Session Speakers

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm:
Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm is Anishinaabek from the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, Saugeen Ojibway Nation, in Ontario. Kateri is an internationally acclaimed writer, spoken word poet, Indigenous arts activist, publisher and communications consultant. She and her sons live in their community at Neyaashiinigmiing on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. Kateri has two collections of poetry, a collection of short stories, and two CDs of spoken word poetry and music. Her CD "A Constellation of Bones" was nominated for an Aboriginal Music Award. Kateri's first collection of short stories,
The Stone Collection, was given a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly in a review that called her "luminescent prose" both "fiercely honest" and "diamond-like in its brilliance." The Stone Collection was a finalist for a Sarton Literary Award. Kateri is the founder and Managing Editor of award-winning publisher Kegedonce Press (, which publishes and promotes some of the most beautiful, challenging, celebrated Indigenous literature in the world. Kateri recently received a REVEAL Indigenous Arts Award from the Hnatyshyn Foundation.

Mini Aodla Freeman:
Mini Aodla Freeman
was born in 1936 on Cape Hope Island in James Bay. At the age of sixteen, she commenced nurse’s training at Ste. Thérèse School in Fort George, and in 1957, she went to Ottawa to accept a position as a translator with the then Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources. The 1978 publication of her first book, Life Among the Qallunaat, was translated into French, German, and Kalaallisut (Greenlandic). Aodla Freeman has published poems and short stories in the Canadian Children’s Annual, and a number of commissioned works were included in the International Women’s Year travelling exhibition. Her play, “Survival in the South,” was produced for the Dominion Drama Festival in 1971 and was staged at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, in 1973. Aodla Freeman’s career has also included positions as Native Cultural Advisor and narrator for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (1973–79), Assistant Editor for Inuit Today magazine, Executive Secretary of the Land Claims Secretariat of the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, and founder and producer for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation. In 1996, she co-edited, with Odette Leroux and Marion E. Jackson, a book called Inuit Women Artists. A prominent elder in the urban Inuit community, she currently lives in Edmonton, where she is working on a book entitled Nunaaluk, about the history of the Inuit of James Bay.

Catherine Bell:
Catherine Bell is a Law Professor specialising in Indigenous legal issues, cultural heritage law, and interdisciplinary collaborative research. She was born and raised in Edmonton, returning to practice law in 1985 and later to join the Law Faculty at the University of Alberta. She is published widely including First Nations Cultural Heritage and Law: Case Studies Voices and Perspectives and Protection of First Nation Cultural Heritage: Laws Policy and Reform. She has worked with Métis, First Nation, Inuit, Canadian, and international governments and organizations. Her current research focuses on Métis constitutional rights and the intersection of ethics, Indigenous law, and property law in cultural heritage. In 2012 she was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to Aboriginal law in Canada.

Linda Cameron:
Director of the University of Alberta Press since May 2001, Linda Cameron was founding Director of The University of the West Indies Press in Kingston, Jamaica from 1992 through 1997. Throughout her career she has held many elected and appointed positions with various provincial and national publishing organizations, including the Book Publishers Association of Alberta (BPAA), the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP), the Association of Canadian University Presses (ACUP), Livres Canada Books (LCB), the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA), the Public Lending Right Commission (PLRC), the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association (CMPA), and the Board of the National Reading Campaign (NRC). Currently she is Chair of eBound Canada. She is well-known as an advocate for publishing and in 2015 received the Association of Canadian Publishers President’s Award “in recognition of ongoing exemplary work on behalf of Canadian publishers, and superlative service to Canadian book publishing industry organizations." She has authored over 20 articles and is the editor of a history book, The Story of the Gleaner: Memoirs and Reminiscences. In addition, she has successfully undertaken and completed a number of consultancies in the fields of publishing and systems and procedures.

