Emcee - Ashley Callingbull
Ashley Callingbull is an actress, model, host and First Nation’s activist from the Enoch Cree Nation. She is an actress on Blackstone, Tribal, The Great Salish Heist and was a contestant on the Amazing Race Canada. She was also the first Indigenous First Nations woman to win the Mrs Universe title.
Ashley is also an international motivational speaker and has been a keynote speaker at Harvard University, TED Talks and WE Day.
Ashley’s hard work and charity work was recognized as she received the Top 20 Under 30 Award in Canada and was named one of Canada’s Top 10 Power Women. Ashley received the Youth First Nations Award from Indspire and was inducted into the Circle of Honour at the Esquao Awards, which recognizes Indigenous female Leaders and Activists. Ashley also received a role model award from the United Nations on Global Dignity Day.
Last year Ashley was announced as the first Indigenous First Nations woman to become a Sports Illustrated Model. Ashley is currently an In Game Host for the Canadian Football League, the National Lacrosse League and the National Hockey League. She also recently signed her first book deal with Harper Collins publishing and will be a published author in 2024.
National Anthem & Interview - Kiya Bruno
Kiya Bruno Is a 17 year Nêhiýaw Iskwew (Cree Woman) who hails from Nipisikohpahk- “ Samson Cree Nation ” in Maskwacis Alberta in Treaty 6 Territory. She comes from a cultural upbringing in the Plains Cree Nehiyaw traditional community, where she incorporates the cultural knowledge into her home and everyday life.
Kiya is an actress, artist, Indigenous Rights advocate, athlete, entrepreneur and is the co-owner of Stay Rooted Apparel ᑲᓇᐁᐧᔨᐦᑌᑕᐣ ᒥᑐᓴᐠ . Kiya is also a traditional vocalist and performer , she performs her traditional jingle dress dance and sings the Canadian National Anthem in Cree and English at many sporting and community events such as the Toronto Blue Jays, Edmonton Elks and Edmonton Oilers. As an artist Kiya had many opportunities to travel across North America & Internationally for dancing, acting, performing, presenting and modeling.
Kiya shows a great honor and respect to her culture, Cree language and traditions. Indigenous representation is so important to her and being able to represent our Indigenous people in a good way brings her so much pride.
Speaking and learning Cree is something Kiya is also passionate about, she loves sharing our Cree language. Speaking Cree is a link to her ancestors and the land she comes from. It gives Kiya great joy to see our Indigenous people and women come together and share their passions and visions with one another and bring positive change.
Kiya is very passionate about helping, motivating, Inspiring and encouraging other youth and community members to chase their dreams while raising awareness for our Mother Earth, those in need and in crisis.
Interview - Naela Thunder Chief
Oki, my name is Naela Shyanna Rose Thunder Chief, and my Blackfoot name is “Akaitapyaakii” (Spiritual Old Lady). I proudly come from the Blood Tribe, Kainai Nation of Alberta. My father is Neal Thunder Chief, and my mother is Shaneen Fox. I have one older brother, Kiowa Thunder Chief. My maternal and paternal grandmothers were both initiated into the Blackfoot Stand-Up Headdress Women’s Society. I come from a strong bloodline of Blackfoot chiefs and matriarchs. I have support from the elders, and both my maternal and paternal families. My parents stand by my side together, always encouraging me to be a positive role model. It is an honour to join you all at this special gathering as an official ambassador for the Blackfoot Confederacy as Miss Blackfoot Canada.
I am currently in grade ten at Catholic Central High School. I live a life free of drugs and alcohol. I am responsible and take the time to be thorough in whatever I do in my life. I demonstrate my hard work ethic through my dedication to my education as a straight A student, and I am always working at excelling in my basketball sport with both my Blackfoot and city teams. I love singing and playing the piano, performing in music recitals, and fancy dancing. I encourage our young people to pursue and complete their education and lead a healthy and successful life.
I have been a young advocate for my Blackfoot people and youth since I was eight years old, and this has been represented in my participation in art projects with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, as well as several Calgary art galleries. I have been performing through various art mediums like: singing, dancing, drumming, art exhibitions, as well as many other artistic, athletic, and educational ventures representing my beautiful and rich Blackfoot culture. An example of the beginnings of my meaningful youth advocacy and artwork are represented in an interview I was requested to be a part of by CBC News at the age of eight years old, and this especially inspired my passion for speaking and sharing the strength and resiliency of my Blackfoot community. I was also one of the youngest runners at eight years old to train for and travel to the McFarland, California Race, where I started my advocacy and leadership as an athlete and health advocate.
