Circle of Survivors
Jack Anawak is a former Member of Parliament for the riding of Nunatsiaq and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut for the seat of Rankin Inlet North. From January 2004 until 2006, he served as Canadian Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs. Jack, who attended the Chesterfield Inlet Missionary School, has been a vocal advocate for Inuit residential school Survivors and the children who never returned home.
Larry Ahenakew was born in Île-à-la-Crosse. A Métis Survivor, with a Bachelor of Education and post-graduate studies in education and administration from the University of Saskatchewan.
Larry worked in education with the La Ronge Indian Band. He also served as Superintendent of the Northern Lights School Division in Saskatchewan. He attended the Île-à-la-Crosse Boarding School until grade 10. From grades 10 to 12, he attended St. Peters College in Muenster, Saskatchewan. He has been happily married for the past 15 years to his wife, Marion, and has a blended family of 8 children, 17 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
Jacquie Bouvier is a 70-year-old third generation residential school survivor. She has mixed Métis and Dene heritage. She attended the Beauval Mission School where she suffered abuse. Her father worked for the Beauval Mission School. Her mother was Dene and Métis. Ms. Bouvier currently works in the Greater Vancouver area and has worked for Family Services, working with youth who are aging out of care.
Terri Brown is a former Chief of the Tahltan Nation and a matriarch of the Crow Clan. While President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Terri founded the Sisters in Spirit Program to document the deaths and disappearance of Indigenous women and girls. She served 6 years with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada with a mandate to inform Canadians about the residential schools. She lived a traditional lifestyle until she was forcibly confined in a residential school in Yukon. Terri is a survivor of Canada’s Indigenous genocide, and this motivates her to work for equality, justice and peace for all.
Lillian Elias is a residential school Survivor from the Mackenzie Delta, an educator and a language champion. She has had rich life experiences in Inuit culture and tradition and grew up with a nomadic lifestyle. In 2018 she was awarded the Order of the Northwest Territories for her work in promoting the Inuvialuktun language. She is frequently called on as a public speaker to talk about Inuit experiences in the residential schools. In 2012, she received both the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award in 2012 in honour of her commitment to celebrating and preserving culture and language and the NWT Minister’s Cultural Circle Award. In 2018, she received the Order of the Northwest Territories.
Romeo Saganash was the Member of Parliament for Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou from 2011-2019.
Romeo’s story is not a typical story: values from the Eeyou Cree, a childhood spent in the forests of Northern Quebec, a survivor of Residential School, hard work and education to become the first Indigenous Lawyer from the Université du Québec a Montréal law school, and a lifetime working to uphold human rights.
His father was a hunter from the Broadback forest of central Quebec and his mother is the inspiration and foundation for her children and her community. Romeo was born on the shores of a lake in his parents’ tent because his parents lived a traditional lifestyle; the only language he heard and spoke for the firts seven years of his life was Cree.
After he finished residential school, Romeo was asked by his Chief to attend a conference on the 10th anniversary of the signing of the first modern treaty in Canada: the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. It was there that his love for the law began.
His accomplishments are many: he was one of the principal authors of La Paix des Braves – a landmark agreement between the James Bay Cree and the Government of Quebec – and he has been a key negotiator for many national and international initiatives, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Romeo founded the Cree Nation Youth Council in 1985, served as Deputy Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Cree for a number of years. A passionate environmentalist, Romeo served as vice-chair of the Cree Regional Authority and Chair of the James Bay Advisory Committee on the Environment. His work in the economic sector with Creeco Inc. and the Eeyou Co. showed his understanding of how to balance our duty as stewards of the land with sustainable economic growth.
Romeo has a son and two daughters and two grandchildren.
National Advisory Committee
Madeleine Basile une femme atikamekw de Wemotaci (Québec) venant d’une famille de sept enfants (4 sœurs et 2 frères), dès l’âge de 6 ans Madeleine a fréquenté le PI de Pointe-Bleue et ce, pendant 10 ans. Mère et kokom, la famille est importante pour elle. Elle a œuvré pendant 10 ans en communication principalement à la radio en langue atikamekw. Par la suite elle a suivi des cours en travail social qui l’ont menée à travailler en milieu communautaire urbain à La Tuque sur une période de 7 ans. C’est en 2004 qu’elle a postulé au poste de coordonnateur régional du projet de guérison Koskikiwetan au Conseil de la nation atikamekw, toujours à La Tuque. Le projet Koskikwetan est un des nombreux projets de financés par la Fondation autochtone de guérison qui s’est terminé en 2010. Elle demeurera en poste pour gérer le programme de soutien en santé relié aux questions des pensionnat indiens ; les membres de son équipe offrent des services de soutien émotionnel et culturel.
