.
“We’re still not graduating the numbers we should be. We could have more doctors, more lawyers, more MBA’s. And we need them desperately. We know from experience that when our people serve our own people, we have incredible success.” (2003) ~ Roberta Jamieson
Contact: Ronda Evans
Nat’l Vice-Chair, Communications – Joshua Fraser
My name is Joshua Fraser ᐊᐱ ᐆᑕ ᑫᐁᐘᑎᓅᐠ (api outa Keewatinook) or Josh is fine too. I was born and have lived in Calgary, most of my life. I have also lived in rural Alberta and a few Cree First Nation communities. My Cree and Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) background is through my father’s side, we are from Peepeekisis First Nation which is signatory to Treaty 4. My Tsuut’ina ancestry is through my mother’s side (Starlight), the Tsuut’ina are signatory to Treaty 7. I am also Scottish and French, I am proud of the mix that makes me Canadian and Indigenous.
I went to junior and senior high school at the Plains Indians Cultural Survival School (PICSS), where I graduated. PICSS was a great opportunity to learn about history, culture and language through a First Nations perspective. I was active in the student council and the editor of the school newspaper for several years. I went on to study history and political science at Mount Royal University. I continue studies in Marketing and Business through the University of Calgary.
I am a former business analyst for a marketing department within Calgary’s corporate industry. I have worked for corporate and government organizations including Olympia Trust Company, Revenue Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development, and the City of Calgary. I have also volunteered and worked for many non-profit organizations including the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Indspire, UMAYC Calgary committee, Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee and was active in University extra-curricular activities including a volunteer for the Native Student Centre and Aboriginal Representative to the Student’s Association Student’s Council.
I have a background in traditional, digital and social media marketing and communications. I currently run the Indigenous Circle #IndigN2N twitter account that has 16K+ followers and an Indigenous politics #IndigPoli blog which shared information on Indigenous candidates for the mainstream national parties, data analysis and reporting on the potential of the Indigenous vote.
I have voted in every single election that I was eligible to since I turned eighteen. I have been a Liberal for over a decade. My initial involvement was Vice-President (Youth) for the Alberta Aboriginal People’s Commission and I went on to serve as national Vice-President (Youth) working closely with the Young Liberals of Canada and National Co-President of the APC. I have been involved in various federal, provincial, tribal and student elections, supporting progressive candidates.
Contact: Joshua Fraser
Nat’l Vice-Chair, Policy – Alison DuBois
Alison DuBois is a proud Anishinaabe member of the Pasqua First Nation which is located near Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan in Treaty 4 territory. Currently in her first year of PhD studies at the University of Saskatchewan, with a major in Comparative Indigenous History and a minor in Canadian and US History, Alison’s research interests focus on treaty and government relations. Prior to relocating to Treaty 6 territory, Alison worked for her First Nation as a community development co-ordinator, successfully navigating a federal pilot project, community engagement and regional policy development. Selected as the Saskatchewan First Nations representative for a national community development working group, Alison had the opportunity to liaise with government representatives and First Nations, building on previous employment with First Nations in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Alison’s policy experience is informed by her participation as a policy analyst for the Manitoba government in 2003 through to 2006. While working as a full-time analyst Alison completed her Master’s degree from the University of Manitoba and also served as a board member for a non-profit community development organization in Winnipeg. Her Master’s research focused on the Indian Act and termination policy, critically assessing federal legislation and the potential impacts to treaty and aboriginal rights. She was especially grateful for Phil Fontaine’s participation as one of her supervisory committee members.
For the past five years Alison has provided technical and advisory support for the Treaty Four Citizens Forum which takes place each September as part of the Treaty Four Gathering. Alison is a firm believer in community engagement that’s positive, respectful and results-oriented and although her studies keep her from spontaneous road trips, as a former resident of large urban centres and small prairie towns, Alison brings a unique perspective to her role as National VP for Policy.
When she’s not reading about American and Canadian history, Alison’s thoughts turn to the novel she’s been working on for the past several months. A former jingle dress dancer, Alison looks forward to once again connecting with friends and family on the powwow trail.
Contact: Alison DuBois
Nat’l Vice-Chair, Operations – Jade Ernest
Jade Ernest is of Cree and Dène descent. A member of Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan Treaty 6 territory. Her Dène ancestry is within the Buffalo River Dene Nation, Treaty 10 territory. Both First Nations in the Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River of Northern Saskatchewan. Her father is a Canadian Air Force Veteran, and her mother has been teaching for over 30 years. Jade has an extensive background working as a First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) educator and researcher in western Canada. She has continuously volunteered and advocated for equality in many community schools, a member of Students and Teachers Against Racism Society (S.T.A.R.S) and was the valedictorian of her undergraduate class. She worked in Saskatchewan First Nations as a research assistant in environmental health and a science ambassador to First Nations through the University of Saskatchewan.