As an Indigenous, Blackfoot Ambassador, it is important for me to acknowledge that we as Indigenous people are all on a healing journey, and we must come together with kindness and compassion to support our families and our communities in order for our future generations to continue to survive. I will always try hard to keep my heart and spirit strong, healthy and connected with the Creator, the land–Mother Earth, and filled with the love of my community, family, and my ancestors so that I may continue to endeavour to serve my family and Blackfoot community going forward into the future! Nitsiniiyi’taki!
Guest Speaker - Sergeant Nancy Farmer
Nancy Farmer joined the Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service in April 2021 as the Senior Manager of Operations and has since transitioned to the Sergeant in charge of Operations.
Prior to joining Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service, Nancy served 24.5 years with the Calgary Police Service retiring at the Inspector rank. Notably, she held the position of the Inspector in command of the Support Section, the only female in history. This section housed the Tactical Unit, Canine Unit, Air Service Unit, Mounted Unit and the Crisis Negotiations Unit.
Nancy’s policing experience is diverse and includes; Professional Standards Unit, Community and Youth, General Investigations Unit, Behavioral Sciences Unit, Duty Inspector, District and Tactical Commander. She held certification as a Crisis Negotiator, and was a Nationally Certified Critical Incident Commander.
In 2018, she received the Calgary Police Service, Chief’s award of Leadership having been in command of resources and tactics during a 33 hours hostage taking. Since 2019, she has proudly held an executive position with the Alberta Women in Public Safety Committee (AWIPS).
Guest Speaker - Dr. Esther Tailfeathers
Dr. Esther Tailfeathers of the Blood Reserve, graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and completed her Family Medicine Residency at the University of Alberta. She has worked in many native communities including the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, the remote northern community of Fort Chipewyan, and the Blood Reserve.
One of Dr. Tailfeathers’ highlights thus far in her career has been the organizing of a relief mission to Haiti after the earthquake, which included a team from the blood tribe consisting of paramedics, nurses and health care workers. During their relief effort they took care of over 2000 patients.
Most recently she has worked with her community in response to the Fentanyl Crisis which began in the fall of 2014. The NFB Film “Kimmaapiiipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy” produced and directed by her daughter Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, documents the communities efforts to address the Opioid Crisis and the work of Dr. Tailfeathers on these community initiatives.
Dr. Tailfeathers helped launch Alberta’s first Indigenous Virtual Care Clinic aimed at reducing barriers to primary care for rural and remote indigenous Albertans.
Alongside other health system leaders in Alberta, Dr. Tailfeathers spearheaded the development and implementation of the Indigenous Wellness Program Alternative Relationship Plan and supported creation and implantation of an AHS staff cultural competency program and worked with Oncologists and cancer support staff to incorporate traditional medicines in the cancer journey.
She previously was the Medical Lead of the Indigenous Wellness Core with Alberta Health Services.
She has served as the Keynote Speaker for numerous Conferences and Workshops with a particular emphasis for Addictions and Treatment.
Dr. Tailfeathers was the recipient of the Dr. Thomas Dignan National award from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2019.
Dr. Tailfeathers is most proud of her two children; Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Piinaakoyim Tailfeathers and the work they are each doing to help Indigenous communities.
Guest Speaker - Dr. Roselle M. Gonsalves, Curling Canada
Dr. Roselle M. Gonsalves is a strategic inclusion practitioner, public speaker, and governance professional, having worked in the areas of systemic equity and strategic inclusion for over a decade within diverse sectors including social services, consulting, and post-secondary. She currently serves on the Board of Governors at Curling Canada, and serves as an Inclusion expert for the World Curling Federation. She is also Managing Director of Inclusion & Reconciliation at ATB Financial, where she heads up the strategic initiatives to weave equity, inclusion, and socio-economic reconciliation with Indigenous communities into all aspects of the organization’s endeavours. In 2022, Roselle was named one of Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for the broad impact of her work in the field of equity and inclusion. Roselle is a racialized, immigrant settler woman, who makes her home in Amiskwaciwâskahikan, the city of Edmonton, in Treaty 6 territory.
Guest Speaker - Greyson Yee Louison
My name is Greyden Yee Louison, I’m a Saskatchewan First Nation curler from a reservation called Kahkewistahaw First Nation #72 which is 10 minutes north of Broadview Saskatchewan, and is 2 hours east of Regina. I have been curling for 12 years and first started to curl at Broadview curling club in 2009 at the age of 8 years old.
Growing up on the reservation, there was not much offered for curling. The only time I would get to curl would be at league nights in Broadview. Around 2014, I wanted more opportunities in curling so I started a school curling team at the reservation and began to play in youth bonspiels, as well as joining a youth league in Regina with my school team. These efforts brought many wins and success for the youth school team and created a reputation that this First Nation team meant business when they got on the ice.
