2017 Gathering Workshops

National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Bigiwen Gathering Workshops and Bios

Workshops are for registered survivors only. Please send an email to info@niscw.org to register for the workshops. They are offered on a first come first serve basis.

Drum & Rattle Making – Al Harrington

*30 drums 30 rattles each limited spots registration in advance

Drums supplied by Tribal Spirit Music

Al Harrington is from Shoal Lake ON, Ojibway Nation and has been working in Montreal area for 11 years. He worked with the homeless population of Montreal as an outreach worker for the Natives Friendship Center of Montreal for a few tears. He continues to work with many others organizations in the Montreal region and is the Founder of the Red Urban Project as well bringing back the Kanesatake Pow wow in 2009. Al also founded and organized the Montreal Pow wow and round dance events in 2013 and continues today. Alan is passionate in his teachings of First Nation culture to a diverse group of people and organizations.

Pass the Feather – Isohetst ne ostó:ser | Feather Bundle & Sharing Circle – Dawn Setford (Mary Francis Whitman

*30 spots must register in advance

Feather Bundle workshops are infused with valuable lessons that reflect respect for others, respect for our land and the animals that we share it with. Participants will practice and explore the healing and spiritual benefits of sharing circles and how intergenerational trauma and blood memory profoundly affect our lifestyle and actions. We also touch on bird medicines, sustainable hunting practice and ornithology.

Each participant will receive a variety of feathers, hide and beads to work with. All are welcome to be creative and design sharing circle bundles, regalia fans or smudge feathers that are suitable to their personal needs and uses.

Dawn is a Haudenosaune, Onkwehonwe adoptee whose family originates from Akwesane. Dawn is a Feather Keeper and artist and spearheads Pass The Feather, a not-for-profit organization that protects endangered Indigenous art forms, their makers and the next generation of Indigenous artists. Dawn speaks to intergenerational trauma, identity and our relationship with Mother Earth regularly within Ontario school boards and facilitates workshops within classrooms, workplaces and community centres across Ontario.

Clan Teaching Stencil Painting Workshop with Jason Gullo-Mullins

The values and teaching behind the clan systems was traditionally a form of governance in many indigenous nations. Each clan had roles and purpose that assisted in helping their community and in reaching vital decision making processes. This workshop will introduce adoptees to the clan system and enable them to create a stencil prepared painting of their own with the guidance of the artist Jason Gullo-Mullins who is Cherokee (Red Clay, Tennessee) born in New York City and currently living in Ottawa. This workshop is open to all ages.

Drum Circle – Vicki Boldo

Born in British Columbia and raised on Vancouver Island, is a transracial adoptee from the ‘60’s Scoop Era – although she was placed for adoption at birth she is a strong ally to the survivors of this time. Vicky is of Cree/Coast Salish/Métis heritage. Vicky is a registered energy medicine practitioner (ANQ) and has a certificate in journalism for Concordia. She is passionate about effecting change in policy, education and attitudes in social work, health care and education for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

She is highly involved in and around the city as Co-Chair of the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy NETWORK. Vicky sits on the board of the Native Women’s Shelter, on the board of Montreal’s First People’s Justice Centre as Vice-president and is on the (Police Service of Montreal) SPVM Aboriginal Advisory Committee. Most recently, Vicky was hired as Cultural Support Worker (Elder) for Concordia University’s Aboriginal Student Resource Centre. In 2016 she resigned from her coordinator position in women’s reproductive medicine with McGill University Health Centers (MUHC) to pursue her passions within the Urban community full-time.

Vicky has presented her personal healing journey in Australia and throughout Canada, at the 2nd International Indigenous Voices in Social Work in Winnipeg in 2013 and regularly guest lectures at schools, universities and colleges as well as to child and family services and public and private sector organizations.

She is the mother of 4 and grandmother of 4. The healing journey that Vicky has been on for over 25 years has brought her to a place of strength and compassion. Her joy in living is matched by her desire to give back to the community. The drum and song has empowered her to use her voice for those, young and old, still caught in a “muted” system.

“Trauma-informed body care station and full spectrum doula suppport” – Jessica Danforth

This will be an area where you can try out different holistic and natural medicines and products for the body and also request 5 minute relaxation treatments. Teas will be available as well to sample and you can consult on any questions/issues for sexual and reproductive health throughout the life cycle.

