Advisory Circle

Advisory Circle

photo-ErinFreelandErin Freeland Ballantyne was born and raised in Sǫ̀mba K’è / Yellowknife on Akaitcho territory and was the first Rhodes Scholar from the Canadian North.  Erin holds a BA Honors in International Development Studies at McGill University and Msc in Environmental Policy from Oxford University. Currently working on a PhD at Oxford, looking at the disjuncture between climate change and its effect on human security and health amidst a regional focus on oil and gas extraction and the challenge this presents for sustainable community development. Erin uses participatory video research to involve youth in research to create education tools to support community health.
zoeJohn B. Zoe is a member of the Tłįchǫ First Nation, born and raised and continues to reside in Behchokǫ̀ in the Northwest Territories. In the early years his community spoke only the traditional language, and stories were an every day natural routine. John became involved with Elders and community resource persons to revive the trails of our ancestor’s annual canoe trip where elders and youth share their experiences. The annual canoe trip is now on the 16th year and the experiences also revived and gave deeper meaning to our stories.  John became the Chief Negotiator for the Dogrib (now Tłįchǫ) in 1992 to help settle the Land Claim and Self Government for the Tribe through negotiations with the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories. With the help of a team of tribal members and Elder Advisors, the negotiations were completed, approved and given effect on August 4, 2005. The Agreement is built on the stories that he and the team have heard, and with the help of the Elders, we have now added to the story. John is now the Tłįchǫ Executive Officer for the recognized Tłįchǫ Government, and the major part of his work is in managing the development of the governance and corporate structures.

photo-ShirleyTsettaShirley Tsetta was born and raised in N’Dilǫ. Parents were traditional hunters and trappers. Attended Brynant Hall Residential School from K to Grade 5, then Grade 6 at Chief Jimmy Bruneau School. Completed High School Diploma, Diploma in Management Studies and currently 2nd Year Social Work student. Elected Councillor for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN). As a YKDFN councillor, I hold various portfolios such as housing, finance, executive, AHRDA, and HR. A Community Representative on the Diavik Communities Advisory Board (DCAB) since 2001 and served as Chair for 2.5 years. As DCAB representatives, our mandate is to implement the Socio-Economic Monitoring Agreement (SEMA) for 9 impacted communities. I love camping, boating, hunting and fishing. I go to the pool and sauna on a regular basis, and participate in “sweats” at every opportunity. I enjoy reading, music and sports. Coordinated and participated in the Treaty 8 Centennial Canoe trip from Dettah to Deninu Kue in 2000.
Stephen Kakfwi, former Northwest Territories Premier (2000-2003) and Dene Nation President (1983-1987), has been at the forefront of the remarkable political, democratic, environmental, economic, cultural and geo-political transformations taking place over the past quarter century in Canada’s north. Born at a traditional Dene bush camp on Yelta Lake near Fort Good Hope, NWT in 1950, Mr. Kakfwi spent his early years on the land, learning the customs of his people and developing a life-long respect for the wilderness and its resources. An activist in the 1970s around the Mackenzie Pipeline and the Berger Inquiry, he went on to lead the Dene Nation as well as serve as cabinet minister in the territorial government for sixteen years. He has been outspoken in his beliefs on the importance of NWT Aboriginal participation in the northern political and economical mainstream, balancing northern resource development with stewardship of the land, and protecting and preserving NWT Aboriginal languages, culture and traditions.

photo-DavidHikDavid Hik is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Northern Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta, and the Executive Director of the Canadian International Polar Year (IPY) Secretariat.   He is interested in the effects of climate change on the interactions between plants and animals and people in northern tundra and mountain environments.  For most of the past 20 years this work has been focused in the Yukon, but students have also conducted research in the NWT, Svalbard, Alberta and Australia.  David is working to promote activities that will form the broad legacy of IPY and especially those that will provide opportunities for northern students to participate in research and post-secondary education.  Currently, he is also a member the Board of the Arctic Institute of North America, helps to coordinate the Arctic Council initiative on Sustained Arctic Observing Networks, and serves as vice-president of the International Arctic Science Committee.
photo-LoisEdgeLois Edge is a PhD Candidate in Educational Policy Studies with a specialization in Indigenous Peoples Education at the University of Alberta where she received a Master of Arts degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology in 2001. Her doctoral research considers the relationship of participation in traditional cultural activities, such as beadwork, to Indigenous identity, lifelong learning and well-being. Her work in the fields of Indigenous education and Aboriginal health includes participation in several Indigenous knowledge research initiatives involving collaboration with Aboriginal community members, Indigenous knowledge holders and multiple stakeholders. Lois is Academic Coordinator with the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research at Athabasca University. She is a Gwich’in/Cree Métis from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.

