Conference Session Descriptions and Presenter Biographies

Keynote Speaker:

KONWATSITSA:WI (M) MELOCHE

is a passionate presenter who resides between the Kahnawa:ke reservation in Quebec and New Mexico and was born for the Bear Clan She is a high school teacher by trade who has a BA and an MA in Educational

Studies from Concordia University. As well as conducting the aformentioned seminars, she also presents on First Nation’s History including educational issues. Other topics include the different aspects of small business management and economic development

Konwatsi'tsawi was selected as one of the 230 leaders in Canada to attend The Governor General's Conference 2012 as a First Nation's delegate from June 1-15, 2012.She personally handed the Governor General the "100 years of Loss"* Residential School Edu-Kit so that there may be some changes to the Canadian educational system. This was given to him in hopes that all Canadians become aware of the tragic history that has so long been hidden from the Canadian public's view.

Keynote Address:

"Walking 2 Worlds"

This workshop has helped organizations focus on the positive effects of working towards creating a healthier, more productive workplace, while helping young people see a hopeful future for their lives, while Walking 2 Worlds (c)

Many of us often bring our home stresses into our work space and may take it out on our coworkers, which includes the, often ‘unconscious’ behavior, of “Lateral Violence” occurring. We can address this issue further.

Many of our issues are challenging ones. However, I would like to help bring participants an awareness by addressing some of the difficult but unique issues which often include: Impulsiveness, misdirection, misplaced anger and other, sometimes annoying yet, sometimes, entertaining encounters that we seem to find only in our community workplaces.

Is it possible to Walk 2 Worlds? blend family and work life to build a healthy balancing act? Can this truly be achieved? Yes, it can! If we commit ourselves to another route: A “Proactive Path.” Walking towards a committed and ‘Shared Vision’ of our community schools healthier future. Other positive aspects include: Our strength and unique sense of humor as the Original Peoples. Our distinctive culture, resilience and our distinguishing spiritual philosophy, which we often forget to embrace in our workplace.

Jody Wiggins and Toni Tolhurst/ SEA

"What's In It For Me?"

  • Session Description/ Students are not "bad"; they are using their behavior to communicate with you. The behavior has a purpose and we have to listen differently. The only way to listen differently is to look at the behavior differently. In this session you will learn how to H.A.L.T. student's, understand the four main functions of behavior and be introduced to sensory issues that can also lead to dysregulation. Addressing student behaviors effectively will allow you to help the student feel secure, understood, and ready to learn. As a teacher or educational assistant it will free up time dealing with student behavior to be able to work with students.
  • Presenter Bio/

Jody Wiggins- I have worked with individuals with special needs in a variety of settings for over 30 years. This includes in home, recreationally and school settings. I have been an educational assistant for over ten years and a Special Education Teacher for more than 5 years.


Toni Tolhurst- I have been a special education teacher for over 19 years and have worked for Stoney Education for just over 10 years. For the passed 5 I have been the Special Education Coordinator overseeing funding and programming for our four Stoney Education school. Before working at Stoney I worked in alternative education programs, classrooms for children with behavioural concerns and at a non-profit school for apprehended youth.


Donna Ross (Calgary Regional Consortium)

First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Literacy K-12

  • Session Description/ The First Nations, Metis, and Inuit and Education for Reconciliation workshop will provide resources, strategies, and references to Indigenous literature and how to use within your classroom. Practical application and the sharing of books and authors with participants will be used to support discussion and learning about reconciliation through perspectives from Indigenous authors.
  • Presenter Bio/ Donna Ross is a 28-year educator, of Cree/Métis background from Treaty Six. She is currently seconded with the Calgary Regional Consortium to provide Education for Reconciliation and Foundational Knowledge of Alberta’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people. Donna brings a strong understanding of literacy and storytelling from an Indigenous perspective.