Lewis Cardinal:
Lewis Cardinal is a communicator and educator who has dedicated his work to creating and maintaining connections and relationships that cross cultural divides. His work has mirrored his personal vision of a socially just and responsive society. His long track record of public service includes being a founding board member of Racism Free Edmonton, founding board member of Alberta Aboriginal Arts, Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Commission for Human Rights and Justice, and Trustee of the Council for a Parliament of World Religions, to mention only a few. Cardinal has received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Public Service, the IndSpire Award for Public Service (the highest award given to an Indigenous person by Indigenous people in Canada), the Province of Alberta’s Centennial Medal for his work in human rights and diversity, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Grant MacEwan University, the Human Rights Award of Recognition from the Centre for Race and Culture, and recently was conferred the Honorary Degree of “Doctor of Sacred Letters” from St. Stephen’s College at the University of Alberta. Lewis’s consulting company, Cardinal Strategic Communications, specializes in Indigenous education, governance, and communications.

David Carr:
David Carr is the director of University of Manitoba Press, one of Canada’s leading publishers of books on Indigenous studies and Canadian history. U of M Press authors include important Indigenous scholars such as Jo-Anne Episkinew, Blair Stonechild, Rick Monture, Mary Jane Logan McCallum, Susan M. Hill, Robert Alexander Innes, and Kim Anderson. The press’s First Voices, First Texts series is dedicated to producing new editions of  important literary texts by Indigenous authors and has brought the work of Anahereo, Mini Aodla Freeman, and Eddy Weetaltuk to new audiences. David began his career at the literary publisher Turnstone Press and also worked for the Province of Manitoba's Department of Culture. An active member of the national book publishing community, he has sat on the boards of the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Association of Canadian University Presses.

Norma Dunning: 
Norma Dunning is a beneficiary of Nunavut whose ancestral roots tie her to the community of Whale Cove. She is a third-year student in the Faculty of Education in the department of Indigenous Peoples Education. Dunning was raised outside of the north, and her doctoral research examines the positioning of the southern Inuk through policy and law. She is the mother of three sons and has three grandchildren. Dunning gets out of bed and swims (terribly) every morning at 5:30 am. Her book, Annie Muktuk and Other Stories, published by the University of Alberta Press in available at the conference. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

Christine Sokaymoh Frederick:
Christine Sokaymoh Frederick
is an urban Aboriginal Cree-Métis and has over thirty years of artistic experience in multiple disciplines. She
is Artistic Director of Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts, the Producer of the annual Rubaboo Arts Festival, and Executive Director of the Dreamspeakers Film Festival. She has appeared in feature films and on stage, and adapted her children's book, Minosis Gathers Hope into a play at the Talking Stick Festival and for Concrete Theatre's Sprouts Festival.
She is the first Indigenous Associate Artist of the Citadel Theatre and was recently appointed to Vice Chair of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
She is the recipient of the 2007 Esquao Award in Arts and the 2016 Mayor's award for Excellence in Artistic Leadership.

Louise Bernice Halfe: Louise Bernice Halfe – Sky Dancer was raised on Saddle Lake Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School. Louise is married and has two adult children and three grandsons. She graduated with a Bachelor of social work from the University of Regina. She also completed two years of Nechi Training in St. Albert’s Nechi Institute where she also facilitated the program. She served as Saskatchewan’s Poet Laureate for two years and has traveled extensively throughout Canada, Northwest Territories and the countries of the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Malaysia and Australia and others. She has served as “keynote speaker” at numerous conferences. Her books,
Bear Bones and Feathers, Blue Marrow, The Crooked Good, and Burning In This Midnight Dream published by Coteau Publishers have all received numerous accolades and awards. Louise was also awarded an honorary degree from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Pamela Holway
Pamela Holway:
Pamela Holway, senior acquisitions editor at Athabasca University Press, was born on the traditional territory of the Kitchissippi Omàmiwininì Anishinabeg, the Algonquin peoples of the Ottawa River. She began her career in publishing at the University of California Press and went on to serve as managing editor at Stanford University Press. A staunch supporter of the view that knowledge should be shared, she returned to Canada in 2010 to join AU Press, which remains the country's only fully open access scholarly publisher. She currently lives in Edmonton, as a guest in Treaty 6 territory.