photo-GingerGibsonGinger Gibson is a northern resident, canoeist and researcher.  She works as an anthropologist with communities affected by the extractive industries.  Her work in South America with large and small-scale mining communities designed programs in negotiations, while her dissertation work in northern Canada focuses on the experience of aboriginal miners and families in the diamond economy.  She is a Trudeau Scholar, and holds a doctoral degree from the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia. Current work with the Tłįchǫ Nation focuses on governance and non-renewable resource policy.  Ginger is the mother of two boys.
photo-AlliceLegatAllice Legat is the Roberta Bondar Fellow for Northern and Polar Studies at Trent University, and an honorary researcher at the University of Aberdeen. Dr.Legat has decades of experience in participatory research in the North West Territories and is the co-author of many reports and papers with Dogrib knowledge experts. Allice currently serves as the Environmental Anthropologist of The Wek’èezhìi Renewable Resources Board, which establishes policies and proposes regulations in respect of the harvesting of wildlife, approves plans for the management and protection of wildlife, the designation of conservation areas and endangered species, interim management guidelines and park management plans. The Board was created by the Tłįchǫ Agreement.

photo-JoelleAbraJoelle Abra holds degrees in chemical engineering, business administration and law. She has spent summers working in consulting, investment banking, private equity, and pharmaceutical licensing. In addition, she has led two successful entrepreneurial ventures, one of which had annual revenues over CAD$400,000. Joelle is a Rhodes Scholar, a Fulbright Scholar, and a “Future Leader” on the list of Canada’s Top 100 Women. Joelle recently completed a master’s degree at Stanford Law School, where she focused on intellectual property law and issues around access to medicine in middle-income countries. Joelle is presently working in medical device innovation at Stanford University where she is combining passion for helping other people with her passion and proven ability to create novel solutions. Ultimately, she wants to create a firm that delivers life-changing medical innovations to society.
coulthardGlen Coulthard is a Weledeh Dene (Yellowknives Dene First Nation), holds a PhD from Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria and was recently appointed as an assistant professor, faculty of Native Studies, University of British Columbia. Glen was born in Sǫ̀mba K’è (Yellowknife) and grew up in Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, and Kelowna, British Columbia. Before pursuing his doctorate, Glen earned an undergraduate degree in Native Studies and Philosophy at the University of Alberta and then a Masters degree in the Indigenous Governance Programs at the University of Victoria. Glen’s current research interests include contemporary political theory, the politics of Indigenous self-determination in Canada, Dene history and politics, and radical social and political thought. His dissertation critically examined the politics of recognition in light of the work of anti-colonial theorist Frantz Fanon.

Additional Support

photo-MikeFreelandMike Freeland and family have owned and operated Blachford Lake Lodge and Conference Resort since 1980 and have built it into northern Canada’s leading environmentally friendly all season fly in wilderness resort.  Mike has focused his efforts on development and operation of the lodge over the past 12 years but was previously involved in a variety of tourism initiatives. He has enjoyed working over 15 years in partnership with arctic communities like Holman Island, Kugluktuk, and Arviat, with Tourism outfitting and adventure programs. Mike has also led over 55 consulting projects across the NWT, Nunavut and Greenland for aboriginal communities, all levels of Governments, tourism associations, boards and private clients. Consulting projects included feasibility studies, business plans, expansion plans, training, facilitation, and brokering business development opportunities between aboriginal /non aboriginal groups. Mike is supporting Dechinta through an at-cost lease agreement.
photo-BrendaParleeBrenda Parlee is a Canada Research Chair in Social Responses to Ecological Changes  and an assistant professor at the Faculty of Rural Economy at the University of Alberta. Brenda holds a PhD in Environmental and Natural Resource Management from the University of Manitoba and is a widely published author on issues of environmental management, caribou and human ecology in Canada’s north.

photo-EllenBielawskiEllen Bielawski is theDean of the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. Ellen was born in Alaska and has worked in the Canadian North for her entire career. Extensively published in the fields of Archeology, Anthropology, Resource Management and First Nations governance, Ellen is leading the university-Dechinta partnership to offer university credit for northern designed and developed curriculum, ensuring it meets university standards, and is serving as a bridge between Dechinta and degree completion at Canadian institutions for northern students.