Spiritual Abuse & Healing the Man – Leroy Bennett

Spiritual Abuse

First Nations have faced years of spiritual abuse and acculturation and now this dilemma negatively impacts the way we view ourselves, as First Nations People. Recovering from Spiritual abuse is possible, but first we must recognize what it is, thereby learning how to overcome this by way of ceremonies and traditional teachings. This will allow an individual to fully recognize where they are at in life and work towards releasing themselves. This dynamic workshop allows participants to explore their own beliefs attitudes and bias about what and possible how they believe.

Healing the Man is another workshop that will explore and identify stereotypes that have prevented men from enjoying a fuller life, by understanding negative stereotypes, negative false images, false masculinity and the mysterious male persona along with the lack of positive role models has done with the understanding of the today’s current man. What intergenerational trauma has done? This workshop will also help men explore their feelings and understanding of what a multi functioning role is of a man within mainstream society and the First Nations communities.

In completing ceremonies within my home community this has bought a better understanding of how much more diligent we need to become in striving for our identity which is unique to the entire world.

Leroy Bennett is from the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation and presently work as the Cultural Resource Worker. I have worked in the helping field from youth homes, addiction centres and sexual abuse healing centre, for approximately 20 years. I have gained experience working with all ages of people. Our way of life has presented many opportunities that I would not have seen or experienced without taking the first steps into my own healing journey.

I have worked with international company Vale Inc. in promoting cultural diversity and promoting cultural sensitivity within the work force for native people and completed opening ceremonies for Vale Inc, their stakeholders, the Premier of Ontario, and other dignitaries while representing Sagamok and First Nations spirituality.

Grief and Healing – Dr. Raven Sinclair

In this workshop, Dr. Sinclair will examine both western and Indigenous approaches to grief and trauma recovery. The workshop will include myths about grief, common distractions from grief, dysfunctions of grief, and stages of grief, honouring grief, and making healing agreements for grief recovery.

Pekiwewin Research Project Information Session – Dr. Raven Sinclair

In this workshop Dr. Sinclair will also introduce and provide information on the current 5- year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) research grant to investigate the 60s scoop.

Raven Sinclair, BA, CISW, BISW, MSW, PhD is Cree/Assinboine/Saulteaux adoptee from Gordon First Nations in Treaty 4 territory located in southern Saskatchewan. Raven is presently an Associate Professor at the University of Regina, Faculty of Social Work in Saskatoon, a founding editorial member of IndigenousVoices in Social Work (UHawaii), and a regional editor for AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples.

Raven’s academic and research interests include traditional and contemporary healing theories and modalities, Indigenous cultural identity issues, adoption, colonial and decolonization theories, and mental health and wellness.

Raven is the PI (Principal Investigator) for this research project, bringing her vast knowledge as one of the leading scholar in the area of Indigenous child welfare and transracial adoption in Canada.

Sytukie Joamie – Inuit language & Identity

Sytukie Joamie was born in a tent in Tuapait, outside of Pannirtuuq, Nunavut when Inuit lived in their camps.   As an infant his family was relocated to Niaqunnguut, where his father’s parents had been relocated by the Department of Health. In the early years, they would travel by dog teams to their spring camps. On a trip to town, his father’s team, in front of his father and Sytukie, a RCMP officer shot and slaughtered the dog team. That was the end of their way of travelling by dog team.   When he was very young, his father was sent to a Toronto Sanatorium for TB and he drowned trying to swim and for a large part of his life, Sytukie was in pain for the loss of his father. Sytukie grew up in Niaqunguut and Iqaluit and in 2014 moved to Ottawa and is now lives with his beloved granddaughter whom was taken by CAS in 2007. He has two Inuit stepsons, who are proud to be Inuit.

Sytukie’s grandmother is Cree and was originally from James Bay on the Quebec side. His mother remarried and his stepfather taught him the way of life when Inuit lived on the land. His stepfather also taught him the genealogy of people who lived in the Iqaluit region before there was Iqaluit became a community.

His stepfather’s biological grandfather was one of the last to harvest a bowhead whale traditionally by himself. Sytukie was extensively involved in the planning of the Iqaluit 2011 bowhead hunt and was one the hunters. He has also been an offshore fisherman and was a chief negotiator to sell quotas to factory ship owners, he was called to testify as an individual to the Senate Fisheries Committee.