Melissa Tierney (EverActive)

Teaching from Place: Using natural spaces to encourage reflection and calm in your students

  • Session Description/ 1) Daily Physical activity and ways to increase movement throughout the day 2) mindfulness for staff and students - ways to find calm and connect in busy times 3) Encouraging student leadership and creating mentorship opportunities 4) Healthy school policy in southern Alberta - creating wellness environments based in traditional values
  • Presenter Bio/ Melissa partners with First Nations schools across Alberta to support health and wellness. Outside of Ever Active Schools, Melissa is a yoga and meditation teacher and has guided people of all ages to find reflection, personal awareness, and a deep sense of calm in natural spaces.

Krystal Abrahamowicz (CRC)

Curriculum 101-Alberta's New Provincial Curriculum

  • Session Description/ This session will create an awareness of the shift to concept-based curriculum and instruction in our new K-4 curriculum. Through engaging in this session, participants will come to understand how this approach creates a new layer for learning that goes beyond what students will know and do, to ensuring deeper understanding of learning outcomes. Participants will also begin to develop a working knowledge of the architecture and design of Alberta's new concept -based curriculum, including the identification of conceptual and procedural knowledge, competencies, as well as literacy and numeracy references.
  • Presenter Bio/ Krystal Abrahamowicz is a Designer of Professional Learning with the Calgary Regional Consortium. In this role, she authored the Supporting High School Completion a Tool Kit for Success resource and had a key role in developing the Implementation and Planning Tool in the Government of Alberta Resource, Working Together to Support Mental Health in Alberta Schools. Previous to this, she spent over 10 years as a Teacher, Student Services Specialist, and then Student Services Coordinator at Westmount Charter School. With extensive background and training in gifted education, and many years of experience in designing support plans for diverse learners, Krystal is a passionate believer that every student can experience success at school.

Ryan Matchullis and Kailyn Jones (Renfrew)

Psychoeducational Assessment: Purposes, Benefits, and Controversies

  • Session Description/ This session will focus on numerous aspects of psychoeducational assessments, a practice very common to school settings. Ryan and Kailyn will provide some background and history on assessment within schools and discuss the typical purpose and process. The need for collaboration and multi-informant information (e.g., families, teachers, EA's, etc.) will be highlighted. Controversies will be presented and open for discussion, including the use of diagnostic labels, risks and benefits of an assessment, and numerous cross-cultural challenges that may be considered. The session will be informative but will also welcome attendee discussion.
  • Presenter Bio/

Dr. Ryan Matchullis is a Registered Psychologist who works for Renfrew Educational Services (RES). He is currently working 2.5 days per week for Stoney Education Authority, 1 day per week with Tsuu T’ina Health, and spends the rest of his time at RES schools supporting children with special needs in their classrooms.


Kailyn Jones is a Registered Psychologist works for Renfrew Educational Services (RES). She is currently working 2.5 days per week for Stoney Education Authority and 2.5 days per week supporting children with special needs in their classrooms in RES schools.


Emily Parkin (SEA) and Alison Green

Session/ XC Skiing Into Confident Wellness (West Bragg Creek Nordic Trails)

  • Session Description/ Description of Session: Building confidence on skis, while networking with educators in a natural environment. Join us as we explore the trails at West Bragg Creek Nordic Trails and create connections with educators at different schools. **No previous cross country skiing experience necessary - if you can walk, you CAN ski! * Relevance to Theme of Conference (Enhancing Student Success): Build confidence to take your students (and classroom) outside. Connect your students to an experience at school, that can help to enhance student success. Cross country skiing builds resilience, problem solving, community and gives students an opportunity to connect to the land in an emotional, spiritual, physical and mental capacity.
  • Presenter Bio/

Green + Parkin = #dreamteam

Cameron Crowchild & Randy Dodginghorse (Tsuut'ina)

Survival In The Outdoors

  • Session Description/ Survival outdoors will offer First Nations traditional approach, along with modern, contemporary survival techniques. Teachers and students will begin with prayer and tobacco offerings; shown what a survival back pack entails; explain directions and compass usage; the importance of shelter, fire, water, food, and walking stick. Facilitators will explain land location, environment, and cosmos. The experience should be rewarding for all students with traditional knowledge and language content used throughout to encourage and support students in using their First Nations vocabulary and knowledge about how our ancestors survived and lived off of the land. Creating a positive energy outdoors and connecting to the outdoor environment. Land Based Education content.
  • Presenter Bio/

Cameron Crowchild is from Tsuut’ina Nation and is currently working with our Tsuut’ina land base learning team. Cameron has learned a lot of his traditional knowledge from the Tsuu’tina, he received his education in and around the Calgary area. He has received his Log home certification from Moose Mountain Log home Inc. also received his post and beam / timber bent certification from Gabriola Island school of building arts. What he really enjoys is teaching the traditional knowledge to all first nations that are willing to learn about culture.

