Keynotes

Series 1: August 17, 2020

Elaine Alec

Elaine Alec

Syilx & Secwepemc Nation
Penticton Indian Band
Alderhill Planning Inc.

Elaine is from the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation and Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation and is a member of the Penticton Indian Band. She was raised by her grandmother who spoke only the nsyilxcen language, and it is this foundation that shaped her world view and the importance of connection and relationships.

Elaine has worked for Provincial and Federal governments as both employee and contractor for the past 20 years. She has worked as a political advisor to British Columbia leadership, Chief of Staff to the BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chiefs’ and is the Union of BC Indian Chief’s Women’s Representative. She is an advocate for women and girls, facilitator and mediator for highly sensitive issues, and has spent over 20 years in more than 100 communities across Canada creating space for individuals to come together and plan from a place of self-determination.

Elaine is an entrepreneur of 23 years and partner in the Indigenous-owned and operated Alderhill Planning Inc., along with Chris Derickson and Jessie Hemphill, leading experts in Indigenous community planning.

Elaine lives in Kamloops with her husband Ryan Day and is the proud mom of Kyle, Phoenix and Teslin.



Series 2: October 19, 2020

Odette Best

Odette Best

RN, BHlthSc, MPhil, PhD
Gorreng Gorreng, Boonthanmurra
Professor, School of Nursing & Midwifery,
University of Southern Queensland

Dr Odette Best BHlthSc Sydney, MPhil Griffith, PhD USQ through bloodline is Gorreng Gorreng (Wakgun Clan) and a Boonthanmurra woman and through adoption she is a Koomumberri, Yugambeh woman and is currently Professor of Nursing (Aboriginal Research & Community Engagement) School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Southern Queensland, Ipswich Campus.

Odette has been a registered nurse for 30 years and is a hospital trained registered nurse (Princess Alexandra Hospital) and further holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences, (University of Sydney), Master of Philosophy (Griffith University) and a PhD, (University of Southern Queensland). Odette’s PhD was titled Yatdjuligin: the stories of Aboriginal Nurses in Queensland from 1950-2005. Undertaking her PhD, Odette found her passion for delving into the history of Aboriginal Australian women and their pursuit of Western nursing qualifications. Currently Odette is undertaking research into the Native Nurses Training Schools Queensland that ran in the 1940 – 1950’s, the oral history project of Australian Aboriginal Nurses and Midwives with the National Library of Australia and further researches and creates historiography of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives across Australia. Further, Odette is currently researching the Historiography of Queensland Aboriginal nurses and midwives from the 1890s to the 1950s. This research aims to identify how Indigenous women as nurses and midwives navigated through the acts of protectionism and segregation eras and had agency with recognised qualifications.

John Lowe

John Lowe

RN, PhD, FAAN
Cherokee, Creek, and Lenape Native American
Professor and Joseph Blades Centennial Memorial Professorship Chair
The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing

Professor John Lowe, RN, PhD, FAAN Native American (Cherokee/Creek) and a Professor and the founding and current director of the Center for Indigenous Nursing Research for Health Equity (INRHE) at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida U.S.A. Professor Lowe is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and one of 23 Native American doctoral prepared nurses in the U.S.A. He is also an alumnus of the American Nurses Association Ethnic Minority Fellowship pre-doctoral program and has served as the Chair of the National Advisory Committee. Lowe was also appointed recently to the National Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Nursing Research. He actively serves in elected, appointed, advisory and consultant positions such as the National Institutes of Health, Intervention Research to Improve Native American Health (IRINAH) National Institutes of Health Coalition, American Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Endowment for Cultural Competencies in Graduate Nursing, American Academy of Nursing Diversity and Inclusivity Committee American Nurses Foundation, Florida Nurses Association, Florida Nurses Foundation, Advisory Council of the State Implementation Program of the Florida Action Coalition on the Future of Nursing, National Coalition of Minority Nurses Associations, National Alaskan Native American Indian Nurses Association, Pathways into Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Editorial Board of Nursing Research Journal, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Health Initiatives, Cherokee Nation Healthy Nations Programs, University of Southern Queensland Centre for Rural and Remote Area Health Research, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Health Research Board of Ireland Research Scientific Review Committee, Italian Ministry of Health Republic of Italy Ministry of Labour Health and Social Policies Research Scientific Review Committee, Indigenous Wellness Institute, Indigenous HIV/AIDS Research Training Institute, and the Indian Health Service. Lowe organized and hosted the first international Indigenous nursing research gathering in 2017.


