Speakers 2015

Keynote Speakers

Rupert Ross

IMG_1096-257x300Rupert Ross was an Assistant Crown Attorney with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General from October of 1985 until his retirement in April of 2011, working out of the Kenora office.

The Deputy Ministers of Justice from all Provinces and Territories presented him with a national award for Humanitarianism in September 2011. The Ontario Crown Attorneys Association also created “The Rupert Ross Award For Social Justice”, for “excellence and commitment to the enhancement of social justice”.  During his 26-year career, he conducted criminal prosecutions in over 20 fly-in First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario, including 22 homicide prosecutions.

He actively searched for ways to make the criminal justice system more responsive to present-day needs and cultural traditions of aboriginal people, and was granted two secondments to other government agencies. From 1992-1995, he was with the Aboriginal Justice Directorate of the federal Department of Justice. From 2009-2011 he was the First Nations & Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada, working with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and the National Native Alcohol And Drug Addiction Program.

He has published two books, Dancing With A Ghost: Exploring Aboriginal Reality (1992) and Returning To The Teachings: Exploring Aboriginal Justice (1995). Both are still used in universities and colleges across Canada and the U.S., and were short-listed for Best Canadian Book on Social Issues. All author’s royalties from Returning To The Teachings go to the Native Law Centre, University of Saskatchewan, to help bring Elders and their teachings into the classroom. His third book, unpublished, explores indigenous healing from colonization.

Since his retirement in April of 2011, he has continued his interest in law and aboriginal communities, presenting and teaching on aboriginal justice, and restorative justice across North America. He also worked with the NJI in the creation of an aboriginal justice program for federally appointed judges.


Cindy Blackstock

Cindy BlackstockCindy Blackstock, a member of the Gitksan Nation, has worked in the field of child and family services for over 18 years. She was a social worker with the provincial government and for a First Nations child and family service agency before assuming her current role as Executive Director of the Caring for First Nations Children Society (FNCFCS) in British Columbia in 1998.

This national organization seeks to promote and support the work of First Nations child and family service agencies and regional organizations in Canada by providing research, professional development and networking services. A key project of the FNCFCS is the First Nations Research Site which disseminates research information to First Nations service agencies and is currently coordinating three national research projects designed to benefit First Nations communities.

Cindy was honoured to participate in numerous provincial and national research projects, including appointments to the Assembly of First Nations/Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development National Policy Review Committee as well as the First Nations Summit Action Committee for First Nations Children and Families. She is a member of the Advisory Committee on the Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare and a member of the Board of Directors for the Child Welfare League of Canada.


Cheryl Ward

Cheryl WardCheryl Ward is Kwakwaka’wakw from northern Vancouver Island. She and her family have been living as guests on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw people for the past twelve years.

An experienced instructor, curriculum writer and e-learning developer, Cheryl is committed to social justice education, de-colonizing anti-racism training, and cultural competency. Over the last fifteen years, she has worked on several projects related to Indigenous cultural competency.

After completing her undergraduate work at the University of Victoria and graduate studies at the University of British Columbia, Cheryl’s path led her to work with Aboriginal and minority children and youth, communities, and government in the public and non-profit sectors. Cheryl has shared her expertise and passion for social justice by writing and delivering training to social workers and fellow educators; coordinating and implementing programs; and volunteering with various community organizations.

In 2008, Cheryl joined the PHSA Aboriginal Health team as Provincial Lead for the Indigenous Cultural Competency Training program. Along with Director Leslie Varley, Cheryl has been privileged to have the opportunity to lead the development and operations of the Provincial Health Service Authority’s Indigenous Cultural Competency Training Program. In 2010 Cheryl returned to university and is currently a doctoral student candidate at Simon Fraser University furthering her studies on Indigenous-specific racism.


Madeline Dion Stout

Madeline Dion StoutMadeleine Dion Stout, a Cree speaker, was born and raised on the Kehewin First Nation in Alberta. After graduating from the Edmonton General Hospital as a Registered Nurse, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, with Distinction, from the University of Lethbridge and a Masters Degree in International Affairs from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. She serves on several Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal boards and committees including the National Collaborating Centre on Aboriginal Health and the First Nations Health Authority in B.C. and has been actively involved in several Canadian Institute of Health Research projects.

