Hairbone Pipe Bracelets

Christina Ruddy
As a proud Algonquin woman of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, Christina has spent the majority of her career working to empower Indigenous youth through education, language and capacity-building. She has worked in grass roots movements such as Friendship Centres, in post-secondary institutions such as Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario and with Lakehead University in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Education. Christina is a successful alumnus of the first graduating class of the Native Community and Social Development program from Georgian College and in 2012 received the Board of Governor's award of Excellence – Distinguished Alumni for her work with Indigenous people. Christina's invaluable work in the promotion of Anishnaabemowin has added to efforts to preserve this endangered language both within her own community and provincially. She has worked to bring about change in Indigenous education and to make schooling more inclusive and Indigenous-focused through the Indigenous mathematics research study with Ontario teachers to incorporate Indigenous ways of teaching into the Ontario mathematics curriculum. She has collaborated with educators and administrators from the Renfrew County District School Board, and has worked as a mentor with Indigenous artists in other communities who have been part of this work. Christina has shared her experiences as an Algonquin artist researcher at a number of conferences, included four presentations at the Ontario Association of Mathematics Education annual conference. In 2018 Christina, along with Dr. Ruth Beatty, was awarded the Indigenous Partnership Research Award during Lakehead University’s Research and Innovation awards ceremony as a testament to her leadership in this project. Christina's dedication to the celebration of Indigenous culture has resulted in many successful events and projects. Through empowering Indigenous youth to celebrate their identity, language and culture made visible in their daily lives, she embodies the tradition of passing on culture and the skills needed to preserve it to the younger generations.

Jody Alexander
Jody Alexander, a First Nation Algonquin, is from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan. She is currently the system Vice Principal of Indigenous Education with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. Prior to this she had 13 years of teaching experience in the Renfrew County District School Board where she was a classroom teacher, Indigenous Education Resource teacher and lead for Indigenous Education. Jody is committed to ensuring Indigenous Education, through history, perspectives and knowledge, is infused in all classrooms and in all subjects across the province. Some of her most impactful teaching came from working with Dr. Ruth Beatty, Danielle Blair, the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, and the staff of Eganville District Public School where they investigated, and implemented Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Mathematics. Jody believes all students benefit from learning Indigenous knowledge and that it is through this new knowledge we will create a better Canada for generations to come.

Danielle Blair
Danielle Blair is currently on contract with the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE) and serving as Provincial Mathematics Lead with the Ministry of Education. In addition to supporting Ontario Boards of Education in Mathematics and Leadership, she has been involved in research projects related to the teaching and learning of Mathematics K to 12 and the facilitation of professional learning for educators for over 15 years. This year marks the seventh-year Danielle has been involved in the Indigenous mathematics project with Dr. Ruth Beatty, Lakehead University, and several Ontario Boards of Education and First Nations communities. Working as a research partner, Danielle reaches out to First Nation community and educational partners and supports the engagement and development of respectful reciprocal relationships. This work has included community gatherings, sharing sessions, as well as cultural awareness and learning sessions. This ensures that community voice and leadership guide each of the projects.

Circular Beaded Medallions

Naomi Smith
Naomi is a First Nation Artisan and Educator. She is actively involved in educating others about the ways of the First Nations people of the Woodlands and Northeastern area from a historical and contemporary perspective often through the story of beads. Her work embraces ancestral designs in the form of bags, adornment and traditional accessories. Naomi's work has been shown across Canada and internationally. She has exhibited at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington DC, Vancouver 2010 Olympics and participates in numerous events throughout the year. Artist's Statement: "Honouring our traditions is my voice within and beyond my Culture and Community. Traditionally there is no word for "art" in Native languages yet artistry and visual expression are critical in defining who we are as First Nations people. It is this path I wish to exemplify through my teachings and my work."

Colinda Clyne
Please see Colinda's profile under the Keynote Speakers section.

Mike Fitzmaurice
Mike has been a teacher at Eganville District Public School for 15 years and has been involved in the Indigenous mathematics research project for the past seven years. Mike is passionate about teaching mathematics and has presented with our team at the Ontario Association of Mathematics Education conference. As a classroom teacher at the Eganville public school, he witnessed the struggle to build meaningful, trusting relationships with the children and families from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation. Through the Indigenous mathematics education research project, he has had an opportunity to build relationships with Elders, artisans, and Community Members that never previously existed. He has learned things about the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation that were never discussed in school further highlighting the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Beaded Looming and Patterning

Leslie-Anne Muma
Leslie's Métis ancestry is from the west in Manitoba and Pembina ND. She was born in Halifax, NS but raised for a little time in Fort Frances, ON. It was here that her grandfather, without uttering a word about their heritage, taught Leslie and her siblings. As time goes by her grandfather's teachings have started to make sense, as Leslie has learned more about her Métis culture and roots. Searching for her heritage and history she has discovered that her relatives include Uncle Cuthbert Grant Jr., Uncle Gabriel Dumont, and cousin Louis Riel. Leslie was raised mainly in Nunavut on Baffin Island and the Northwest Territories where she attended residential school in Fort Smith & Inuvik. Leslie enjoys going into schools all over the Grand River Council area. Grand River Council citizens are teaching Métis history, music, dance & culture to all ages. Leslie is firm in her belief of the importance that we, as a community, learn what we can of our own history and culture and share it with our youth. Leslie began attending the Grand River Métis Council events in Guelph around 2005. She was elected to GRMC as Secretary/Treasurer in 2014. Today she still holds the Treasurer position.