She has been a provincial coordinator for the First Nations Regional Health Survey (FN RHS), a Canadian First Nations Survey by Indigenous Nations. A National Survey that outlines FNMI health indicators and targeting solutions. She was a FNMI educator in Alberta and Saskatchewan school systems with her message of equality. Her goals and plans are to complete her Masters in Vancouver and Ph. D at Harvard within the area of Indigenous education systems. She is passionate about people, the environment and education. She believes that these are important for addressing poverty and climate change. Jade is an active Indigenous Liberal member, served as Liberal Vice (President) Chair for Saskatoon University and advocates for youth education and suicide prevention. She currently resides in Vancouver, BC and leading research with Indigenous youth throughout the province of British Columbia.
Contact: Jade Ernest
Nat’l Vice-Chair, Indigenous Women – Lynn Geary
Ojibwe Métis, Métis Nation of Ontario [MNO], Indigenous ‘Feminazi’ activist most of adult life, avid outdoor enthusiast, fishing, hunting, flying, cooking, canning, preserving, teaching, canoeing, boating, sailing, target shooting; very familiar with lakes and waters of N.W. Ontario and Manitoba, all traditional lands which generations of my family have hunted and harvested for hundreds of years.
Determined to serve Indigenous women and families in Canada and across Turtle Island and restore our traditional Matriarchal system.
Born and raised: Red Lake, Ontario [Treaty #3], Ontario/Manitoba border area. Many family and businesses throughout Manitoba, Northwestern Ontario, Rat Portage/Kenora, Lake of the Woods area, Great Lakes area, Northern U.S.
Raised on the land at Little Vermilion Lake, a fly in lake north of Red Lake, ON, to an Irish father, Allen Geary and Métis mother, Francine descended from Ojibwe/Saulteaux, Scots and French. Métis Family names Mathieson, Godin, Morrisseau. Landmarks named throughout Treaty #3 country.
Owner/Operator/Operations Manager/Dispatcher – Red Lake Airways  Ltd, Red Lake,ON, worked closely with FN north of Red Lake e.g. Sandy Lake, Deer Lake, Cat Lake, Poplar Hill, North Spirit, Pikangikum, Trout Lake, all levels of Government [FN, City, Provincial and Federal ].
Owner/Operator Dogskin Lake Lodge & Outposts, Fly in fishing and hunting lodges in the Atikaki Wilderness Park, MB, working closely with Paungassi and Little Grand FN, all levels of Government.
“Relocated to Vancouver Island [Campbell River and Victoria], BC”
Executive Director to the Métis Commission for Children and Families of BC [MCCFBC] [Ministry of Children and Family Development – BC].
This experience with Indigenous parents and children clearly showed how badly broken Children and Families is and the inherent discrimination against Indigenous people in the system.
Payment Service Officer to Service Canada, Common Experience Payment for Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement [IRSSA]. 2007
Contact: Lynn Geary
Lynn Geary is also the Indigenous Women’s Representative to the National Women’s Liberal Commission
Nat’l Vice-Chair, Indigenous Youth – Deliah Bernard
My name is Deliah Bernard and over the last five years I have been active within the Liberal Party as well as my introduction to the IPC in 2014. After I graduated high school I moved from my hometown of We’ko’qma’q First Nation in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to Canada’s capital, Ottawa! I am currently in my fourth year of my Bachelor of Arts degree and majoring in political science at Carleton University. After completion, I plan on applying to and attending law school so that I can bring my knowledge back to my home communities.
While participating in both federal and provincial elections, and events I have hosted and attended, my main focus has always been introducing my peers to politics and encouraging them to participate. With my role as Vice-Chair for Indigenous Youth I hope to continue to motivate, educate and encourage others to become involved. I look forward to working with and alongside my fellow IPC members! Wela’lin.
Contact: Deliah Bernard
Deliah is also the IPC Representative to the Young Liberals of Canada
The Indigenous Peoples’ Commission is currently looking to fill the role(s) of:
IPC Regional Commission Chairs
British Columbia – Conrad Desjarlais
Conrad Desjarlais is a proud member of the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation (Treaty 8) in Northwestern, Alberta. Conrad currently resides in Vancouver, BC where he has an extensive background working in the urban Indigenous community. Conrad has advocated and organized on behalf of urban Indigenous peoples on such initiatives as the formation of the Greater Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Strategy. Conrad went on to become a member of the Greater Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Strategy Steering Committee and was heavily involved with the Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS) on a national level. Conrad also served as the Chair of the Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee of BC and worked for the Metis Nation BC for several years.
