True North Aid welcomes and is grateful for the participation and guidance of the current Reconciliatoin Advisory Committee Members. Their insight and honest input have helped to guide True North Aid’s various programs, initiatives and grant approvals.
Patty Krawec is an Anishinaabe/Ukrainian writer and speaker from Lac Seul First Nation. She serves on the board of the Fort Erie Native Friendship Center and is active with the Strong Water Singers. She is the cohost of the Medicine for the Resistance podcast and cofounder of the Nii’kinaaganaa Foundation, which collects funds and disperses them to Indigenous people and organizations. Her work has been published in Sojourners and Canadian Living as well as Rampant Magazine and Midnight Sun and she posts podcasts and essays with some regularity on her substack, pattykrawec.substack.com. Her book, Becoming Kin: An Indigenous Call to Unforgetting the Past and Reimagining Our Future will be published in September by Broadleaf Books and is now available for pre-order. Krawec attends Chippawa Presbyterian Church and lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Find her online at daanis.ca
Michael Amesse has been volunteering with True North Aid since 2018 as a project lead for Northern Health Initiatives. He has directed the procurement of incontinence products, mobility aids, and wound care services while travelling to and from northern reserves. Michael has always promoted practical “boots on the ground” projects and local leadership regarding all of True North Aid’s programs. As a Personal Care Attendant working at Kingston General Hospital internal medicine unit, Michael understands and aims to overcome the complexities and obstacles regarding the north and its access to adequate health care. He continues to volunteer across a range of different True North Aid projects and as an ambassador on behalf of the charity when visiting communities across Canada. His time is also spent volunteering with a local wild animal rescue and sanctuary; Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre.
Kathryn Vilela is a settler living in Kingston, Ontario. She was born and raised in rural Northwestern Ontario, spending her childhood in the fields, forests, and creeks in the Rainy Lake/Lake of the Woods region. Her family’s home was just a few kilometers from Manitou Rapids Reservation, and yet it wasn’t until early adulthood that she realized how little she knew of her Ojibway neighbours. She is on a learning journey to understand and acknowledge the harmful and racist systems that form the foundations of her country, to know when to speak up to advocate for change in any way she can, to know when to be quiet and humbly learn from the insight and experience of Indigenous people, and to help her own children grow up with more awareness and appreciation of Indigenous history than she had.
Kathryn works at Queen’s University as an academic advisor and a volunteer manager. She teaches a certificate program in the theory and practice of volunteer engagement for Queen’s staff and student leaders, and she is passionate about enabling healthy and fulfilling volunteerism. Kathryn is an artist and a singer, plays a bit of piano, and is an avid novel-reader. She is happiest in a green forest.
Jane Arychuk joins us with over thirty years experience in Education in the NWT. Starting her teaching career in Fort Providence, she has touched lives from preschool to post secondary.
Since leaving the position of President, Aurora College, Jane has established a successful engraving and educational consulting business and pursued volunteer opportunities to support children youth and Indigenous Communities in the NWT.
Joseph Sagaj is from a remote and isolated community called Neskantaga in northern Ontario. He attended the Ontario College of Art & Design and graduated in 1985. In 1992, The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples selected Joseph’s logo as a winning design resulting in numerous private and public commissions designing logos, painting murals, and illustrating for publications.
Some commissions include: Indian & Northern Affairs Canada’s for “The 13 Moons” Day-Planner; the Ministry of the Attorney General, Aboriginal Justice Division for a painting series the “Seven Stages of Life”, and for Seneca College designing 9 meter (30-foot) diameter floor installation entitled “Circle of Indigenous Knowledge” This beautiful, symbolic, complex assemblage of designs has since won awards in Canada and the United States in the Terrazzo Industry, as well as it being featured in numerous articles.
Joseph’s involvement with children and youth in the arts include: the Early-On Indigenous Language and Family Program at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto; First Nations Youth ENAGB; the Matawa Educational Centre in Thunder Bay, painting a mural with students, that made front page news in Thunders Bay’s Chronicle which brought pride to the youth; Joseph has also gone back to Neskantaga to do art with children in mask-making.
In 2015, Joseph initiated “The Northern Lights Collective”, a donation drive that provides art supplies, books, sports, and camping equipment to remote communities. This is an accomplishment shared by many donors, artists, friends, as well as organizations and businesses.
Throughout Joseph’s 30-year career, Joseph has emphasized his heritage and featured Indigenous knowledge, teachings, and stories at the forefront. He credits the Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Ceremonies, and the “Ways of the People” with great pride that is reflected in his art and in showcasing it to the world!
Ursula Holcroft is a young woman from Eabametoong First Nation. Ursula attends college in Toronto. She is accomplished, excelling in both academics and athletics. Living in both remote and urban environments, Ursula’s understanding of the issues that affect Indigenous youth and her understanding of how creative initiatives can inspire young people provides a unique perspective for the committee to consider.