True North Aid welcomes and is grateful for the participation and guidance of the current Indigenous Advisory Committee Members. Their insight and honest input have helped to guide True North Aid’s various programs, initiatives and grant approvals.
Leo Atlookan is a father, grandfather, brother, son and husband from Eabametoong First Nation in northern Ontario (Fort Hope). His given First Nation name is Stand Alone Strong. Leo works at John C. Yesno Education Centre in Fort Hope as the social counsellor. He enjoys being out at his camp where he can go hunting and fishing to help provide for his family. He also enjoys playing sports, coaching boys and girls hockey clubs, and dances as a traditional dancer at powwows. Leo went to school in Fort Hope from grades 1 to 8, attended high school in thunder bay and pursued a counselling degree at Laurentian University in Sudbury. Leo spends much of his time in Fort Hope but travels to Toronto to visit his wife’s family and is a proud Dog-Dad of Banjo.
Dwight Ballantyne grew up in Montreal Lake Cree Nation, a remote north Saskatchewan First Nation, until the age of 21 when he moved to BC in 2016. In an effort to raise awareness about what life is like for youth who grow up in remote Indigenous communities, Dwight founded The Ballantyne Project in 2019. He is passionate about sharing the truth about Canada’s history, the effects of Residential schools and bridging the gap between youth living in remote First Nations and the rest of Canada.
Karhinéhtha’ / Cortney is Kanien’keha:ka (Mohawk, People of the flint), Bear clan and member of Wahta Mohawk Territory. She works as the Indigenous Recruitment and Student Advisor for Academic Health Sciences and Professional programs situated in the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Office, at Queen’s Health Sciences. The role entails academic and wholistic support for Indigenous students in undergraduate and graduate health sciences programs. Along with in-community recruitment and student support portfolios, she is involved in leading program development in Indigenous Health Education by way of health sciences curricular innovations, Faculty-development training, and establishing equitable admissions processes. She represents higher education program efforts to actualize the TRC Calls to Action, in Federal government policy discourses, relating to ongoing Indigenous health education advances in health and educational spheres. Karhinéhtha’ / Cortney is currently the Associate Chair for the National Consortium of Indigenous Medical Education – Admissions and Transitions working group. She has worked as a research assistant and academic collaborator with the Department of Emergency Medicine at Kingston Health Sciences Centre in research with Indigenous patients and communities. She is also currently a full-time student in the Doctor of Science Rehabilitation and Health Leadership program at Queen’s Health Sciences. Her research focus is on reconciliation efforts through integration of Indigenous medicines and healing practices with the Western- biomedical model of health sciences teaching and learning, to promote overall decolonization within the healthcare system.
Kerry Spence is an Ojibway-Métis woman from Eddystone, Manitoba. She is a member of Lake Manitoba First Nation and is currently residing in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her two children. She studied Human Nutritional Sciences and Native Studies at the University of Manitoba and has a special interest in learning about Indigenous culture and food sovereignty. She brings her experience working in a charitable organization, in which she supported community-led projects looking to either create, strengthen or expand local food systems. She is excited to apply what she has learned in the philanthropic and food sovereignty sectors and to continue to work with communities in a good way.
Lynda Gerow is from the Wet’suwet’en Nation in Burns Lake, British Columbia. Her teachings are mostly Anishinaabe and Mohawk. Mukade Miiagan is her spirit name which means Black Wolfe. Lynda recently accepted the position of Support Worker/Cultural Coordinator with Tipi Moza in Kingston, Ontario, in addition to working in the community to re-learn traditional languages and educate youth. She is currently the President of the Kingston Thunder Women (Ontario Native Women’s Association Chapter. Lynda also sits with the CFS agency’s Keweywin Circle, whose focus is to reunite children with their families and culture. Lynda and her partner Tracy are mothers to four grown children and tota/kookom to five grandsons and one granddaughter. They are both firekeepers and powwow dancers. Together, they are building a life centre around their traditional ways of knowing and being.