As a participant at the Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable, Conrad was involved in the process leading up to the historic Kelowna Accord, a tri-partite agreement to “close the gap” between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous standard of living in Canada. It was Conrad’s involvement in initiatives such as these that inspired him to pursue further government policy improvements that ultimately affect the lives of Indigenous peoples for the better.
As a longtime member of the federal Liberals, Conrad was an elected delegate at the Liberal Party of Canada’s leadership election of 2006 in Montréal and was part of the Ken Dryden leadership campaign’s BC team. Most recently he was a delegate at the last Liberal Biennial Convention in Winnipeg.
Conrad has been very fortunate to have the ability to combine his Indigenous background and experience with his strong Liberal affiliation to support First Nation candidates in two separate Liberal campaigns, in the ridings of Vancouver East and Vancouver Granville. He is a staunch believer in bringing Indigenous issues to the forefront through increasing Indigenous participation in the broader political system – a key objective of the Indigenous Peoples’ Commission.
In addition to Conrad‘s role as Chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Commissions of British Columbia he also sits on the Executive of the Liberal Party of British Columbia and the Vancouver Granville Federal Liberal Riding Association.
Alberta – Michelle Robinson
According to her Indian Act imposed Status Card, Michelle Robinson is a member of the Yellowknife Dene, born and living in Calgary, Treaty 7.
Michelle is an advocate for Indigenous human rights with a focus on prevention of violence against Indigenous women. She organized the rally in Calgary that was part of a national outcry on the ruling of Cindy Gladue. Michelle was the co-chair of the missing and murdered Indigenous women committee in Calgary which had a round table discussion Feb. 27, 2015 and is honoured to be part of the Calgary Sister’s in Spirit Committee.
As the Aboriginal liaison for 12 Community Safety Initiative, an organization in the twelve communities of the greater Forest Lawn area, Michelle has organized the last three years of multiple Aboriginal Awareness events at the artBOX on 17th and the greater Forest Lawn area in the month of June, Aboriginal Awareness Month. 2016 is the 20th Anniversary of June 21 being recognized as Aboriginal Awareness Day and in the spirit of reconciliation, Michelle launched a book club to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous together with knowledge from literature published.
In 2014, Michelle had two Indigenous policies that passed at the national level at the convention in Montreal focusing on the inclusion of Two-Spirited and to stop the discriminatory spying of First Nations.
In June 2017, Michelle was reelected as chair for the Indigenous Peoples’ Commission in Alberta, a proud founding member of Voices – Calgary’s Coalition of People of Colour and the City of Calgary Ward 10 Candidate for the Oct. 16th city election.
The Indigenous Peoples’ Commission (Saskatchewan) “IPCS” will have their Annual General Meeting to elect their new executive in Regina on November 18, click here for more information and to participate. We thank outgoing interim President Wendy Gervais for her work and commitment to the IPCS over the past years.
Manitoba – Dawn Olivence
An Ojibway/Mi’kmaq from the Ebb & Flow First Nation in Manitoba, Dawn graduated from “Children of the Earth” one of the first Aboriginal cultural schools in the world. She studied theatre at the University of Winnipeg for 3 years and received her broadcast certificate from the Aboriginal Broadcasting Training Initiative in 1999.
Currently she works with APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) as the Manager of Affiliate Relations and has been there since the launch in 1999. Winner of the 1994 Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Achievement Award for artistic achievement. She is a longtime volunteer on the Board for the Alliance Boxing Club where she’s worked with inner-city youth. Dawn has volunteered with the North American Indigenous Games, the Pan-Am Games and the Liberal Party Biennial Convention in Winnipeg. Dawn is currently an elected board member for CTAM Canada (Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing) where she is the Marketing & Communications Co-Chair.
Ontario Co-Chair (Male) – Nathaniel Sukhdeo
Nathaniel Sukhdeo is the male Co-Chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Commission (Ontario) . Nathaniel comes from a mixed background, his mother being of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and his father from the Caribbean.
Nathaniel’s involvement with the Liberal Party of Canada spans several elections, more recently as the Campus Organizer for Western University in the 2015 Election. Since then, he has remained an energetic Young Liberal, working collaboratively with the commission in recent years to advocate for a greater voice for indigenous youth in the governance of their communities.