Jennifer Parkinson
Jennifer was born in Ottawa and raised in Ottawa, Toronto & Guelph. She is married with three adult children and two grandchildren. Exploring her Métis heritage has been very exciting. She has found many extended family and a few historical figures along the way. Her traditional homelands include Pembina, North Dakota and Red River, Manitoba. Says Jennifer, "My hope is to continue learning more about my Métis heritage and contribute through being an active participant of the Métis Nation of Ontario." Jennifer sought to learn more about her Métis roots so she started attending Grand River Métis Council (GRMC) events with her husband and three children in 2010. In February 2012, GRMC welcomed Jennifer as their new Interim Chair. Jennifer was eager to learn Métis history, culture and the political environment of the Nation. She became very active in the community, in schools and the Nation. In October of 2014, Jennifer was elected as GRMC's President. Since 2010, Jennifer has expanded and shared her knowledge with thousands of children each year by going into schools, colleges and universities. Today, Jennifer is very active politically, meeting with various proponents, government officials and government ministries, all in the pursuit of solidifying Métis citizens' rights in Canada. Jennifer continues to enjoy her journey and support the Métis Nation.

Bonnie Sears
Bonnie is an Instructional Coach with the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) supporting teachers and students in the area of math instruction. She has over 20 years experience teaching at a variety of grade levels and specialties from K-8, including 6 years in remote First Nations communities. Bonnie's most important work was inspired by First Nations Math Voices, bringing Indigenous Knowledge and Math together in a collaborative project with local Indigenous community artists, consultants, teachers and students. Through a focus on building relationships and reciprocity, students are engaged in important cultural and mathematics teachings. She enjoys sharing her own learning journey about the importance of allyship and how to do this work in "a good way" at conferences both inside and outside the UGDSB.

Looming and Anishinaabemowin

Robin Debassige
Robin Debassige is the grade 2/3 teacher at Lakeview School in her home community of M'Chigeeng First Nation located on the beautiful Manitoulin Island. This is Robin's 3rd year as a classroom teacher. Before her teaching career began she spent many years as a classroom educational assistant and substitute teacher. Robin's educational journey started at Cambrian College where she graduated from the Child and Youth Worker advanced diploma program. Following Cambrian College Robin attended Laurentian University. She graduated with her undergraduate degree in Indigenous Studies. Lastly, Robin attended Nipissing University where she obtained her 2nd degree in the Primary/Junior Bachelor of Education program.

Thecla Neganegijig
Ogimaa giizhigo kwe ndigo. Amik ndoodem. Thecla Neganegijig is Anishinaabe kwe from Wiikwemkoong. She is curriculum designer and instructor in the Anishinaabemowin Revival Program at Lakeview School, M'Chigeeng First Nation, which is built on 20 years' teaching experience, first in Toronto, and then back on Manitoulin Island because of the opportunity to pursue more outdoor education for land based learning and knowledge. She has a native language instructor diploma and Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation Parks and Tourism, BA from Lakehead University. Thecla was part of the research team in M'Chigeeng, working with both Grade 3 and Grade 5 students to make connections between Anishinaabemowin and mathematical thinking. She also worked with other team members to plan and present this work at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Ontario Association of Mathematics Education in Toronto.

Heather Lett
Heather Lett has been a classroom teacher of grades 2-5 for 28 years with the Renfrew County District School Board. She is passionate about making connections between the lives, culture and traditions of her students from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and the subjects and events taught in her classroom and at the school. She has been a collaborator in the Indigenous mathematics research project for over five years and has presented with the team at three OAME conferences. She is excited to share and learn with others who are interested in more inclusive, holistic approaches to teaching because she has seen first hand the gains all students make when they extend their "ways of knowing" mathematics as they experience a meaningful connection between their learning and their culture.