Randy Dodginghorse is originally from the Tsuut'ina Nation and was raised there and lived there all his life.

Randy was formally educated through Calgary attending elementary, high school and university in Calgary

Randy was raised around many Tsuut'ina elders through out his life and was fortunate enough to be exposed to the Tsuut'ina language and culture. Randy has been actively involved in many Tsuut'ina community activities and projects, through out his years.

Recently, Randy has supported the Tsuut'ina Education Department in Facilitating/Teaching Adult Education and now currently part of the Chiila Elementary Cultural Team.


Jason Plain Eagle (Piikani)

Traditional Games

  • Session Description/ located at Tsuut'ina Gymnasium; bus transportation available to and from casino to session for session participants; Interactive group session that incorporates physical activity along with cultural teachings of traditional indigenous games; which in turn are related to Culture and the Environment that fall into curricular requirements under Physical Education.
  • Presenter Bio/ Born in Piikani Nation and Proud Piikani!

Les Redick (Educator; North Point School)

Mentoring The ADHD Learner

  • Session Description/ ADHD looks very different as it moves from childhood to adolescence through to adulthood. It is important to recognize how these stages reveal themselves and what can be done to help the symptoms. Through Les' personal stories, parents/educators will gain a clearer understanding of what it is like to be a child, as well as an adult, with ADHD. They will also gain insight into what ADHD is and how it reveals itself at home. Les shares examples of how children with ADHD struggle with Executive Functioning and share strategies to provide support at home. (Topics: Sugar and Additives, Emotional Dysregulation, Driving, Criminal Behavior, Peer Rejection, and when will my ADHD go away) . Going to this session will allow parents and educators an opportunity to better understand how ADHD affects students and how they help students management of ADHD symptoms in the classroom and at home.
  • Presenter Bio/ For over 30 years I have taught ADHD and LD students from grades 4 through 12. In addition to my professional experience, I have personal experience as both my son and I have ADHD. This combination of professional and personal experience has given me an excellent perspective on ADHD, executive functioning issues and motivation. I have been speaking professionally on the topic of ADHD for over 15 years. I recently finished my M.Ed. in Education Research with a focus on ADHD through the University of Calgary and I currently work at North Point School teaching elementary and junior high Math.

Rita Dube (Renfrew)

Teaching Emergent Literacy to Learners of all ages

  • Session Description/ This session will explore the relationship between language development and literacy. Ideas for enhancing language skills (vocabulary; sentence structure; higher level language skills; etc..) and literacy development for students of all ages will be discussed. This presentation will provide ideas for supporting learners in enhancing language development and the link between language and literacy.
  • Presenter Bio/ Rita Dube is a speech language pathologist with over 25 years of experience. She has worked with children of all ages and various learning needs and styles over the course of that time. She currently works as an SLP through Renfrew Education Services within SEA schools.

Dr. Laura Alistat (Westmount Charter School)

Differentiated Instruction for Personalized Learning and Student Success

  • Session Description/ Many classrooms have students with a broad range of knowledge and skills that require different ways of doing things. Knowing your learners is critical in providing learning opportunities to meet their needs. In this interactive session, we will explore ways for you to get to know your students and for your students to get to now themselves as learners. That knowledge will inform instructional design, providing student choice in what they learn, how they learn it,the pace they learn it, and how they show what they have learned. A variety of strategies will be shared that invite learners into learning at the level they are at and move them along their learning trajectory.
  • Presenter Bio/

Laurie Alisat is a lifelong learner and educator in Calgary, Alberta. She has worked in a variety of roles, at both the school and district level, as a Teacher, Learning Leader, Strategist,

Specialist, and Administrator, focusing on learners with exceptional needs. She has also taught undergraduate and graduate level university courses on identification of student needs to determine appropriate programming, as well as courses on enhancing creative development.

