Theme: Renewing Our Sacred Relations

Renewing Our Sacred Relations


The theme was chosen by our students who are believe this theme is a excellent choice for this year and builds on themes from previous years.

The picture we choice speaks to the spirit of our theme.  The Northern Lights, those sacred beings remind us of our responsibilities.  It truly is about honouring and reclaiming our sacred teachings.  It is about living our relationships with all things in Creation and walking together forward in a good way.  We need to look back to move forward and we see that as a renewal, just as we are continually renewing our relationships.  In this way, we continue to honour our relations, ancestors, elders and future generations.

Keynote Address - Saturday

Tanya Talaga


An award-winning journalist and author, and the First Ojibway woman to deliver the CBC Massey Lectures, Tanya Talaga is an acclaimed storyteller. Her book Seven Fallen Feathers, a national bestseller that introduced us to seven Indigenous high school students who mysteriously died in Thunder Bay, won the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize. In her powerful keynotes, Talaga shares Indigenous stories from across Canada and the world, humanizing the legacy of residential schools and colonization and sharing her hope for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Keynote Address - Sunday

Raven Sinclair


Raven Sinclair is Nehiyaw-Cree from George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan. She is a Professor of Social Work and Researcher with the University of Regina, Saskatoon Campus. Raven is a survivor of the Indigenous child welfare system. Her areas of interest include Indigenous mental health and trauma recovery, Indigenous child welfare, transracial adoption and cultural identity, interpersonal and non-violent communication, and group process and facilitation. Raven is a member of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research College of Reviewers, the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute of Indigenous Health Research, the Yellowhead Research Institute, and a federal court appointed advisor to the Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation. Raven is the mother of a beautiful 14 year-old daughter.

Workshop Bios

Elder Doug Williams, Gidigaa Migizi

A Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg and former Chief of Curve Lake First Nation.  He is currently Co-Director and Graduate Faculty for the Indigenous Studies PhD. Program and oversees the cultural and spiritual components of the program.  He is a member of the Pike Clan, and was one of the first graduates of what is now called Indigenous Studies at Trent University in 1972.  He is a Pipe Carrier, a Sweat Lodge Keeper, and Ceremony Leader.  He is a language speaker and considers himself a trapper, a hunter, and fisherman.  Beyond his work in the academy, he is active at the community level and works to ensure that Indigenous Knowledge is maintained within the community.  Doug is also the author of the book, Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg:  This is Our Territory.

Elder Shirley Williams

Professor Emeritus at Trent University.  (Nishnaabe-kwe) is a member of the Bird Clan of the Ojibway/Odawa First Nations of Canada.  Her Aboriginal name is "Migizi ow-kwe" meaning "that Eagle Woman".  Shirley started her professional research work in the Native Studies Department in 1986 to develop & promote Native language courses.  Shirley's lexicon dictionary for the Nishnaabemowin Language is the foundational reference materials for the double-vowed language system adopted by Nishnaabemowin language teachers throughout the Nishnaabe territories.  An Elder at Sweetgrass First Nations Language programs; the Ministry of Culture & Heritage; and Aboriginal Healing Foundation's First Nations Language programs; as well as the Lost Women/Sisters in Spirit campaign.  She was given the title of Role Model by the Governor General and has been invited to sit as the Elder for the Aboriginal Physicians of Canada.  Her primary enthusiasm is for keeping the language alive and strong and to this goal many of her colleagues have come together under her leadership thus creating Nishinaabemowin Teg Incorporation.

Elder Edna Manitowabi

Odawa/Ojibway from Wikwemikong First Nation.  Edna is a gifted traditional singer, storyteller & Indigenous performance artist.  As Professor Emeritus in the Indigenous Studies Faculty & as part of the Trent Traditional Advisory Council, she is called upon to lecture, & participate in workshops, conferences & symposiums within the undergraduate & graduate programs.  She is also known as a drum carrier & the keeper of the Little Boy Water Drum.  Many have traveled across Canada to participate in Edna's Medicine Camps.  These Medicine Camps are another place of learning where she takes the university back to the land reconnecting learning and teaching to our Mother.  In 2005, Edna's longstanding commitment to building Indigenous performing arts and the local communities was fully realized in the creation of Nozhem First Peoples Performance Space.  As an educator, lecturer, medicine keeper & ceremonialist, Edna continues this work today, carrying & sharing Indigenous knowledge.