En 2010 elle a siégé au comité national des survivants à la Commission de vérité et réconciliation du Canada dont le mandat s’est terminé en 2015 au dépôt du rapport au gouvernement fédéral.
Harley Crowshoe is a Blackfoot Elder and Honourary Chief of the Piikani (Blackfoot) Nation. He currently works part-time for the Aakom-Kiyii Health Service and as an advisor for a number of health and wellness programmes. He is a former Director and Manager for the Southern Alberta Indigenous Health Program. He also has a lengthy career with the RCMP, serving in Alberta and BC and has since served as an expert advisor on issues of Indigenous policing. He also worked with the Aboriginal Policing Directorate as the Alberta/NWT Regional Manager.
Verna DeMontigny is a Red River Métis Nation Elder, Knowledge Keeper, and leading proponent for revitalization of the Michif language. Verna is originally from Li Kwayn (“The Corner”), a Red River Métis community near Binscarth, Manitoba. She learned Michif as her mother tongue. Verna has taught Michif in the K-12 school system and at Brandon University. She is a Master speaker in the Prairies to Woodlands Indigenous Language Master Apprentice Program Pilot Project and the Chair of the Prairies to Woodlands Indigenous Language Revitalization Circle.
Crystal Gail Fraser (she/her) is Gwichyà Gwich’in historian who has undertaken extensive and award-winning research on Indian Residential Schools in the North. She is widely published in academic and popular media including the forthcoming book “By Strength, We Are Still Here”: Indigenous Strength & Resistance at Inuvik’s Indian Residential Schools Since 1959. Crystal is an Assistant Professor in History and Native Studies at the University of Alberta. She is also a part of the Governing Circle for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and a Director of Gwich’in Council International.
Raymond Frogner is a Cree archivist and researcher who has served as Head of Archives for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation since the organization’s founding. In this role, he is responsible for ensuring Survivors, their families and their Nations can access the NCTR’s extensive holdings related to residential school history. He is currently working with a number of Nations to develop specific supports tailored to research on missing child and unmarked graves. Raymond is a frequent speaker on decolonizing archives.
Monica Ittusardjuat is an Inuk Elder and a Survivor of residential schools in Chesterfield Inlet and in Manitoba. Monica holds a masters degree in education and has an extensive background in promoting Inuit language and culture. She has worked with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami as a National Inuit Language Coordinator and as a language developer, interpreter, translator and instructor for a number of institutions in Nunavut, including the Nunavut Arctic College and the Pirurvik Centre. She has also worked as Wellness Coordinator for Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. She has served as a Board Member of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and on two Law Commission of Canada panels addressing residential school abuse and institutional abuse.
Rebekah Jacques, a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario, currently works as a forensic pathologist at the London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario and as an investigating coroner with the Office of the Chief Coroner. She is also an Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University where she teaches on subjects such as trauma, postmortem examinations, and the role of pathologists as expert witnesses. In her career, Rebekah has focused on the ethics of how legal and medical investigations engage with Indigenous peoples, including how information about cause of death can be better shared to support healing.
Andrew Martindale has extensive experience with the use – and limitations – of ground search technologies, including ground-penetrating radar. He is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Andrew has worked in partnership with the Musqueam First Nation and the Penelakut First Nation to make ground search technologies more accessible to communities engaged in searches unmarked graves and other burial sites. His academic research, conducted primarily in Tsimshian territory, has focused on the importance of oral history. He is a member of the Canadian Archaeological Association Working Group on Unmarked Graves.
Brenda Reynolds a Saulteaux expert in culturally based, trauma-informed healing, has extensive experience in designing and delivering health and wellness supports for Residential School Survivors, their families and their communities. A former residential school counselor, she developed the first pilot program to provide support to former Residential School Survivors, their families, and other witnesses as they participated in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. She worked as Health Support Coordinator and Liaison with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and has also provided training on trauma-informed practice to a wide range of organizations. She has a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology and is currently a candidate for a Doctorate of Psychology.
Kisha Supernant, a Métis archaeologist with roots in Alberta and Red River, has been working with Indigenous communities to plan and carry out searches for potential unmarked graves using a wide range of technology, including ground-penetrating radar and drone imaging. She is the Director of the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology and a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton (Amiskwaciwâskahikan). She is founding chair of the Canadian Archaeological Association Unmarked Graves Working Group, formed in June 2021. Kisha is also a member of the Alberta Knowledge Network for Unmarked Graves. She has done extensive media interviews explaining these issues.
Kona Williams, a Cree and Mohawk Forensic Pathologist and Coroner, as well as the First Nations Liaison for the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service. She is currently the Director of the Northeastern Regional Forensic Pathology Unit in Sudbury, Ontario and Co-Chair of the Indigenous Health Committee, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. She has experience in investigating violent and suspicious deaths and in provided expert testimony in criminal prosecutions.