Dr. Alex Wilson, Community Leader and Educator
Dr. Alex Wilson gathered her first lessons on leadership in her home community Opaskwayak Cree Nation. “I have always been surrounded by women who lead, most of them leading steadily, some quietly, a few raucously, but always with love in their actions”, she once wrote.
This understanding – that the most valuable leadership is driven by love for the people – has been borne out in her work as a scholar, educator, community activist, and mentor. In 2007, Alex became the first First Nations woman in Canada to receive a doctorate from Harvard University.
Her groundbreaking work on the identity development of two-spirit people is widely cited and has become a touchstone for many LGBTQI Indigenous people. As Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education, Alex co-developed a Masters program in Land-Based Education, which combines academic study with teachings from the land, community and traditional knowledge holders. Alex is an organizer in Idle No More, which works to honour Indigenous sovereignty, and protection of land and water. Alex’s home remains in Opaskwayak Cree Nation, where, in collaboration with her family and community, she has established an award-winning community garden and nutrition program. Dr. Wilson is also a Nellie Award Recipient, from which this bio is extracted (https://www.ournellie.com/the-nellie-awards).
Randy Ermineskin, Treaty Six Grand Chief
Chief Randy Ermineskin was appointed by the Maskwacis Nations Chiefs to assume the role of Grand Chief of Treaty Six. Today, both as Chief of Ermineskin and Grand Chief he knows there are many challenges for the first nations but building unity and a common vision is key to working and moving ahead.
Chief Ermineskin has always been an advocate for Education being an Educator as a Principal and as a Teacher. He holds a teaching degree and a Master of Arts in Leadership in Administration which allows him to encourage and mentor the next generation of First Nation leaders.
He and his wife, Fran have 3 daughters and 1 son along with 9 grandchildren. Chief Ermineskin has always promoted and has been involved with youth and sport also through coaching in various sports at the North American Indigenous Games.
Karen Mahon, Environmental Leader
Karen is a strategist, organizer, facilitator, fundraiser, teacher, and has been one of Canada’s leading environmental activists for more than twenty years. Karen is currently the Canadian Director for STAND (formerly ForestEthics Advocacy) and focuses on the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure projects while developing opportunities for clean energy solutions.
Early in her career, Karen was a principal architect of the multi-sector collaboration in the Great Bear Rainforest on Canada’s west coast that led ultimately to its protection and development of a conservation economy in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Karen has worked as a strategic consultant for a wide variety of high impact private, public and third sector organizations. In her work as the Executive Director of the Hollyhock Leadership Institute, Karen focused on increasing the effectiveness of activist and change makers and applying the teachings of the wisdom traditions to the practice of social change.
David Dodge; Photo Greg Schnell
David Dodge, Green Energy Futures
David is an environmental journalist and a photojournalist who has worked for newspapers, published magazines, radio and was the production manager for a Canadian nature publisher. He produced more than 350 EcoFile radio programs on sustainability for the CKUA Radio network and was the editor of Borealis magazine.
David has worked for not-for-profit organizations such as the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Destination Conservation and the Pembina Institute.
Most recently, David has been the host and producer of the inspiring Green Energy Futures project on the future (and present!) of clean energy in Canada (www.greenenergyfutures.ca).
Cathryn Sprague & Ryan Mason, Reclaim Urban Farm
Owners of Reclaim Urban Farm, an award-winning Edmonton business with Augustana roots that is transforming urban agriculture (www.reclaimurbanfarm.com).
Cathy explored agroecology in Cuba and saw how much food could be produced on small urban and peri-urban plots. She recently defended her thesis, which explores how and why people become involved in their community to promote healthy and sustainable food and agriculture systems.
Ryan was raised on a small farm at Pigeon Lake, where he competed with his brother to see who could fill the most yogurt containers with raspberries. Just recently, he returned from Tanzania where his food security research enabled him to work alongside wakulimu (farmers) harvesting, thrashing and winnowing an assortment of grains.
Kim Cornish: Food, Water, Wellness Foundation
Kim is the director and founder of the Food, Water, Wellness Foundation which is dedicated to building a truly viable local food system that produces sustainable livelihoods, nutrient rich food, and environmental regeneration (www.foodwaterwellness.org).
Food, Water, Wellness Foundation supports a growing young agrarian movement in western Canada through innovative education programs and food celebrations, including the amazing Rootstock summer festival.
Kim is an international educator and passionate agrarian who has developed food programs throughout the world.
Siddhartha: Founder, Pipal Tree
Siddhartha is the founder and director of Pipal Tree, which unites the personal, social and ecological to foster sustainable development in India (www.pipaltree.org.in).
Educated in law in Madras, India and Anthropology at the Sorbonne in Paris, Siddhartha is an international educator, author and community organizer.
Siddhartha has been described as “one of India’s leading theorists, activists, and catalysts of the alternative – a well-known and well-loved figure, the founder and moving spirit behind several institutions.”