Laurie has a Master’s degree in School Design. She has used this to foster appropriate challenge and student engagement through design. Laurie’s PhD in Gifted Education further focused on students’ experience of schooling. Her current writing includes programming for student needs, social justice, creativity, and empathy-based leadership.


Nicole Dixon (WEP)

Mini Me Yoge "15 Minutes to Happy, Healthy Kids" program

  • Session Description/ Learn tools from this mental and physical wellness program (yoga, breathing, positive thinking, and minful coloring) to use in classrooms with your students. Gain valuable tools to support with whole child wellness. Students will benefit by increased confidence, self-esteem, and positive coping. Ideal for Preschool to Grade 6
  • Presenter Bio/ Nicole is a registered social worker and is the program coordinator for the Wellness Empowerment Program, school based mental health capacity building. Nicole has worked in the field of mental health for 15 years and has been sharing "Mini Me Yoga" with schools for the past 4 years.

Carrie Watson (Whispering Equine)

Personal Growth and Learning Through Partnering with Horses

  • Session Description/ Join us to learn more about the world of Equine Facilitated Wellness, more specifically Equine Facilitated Learing (EFL) . During our time together, you will learn more about what this type of equine therapy is all about, how it works, and how it can be helpful for your students, clients, and staff. We will explore how building a relationship with a horse during our programs, can provide many healing and empowering personal growth and learning oopportunities for individuals. EFL is part of a rapidly growing industry in which trained professionals and horses partner to foster healing, provide learning and therapeutic growth opportunities for people. Ultimately individuals spend time directly with horses in a variety of different reflective, active, and experiential activities.
  • Presenter Bio/ Owner and Facilitator of Whispering Ear Equine

Kendall Jacobs (Tsuut'ina)

Flint Knapping Workshop

  • Session Description/ Participants will learn first hand how to make a traditional arrowhead from obsidian. Using traditional methods that date back thousands of years, participants will take a step back in time to learn the sacred skill of making an arrowhead the traditional way.

Presenter Bio/ Kendall Jacobs has been at the Tsuut'ina JH/SH for the past 19 years as an educational assistant and cultural wilderness/survival instructor.

Walter Brertton and Angela Grier (OCYA)

Voices For Change

  • Session Description/ Indigenous children in the child welfare system in Alberta, account for 70% of the province's case load. Including on-reserve protection services. The OCYA's report called Voices for Change, provides a critical perspective on the nature of this crisis, including eight (8) recommendations to the provincial government to reduce this overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care. The report was compiled from consultation across the provincewith Indigenous communities, the reflects the Indigenous voices and communities that are advocating for change. The presentation provides recommendations for service providers, stakeholders,and natural advocates for Indigenous children and youth who maybe receiving delegated services under the Enhancement Act, the Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act and the Youth Justice System. Our audience will learn how to access support for their child or youth, from a children's rights perspectivein relation to Alberta's legislation towards the students success and optimal wellbeing.
  • Presenter Bio/ The OCYA serves as an independent office within Alberta's Legislature. The Legislature mandates the OCYA to advance the rights of children and youth from the child or youth perspective, interest, and viewpoint. The children and youth impacted within our organization, must be receiving designated services within the Enhancement Act, the Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act, and the Youth Justice System. Walter is from Saddle Lake First Nation and is the provincial offices Indigenous Engagement's manager and oversees Treaty Six. Walter has over 15 years of frontline services in the area of children's services.

Angela is from the Piikani Nation and is the Indigenous Engagement Specialist for the Treaty Seven area and she has over 20 years of services working with Indigenous populations on and off reserve.