Miranda Jimmy:
Miranda Jimmy is a member of Thunderchild First Nation. She is an active community leader here in Edmonton and dedicated to making our city better for all. Miranda is an Avenue Magazine Top 40 Under 40, being recognized for her work with RISE – Reconciliation in Solidarity Edmonton, an inclusive group that she co-founded promoting reconciliation in actions and words. Miranda is also a candidate for the upcoming municipal election. She is committed to an inclusive city that allows people to feel connected to their community and have their voices heard. If Miranda is successful, she would be the first self-identified Indigenous woman to serve on Edmonton’s City Council.

Keavy Martin:
Keavy Martin
is a settler scholar of Indigenous literatures at the University of Alberta, in Treaty 6 and Métis territory. She is the mother of a two-year-old son, the author of Stories in a New Skin: Approaches to Inuit Literature, the co-editor (with Julie Rak and Norma Dunning) of Mini Aodla Freeman’s memoir Life Among the Qallunaat and also (with Dylan Robinson) of Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action In and Beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. In 2015, she became a Member of the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists.

Duncan McCue: Award-winning journalist Duncan McCue is the host of CBC Radio One Cross Country Checkup. McCue was a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver for over 15 years. Now based in Toronto, his news and current affairs pieces continue to be featured on CBC's flagship news show, The National. McCue's work has garnered several RTNDA and Jack Webster Awards. He was part of a CBC Aboriginal investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous women that won numerous honours including the Hillman Award for Investigative Journalism. McCue has spent years teaching journalism at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism and was recognized by the Canadian Ethnic Media Association with an Innovation Award for developing curriculum on Indigenous issues. He's also an author: his book, The Shoe Boy: A Trapline Memoir recounts a season he spent in a hunting camp with a Cree family in northern Quebec as a teenager. He was awarded a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 2011, where he created an online guide for journalists called Reporting in Indigenous Communities ( Before becoming a journalist, McCue studied English at the University of King's College, then Law at UBC. He was called to the bar in British Columbia in 1998. McCue is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario, and proud father of two children.

Jena McLaurin: 
Virginia McLaurin (Eastern Cherokee descent) is a PhD student in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Anthropology. Her Master’s thesis focused on contemporary stereotypes of Indigenous peoples in U.S. popular media, highlighting regional differences in Native American stereotype construction. With this degree, she became the first student to earn the UMass Amherst Graduate Certificate in Native American and Indigenous Studies. She has taught Indigenous history, literature, and film in the Native Tribal Scholars program for Indigenous high school students, and has taught beadwork to Indigenous students at UMass Amherst, Hampshire College, Amherst College, and Smith College. Currently, she is researching Indigenous-created media’s political and educational effects.

Arden Ogg:
Arden Ogg is the founding director of the Winnipeg-based not-for-profit Cree Literacy Network ( Trained as a linguist and editor, she served twelve years as Managing Editor of Papers of the Algonquian Conference at the University of Manitoba, and four years on the National Executive Council of the Editors’ Association of Canada. As a descendant of Scottish settlers who answered Canada’s invitation to homestead on “vacant” farmland, she is especially proud of her informal adoption into the Greyeyes/Ahenakew family of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, that has encouraged her to walk in both worlds.

Melissa Pitts:
Melissa began her career in Canadian publishing in 1991, initially with the Literary Press Group. Six years later she joined the world of scholarly of publishing, becoming sales and marketing manager at University of Toronto Press. In 2005, she stayed east but worked west, taking on the Toronto-based position of Editor and Assistant Director, Eastern Canada, for UBC Press. In 2012, Melissa moved to Vancouver to become the director of UBC Press. Throughout her career Melissa has enjoyed the collegiality of her colleagues, participating in various roles in collective associations including the Association of Canadian Publishers, the Book and Periodical Council, the Association of University Presses, and Book Publishers Association of British Columbia.