Nathaniel is currently pursuing his Master of Public Administration at the Royal Military College of Canada. In addition to his studies, Nathaniel is a Maritime Surface Officer in the Royal Canadian Navy.
Nunavut Regional Chair – Ekpak Nathan Gray
My name is Ekpak (Nathan) Gray, I was born and raised in Iqaluktutiak (Cambridge Bay) Nunavut, Cambridge Bay is a western community, it is also hub for the Kitikmeot region. Iqaluktutiak has roughly 2,000 people. I am twenty one years old, I have recently gotten into politics while living in Ottawa. I am very eager to represent my territory, and my fellow Inuit. I am an easy person to get along with. I am an outgoing person. I am currently a volunteer fireman with the Cambridge Bay Fire Department.
Newfoundland & Labrador Regional Chair – John Jeddore
John Jeddore (Sa’n We’jitu) is a L’nu (Mi’kmaq) from Samiajij Miawpukek First Nations (Conne River), the only reserve located on the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador. John attended Se’t Anewey Kinamatinuo’kuomk secondary school and then left the community to purse a degree in Biochemistry and a diploma in Clinical Epidemiology prior to attending Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine’s MD program. From a young age, John was inundated in the Mi’kmaq language and the cultural practices of his people and recently began creating ways of developing initiatives to encourage the use of the language among youth.
He started a Mi’kmaq Word of the Day youtube series which was shared on various social media platforms to both raise language awareness and develop a database for learners conducive to the digital age. Additionally, John sat on numerous boards involved in Aboriginal health and education (Canadian Federation of Students, Aboriginal Health Initiative, Aboriginal Resource Office, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet Youth Council). One of John’s greatest accomplishments include representing the Mi’kmaq of NL as guest curator in the province’s museum (The Rooms) on development of the “From This Place” exhibit, the largest exhibit of it’s kind at the time.
Currently, John is developing a community-specific information package aimed at decreasing diabetic risk factors among Indigenous populations by integrating local languages and available resources for the communities that the packages are distributed in. He recently completed a Doctor of Medicine at Memorial University and is currently in his first year of a Neurology residency in St. John’s, NL
The Maritime Region includes a Regional Chair, and three regional Vice-Chairs for P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick:
IPC Maritimes Regional Chair – Ryan Francis
Ryan is a member of the Mi’kmaq community of Elsipogtog First Nation, located in south-eastern New Brunswick. He currently resides in Moncton, NB.
For over 10 years Ryan has worked with various Provincial and federal governments in the areas of communications, Aboriginal economic development, employment and training, Aboriginal consultation and the duty to consult (natural resource development projects), and more recently community health planning.
Ryan has both volunteered and worked for various provincial and federal liberal organizations over the years, including several leadership contests, riding associations, general elections, as well as roles within provincial and federal executives.
A proud father, Ryan dedicates most of his free to family and sharing his Mi’kmaq heritage with her daughter.
Ryan has a Master’s degree in Political Science (Concentration in Indigenous Self-Governance and Land Claims) from Acadia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with a Minor in French from Mount Allison University. In addition, Ryan studied abroad in Strasbourg, France to pursue French second language training. More recently, Ryan was selected as one of six Indigenous leaders across Canada to participate in the International Visitors Leadership Program on First Nation Governance; a program sponsored by the US Department of State and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
IPC Maritime Regional Vice-Chair PEI – Julie Pellissier-Lush
Julie Pellissier-Lush was born in Summerside, PEI just a few months after 1970 arrived. She grew up all over Eastern Canada and spent a number of years in Winnipeg Manitoba before returning back home to PEI. She has been the Vice-President of the Aboriginal Women’s Association of PEI, she was also the writer for the Aboriginal Newspaper, the Kwimu Messenger for 8 years, and is also an Best Selling Author and Actress with the Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors. All of her activities have been a way for her to preserve her own history and culture for future generations. She now lives in Winsloe, Prince Edward Island with her husband Rick and her five children, and her Granddaughter Miah. When she is not working, writing, or acting she can be found sharing her stories and providing workshops and presentations on her culture. She started working with the Aboriginal Peoples Commission on June 10th, 2013, and has worked with the PEI Provincial Executive under the direction of the Executive Director of the Liberal Party of Prince Edward Island. It has been a privilege and an honor to work with the Aboriginal Leaders across Canada these last four years.
|We are currently looking for Regional Chairs for:
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