Sharon Hul (Speech Path; AHS)

Educational Assistants as Practice Partners in Speech and Language Development

  • Session Description/ Attendees will learn about speech and language development in a number of areas including speech sound development, phonological awareness, vocabulary and grammar. They will also learn how to encourage speech and language development in the classroom and during specific speech development activities.
  • Presenter Bio/

Sharon Hul- I have been a speech language pathologist for over 20 years, with most of my experience working with school aged students. I am now in my second year of supporting students and staff at Chiila Elementary School on the Tsuut’ina Nation.


Fleur Hughes/Rhonda Richter/ Jamie Goodison (COPE/WEP)

"The Use of Music and Mindfulness techniques for Self Care"

  • Session Description/ Description of Session: This presentation will encourage educators to develop a self-care routine. An effective self-care routine can reduce anxiety and prevent compassion fatigue. The presenters will discuss how music and imagery can be used to reduce stress. We will also provide examples on taking body breaks and mindful eating. * Relevance to Theme of Conference (Enhancing Student Success): To give educators tools to prevent burn out and develop physical, emotional and mental resilience. To provide tips for coping skills on how to manage stress and also implement these tools into their classroom.

Presenter Bio/

Fleur has been working as a Success Coach at Morley Community School, since September 2018.

Fleur’s clinical background is based in Music Therapy. She completed her Music Therapy Master’s degree in 2015 through the University of West England (UWE). Fleur is also currently doing a PHD in Musicology, focusing on “Improvisation and Wellbeing among Adults with Mental Health Disorders”.

Fleur’s therapeutic knowledge and experience is rooted in a humanistic approach and based in a person centred perspective.

Fleur has been a passionate advocate for counselling therapies to become regulated in Alberta, and was the secretary of FACT-AB, the association who lobbied for regulatory changes to take place. The bill (bill 30) passed in December 2018, and Alberta became the 5th province to regulate counselling therapists.

Rhonda is a Success Coach and Family Liaison with Stoney Education Authority. She strives to empower the students, teachers, administration and parents to enhance their overall mental health.

As a Success Coach, Rhonda focuses on school-based mental health capacity building, doing mental health promotion and prevention work. Rhonda has over 20 years of experience working with children 3-18 years and their families.

She has a wealth of knowledge with a background in Applied Psychology and Counselling. Rhonda is passionate about empowering students to be an advocate of their own wellness.

Jaime Goodison is a Success Coach at TsuuT’ina first nation schools. Her focus is school based mental health programming and enhancing wellness in both the community and school.

Jaime’s background consists of community rehabilitation, disability studies and mental health. She has been working in the mental health field for 15 years and makes every effort to promote wellness from a spiritual, physical and emotional lense.

Her passion is healing through eastern indigenous medicine and thus is currently studying this program of studies.

Scott Bailey (EverActive)

Games and Activities to Promote Self Regulation

  • Session Description/ When children and youth have the opportunity to develop the skills needed for self-regulation, they are better suited to make healthy choice that benefit them and their classmates. Join Ever Active Schools as we explore how classroooms, for all ages, can be optimal settings to promote these skills through fun, creative, and original activities.
  • Presenter Bio/ Scott joined Ever Active Schools after four years teaching grade 5/6 at Banded Peak School in Bragg Creek, Alberta. He works with teachers and administrators to make schools more active and healthy places to learn. “I have learned so much from all of the different students and athletes I’ve been fortunate enough to work with over the years. More often than not, the best ideas and answers to the tough problems come from students, which means that the biggest job of the adults involved in education is to open up opportunities for students to share and act on their thinking.”

Debbie Vance (21st Century Learning)

Jump Start Your Future (Dual Credit in Action)

  • Session Description/ Information on Post Secondary courses for high school students to take while they are still in school; Examples of Indigenous Shared Dual Credit Opportunities
  • Presenter Bio/ Principal/CEO of 21st Century Learning. Previous Director of Dual Credit with College of Alberta School Superintendents.

