Harry Watchmaker, Cree Elder
Harry is a cultural support for tribal chiefs IRS (Indian Residential School) Program northern Alberta. Harry was raised by his grandparents learning the traditional and spiritual way of life. He has facilitated many spiritual ceremonies and continues his journey as an Elder by supporting communities. Travelling through southern and northern Alberta, Harry provides cultural support through his songs and drumming, always humbly ensuring that he reminds people of what life is about. Harry often offers one-on-one traditional cultural support to individuals and provides protocol for cultural events and programming. This will be the second year leading Healing and Reconciliation Week by Elder Harry.
J.J. struggle with substance abuse in his youth and this carried on in his young adult years. These experiences led him down his path to helping youth. When the time came for J.J. to really make a change, he used music and dance to help himself and others and that was when true healing started for him. Now as a professional entertainer, J.J. performs and teaches First Nations hoop dancing, singing and drumming, and flute playing. He also teaches various dance styles including Break dance, Pop Lockin, Krump, Capoeira, Hoop dancing, and variations of First Nations dances. Other passions are climbing mountains, doing Spartan Races, and hunting to feed the family.
Sober for almost 26 years, J.J. has only seen the positive benefits that life has to offer since he made the change in his life. Come and see how dancing and music can help the journey of healing.
Amy is a Métis woman who is very proud of her cultural background, and infuses it into all aspects of her life. She has worked in the Indigenous field for over 20 years, in various capacities, although her passion is the Métis people and culture. Amy, has taken her inspiration from her mentors Marie Schoenthal and Jeannette Hansen both Métis Elders, and respected in the Métis community across Canada. Amy can also be found in nature, and infuses her love of the environment into her art. Her current passion is pebble art and has recently, started a business called Pebble Art from Nature. She is married, has two children and lives in Cranbrook, BC.
Josh Cross, also known by his rap name, “Classy J”, is an Indigenous Canadian born poet. He also usually proclaims himself as ‘the future class’ because he believes rap music has lost its original purpose; which is to evoke messages that others can relate to on a personal level. Classy J started writing rhymes in junior high as a way with coping with painful experiences in his life. He has struggled with his identity, self-image and figuring out what being Indigenous means for him. This eventually evolved into rhyming more about the problems that perpetuate society such as injustice and started advocating for Indigenous people. As an activist and socialist he longs to see a better world, one with understanding and true freedom and equality.
Dr. Patricia Danyluk grew up in northern Manitoba where she spent the early part of her career working with remote First Nations and Métis communities. She joined the Werklund School of Education in 2014 after working at the Laurentian School of Education for ten years and completed her PhD at Laurentian University, her Master's in Adult Education at St. Francis Xavier University, and her BEd at Nippissing University. Prior to this, she worked as a teacher, college professor, human resources consultant and as a manager for the Manitoba government.
Her research focuses on student teacher development, specifically as it relates to the practicum. Patricia has travelled throughout northern Canada to gather the stories of new teachers in remote, rural and Indigenous schools.
Noreen has utilized art to break through the residual effects of inter-generational trauma and has challenged systemic barriers by assisting people in finding a creative outlet. She also completed the first year an Interdisciplinary Master of Education (MEd) program, Indigenous Education: A Call to Action. This program is a direct response to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) (2015).
After the murder of her mother and friends in Edmonton, she has been advocating for murdered and missing Indigenous women through speech and song including the popular song “Somebody’s Daughter.” Her mission is to share her story and her opportunities with Indigenous peoples through her business, music, and public speaking engagements.
KIIT possesses the ability to look into people’s minds and see, read and extract personal information that otherwise seems impossible to ascertain. His skills in mind reading are so profound; he always leaves his audience in disbelief, awed by his seemingly psychic powers.
KIIT is widely considered one of the leading First Nations mentalists. He performs at a breathtaking, energetic, dramatic extreme which will bring any audience to the edge of their seats. Thoughts and ideas are exchanged in an entertaining whirlwind of revelations.
People often protest that they’re not mind readers, but Kiit is – or at least appears to be.
Whitney Ogle / Wia Waste (Good Woman) is from Southern Saskatchewan and is a member of the Lakota, Sioux Nation. She is currently working as the Indigenous Support Specialist at Medicine Hat College. Walking each day in reconciliation, Whitney works hard for the greater good of her community. Her work at the college is to support all learners in their educational, emotional, spiritual and physical journeys. She works to incorporate Indigenous Ways of Knowing as well integrating cultural competency into the wider college community as well bring an understanding to why Indigenous Knowledge is a need in our post-secondary sector.
Whitney is a graduate from Medicine Hat College with a social work diploma and from the University of Calgary Learning Circles program with a Bachelor of Social Work. She has spent the last seven years in high crisis Indigenous work and community engagement in Northern and Central Alberta. She always tries to focus on youth, which is her absolutely favorite She aspires to be a university professor sharing her passion and responsibility of Indigenous social justice and Indigenous self sustainment. Whitney has a love for life long learning.
Yvonne Poitras Pratt
Dr. Yvonne Poitras Pratt (Métis) is an Associate Professor and Director, Indigenous Education at the Werklund School of Education (University of Calgary). She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, and is the recipient of two teaching awards. Yvonne has published in the realm of social justice, Métis studies, reconciliatory pedagogy, service-learning, and the integration of arts in education and was recently awarded the Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations (CAFA) Distinguished Academic Early Career Award.
David Resoulte Migizi Wahsa Ehh Wah Bot (Eagle Who Sees Far)
David Resoulte is an Ojibway from Dokis First Nation near Sudbury, Ontario. He graduated from the Indigenous Wellness and Addictions Diploma Program in 2015 and has worked with Elders for more than 13 years, fire keeping and helping conduct ceremonies and teachings. David has participated in various ceremonies and completed four years at Sundance ceremony and danced an additional year in Standing Buffalo. With a passion for culture as a major tool in wellness and treatment of substance abuse, David was fortunate to complete a placement with a local elder in his first year of college and with Nipissing First Nation Health Services Right Path during his second year. During that time, he acquired excellent experience in one on one counselling as well as suicide prevention skills. Through his own life experience and working as a drug and alcohol worker, David learned that ceremonies, language and cultural customs are an effective way to maintain balance, wellness and sobriety in indigenous families.
He moved to Medicine Hat in May 2016 to be close to his grandsons and is honoured to participating in healing and reconciliation activities again this year.
Marie, Métis Elder, mentor, and Kokum was raised in the small road allowance community in Crooked Lake, Saskatchewan, where she grew up with two brothers and four sisters. Marie is a fluent Michif speaker, who has very involved in the Métis community in Medicine Hat and Calgary, teaching Michif, jigging and cultural practices to community members. Marie lives in Calgary, and has three children, four grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. She enjoys being with her family, listening to old time fiddle music, jigging and a good belly laugh.
Bertha Wirch was born in Cameron Falls settlement just outside of Great Bear Lake in North West Territories in 1949. Father George Blondin and Mother Julie Blondin had seven children: four girls and three boys. Bertha was the third born in the family and attended residential school with her sister for six years. Because their father worked as a trapper and spent more of his time in the bush, Bertha and her sister did not get to go home during the school breaks of the other students of the residential school. After spending six years in residential schools, she returned home and was scared of her parents because she did not know who they were. Bertha hopes her story will help bring awareness about residential schools.
Bertha now lives in Empress, Alberta with her husband of 50 years, William. They have two children and two grandchildren that reside in Calgary.
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