Birch Bark Basket Making

Anika Guthrie
Anika is Anishinaabe kwe living in Thunder Bay, ON. Her ancestors come from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, and she remains connected to the beautiful shores of Lake Simcoe (Barrie, ON) where she was raised. She is a wife, mother of two amazing little humans, educator and life-long learner. She is currently on leave from her role as the Indigenous Education Resource Teacher with Lakehead District School Board to pursue her Master of Education degree, specializing in Indigenous Education. As part of her studies, Anika took the leadership role for the research team in Thunder Bay and has worked with multiple stakeholders including members of a number of northern communities who have tuition agreements with the Lakehead District School Board, artists from Fort William Historical Park, and school board administrators and teachers. Anika was part of the team who presented the work on the mathematics of birch bark basket making at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Ontario Association of Mathematics Education in Toronto. Anika is honoured to work for the children in this time of Truth & Reconciliation in Canada.

Elliott Cromarty
Elliott Cromarty is the Indigenous Heritage Program Coordinator at Fort William Historical Park. He began his journey learning about Anishinaabe culture and history as a student working at the Fort and has had the good fortune of developing skills in birch craft, drum and rattle making, snowshoe weaving, among others, over the years. Elliott works with school boards, community groups, and agencies to develop and host Indigenous education programs, special events, and workshops. He teaches the interpretive staff about Anishinaabe life during the fur trade and how to interact with visitors, encouraging them to share the culture to people from many walks of life.

Kris Sandberg
Kris has been a teacher at McKellar Park Central School for 5 years. For the past 3 years he has taken part in Birch Bark Basket and traditional Anishinaabe techniques and their connections to western mathematics. Through this journey both Kris and his students have come to understand and appreciate the technique and design that was used to create a Makak. Also, connecting the process to big ideas in math such as surface area and volume have also helped Kris and his students have a deeper understanding on how dimensions impact the amount a basket can hold. When Kris is not making baskets, he is a father to three awesome children. There is great value when we sit down and listen to one another speak.

Metis Finger Weaving

Nathalie Bertin
Nathalie Bertin is Métis born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with documented maternal roots in the Nipissing region of French, Métis and Algonquin ancestry. Bertin's style is often described as luminescent, energetic, bold and colourful. A self-confessed "colour junkie", she is inspired by the way light filters through stain-glass windows, the layering of colours in printing processes, Woodland artists and the northern European Masters. Bertin's current body of work focuses on positive images of indigenous women as a means of confronting the romanticized depictions of females as seen throughout art history. She focuses especially on the women role models who have had an impact on her. Her aim is to present a different view of indigenous women – one that is positive, powerful, knowledgeable, gentle and kind. Several of Bertin's projects are also inspired by traditional storytelling. In 2018, Bertin was awarded an Ontario Arts Council project grant for the creation a series of beaded "Moccushions©" that interpret traditional stories for the purpose of keeping them alive for future generations. The first 8 Moccushions are scheduled for completion by the first half of 2020. Previously, some of Bertin's story illustrations about the Northern Lights were reproduced by the Royal Canadian Mint on collector coins for release in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Her work can be found in collections of the Government of Manitoba, Government of Alberta, corporate organizations and private collectors across Canada, the US, Europe and Africa. For more information about Nathalie and her art practice, please visit

Ruth Beatty
Dr. Ruth Beatty is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University in Orillia. As a mathematics education researcher, Ruth's focus has been how children learn complex math concepts, and the alignment of instruction with developmental trajectories of understanding. She is also interested in multiple representations of mathematical concepts, particularly visual representations. Since 2013 she has collaborated with Danielle Blair, members of Anishinaabe and Métis communities, and educators from Ontario school boards to research the connections between Anishinaabe and Métis ways of knowing mathematics and the Western mathematics found in the Ontario curriculum. The goal of this research, funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant and by the Ontario Ministry of Education, is to collaboratively design culturally responsive mathematics instruction and to learn from and incorporate Indigenous pedagogical perspectives in inclusive classroom settings. This work resulted in the Ontario Premier's Award for Safe and Accepting Schools in 2017, and the 2018 Lakehead University Indigenous Partnership Research Award.

Cultural Mindfulness

George Couchie
George Couchie was a police officer for over 32 years, He received a Celebration Award in 1988 for his work with the Special Olympics in North Bay. In 1999, George received a citation from the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. In 1999 George was also awarded a national citation for anti-racism initiatives. In 2007 he was awarded an Anishinabek Lifetime Achievement Award from the Union of Ontario Indians. In 2012 he received the Queens Jubilee Award for his work with youth. In May of 2013 George received the Order of the Police Forces from the Governor General of Canada. In 2015 he was inducted into the North Bay Human Rights Hall of Fame. In 2017 he was made an honorary Inspector with the Ontario Provincial Police. In 2017 he received Senate 150th Anniversary Award. In 2018 he was granted an Honorary Doctorate from Nipissing University. In 2005, George received an Eagle Feather from his community of Nipissing First Nation (FN) in recognition of his work with youth and in 2012 he received his second eagle feather from the community for his dedication to the youth. George lives on Nipissing First Nation with his wife Carolyn. They have three children – Sandra, Heather and Rob; and three granddaughters. He is a former national police power lifting champion. He is a member of the Red Tail Hawk Clan.