Bear Baker (Western Wilderness Adventures)

How to Build Viable Land Based Teaching Programs in your School

Session Description/ How to nurture a Land Based Philosophy into your organization, while maintaining the traditional values and morals of your Nation. Bear will discuss what formulates Land Based teachings, and how all of these teachings have a multi-disciplinary aspect to them. With increased mental health issues and separation from traditional practices becoming problematic. This session will help school staffs to see Land Based Teachings as the next "Big Thing" in curriculum. As Bear would say, "The best piece of mind is a piece of nature."

Presenter Bio/ Bear and his wife Diane own and operate Wild Horse Mountain Ranch and outfitters in Rocky Mountain House Alberta. Bear is from the Ojibway Nation and has built a reputation around being a fore-runner in Land Based Teaching Design. With a lifetime of experience in the wilderness of Ontario and Alberta he possesses the knowledge skills and attributes of what it takes to create a truly Land Based Curriculum. He is a professional hunter, trapper, guide and outfitter with a lifetime of experience in the wildernesses of Canada.

Stacey McRae-Arbuthnott (AHS)

Transform Your Stress – HeartMath

  • Session Description/ This course introduces the HeartMath system of breathing techniques and a heart rate variability tool that can help manage life’s challenges and improve overall health, emotional wellness and resilience. Techniques can be transferrable into the classroom to enhance student wellness.

Presenter Bio/ Stacey McRae-Arbuthnott is a Health Promotion Facilitator with Community Health Promotion Services (CHPS), Healthy Minds Healthy Children, Alberta Health Services. The CHPS Program strives to deliver coordinated prevention and health promotion efforts that positively impact youth, families, schools and communities. The aim of the CHPS Program is to increase resilience and agency while focusing on multiple socio-ecological levels that support youth and their families to avoid, delay or diminish the impact of mental health disorders, substance use, and gaming.


David Cloutier (Connect Charter)

Google and iPad Refresher

  • Session Description/ This power session will review innovative uses of iPad and Google Suite in the classroom for teaching and learning. Learn about best practices in collaboration accessibility, and the lastest apps and features to support student learning needs. David Cloutier is a teacher at Connect Charter School where students are one-to-one with iPads in grades 4 to 6.


Dorothy May (Renfrew)

“Addressing Apathy”

  • Session Description/ During this session we will briefly acknowledge what factors impact our students sense of motivation, so that we can shift our approach and strategies to a lens of empathy. Research shows that the most effective way to increase a student's motivation is through positive relationships with their educators; proactive and reactive strategies that can be used in developing relationships with students will be offered. Strategies can be adapted to all grade levels; however discussions may tend to be geared towards student in middle and high school.
  • Presenter Bio/ Dorothy May has worked with Renfrew Educational Services as a Behaviour Therapist for 12 years through the in home, school and community programs. Her work experience has involved consultation and direct intervention with these sectors regarding: understanding how human development impacts behaviour, general behaviour management strategies as well as understanding the function of behaviours in order to strategize and implement specific individualized behaviour plans. Dorothy has recently joined the team working in the Tsuut’ina Nation middle and high school as well as at Chiila elementary. Ideally, Dorothy would like to change the stigma that "behaviour" is negative or bad; all people use behaviour to meet their needs and to communicate with others. Behaviour is a message for others to receive, interpret and respond to with support and empathy.

Dwayne Donald (UofA)

Holistic Approaches to Life and Living

  • Session Description/ In this session, I will share details from a course offered at the University of Alberta in partnership with Elder Bob Cardinal of the Enoch Cree Nation that focused on Holistic Approaches to Life and Living. I will offer some curricular and pedagogical insights in relation to the guiding vision of the course and some of the approaches taken with it. I will also share clips from a documentary film made on the course that shares student experiences as participant in the course process. There will be lots of time left for questions and discussion. This session focuses on ways we can follow sacred wisdom teachings to guide our teaching and learning processes in schools today. Success, in this example, comes in finding more meaning in life and looking for balance in how we live.
  • Presenter Bio/ Dr. Dwayne Donald is a descendent of the amiskwaciwiyiniwak (Beaver Hills people) and the Papaschase Cree and is an associate professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. His work focuses on ways in which Indigenous philosophies can expand and enhance our understandings of curriculum and pedagogy.