After I graduated, I moved to Regina for university to study Kinesiology, and played in a competitive league at the Caledonian curling club. In my time playing in the league, I met many individuals that loved to play the sport as well. I even had the chance to play against curling announcer and former professional curler, Joan McCusker.
Today, I continue to go to university online, because of COVID-19, and I work as well. I strive to continue my curling career in hopes that it brings a chance to play for the Regina university curling team. I’ve also partnered with UnitedWeCurl in hopes to encourage more BIPOC youth to get into the game of curling.
Guest Speaker - Abbie Darnley, Rock Solid Productions Inc.
Abbie is the Director of Event Operations at Rock Solid Productions Inc., a company that for over 10 years has focused on growing the sport of curling through unique iceless products and marketing initiatives. She is a highly skilled sports industry professional whose background includes coaching, marketing, program development, athletics, and work in the hospitality and recreation industries. Abbie has been overseeing and running the national school program Egg Farmers Rocks & Rings presented by Curling Canada for over 10 years. Helping grow it from 30,000 student experiences a year to over 200,000. Her extensive experience and strong operational skills are accompanied by a Bachelor of Science Honors focused in Sport Management from Brock University.
Guest Speaker - Amanda McLeod
Amanda is a professional ballet dancer and a Fort Albany First Nation member from the Mushkegowuk Territory of Treaty 9. Her Indigenous ancestry also connects her with the Eeyou Istchee Cree Nations on the Quebec side of James Bay through her Nookum and Mooshum and Anishinaabe from her maternal Grandma, a member of Garden River First Nation, a signatory to the Robinson-Huron Treaty.
Amanda was born in Edmonton and raised a few years in Wabasca, then St. Albert. At age 10, Amanda auditioned for and was accepted into Canada’s National Ballet School’s Professional Ballet Program in Toronto, Ontario. While at NBS, Amanda completed grades 6 through 12 and graduated with academic honours. Amanda’s continued attendance at NBS was determined yearly based on her progressive development to become a professional ballerina. Last year Amanda made her first step in achieving this by receiving a short-term contract with the National Ballet of Canada company to perform in James Kudelka’s The Nutcracker.
Amanda is a valued member of her school’s equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. She has participated in conversations to broaden awareness of National Truth and Reconciliation Day, Orange Shirt Day and Indigenous issues. Amanda also advocates for including individuals of all abilities to participate in dance and is excited that NBS recently started the Adaptive Dance Program and Inclusive Movement Online courses. Progressive change is occurring, and she is proud to play a small part in it.
Amanda dreams big and hopes to become a principal ballerina, performing lead roles in her favourite ballets, such as Romeo and Juliet. In September, Amanda will attend BalletMet’s Trainee Program in Columbus, Ohio, where she will continue her professional ballet training to develop her technique further and achieve her goal.
Interactive Activity - Aaron Marion-Dron
Aaron Marion-Dron is a Calgary born actor, improviser, comedian and teacher. He has been trained by Mount Royal College, IO theatre (Chicago), Second City (Toronto) and by many others from around the world. He is currently the Artistic Director of Development at The Kinkonauts in Calgary. Aaron loves using Improv to tell rich stories and connect with audience members. He has created different formats such as The Fold, Notorious (freestyle rap improv) and has produced many new works.
Guest Speaker - Lannie Houle
Lannie is an Indigenous plains Cree and Sylix Okanagan woman. Born and raised in Goodfish Lake, AB, and Vernon, BC. Her talent and hard work led to run for Team Canada and competed in multiple international Nike races. Lannie attended the University of Concordia and the University of Alberta, competing in cross-country and indoor track. Currently, Lannie works with Spirit North, a non-profit organization where she uses her athletic success to make a positive impact in Indigenous communities. Lannie has the privilege to inspire Indigenous youth to live up to their full potential through sport, culture, and land-based teachings.
Guest Speaker - Conrad Plews
Conrad Plews is a Metis Artist of Cree background. Conrad attended Grant MacEwan University and graduated with a diploma in Design and Illustration. He started tattooing over 18 years ago, and is the owner of Black Market Tattoo. There are 3 locations in Edmonton, the first one opening in 2008. Conrad Plews is also responsible for designing the new Edmonton Elks Logo.
Entertainment - Kyle Young
Kyle is a talented musician and creator of the “Troubadours”. He is the lead guitarist, singer and manager for the group. He is also a drummer, bass player, guitarist, and singer with a group called “Toogin”. “Toogin” streams online every Thursday evening. The channel is called TooginTV on Twitch. Kyle hails from Bigstone Cree Nation. His biggest inspiration being his late father who was also a musician. Kyle aims to share his musical knowledge and talent with his children and strives to keep a future bright with endless possibilities for them. He wants to provide a path of healing, prosperity through music, and encourages the growth of Indigenous talent in the Industry.