Donald Purich: 
Donald Purich has been involved in the book world for most of his life—as a publisher, author, book reviewer, and book awards juror. In 1992, he founded Purich Publishing, a firm specializing in books on Indigenous and social justice issues, legal and western history. In 2015, Purich was purchased by UBC Press. For 12 years he served as Director of the University of Saskatchewan Native Law Centre which, amongst other programs, ran a small publishing program. He hails from Wroxton, Saskatchewan and grew up in a predominantly Ukrainian ethnic community in the heart of Treaty 4 country.

Julie Rak:
Julie Rak is a settler Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. She works and lives on Treaty 6 and Metis territory. Julie was born and grew up on the traditional Haudenosaunee lands of central New York State. She is the author of
Negotiated Memory: Doukhobor Autobiographical Discourse (2004) and Boom! Manufacturing Memoir for the Popular Market (2014) among other works about autobiography. With Keavy Martin, Julie edited the remastered edition of Life Among the Quallunaat (2015), with the full participation of Mini Aodla Freeman, the book’s author.

Anna Marie Sewell:
Anna Marie Sewell, Edmonton's 4th Poet Laureate (2011-13), is a multi-disciplinary artist of Anishinabe, Polish, and Mi'gmaq heritage, who belongs to Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation. In addition to her many artistic collaborations, she is proud to serve as a facilitator and mentor for youth via Youthwrite camp for some 20 years, and new immigrants via Writers Guild's Borderlines Program; she also spent six years leading a very successful writers circle for Adult Literacy students at The Learning Centre. This year's projects include the High Level Lit Essay and Salon Series, and Mile Zero Dance's Subartic Improv. Her writing can be found online at and webofvisions.

Lese Skidmore:
Lese Skidmore is an Anishinabe filmmaker and digital artist. She is currently the Project facilitator for Indigenous Digital Stories at Edmonton Public Library. Disciplined in storytelling, Lese has a passion for social justice and has created works on numerous topics about intergenerational trauma and reclaiming Indigenous worldview. Lese started her career at an APTN entertainment show and then for many years at BearPaw Media Productions, a department of Native Counselling Services of Alberta. Lese has earned several nominations and awards at American Indian Film Festival, Yorkton Film Festival, Dreamspeakers Film Festival and at the Alberta Film and Television Awards, for her work at BearPaw Media Productions. A longtime resident of Alberta, Lese originates from Winnipeg and is a member of Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation in southern Manitoba.

Bruce Walsh: 
A two-time winner of the Libris Award for his “outstanding contribution to Canadian publishing,” Bruce Walsh launched University of Regina Press in June 2013 as director and publisher, which has gone on to publish six national bestsellers and many award-winning books. A Trudeau Foundation Mentor, he is the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for work on the environment, freedom of expression, and advancement of culture.

Margie Wolfe:
After eleven years at Women’s Press, Margie Wolfe co-founded Second Story Press in 1988 as a publisher of human rights, women’s and social justice content for all ages. Books have been translated into forty languages in fifty countries where they have won numerous awards. A true story about a child’s experience in a residential school, I Am Not a Number is currently being acclaimed throughout North America. Wolfe is a past-president of the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Organization of Book Publishers of Ontario. During 2017 she is being recognized by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for her work.

Greg Younging:
Greg Younging is a Member of Opaskwayak
Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba. He earned a Masters of Arts from The Institute of Canadian Studies at Carleton University, a Masters of Publishing from the Canadian Centre for Studies in Writing & Publishing at Simon Fraser University, and a PhD from The Department of Educational Studies at University of British Columbia. He has worked for The Assembly of First Nations and The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. From 1990 to 2004, he was the Managing Editor of Theytus Books. Younging is a former Member of the Canada Council Aboriginal Peoples Committee on the Arts (June 1997 to June 2001) and the British Columbia Arts Council (July 1999 to July 2001). He is the former Assistant Director of Research for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and on faculty with the Indigenous Studies Program at the University of British Columbia.

Plus more!