Board Member - Video Creator
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 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 presently teaching at MSVU 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
Board member - Land based Education lead
Board member - Land based Education lead
Miigam’agan is a Mi’Kmaq women of the Fish Clan from Esgenoôpetitj. miigam’agan’s life work has been devoted to the Wabanaki culture and promoting an understanding of Indigenous Matricultural systems . She is a member of the Wabanaki Confederacy and is a practitioner of Wabanaki Spirituality and teacher of Mi’kmaq Grandmother Longhouse traditions. She holds an associate degree in Liberal Studies from the University of Maine and has extensive education and work experience in substance and behaviour counseling, community wellness planning, group facilitating and community development. She is a fluent speaker of her language. She sits on the Executive Council of the Urban Aboriginal network of the University of New Brunswick. She is co-author of “Through the Eastern Door: When Native and White Women Sit Down Together”, which will be published in a few months. She has also been featured in a number of films sharing her traditional knowledge, particularly the Eastern Tide Series produced by Bear Paw Productions which premiered at the Native American Film and Video festival in New York City in 2003.
Marilyn Francis (Gagamit Muin) is from the Mi’kmaq First Nation, a keeper of the sweat ceremony and is a Mi’kmaq artist, activist and spiritual leader. Marilyn travels the Mi’kmaqi Territory throughout Atlantic Canada and Northeast United States visiting schools, communities and events teaching and sharing the importance of language, culture and tradition. Marilyn participated in the ratification of the United Nations Charter of Indigenous Peoples (2004) at the UN People’s Rights Conference in Paris, France. Marilyn is the elected Eastern Regional Elder of the Native Women's Assoc. of Canada, one of the five officially recognized National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs), whose purpose is to represent and speak, at the national level, on behalf of Aboriginal women in Canada. As the Eastern Regional Elder Marilyn represents NWAC’s intention to collectively recognize, respect, promote, defend and enhance Native ancestral laws, spiritual beliefs, language and traditions given by the Creator. Marilyn is the recipient of the International Women’s Day Centenary Award (2011) for her ongoing positive contribution to the lives of women and is the founding Director of the Acadia First Nation Native Women’s Group where she continues to advocate for and bring attention to the issues of women in her community and of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She has also established a community coalition to promote programs to appreciate and honour Mi’kmaq men and boys. The "Honouring Men and Boys Traditional Gathering" hosted workshops in which the presenters (elders, educators, and counsellors) spoke on personal life
experience, family violence and how their culture and traditions help them make healthier choices for themselves and their families, choosing to live without alcohol and drugs in their lives. She is a member of the Acadia First Nation Reserve.
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.
Tri-County Women's Centre
Tri-County Women's Centre has been providing support to Apji-wla'Matulinej and Women of First Light since 2016. Bernadette MacDonald, former ED of Tri-County sits on Apji-wla-wla'Matulienj's Advisory Board. Tri-County also provides bookkeeping services to us.
The Women's Centre offers a variety of services including:
Individual supportive counseling and advocacy
Programming based on the needs and wants of women
Accompaniment to appointments (lawyer, doctor, court, Community Services, etc)
Providing assistance filling out applications, resumes, or government forms
Free pregnancy testing, condoms and inclusive, non-judgmental sexual health & reproductive health information
Working on Community Development issues such as housing, food security, women's health, sexual violence, women's and youth access to community based health services, as well as youth and illicit drugs
Specialized Trauma Counselling Services for survivors and victims of sexualized violence.
Support and navigation for survivors and victims of sexualized violence.
For more info:
Wapna'kikewi'skwaq - Women of First Light
We thank our funding partners
At Wapna'kikewi'skwaq - Women of First Light we are grateful first to Creator. We are humbled by the direction and support we receive from Creator and the ancestors.
We are also thankful for the Catherine Donnelly Foundation which has encouraged and supported our work since the spring of 2016 through the Right Relations (Apji-wla'Matulienj) national project. They are true partners - walking this journey with us.
We are also thankful to the Native Brotherhood which is funding our work this year. Without them the Land-based Education Centre, the book and much more would not be able to become a reality.