Series 3: November 16, 2020

Lucy Barney

Lucy Barney

RN, BSN, MSN
Statlimx Nation
Provincial Lead, Indigenous Health, Perinatal Services BC
Cultural Advisor, Patient Experience, Chief Nursing Office, First Nation Health Authority

Lucy is at the forefront of developing innovative and successful programming with Aboriginal people. She works on strategies to assist existing programs and to develop new programs for maternal/child health that will enable Indigenous people to access culturally appropriate services. Lucy’s own life experience as a First Nation woman, mother, and traditional dancer brings enormous commitment, dedication, and creativity to her work. She is a model of strong, innovative leadership in the Aboriginal community. She was awarded the Centenary Award and Award of Distinction from the University of British Columbia: ACCOLAIDS Award for Innovative Programming and Langara College Outstanding Alumni Award for Community Service. Lucy completed her Master of Science in Nursing at the University of British Columbia. She was program manager of Chee Mamuk, an Aboriginal HIV/AIDS education program at the BC Centre for Disease Control, for nine years and is currently working with Perinatal Services BC and the First Nations Health Authority Maternal and Child Health.

Sage Thomas

Sage Thomas

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc

Sage is a mother of two children: ages 7 and 10 years old. She is a first nations member of the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc community, and currently resides in Kamloops, BC with her family. Sage is an Indigenous Birth Worker: trained birth and postpartum doula, Breastfeeding Educator/Counsellor and Aspiring Midwife. She has been working with and supporting families as a doula since 2012. Sage is also a professionally trained visual artist that works in a multitude of mediums. She is currently a full-time student at Thompson Rivers University completing a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Anthropology (Indigenous Studies). Sage is a positive role model and advocate within her indigenous community. She has a passion for the arts, reproductive rights and justice, indigenous and gender equality, revitalizing indigenous birthing practices, and her Secwépemc culture and language.

Jennifer Leason

Dr. Jennifer Leason

Boozhoo, Aniin Keesis Sagay Egette Kwe nindiznikaaz (greetings, my name is First Shining Rays of Sunlight Woman). Dr. Jennifer Leason is Anishinaabek and a member of Pine Creek Indian Band, Manitoba and the proud mother of Lucas (age 11) and Lucy (age 9).

Dr. Leason is a Canadian Institute of Health Research, Canada Research Chair, Tier II, Indigenous Maternal Child Wellness and an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary. Dr. Leason is the recipient of a CIHR Doctoral Research Award (2013-2017); CIHR New Investigator Award (2017-2020); New Frontiers in Research Fund Award (2019-2021); and CIHR Operating Grant (2020-2023). Her research aims to address perinatal health disparities and inequities by examining maternity experiences, healthcare utilization, and social-cultural contexts of Indigenous maternal child wellness through Indigenous matriarchal wisdom.

Evelyn Good Striker

Evelyn Good Striker

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc

Evelyn Good Striker, B. Ed., M.Ed. is a Lakota Dakota from Standing Buffalo First Nation in Saskatchewan and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. She grew up experiencing shifting education policies of the federal government; attending Day School, Residential School, and eventually integration into a public school at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, where she attained grade 12 education. Evelyn earned a Bachelor of Education Degree and a Master of Education Degree from the University of Lethbridge. She has been in the education profession for many years as a classroom teacher and administrator. Evelyn has enjoyed her long career as she loves working with students, parents, educators, and anyone who wants to engage in the excitement of learning.


Series 4: December 7, 2020

James Makokis / Anthony Johnson

Dr. James Makokis, B.Sc., M.H.Sc., MD

Cree, Saddle Lake Cree Nation

Anthony Johnson, B.Ec.

Navajo/Diné from Arizona

James Makokis M.D. is Cree from the Saddle Lake First Nation in Northern Alberta. James received his Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in nutrition and food sciences from University of Alberta in 2004, obtained a Masters in Health Science (M.H.Sc.) in community nutrition from the University of Toronto in 2006, acquired a Doctorate in Medicine (M.D) from the University of Ottawa in 2010 and became certified under the Aboriginal Family Medicine Training Program, University of British Columbia, in 2012.

Canada's historical with regard to medicine for Indigenous peoples has led to mistrust between doctors and Indigenous patients. Furthermore, many Indigenous medicine practices and traditions have been silenced or lost due to colonialism and Canada's unfortunate past of stripping Indigenous peoples from their rights, culture, and knowledge.

Dr. Makokis has been able to reconnect with elders, his family roots and his culture to enable him to incorporate traditional Indigenous values and Indigenous medicine into his current medical practice so that he can best serve his patients. He uses a progressive approach to medicine which is patient-focused with a holistic approach. He does his own research into different treatment methods, often combining natural remedies with today's most effective medicine. Dr. Makokis teaches audiences how to provide effective treatment to Indigenous peoples and how to regain their trust by incorporating traditional values, traditional medicine, communication strategies, and cultural beliefs.

Anthony Johnson graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in 2008. Johnson has dedicated his career and his time to countless non-profit organizations, social movements, and councils. He also has a very dedicated career as an international business person. Johnson has recently taken time to slow down and reconnect with his Navajo heritage. Ideally, he would have found work on the reservation, but because the unemployment rate is around 48.5%, it was next to impossible. Thus, he earned money by providing whatever services he could to whoever they would help. Though this initially started as a means to an end, it turned into a meaningful life experience that has taught him the power of connecting with others. Johnson’s story is one of hope, overcoming adversity, dealing with racism, activism, community engagement and success.