Panel Presenters

 

Leonard Saddleback:  Leonard is a member of the Samson Cree Nation and is a Spiritual Elder and Healer.  His knowledge of the language, oral history, and creation story of the Cree people is well known and is in demand among people throughout the country.  He knows and conducts most of the ceremonies connected to the Sun Dance, Round Dance, Sweat Lodge, Chicken Dance and Grass Dance Proper (Pow Wow).  He is responsible for the revival of the Round Dance Ceremonial which was banned throughout the country in the early nineteen hundreds but is now practiced and enjoyed by Aboriginal people in Western Canada today.  He works as an Elder with the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton.

Ed Lavallee:  Ed Lavallee is a traditional Plains Nehiyaw (Cree) of the Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan.  He attended the University of Saskatchewan and worked as coeditor of the Native People newspaper, published by the former Alberta Native Communication Society, now the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta.  He has studied Aboriginal History, spirituality and philosophy with elders during a five-year stint at the Indian Cultural College, now affiliated with the First Nations University of Saskatchewan.  He has worked with Aboriginal organ-inactions across Canada and for federal and provincial governments in various management positions.  Presently he volunteers as an Aboriginal Advisor in Edmonton, sits on several Boards including Wicihitiwin and is president of the Edmonton Aboriginal Disabilities Association.

Jacqueline Fayant:  is Cree Métis woman, born in Edmonton with her family roots strongly grounded in the Fishing Lake Metis Settlement.

Professionally, she has had extensive experience working with marginalized populations and advocacy has always been the common thread in all of her work. After switching from a BA in Psychology to Social Work, Jacqueline has enjoyed specializing in community development and social justice. 

She has also taken training on internalized racism and sexism under the tutelage of the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women and Tina Lopez (Dancing on Live Embers). Jacqueline has been an oskâpêwis (Elder’s helper or Helper at ceremonies) for 3 years now – a very honored journey for her.  She defines herself mainly as a de-contructionalist, agitator and decolonizer.

Roxanne Roan:  Roxanne of the Ermineskin First Nation was raised in the Traditional Spiritual way of life with members of her Cree family in the well known Robert Smallboy Camp in the Rocky Mountain House kootenay Plains.  She was accepted throughout her life as a transgendered member in her community.  Despite her ordeals in residential school she graduated high school and assists in teaching the Cree language and Aboriginal culture when needed.  She took training as a life skills trainer with use of the “Medicine Wheel” method and has given training sessions throughout western Canada and the States.  She also took courses in film production, acting and directing at Vancouver’s Emily Carr College resulting in her production of a film about her people that received critical acclaim.  Presently, she is doing more research from Elders about Cree culture.

Richard Jenkins: is a Two Spirit/gay man from Moose Mountain, Alberta and has been in a loving relationship with his partner; Pierre, for thirteen years.  He is currently exploring options for a career change but most recently was a Program Advisor for the Aboriginal Health Program of Alberta Health Services.  He is the President of the Two Spirit Circle of Edmonton Society and a founding member of the Society as well.  Over the past twenty-five plus years, Richard has worked with Aboriginal communities throughout Canada as a community developer and health promotions advocate in the areas of addictions, HIV/AIDS, long-term care, sexual orientation and gender identity, family and community healing, child welfare, health policy and programs as well as urban Aboriginal community development.  He is a recipient of a Community Development Award through the Aboriginal Role Model Awards of Alberta.

Dr. Pat Makokis: is a member of Saddle Lake Cree Nation. She has worked as an educator for the past twenty five years. Most recently she's joined the oil and gas industry. She is married to Eugene and mother to Janice and James. 

Chevi Rabbit:  Chevi Rabbit was born and raised in Ponoka, Alberta, and a member of Montana Cree First Nation. He has always lived fearlessly as a openly gay male and credits his mother’s unconditional love for allowing him to feel comfortable with his gay lifestyle.

At the young age of 16 years old Chevi graduated from Ponoka Composite High School. As a child Chevi was always curious about life beyond the reservation and small town life. This led him to begin his studies at Red Deer College studying Hospitality and Tourism Management, in hopes of traveling the world and learning about new cultures.

In Addition to his heavy workload at RDC, Chevi also attended evening classes for Make Up Artistry at Marvel College and graduated at the top of his class. His extremely innovative and creative personality combined with love of fine art canvas painting and make up artistry into a successful career. Chevi’s outlook is that “ Makeup is a natural extension of fine art painting, that the human face is like a canvas. Every time I paint a face it's like I paint a masterpiece.” Chevi has worked for top fashion designers within Canada and is now one of the most sought after makeup artists in Alberta. Chevi continues to his perfect his art and is always eager for the next makeup project.

Chevi inspires the public to stand up for Social Equality and Anti- Bullying after homophobes attacked him in public on July 19, 2012. He is turning a negative and traumatic experience in his life into an opportunity to bring attention and exposure to one of the problems that is plaguing our society. On Aug 2nd 2012 Chevi led a successful March and Rally with speeches given from a number of Alberta’s Prominent Politicians such as Alberta Deputy Premier, Thomas Lukaszuk.

His story gained much media attention and his message was heard loud and clear: "I hope that my story helps someone know that it's okay to be yourself, that it is okay to be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. You are valued in our society. And life is worth living."

Currently, Chevi is pursuing a undergraduates degree in Native Studies and Anthropology at the University of Alberta. Recently, Chevi had the unique opportunity to be a participant on the television series "Back in the Day" Season 2, where young urban First Nations are given the chance to live like their ancestors. The Leo Award winning series will air on APTN in Canada and Europe in 2013.

Chevi credits himself as an ambitious, and optimistic member of society who has a fun-loving attitude towards life. Chevi never lets himself forget what he set out to do - to dream big, achieve his goals, and most importantly remember who he is.