Leroy Little Bear has himself become an institution. This veteran educator and renowned academic is a model for all Aboriginals striving for success in higher learning. The founder of the Native American Studies Department at the University of Lethbridge – where he served as Chair for 21 years – also went on to become the founding Director of Harvard University’s Native American Program. He’s co-authored three texts – Pathways to Self-Determination: Native Indian Leaders Perspectives on Self-Government, Quest for Justice: Aboriginal Rights in Canada, and, Governments in Conflict: Provinces and Indian Nations in Canada – and helped write Justice on Trial, the report of Alberta’s Task Force on the Criminal Justice System and Its Impacts on the Indian and Métis Peoples of Alberta. A member of the Blackfoot Confederacy, Little Bear contributed to publications for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in the area of criminal justice issues, did the same for the Assembly of First Nations on constitutional issues and has provided legal advice to numerous Aboriginal organizations on land claims, treaties and hunting and fishing rights. He is now recognized as one of the continent’s leaders in the advancement and acceptance of North American Indian philosophy. When he began his studies in the 1960s he quickly determined he wasn’t attending university for himself. Instead, Leroy Little Bear did it for his people. “Educating Native students was my way of making a difference,” he says. “If I can graduate ten or fifty Native students then that makes a big difference.” He has already succeeded.
Francis First Charger is the proud father of two children. Francis and his wife, Judy First Charger, have been together since 1977. They also have three grandchildren and many traditional children and spiritual children, of which there are too many to list. Judy serves as Administrative Assistant for their own consultancy business.
Francis First Charger was born and raised on the Kainai First Nation (Blood Indian Reserve). He was raised in the traditional, cultural and spiritual ways of the Blackfoot people. He has six diplomas in agriculture and several letters of recognition and a certificate in management and financial accounting. He has been a Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) for three tribal elections including this 2016 election, the Blood Tribe Health Board Election for 2014 and 2017, as well as for the 2005 Kainai Board of Education elections.
Mr. First Charger has managed his own advisory and consultant services since 1994. He has been employed in some major projects in the past, including his role as the General Manager of the Blood Tribe Agricultural Project (BTAP), a $66.5 million project. He was involved in construction, implementation, recruitment, and operational phases with BTAP. He was one of the people instrumental in coordinating the Japanese export of Timothy Hay, which was eventually an annual $6.5 million industry. He held the position of General Manager of Alberta Indian Agricultural Development Corporation (AIADC) when he was only 32 years-old: an unprecedented feat being the youngest General Manager of that company at the time. Also, he has done international work for the Kainai/Blood Tribe, in the U.S. for a special agricultural project and in Guatemala through educational work for Red Crow Community College (RCCC).
Recently, Francis First Charger Ninnaisipistoo “Owl Chief” (Agricultural Technology, ‘82) received the top award of Distinguished Alumnus from Lethbridge College on April 19, 2013. Francis was also the recipient of the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Aboriginal Council of Lethbridge. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the many achievements of the urban population. He successfully coordinated the “First Nations’ Land Use Certificate Program” with 12 graduates from the RCCC program (June 26, 2004). “This certificate was entitled first of its kind by a National Edge Magazine. Eleven of the graduates were immediately placed within the industry.” These are only a few of the many accomplishments First Charger holds.
He is an accomplished traveller, having seen the world from many different angles. His corporate and cultural travels have brought him to Japan, three times via BTAP business, and to such places as Italy to speak as a guest lecturer.
Francis is the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Mikai’sto Foundation to fundraise for a new building for Red Crow Community College (RCCC). “I enjoyed working at RCCC for over 9 years in various capacities which allowed me to be creative with my projects.”
Mr. First Charger has served on many committees in the past 20 years, including serving on the Aboriginal Council of Lethbridge as a corporate/spiritual advisor; a Treaty 7 representative on the First Nation’s Forestry Program, and on a steering committee for an economic impact study for the Kainai First Nation /Blood Tribe. He was the Special Advisor to the former Lethbridge College President, Tracy Edwards.
Presently, Mr. First Charger serves on several committees: SHIA Housing Committee for the City of Lethbridge since 2004; Lethbridge SHIA Leaders Council; the Cultural Advancement Working Group for the University of Lethbridge, as well as Opokaa’sin on their Elder Committee and Opokaa’sin Board of Director. He also works for the Faculty of Management at the U of L under its Elders’ program since September, 2008.
Owl Chief now provides advisory services to various organization, entities and/or institutions on Blackfoot Cultural Sensitivity Workshops and in working with other First Nations (Blackfoot People) and/or off-reserve corporations in the areas of international relations, culture, academic course development, agriculture, irrigation, project development, project implementation, and advisory to academic faculty and students through being a Cultural Counsellor and handling public relations for various causes.
Ira is Piikani from the Piikani First Nation, a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy, in Southern Alberta, Canada. Professionally, Ira is an advocate for his Nation as an intermediary between industry, government and his people through his work as a Manager of Piikani Consultation and Piikani Traditional Knowledge Services (PTKS) for the Piikani Nation. The role of Manager carries the mandate of creating meaningful relationships with proponents and building capacity within and for the protection of Piikani educational and historical resources.
Ira is also completing a graduate degree as he studies the Consultation industry as it relates to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Ira was an Educator and Administrator of Cultural Programs within the Lethbridge School District for over a decade, where he taught and worked with all levels of the school environment – provincially (GOA Ministry of Education, Alberta Teachers Association, Alberta School Boards Association, College of Alberta School Superintendents) as well as municipally as a Trustee – with District and school, staff, students, parents and community for the betterment of First Nations student performance.
It is through his work with PTKS that Ira supports cross-cultural programming around Southern Alberta-area educational institutions with a wide variety of lessons and lesson planning in all areas of FNMI curricular support. Ira is also an educator, multi-talented musician, performer and songwriter working and contributing to many educational initiatives in the past few decades. Ira’s music reflects his profession as an educator and scholar of Native American (Indigenous) awareness and understanding. His songs tell stories of gaining strength from culture and heritage by restoring identity in Indigenous people of all ages, everywhere.
Julaine Guitton was born and raised in Southern Alberta, she is currently in her fourteenth year of teaching with Livingstone Range School Division. She and her husband have two young boys.
Michelle M. Hogue is an associate professor and Coordinator of the First Nations’ Transition Program at the University of Lethbridge. Her teaching and research center on the engagement and success of Aboriginal students in the sciences and mathematics by building bridges between Aboriginal and Western ways of knowing and learning using culturally relevant methodological approaches.
With expertise in curriculum development, interpretive inquiry, and duoethnography, she is interested in bridging paradigms and Indigenous perspectives in curriculum and in the successful transition of Aboriginal students to and through post-secondary education. Dr. Hogue was the recipient of the 2012 CEA Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education, for her work in improving attendance, engagement, and success for aboriginal learners.
Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse celebrates 25 years working in K to 12 and Teacher Education. She is a proud Ojibwe/Odawa woman from the community of Sagamok Anishnawbek in Northern Ontario. Pamela has over 50 published resources ranging from books, curriculum documents and other select contributions.
Pamela Rose Toulouse, Ph.d., est une Anishinabe de la bande Sagamok du Nord de l’Ontario. Elle est également professeure agrégée à la Faculté d’éducation de l’Université Laurentienne et est titulaire du Prix national 3M d’excellence en enseignement de 2015.