Sytukie has interviewed the Iqaluit elders who lived the tradition lives prior to moving into communities. The shared how they lived the traditional Inuit way of life.

Sytukie has extensive experience in the Nunavut elections, in the National, territorial, regional and community levels and never shys away from any political discussions. Sytukie is involved in the Ottawa Inuit community by visiting Inuit students in the schools and camps. From time to time he is invited to conferences for the teachers and administrators in Ottawa. He regularly attends the Sweat Lodge near Moose Creek.

Identity through the lens of Cree Language Nehiyawin Mary Collins Cardinal

Mary Cardinal Collins is a semi-retired teacher from Treaty 6 Saddle Lake First Nation, AB, fluent Cree speaker and translator – Nehiyaw -skwew -who works in the field of Indigenous languages and Indigenous education for the past 30 plus years. Mary is a 12 year survivor of the Blue Quills Indian Residential school and although she remained a fluent speaker she has had to reclaim her kinship systems and ceremonial activities post the residential school experience. She has experience in Cree language curriculum development at the provincial level and at the national level with the WNCP. Mary was involved at several levels of leadership during the development, writing and publishing of Aboriginal studies in Alberta education. She has led many workshops on Cree language methodology and classroom activities as Supervisor of Aboriginal Programs with Northland School Division. Lately she completed a contract with the Southern Tutchone FN languages in Haines Junction, Yukon using the Alberta Aboriginal language template. Because of her experience in Indigenous languages curriculum she also has a special interest in Infusion of Indigenous culture in the everyday core curriculum.

Let it Shine – Healing through Music – Twin Flames Jaaji and Chelsey June

A wounded bird with a broken wing needs time, love and support to heal so that it can soar once again. Our people, our land, our children, our daughters, our traditional ways of life have been taken. Although many years have passed, our wings at times still appear to be broken. We need time, love and support to heal together and regain our cultures. – Twin Flames

Jaaji and Chelsey June share the same vision, their goal is to reach out through music. They hope to inspire others to embrace their roots, be proud of their cultures and recognize all that the elders have overcome to survive. This workshop will be about making beautiful music: song writing, poetry, melody writing. In these sessions Jaaji and Chelsey June will speak about their personal journeys and the tools they use on their journey to healing. They will coach individuals on how to write stories and share emotions through poetry and songs. This workshop is a full day workshop. It is open to all ages.

Trauma Informed Approach to Understanding Conflict – Dennis Windego

Dennis Windego is an established therapist & consultant with 18 years of professional, practical experience in all life issues on Post Trauma Stress Disorder, Childhood Trauma, Anger Issues, residential school & suicide.t is this knowledge & personal healing journey has made him an admirable therapist. He is also the founder of Aboriginal Peoples Training Programs, based in Thunder Bay.

The main goal is for participants to understand how unresolved trauma makes conflict difficult to address. By understanding the relationship between trauma and conflict, participants will learn strategies to deal with conflict in many aspects of their lives. Skills acquired: Learning about and managing their own conflict style. Awareness when trauma is activated in various situations. Communication strategies to engage to de-escalate conflict situations. New tools to close and containing triggers, reactions, and/or overwhelming emotions when triggered.

Prarie Fire : Metis jigging teaching & performance

Metis jigging entertainment and learn about Metis culture.

2SLGBTQ Teachings & Workshop

Laureen (Blu) Waters is Cree Metis Traditional Counsellor, Ceremony Facilitator, Two Spirit Educator and Elder. Some of her gifts include giving traditional spirit names, hand drumming, house cleansing, song and creative writing. I am a Sun Dancer and Pipe Carrier, proud mother of three and grandmother of three. I also provide one on one traditional counseling.

Sweatlodge Ceremonies

These sweats are for beginners and experienced folks, we aim to provide a safe welcoming environment for those experiencing sweat lodge for the first time. Bring loose tobacco.

Mens Sweat Leroy Bennett

Womens Sweat Elaine Kicknosway

Youth Sweat Theland Kicknosway ( Parents must accompany)

2S & LGBTQ Sweat Laureen Bluwater

Mixed sweat if needed Elaine Kicknosway and Leroy Bennett


Youth Engagement Worker – Cody Purcell aka Cody Coyote

Cody will be on site over the 4 days to provide cultural and recreational activities for the children and the youth attending along with their parents.