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Indigenous Identity Working Group

Indigenous identity fraud is a complex issue impacting post-secondary institutions across Canada.

The University of Winnipeg is launching the Indigenous Identity Working Group (IIWG) in July 2023. Led by Interim Associate Vice-President of Indigenous Engagement, Dr. Chantal Fiola, and Co-Chair Dr. Paul DePasquale, this group will guide the development of a policy for mitigating Indigenous identity fraud at UWinnipeg and ensuring opportunities meant for Indigenous students, faculty, and staff go to these individuals.

This policy will honour Indigenous sovereignty and will be created through an Indigenous-led, community-engaged process. As well as from UWinnipeg faculty, staff, and students, the IIWG will seek advice from a variety of external groups including Elders, community members, and Indigenous government representatives.

In addition to this wide consultation, the IIWG will consider relevant best practices from other universities across Canada.

Following this work, the IIWG will recommend policy, procedures, and an implementation plan for mitigating Indigenous identity fraud at UWinnipeg.

IIWG Terms of Reference [PDF]

Working Group Members

The Indigenous Identity Working Group is made up of 20 members including Elders, Indigenous government leaders, students, faculty, staff, and community members.


Barbara Bruce

Kookum and Knowledge Keeper Barbara Bruce is a citizen of the Red River Métis Nation – Michif aen Otipemisiwak. She is a member of Two Spirit Manitoba and Lii Michif Otipemiswak Two Spirit & Allies Local.

Born in St. Laurent, Man., she has been actively involved with the Manitoba Métis Federation, the National Government of the Red River Métis, for more than 50 years. She is a descendant of Land Scrip Holders and her family members were hunters, trappers, and harvesters. A sundancer, sweat lodge leader, and pipe carrier, her dedication to advancing the rightful place, recognition, and acknowledgment of the Two Spirit community, Indigenous women, and children and youth are an integral part of her life.

Some of her past and current board appointments include: National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Top 40 Under 40, University of Winnipeg Board of Regents, and Chair of the Metis Child and Family Services Authority.

Barbara was honoured by “Keeping the Fires Burning” as a Kookum/Grandmother. In recognition of her lifetime of work, she was inducted into the Order of Manitoba in 2018. In 2020, she was acknowledged in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly in a Member’s Statement for her work and contribution as a Two Spirit Elder. In 2021, she received the Nellie McClung Manitoba 150 Women Trailblazer Award. She was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal of Manitoba in December 2022.

Margaret Lavallee

Coming soon.

Martha Peet

Martha Peet was born in in an igloo in Taloyoak where there were only four other families living at the time. Martha grew up with parents who were closely tied to the land. Her parents were “nomads” and the Inuit families moved to better fishing or hunting areas depending on the seasons. Her father would travel for two to three weeks at a time on dogsleds to hunt for caribou, fish or seal and the food was shared with the community members. Martha has lived across Canada and has spent the last 33 years in Winnipeg. At age 55, she obtained her Grade 12, and she returned to school and graduated from the Urban Circle Training Program as a Nursing Assistant. Martha has a son and a daughter and is the author ofPocket Intuktitut: A Phrasebook for Nearly All Occasions . She is a Freelance Interpreter and Translator in Inuktitut.

Martha is fluent in Inuktitut, her first language.

Martha keeps busy by going to events to share her traditional knowledge of the Inuit around Winnipeg. She belongs to several committees, works part-time with Social Services, and is an Elder at Siloam Mission.


Chantal Fiola

Dr. Chantal Fiola is Michif (Red River Métis) with family from St. Laurent, St. Vital, Ste. Anne, and Ste. Geneviève, Man. Her maternal ancestors, Pierre “Bostonnais” Pangman and Marie Wewejikabawik, were among four Michif families who established the historic Métis community of St. Laurent in 1824 (in present day Manitoba). Pangman, a skilled bison hunter and Métis nationalist, was active in the Pemmican Wars and one of the first to be arrested during the unjust “Pemmican Proclamations,” and for the Victory at Frog Plain (Battle of Seven Oaks); he was acquitted of the latter. Chantal’s relatives continue to live in St. Laurent today. Chantal and her sisters are the first generation that did not grow up in St. Laurent and cannot speak Michif, and the third that cannot speak Anishinaabemowin and Nêhiyawawin. Chantal is a registered citizen of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF).

