A member of the Millbrook First Nation in Truro, Nova Scotia, Catherine Martin is an independent producer, director, writer, facilitator, communications consultant, drummer and the first woman Mi’kmaw filmmaker from the Atlantic Region. She has a BA from Dalhousie University in Theatre Arts and a Masters of Education from Mount St. Vincent with a focus on Media Literacy. Catherine’s award-winning documentaries include the animation film Little Boy Who Lived with Muini’skw (2004), the NFB film The Spirit of Annie Mae (2002), and Spirit Wind (2000). In 2006, Catherine added the NFB online documentary Bringing Annie Mae Home to her many accomplishments. She has produced videos for Coady International Institute’s Indigenous Women In Community Leadership for their curriculum; is producing a series of short vignettes for the Mi’kmawey Debert Project in Truro, NS.; has produced 8 Atlantic Aboriginal Entrepreneur Shows and video profiles for Ulnooweg Development Group; and continues to work with organizations to produce stories about the Mi’kmaq and First Nations communities. Catherine is presently the Chair of the Nova Scotia Indigenous Tourism Enterprise Network recently established under the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. Catherine is the past chairperson of the Board of Directors for Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). She has was awarded the Order of Canada 2017. She is the Director of Indigenous Community Engagement at Dalhouseie University and continuing to produce and direct films about her community.
Jane Meader was raised in the Mi’kmaw community of Membertou which is adjacent to the city of Sydney in Unama’ki (Cape Breton), Nova Scotia. Mi’kmaw is her first language, and she deeply holds and daily lives the traditional teachings and values that she has learned from Elders throughout the course of her life, beginning in early childhood. Today, she provides and participates in traditional ceremonies and gatherings at home and across North America. Jane has extensive, diverse experience in the professional educational arena and is a developer, writer and implementer for Mi’kmaw cultural activities and events for many schools throughout Nova Scotia. Jane obtained a Certificate in Early Childhood Education in 1980 from the Frobel Centre for Early Childhood Education, a Certificate in Northern and Native Education in 1996 from McGill University, a Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) in 2002 from Cape Breton University, a Bachelor of Education (BEd) in 2004 from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Masters of Education (MEd) from St. Francis Xavier University. Today, Jane teaches courses for St. Francis Xavier University and Cape Breton University, while also continuing to be a key educator in her home community of Membertou. She is the Mi’Kmaq Language Coordinator for the Membertou Band Council. She is also on the Mi’kmaw Language Advisory Committee for Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey. In addition, she acts as an advisor to the Nova Scotia Department of Education in Mi’kmaw Studies and Treaty Education. She is a drummer and traditional singer, as well as an artist, craftsperson and makes traditional Mi’kmaw clothing.
Miigam’agan is Mi'kmaw grandmother. Her clan is Jagej from Esgenoôpetitj. She is a mother to three wonderful adults and a grandmother to four beautiful little grandchildren. Miigam'agan has devoted her life in cultural revitalization, and in the rekindling of women ceremonies, and more recently, the rematriation of her Mi’kmaq language. She holds a position as the Elder-in-Residence at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, NB, a role in which she provides support for Indigenous students and offers opportunities for the students and faculty to learn from Wabanaki Elders and Knowledge keepers. Miigam’agan is also one of the thirteen member Circle of Elders, Knowledge Keepers and Clan Mothers at the Turtle Island Institute, a global indigenous social innovation “think and do tank” - a teaching lodge supported, in part, by the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR). She is a co-chair for the Wapna'kikewi'skwaq/Women of First Light, an indigenous women-led initiative on adult education for radical social change. Miigam’agan is a traditional sub-chief with the 7th District Gespegawagi Mi’kmaq Tribal Council.
Lisa Perley-Dutcher is a Wolastoqi ehpit (Maliseet woman) from the Neqotkuk/Tobique First Nation. Her family roots are from the Kahkakuhsuwakutom Naka Malsomuwakutom (Crow and Wolf Clan). She is a mother of 4 sons (Shane, Andrew, Jonathan, Jeremy) and grandmother to 4 granddaughters (Sadie, Aurora, Dahlia, and Gwyneth). Lisa worked as a registered nurse for 30 years with a master’s degree in nursing from the University of New Brunswick. The focus of her career as a nurse has focused on contributing to the improvement of health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. She worked as a community health nurse in one of the first communities that transferred health services to a First Nation community in the Atlantic Region. She was also at the forefront of the First Nations and Inuit Home and Community Care Program when it was being launched into First Nations across the country. She established the first Aboriginal Nursing Initiative Director position at UNB Faculty of Nursing to help increase the recruitment and retention of Indigenous students. She also worked as the Director of Mental Wellness for the Atlantic Regions First Nation and Inuit Health Branch. Lisa and her husband Stephen are partner consultants (Mah-sos Education and Research Associates- MERA) providing online educational sessions, facilitation and research services on various topics related to Indigenous history and health. She served as President of the Indigenous Nurses Association of Canada. She recently graduated from a two-year intensive Wolastoqey language program and is currently involved in language and cultural revitalization projects.
Dr. Sherry Pictou is a Mi’kmaw woman from L’sɨtkuk (water cuts through high rocks) known as Bear River First Nation, Nova Scotia. She graduated with an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. at Dalhousie University in June of 2017 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Women’s Studies Department at Mount Saint Vincent University with a focus on Indigenous Feminism. She is also a former Chief for her community and the former Co-Chair of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples. Her research interests are decolonization of treaty relations, Social Justice for Indigenous Women, Indigenous women’s role in food and lifeways, and Indigenous knowledge and food systems. Her thesis was entitled, ‘Decolonizing Mi’Kmaw Memory of Treaty: L’Situk’s Learning with Allies in Struggle for Food and Lifeways and she has written several published articles and is currently working on two forthcoming chapters for book projects.
Wagmatcook First Nations. Judy is an artist, a gardener, herbalist, hunter, fisherwoman and so much more. She started her own community garden because she was concerned about the growing health issues in her community. She feels people need to get back to traditional diets and get away from pre-packaged store bought food. Her husband, Joe Googoo and her hunt and fish regularly and give the food away to elders and families. Now they have raised beds where families can grow their own food and also a large garden that they harvest and give away. She has planted berries. She also collects herbal medicine. She has led workshops on moose hide tanning, drum making, rattle making. Women of First Light has raised funds for their community garden for seeds, fruit trees and a green house.
Ron Tremblay is his birth name but his traditional name is “spasaqsit possesom” – morningstar burning. He is a citizen of Wolastoq Nation. Being the youngest of 10 children, Ron grew-up surrounded by the Wolastoqey language spoken fluently. Ron credits his mother and grandparents for his genuine love of the language and he also acknowledges that they provided him the true teachings of life. After moving to Fredericton in 1991 he befriended several Elders from local communities. The Elders guided him deeper into his Wolastoqey traditional ways. After years of involvement in various ceremonies he gained wisdom and knowledge of the “Wolastoqey way of life”. Still today, Ron practises the traditional ways of his people. In November of 2016, Ron was installed as Traditional Wolastoq Grand Chief. The mandate of the Wolastoq Grand Council is to protect and preserve their non-ceded traditional homeland and waterways. Ron often is asked to speak at Women of First Light events and to lead workshops for youth and men.
Righting Relations Canada (RR) is a heart-centred, national network of adult educators, community organizers and Indigenous Peoples of the world working for radical social change through decolonization and popular education. Our organization, Women of First Light, grew out of Righting Relations - Apaji-wla'Matulinej. This work has been supported for the past six years by the Catherine Donnelly Foundation. We continue to sit on the National Steering Committee of Righting Relations and are honoured to do so.