Dr. Michael D. Thrasher

 Dr. Thrasher is a nationally recognized teacher of traditional First nations Philosophy, tradition & culture.  He is widely credited for his ability to use traditional First Nation's knowledge to address contemporary issues and for his knowledge and practice of traditional ceremony.  Significantly, Michael was one of the four traditional Teachers & Elders invited to conduct the sacred pipe ceremony at the opening of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP).  In addition, he was invited to co-chair the first Round Table Hearings for the Royal Commission.  He is a past Federal Treasury Board Audit Committee member for the Indian Residential School Settlement and an Elder Advisor to the First Nations Statistical Institute, a crown corporation.  Michael revived an L.L,.D. honoris causa from Trent University in 2015.  He has spent over forty-five years working with Elders of First Nations communities, and he is an Adjunct professor at Trent University's Indigenous Studies Ph.D. Program.  he has designed and presented credit courses on First Nations Psychotherapy at the Adler School of Psychology.  His contacts and experiences cover a broad spectrum from communities and governments to multinational corporations.

Barbara Moktthewenkwe Wall

Barbara is a Bodwewaadmii Anishinaabekwe of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma and tradtiional knowledge holder.  She is a Deer Clan Grandmother and committed learner of Anishinaabemowin, incorporating the language into all aspects of her life.  Barbara is a Pipe Carrier, a Sweat Lodge and Song Keeper, and Ceremony Leader.

Barbara is the tenure-track professor of Indigenous Language and Culture in Trent University's Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, and is a PhD Candidate.  Barbara's PhD research focuses on the reclaiming, restoring and revitalization of Bodwewaadmii women's water knowledges and practices.  She has authored Nokmisag: Bemnigying,  an essay combining creative writing and academic research for a forthcoming edited volume titled "Grandmothers and Grandmothering:  Weaving Creative and Scholarly Perspectives in Honor of Our Women Elders."

Beyond academia, Barbara is a mother, auntie, and daughter.  

David Newhouse

Onondaga from Six Nations of the Grand River near Brantford, Ontario.  He was the first Principal of the Peter Gzowski College at Trent University and Chair of the Department of Indigenous Studies.  Also an Associate Professor in the Business Administration Program.  He is the Co-Chair of the Trent Aboriginal Education Council.  He served as founding editor of the CANDO Journal of Aboriginal economic development issues.  He is the past chair and current member of the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (CANDO) Standing Committee on Education.  He also served as a member of the Policy Team on Economic for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.  In 2001, he served as a member of the Independent Panel on Access Criteria for the Atlantic Fisheries for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  He is a member of the National Aboriginal Benchmarking Committee of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board.  He currently serves as the science Officer for the Aboriginal Peoples Health research committee for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Smokii Sumac

Smokii is a proud member of the Ktunaxa nation, a PhD Candidate at Trent University and a faculty member at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, BC.  He is also a poet, releasing his debut poetry collection you are enough: love poems for the end of the world in December 2018 with Kegedonce Press.  Smokii spent much of his life struggling with addiction, and in his search for healing, he was introduced to ceremony, which he has since practiced across North America in Bodwewaadmi, Blackfeet, Ktunaxa and Choctaw teachers.  Smokii was eventually adopted into an Anishinaabe and Aa'ninin/Alutiiq ceremonial family, and is here with his dad, Shaawano Chad Uran.  Renewing his sacred relations as a two-spirit person saved Smokii's life, and he's grateful to be here to share stories at the 44th Annual Elder's & Traditional Peoples Gathering.

Shaawano Chad Uran

Shaawano is bear clan White Earth Anishinaabe, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, brother, son, widower, and we'enh.  He has been involved in adoption issues since 1992, and attended White Earth's official welcoming home of adoptees and honoring of birth mothers in 2007.  Shaawano has been involved in Big Drum Society, Midewiwin Society, Native Arts Circle in Minneapolis, Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School, and the Chief Mountain Society where he has learned to lead sweat lodge ceremony.  He has taught Ojibwemowin in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Seattle, WA, and Ithaca, NY.  He and his son, Smokii recently completed their first year of mourning, which involved 9000 miles of travel, ceremonies in several communities, and eating lots of hamburgers.  Currently, he is researching Anishinaabe intimacies in language and food ceremonies, and writing about zombies from an Indigenous Studies perspective.  He earned a PhD in Anthropology in 2012. 