Chantal is an award-winning author of two books, including Returning to Ceremony: Spirituality in Manitoba Métis Communities, and is an original member of the Circle of Editors for the new Pawaatamihk: Journal of Métis Thinkers. She is a founding member of the Two-Spirit Michif Local (MMF) and on the Board of Directors for Two-Spirit Manitoba.

Chantal is Project Director on the SSHRC-funded research study, “Expressions of Métis Spirituality and Religion Across the Homeland.” She is the Distinguished Indigenous Scholar’s Chair (2021-2024) and, as of July 2023, Interim Associate Vice-President, Indigenous at the University of Winnipeg, where she is an associate professor in Urban and Inner-City Studies.

Paul DePasquale

Dr. Paul DePasquale is a status/registered band member of the Upper Mohawk, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory (Turtle Clan). His relations include the Staats, Maracle, Jonathan, Garlow, Green(e), Brant, Hill, and Baptiste families, some of whom come from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Paul’s paternal grandmother, Lovina (Ruth) Staats (1927-1967) left the reserve with his father when he was a boy. She married Victor DePasquale (also known as "Vic the Bootlegger"), Brantford's legendary bootlegger for forty years until he died in 1992. Ruth passed away in the Brant Sanatorium in 1967 under uncertain circumstances. Paul hasn't been able to learn anything about her time in that facility.

Paul’s family has always known their oral history and they have always worked in and contributed to the Six Nations community. He is always grateful to the Grand River Post Secondary Education Office for supporting his university education.

On Paul’s mother's side, his grandfather Michael (Mike) Boraski's parents arrived in Winnipeg as part of the first wave of Ukrainian immigrants in the 1890s. They first lived in a tin shack around the rail yards in the North End. In 1917, Mike was born in a home on Dudley Street, where Paul’s great grandmother ran a boarding house for railroad workers. By the 1940s, Mike and his family had moved to Ontario to farm on Haudenausonee territory. Paul’s maternal grandmother’s family came from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and he knows little about these relatives.

Since 2000, Paul and his spouse have lived as guests in Manitoba, where they have raised their two children. As a teacher, researcher, and member of the UWinnipeg and Winnipeg communities, he has contributed to Indigenous education and decolonization for over 20 years.

Indigenous Government

Howard Burston

Howard Burston is an accomplished professional with a deep commitment to advancing Indigenous education and empowering First Nations communities. Hailing from Fisher River Cree Nation in the inter-lake region of Manitoba, Howard's passion for education has been a driving force throughout his career.

Howard holds multiple degrees from the prestigious University of Manitoba, which have provided him with a strong foundation of knowledge and expertise. With his diverse educational background, he has successfully undertaken various leadership roles, making a significant impact on the development of educational institutions in Manitoba.

As a senior executive in Manitoba, Howard has played a pivotal role in the establishment and growth of essential organizations such as the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC), Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate, and the First Nations School System. These institutions have been instrumental in providing educational resources and opportunities tailored to the unique needs of First Nations communities.

More recently, Howard spearheaded the development of the Digital Learning Environment for Language and Culture, as well as Professional Learning Communities. Through his visionary leadership, he has harnessed the power of technology to promote cultural preservation and foster a collaborative learning environment.

Recognized as a respected advocate, Howard has actively engaged in legislative and policy development at both the federal and provincial levels. His deep understanding of the educational landscape and dedication to empowering Indigenous communities have made him a sought-after voice in shaping educational policies that prioritize equity and inclusivity.

In June 2022, Howard joined the team at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) as the Executive Director. In this capacity, he continues to channel his extensive experience and expertise towards advocating for the rights and interests of Manitoba's First Nations communities. Through his leadership, Howard aims to create meaningful change and drive initiatives that empower Indigenous youth and foster educational success.

He has unwavering commitment to Indigenous education, combined with his expertise in legislative and policy development, positions him as a respected and influential leader in the field. His dedication to empowering First Nations communities and creating equitab

Nikki Komaksiutiksak

Nikki Komaksiutiksak is an Inuit woman from Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut. Nikki is the Executive Director to Tunngasugit, Western Canada’s first Inuit Resource Centre located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Though Winnipeg is now her home, Nikki has found the strength to preserve her “Inukness” living in the southern part of Canada. Nikki is an active member with the Inuit community in Winnipeg, and uses her knowledge and understanding of the south to assist other Inuit moving to the big city. 