Madeleine was President of the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada and member of the National Forum on Health. In August, 2007 she was appointed to the Mental Health Commission of Canada as an inaugural Vice-chair of the Board of Directors. Madeleine was a Professor in Canadian Studies and founding Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Education, Research and Culture at Carleton University in Ottawa. Now self employed, she continues to work as a researcher, writer and lecturer on First Nations health while increasingly adopting a Cree lens in this work. She is the recipient of the Assiniwikamik Award from the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada; a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Lethbridge; and Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of British Columbia and the University of Ottawa. In November 2008, the Canadian Nurses Association of Canada selected Madeleine for the Centennial Award that was given to 100 outstanding Canadian nurses. In March 2010 she received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in the health category.

Breakout Speakers

The Honourable Madame Justice Maria Linhares de Sousa

de sousaThe Honourable Madame Justice Maria Linhares de Sousa was appointed as a Justice to the Superior Court of Justice (Family Branch) in November 1999. Prior to that she served as a Justice to the Ontario Court of Justice, July 1989 to November 1999. She was called to the bar in Paril 1978 and was then appointed by provincial Order-in-Council as Family Law Commissioner and Official Referee of the Supreme Court of Ontario, 1979-1989. Madame Justice Linhares de Sousa has lectured and published extensively in the area of Family Law for over 20 years, in both official languages. She has been involved in Judicial Education since 1989 as a panelist, chairperson and presenter across North America.


Laurence J. Kirmayer

Laurence J KirmayerLaurence J. Kirmayer, M.D. is James McGill Professor and Director of the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Transcultural Psychiatry. He directs the Culture & Mental Health Research Unit at the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, where he conducts research on culturally responsive mental health services, the mental health of indigenous peoples, and the anthropology of psychiatry. He founded and directs the annual McGill Summer Program in Social & Cultural Psychiatry. He co-edited the volumes, Current Concepts of Somatization (American Psychiatric Press), Understanding Trauma: Integrating Biological, Clinical, and Cultural Perspectives (Cambridge University Press), and Healing Traditions: The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (University of British Columbia Press); Cultural Consultation: Encountering the Other in Mental Health Services (Springer); and Re-Visioning Psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience and Global Mental Health (Cambridge). He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and has received a CIHR senior investigator award, a presidential commendation for dedication in advancing cultural psychiatry from the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and both the Creative Scholarship and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture.


Robert Antone

raantone-196x300Robert Antone, PhD, Tayohahok a citizen of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, member of the Turtle Clan, holds position on Onʌyota’aka Lotiyaneshu (Oneida Longhouse) Traditional Chiefs Council, Executive Director of Indigenous Healing Lodge – Kiikeewanniikaan Muncey Ontario, associate professor First Nation Studies University of Western Ontario and advocate of decolonization. He is a highly reputable advocate and Indigenous scholar; who’s education and career have afforded him with an extensive set of skills and experience that attribute to his life’s work in advancing the interests of Indigenous nations and peoples.

Mr. Antone began his career in advocating for political reform as an independent contractor and consultant. For over 40 years he worked with Indigenous organizations and communities throughout North America gaining knowledge and experience in the fields of self-determination, dispute resolution, educational reform, and healing and social work. Building a solid career in various fields that support the rebuilding and strengthen of Indigenous communities has led to his more recent endeavor as the Executive Director of Kiikeewanniikaan SWRHL, a healing lodge and learning centre located in the Munsee-Delaware Nation in Muncey, Ontario. Since 1998, Mr. Antone has undertaken the responsibility for ensuring the family based healing lodge supports the recovering of Indigenous family values and structures through, the provision of culturally-based human development programs that are rooted in original teachings.

In addition to his role as an advocate and supporter of community self-determination, healing and wellness, Mr. Antone has pursued his academic career at the University at Buffalo. Through his efforts in studying American Indians/Native American studies Mr. Antone received his Phd as a Doctor of Philosophy in May of 2013.


Jan Kahehti:io Longboat

Jan LongboatJan Kahehti:io Longboat, Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River. Jan Longboat is a Traditional Herbalist, Healer and Elder. Jan works with a holistic concept of healing – the need for us to become whole, to connect and heal the physical body as well as the emotional, mental and spiritual. She believes that the strength of healing is within that spiritual part of us. Kahehti:io pursues her passion by sharing Earth Teachings, Story Telling, Fasting, Dreams, Visions, Medicine Teachings, Women’s Roles and Relationships, Leadership and Earth Changes. She created the Dotah’s House project on Six Nations to assist Indigenous women survivors to heal from the abuse of the Residential schools. Jan works with the Anishnawbe Health Centre in Toronto and teaches at Mohawk College and the University of Toronto with the Faculty of Pharmacy.

Kahehti:io is recognized in her community as an Elder and received the Six Nations Community Treasure Award in 2010; the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian “Peacemaker Award” in 2007; and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree in 2011.