Indigenous Languages Panel


Dr. Shirley Williams, see bio above

Anne Taylor, Michi Saagiig Language Activist, Curve Lake First Nation. She is a graduate of Trent University Indigenous Studies, Language Specialist, she is taking the Master's Program for Sustainability Studies at Trent.

Isadore Toulouse, Language Teacher, fluent speaker and writer, translator for UOI. Summer Lecturer Lake Head University Thunder Bay, Ontario Indigenous Language Instructors Program and currently working in the U.S.A. teaching language and program development. Trent Alumnus ,1979.

Elizabeth Osawamick, teacher of Anishaabemowin for the KPRDSB, Trent University, Chanie Wenjack School, President Anishaanbemowin Teg Inc., Trent Alumnus 2012

Jack Hoggarth

 Jack is currently working as the Cultural Archivist within Curve Lake First Nation and focuses on collecting repatriated items that belonged to our ancestors from various institutions.  Jack double majored in Anthropology and Indigenous Studies at Trent University and later pursued his M.A. at the University of British Columbia in Interdisciplinary Studies.  currently, Jack is a PhD Candidate at Western University in Anthropology/Archaeology, and his focus is on developing federal guidelines in terms of conducting Archaeology throughout Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg traditional lands and territories.  Jack is of Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg, Teetlit and Vuntut Gwhic'in descent, in which his home lands are located in Curve Lake First Nation, Burleigh Falls Unceded Territory, Teetlit Zheh (NWT) and Old Crow First Nation (Yukon). 

Billy Whetung

Elders Helpers/Firekeeper....Practices Traditional Knowledge gathering and sharing.  He is a hunter/trapper/fisherman and Community Volunteer.  He acknowledges his Elders, Knowledge Keepers and his Anishinaabe family for their generosity. 

Malinda Gray

 Malinda is an Ojibway Anishinaabe kwe, Caribou Clan from Lac Seul Band.  She has been beading for over twenty years.  her favorite items to bead are feathers for smudging and ceremony.  You can view some of her bead work on her Facebook page:  Beautiful Star Beads.  She is an Indigenous Studies PhD student at Trent University, who is researching contemporary Anishinaabeg bead artists.  Malinda also enjoys hosting beading sessions for First Peoples House of Learning, Beading workshop sessions for students to learn.  She loves teaching beaders at any skill level.

Mary Anne Caibaisai

Nodin Ikew ndigo.  Mkwa ndoodem. Ojibwe-Anishnaabe kew miinwa niizhoo Mide kwe ndaaw. E-kinomaagazid.  Wiikwemkoong ndoonjibaa. Peterborough megwaa ndidaa.

Mary Anne is Ojibwe-Anishnaabekwe and her ancestors come from Wiikwemkonng Unceded Territory.  As a student of life, she carries traditional teachings from Elders and lodge teachers.  In additional to ceremonial responsibilities, she helps with community counseling and teaching others what she has learned.  Her Elder handed her the responsibility to share circle-based workshops including Medicine Wheel teachings, Self-care on the Medicine Wheel, and the Seven stages of Life. 

In her role as a helper in community, she is called on to offer prayers, smudging, teachings and counselling.  She was given Water walk teachings from Josephine-baa Mandamin and she is honoured and blessed to walk and pray for the Waters.  She continues to follow the protocols, teachings and work of Jospehine-baa Mandamin for the Grand River.  Her formal training has given her a Master of Social  Work and Bachelor of First Nations and Aboriginal Counselling degrees.

Video Story Booth

In celebration of 50 years of Indigenous Studies at Trent University, four Indigenous Studies students are creating a Video Story booth to collect stories and experiences from Community members at the Elders and Traditional Peoples Gathering.  The stories will be used to create a documentary film under the supervision of Professor Joeann Argue.

All are welcome.  Whether it is your first time, or whether you have been at the Elders Gathering many times, we would love to hear from you!  Come by and share a story or an experience from your time in Trent University's Indigenous Studies Department or the Elders & Traditional Peoples Gathering.  

We look forward to hearing from you!