Nikki is an inspiration to the young and old everywhere, and truly demonstrates a passion for her cultural identity. She is an experienced throat singer, teacher of Inuit history and culture, and a heartfelt musical performer. Nikki has also been selected by Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada as the 2023 Inuk Woman of the Year. Nikki has participated in a number of international events, representing Manitoba and Inuit at such prestigious venues as the 2015 Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg. She has recorded music with local Canadian talent, including such names as the Weakerthans, Demetra Penner, and Moses Mayes.

Nikki has been featured in many events around the world, always sharing her identity and teaching about her Canadian Inuit Culture. Nikki is often asked to attend Universities and schools throughout Manitoba to teach and showcase Inuit culture to both students and staff. The Inuit of Canada are an integral part of Canadian history and culture, but sadly are often excluded, overlooked, and forgotten. Nikki truly believes that it is critical that Inuit culture is remembered, recognized and celebrated throughout all of Canada. 

Will Goodon

Will Goodon is from the Turtle Mountains on the Canadian side. He grew up in a Métis community surrounded by his cousins. They lived on a farm that backed on to Sharpe Lake and across the lake was the provincial park. His father and uncles taught him to hunt, fish, trap, and gather berries and other traditional foods. His father’s mother was Michif from the US side of the border, and his father was from the Canadian side. Will’s community spoke Michif in his grandparents’ generation, but they have lost most of it now. He is proud to be a citizen of the historic Métis Nation. Will helped develop the Métis Nation Homeland map and has spoken to over 50 schools, universities, military bases, private sector bodies, and other groups about nationhood and identity. He has worked for his nation for almost 27 years. 


Annie Anguttitauruq

Annie Anguttitauruq is an Inuk from Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. Her grandfather was the great grandson of The Great Western Shaman Alikamik. Thomas Anguttitauruq was born in an igloo as Nalungiak in 1947. Later, while attending residential school in the north, Thomas was given an Inuit Identification Number and his colonial name. Later on in life, Thomas became one of Canada’s highly respected legal interpreters. Annie’s paternal grandmother, on the other hand, came from a wealthy and respected family in the north. Quivatilik never attended residential school and therefore never learned to speak English. The food and clothing was bountiful and there was always enough for the family to share and give to the other villages. This is where Annie suspects her grandmother learned how to be so nurturing, a great trait passed down to her granddaughter. Most of Annie’s family still reside in Nunavut today, but some are scattered throughout Alberta and Ontario. Annie was never taught how to speak her Inuktitut language.

Annie has been working at Tunngasugit as the Services Manager since the beginning of May, 2023, and she is also a full-time student at the University of Manitoba, majoring in Indigenous Studies during the fall and winter months. She is the first of her ancestors to attend university and the first on her maternal side to graduate high school. When Annie is not attending school or working, you can find her at her children’s Saturday soccer games or attending one of her five children’s school activities.

Christine Cyr

Christine Cyr, who is currently pursuing a Master of Education at the University of Manitoba, is the Associate Vice-President (Indigenous) at UM, responsible for students, community, and cultural integration. She is actively involved in strategic planning, cultural and Indigenous education, and advocating for the disruption of anti-Indigenous racism. She has been in leadership roles at the University of Manitoba for 23 years, including seven years as director of the Indigenous Student Centre and 14 years as lead Indigenous student recruitment officer.

Christine is a ceremony woman who attends, participates in, and leads ceremonies. She lives in Winnipeg, surrounded by her husband, four children, eight grandchildren, and a large loving family.

Rainey Gaywish

Dr. Rainey Gaywish’s traditional name is Silver Swan Woman. She is of the Martin Clan, a Cree and Icelandic woman from the White Mud River in Manitoba (now named the Icelandic River). Rainey is First Nation status, of Fisher River Cree Nation. She is a fourth-degree Midewiwin grandmother of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge.

Rainey has been involved for about 50 years in the Three Fires Society and Midewiwin Lodge, which extends from New York, through southern Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin, and into Manitoba. She is involved in the leadership of the Lodge as an historian and knowledge-keeper grandmother.

Rainey has more than 20 years of experience in integrating Indigenous knowledge into higher education at a university level at University of Manitoba and Algoma University. Although retired, she holds an adjunct research professor appointment (2021-2026) at Carleton University. She has served on a number of graduate committees as a scholar with a strong foundation in both academic and traditional knowledge. Rainey is an alternate board member for Three Fires Society on the International Indian Treaty Council, which has NGO status with the United Nations. She is a member of the Canadian Association of University Teachers' Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education Working Group. Rainey is a Sage (former President) of the Canadian Association for the Study of Indigenous Education, the Canadian Society for the Study of Education.

UWinnipeg Faculty

Cathy Mattes

Cathy Mattes is a Michif curator, writer, and art history professor at the University of Winnipeg. She lives in Sprucewoods, Man., and is a citizen of the Manitoba Métis Federation, Southwest Region, Westman Local. Her mother, Darlene Mattes (née Ward) is Red River Métis on her mother’s side. Darlene’s mother, Catherine Boucher, was born to Métis parents and raised in Swan Lake, Man. Cathy’s grandfather, Joseph Patrick Ward, was born and raised in the Métis community of St. Laurent, Man., though his mother was from Sandy Bay First Nation, Man., and his father an Irish immigrant. Cathy’s father, Ken Mattes, is of German and Polish ancestry.

Cathy has been beading since she was 20 years old, when she was first taught by her auntie, Jean Baron Ward. Since then, she has taught beading and moccasin making in community workshops, university courses, and around the kitchen tables of family and friends. Her curation, research, and writing centers on Indigenous art and Indigenous knowledge-centred curatorial practices. She also organizes the Métis Kitchen Table Talk gatherings, has led the “BU Beading Babes” community beading circle for seven years, and provides mentorship to First Nations and Métis artists and curators when requested.

Karen Froman

Dr. Karen Froman, an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at The University of Winnipeg, is a status/registered band member of Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Lower Mohawk (Kanyen’keha:ka), Turtle Clan. Her father was born and raised at Six Nations and attended the Mohawk Institute residential school. Her mother is of Irish/English/Dutch ancestry. She has always identified as Kanyen’keha:ka first, and Irish second.

Despite being born and raised off-reserve, Karen grew up in regular contact with her father’s sisters and their children, her cousins. While her family is now mostly off-reserve, some continue to live at Six Nations, and she is also well aware of which families from her community she is related to, such as the Longboat and Monture families. She tries to go back every few years.

Although Karen grew up and lives in a different Indigenous territory than her own and recognizes that she is a guest on this land, she has become a part of this community by living side-by-side with her Anishinaabe, Nehinaw, and Métis relatives. She has attended school, powwows, and ceremonies in the lands of Treaty One her entire life, and all of her community connections are based in Manitoba.

Laura Forsythe

Dr. Laura Forsythe is a Métis scholar at The University of Winnipeg in the Faculty of Education. Forsythe's research focus is Métis-specific contributions to the academy, Métis inclusion efforts, and educational sovereignty. Her kinship ties include the Huppes, Wards, Morins, Cyrs, Lavallees, and Berards. Her maternal great-grandmother Nora Berard was born in Rooster Town on land known as lot 31, owned by her ancestor Jean Baptiste Berard, and her lineage includes Joseph Huppe, who fought in the Victory of Frog Plain. She is a registered citizen of the Manitoba Métis Federation, the official democratic and self-governing political representation of the Red River Métis, and the elected Chairperson of the MMF Bison Local.  

UWinnipeg Staff

Angeline Nelson

Angeline Nelson was raised in Baagwaa’onishkoziibing, Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation, Man., where she is a registered member. She belongs to the Bizhew clan and is Anishinaabe on her paternal side and Cree on her maternal side. Her father is Terrance Nelson and her paternal grandparents were Stan and Marjorie Nelson (née Johnson) – all from Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation. Her mother, Mildred Flett, and her maternal grandfather, William Flett, were from Tataskwayak Cree Nation, with her maternal grandmother, Margaret Flett (née Bradburn), originally from Oxford House Cree Nation.

Her father and both paternal and maternal grandparents attended residential schools, but thanks to the lifework of her family, she grew up connected to Anishinaabe traditions and ways of being that are foundational to her life and work.

In 2009, she earned her Bachelor of Science from University of Manitoba, focusing on chemistry, zoology, and a bit of nutritional sciences. She credits both her education and culture as being important to the work she has done at the University of Winnipeg. Since 2015, she has been with the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre and is currently the Director of Community Learning.

Stacey Belding

Stacey Belding (she/her) is a cisgender settler of mixed European ancestry living and working on Treaty 1 territory. She is also a wife, mother of one child, and member of a Filipino family by marriage. Stacey was born and raised in New Brunswick prior to relocating to Toronto, and later Winnipeg in 2001. She worked as a lawyer for over 11 years and as the Manager of Investigation & Policy Development at the Manitoba Human Rights Commission before joining the University of Winnipeg as the Human Rights & Diversity Officer (HRDO) in 2018.

Acknowledging that she has much more to do and learn, Stacey has taken steps towards reconciliation including attending multiple workshops/training by various professional and other organizations about Indigenous ways of being-knowing-doing, history, and impacts of colonization. She has also tried to further educate herself and her family by reading books and content by Indigenous authors, TRC publications, and UNDRIP, in addition to watching related documentaries and attending cultural events.

Stacey is grateful for the opportunity to learn from her professional roles including past involvement in important human rights cases such as a decision confirming the right to access equitable, provincially funded health care services in a First Nation community and work with residential school survivors and their families, as well as from her personal and professional relationships.

As the HRDO, she has worked hard to support Indigenous students and others by providing culturally appropriate services including educational programming and supports developed in collaboration with Indigenous partners.

Tanis McLeod Kolisnyk

Tanis McLeod Kolisnyk has Red River Métis roots in East Selkirk, Tyndall, and Peguis. Family names include McLeod, Harper, Irving and Fiddler ancestors. She is a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation and is actively involved in giving back to her Métis community:

  • University of Winnipeg representative on Louis Riel Institute Board of Directors (10 years as Treasurer; leading the LRI Financial Executive Committee)
  • Infinity Women’s Secretariat participation in programs that empower Métis women (3 years)
  • All Nations Coordinated Response (ANCR) board, for MMF CFS (8 years)
  • Kinew Métis Local Winnipeg (member for 35 years; was the Secretary/Treasurer for 12 years)

Tanis’ 20 years of work at the University of Winnipeg is in student services as an Academic Advisor and the Coordinator of the UW Aboriginal Student Services Centre. She leads a team of dedicated people who strive to create a culturally safe space and a community of caring, where Indigenous students find wrap-around supports and reach their academic goals. She is a UWinnipeg graduate, completing a BA in Music in 2000, a PACE Management Studies Certificate in 2008, and an MA in Theology in 2015.

Rev Tanis was ordained in 2013 by the Anglican Church of Canada. She serves at Epiphany Indigenous Anglican Church, Winnipeg, and St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg Beach, and is a Chaplain in community. She coordinates Diocesan Rupert’s Land Wechetowin efforts and contributes to National Sacred Circle work for Indigenous people within the Church. Post-Secondary teaching of courses in Indigenous Christian Theology is an important connection to the work towards truth telling and reconciliation.

UWinnipeg Students

Jonathan Henderson

Jonathan Henderson was raised in Winnipeg, Man., and is a registered member of Sagkeeng First Nation. He is an Anishinaabe on both sides of his parents, who where both born in Sagkeeng First Nation. He belongs to the Bear Clan and through ceremony was given his spirit name of Makwasis. His mother Linda Henderson and her family was born and raised on the north shore of Sagkeeng.His father Ander Henderson and his side of the family was born and raised on the south shore of Sagkeeng.

Jonathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg. Both of his parents attended and suffered the impact of the residential school system legacy. As a result of their surviving, they decided to move to an urban centre in order to best protect him. This impacted his spiritual roots and cultural identity. After completing high school, he then pursued knowledge and wisdom from his community Elders and began his journey to recover this lost aspect of his life. This would continue through his post-secondary path by attaining a double Bachelor of Arts degree in Indigenous Studies and Conflict Resolution.

Jonathan is Vice-President of External Affairs for the University of Winnipeg Student Association for three elected terms. He is also a co-founder of Healing Together, a men’s healing circle, which has been available to the community for over three years. A recent first-time father, he is committed to raising his son with knowledge of his Anishinaabe and Cree spiritual roots.

Megan Lindell

Megan Lindell is an Anishinaabe-Métis woman studying Peace and Conflict Studies in the Joint Master’s Program at The University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba. Megan’s focus is on community relations from traditional and spiritual perspectives among all living beings while questioning what gives new life and what limits it.  

Megan grew up two hours north of Winnipeg between the two lakes in Eriksdale, Man. While she has always known she was Indigenous, it was not accepted in her family as part of an honest identity. Through years of effort, Megan has reconnected to her culture and has helped to bring many others with her. She sundances, is a helper, teaches the Métis style of beading, hosts sharing circles, and carries ceremonial pieces that have been gifted to her from humans, spirit, and ancestors. Megan’s hope is for all life to be respected in life-giving ways including the freedom to live a truthful identity.  

Megan is a registered member of the Manitoba Métis Federation. 

Stacy S. Paniyuk

Coming soon.