Elders play an important role within the Indigenous community. They are respected for the knowledge they hold and it is believed that they live a good life; mino-bimaadiziwin. It is the responsibility of Elders to know and share traditional language, knowledge, culture, and history and to pass on these teachings to others. The Lakehead University Elders Council was established in 2005.
Gene Nowegejick is a member of the Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek. He is a parent, grandparent, and great grandparent. He assisted with the development of cultural programming for children with various organizations for many years. He has been blessed to grow up traditionally and to have learned from his grandparents. He is from the Lake Nipigon peoples. Gene’s grandfather is a direct descendent of one of the signatories to the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850. He has relations at Fort William First Nation, Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek, and Grand Portage. Gene has many historical connections with these communities. Gene previously worked with adult students at Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment & Training Services - Matawa (KKETS) where he provided student supports and services. He’s been a social worker for 30 years, as well as a former police officer. Gene believes we need to reinforce our connections to language and traditional ceremonies and conducts the monthly sweat lodge ceremonies at Lakehead University. Gene is currently retired.
Sam Achneepineskum is originally from Marten Falls First Nation. Throughout his life he has learned from living in the bush. Living in this way has given him a distinct perspective on life and its issues. Sam has gained knowledge and experience by being involved with issues that affect Indigenous lives. He has worked extensively with residential school survivors and correctional facilities. A big part of working with residential school survivors and corrections is using ceremonies and teachings to enhance the good way of life, as intended by the Creator. Sam has been involved with the City of Thunder Bay and has worked previously as the Aboriginal Liaison with the City.
Beatrice Twance-Hynes is from the Bear Clan (maternal), Deer Clan (paternal) and from the Biigtigong First Nation (formerly Pic River First Nation). She has lived in Thunder Bay since 1988 with her husband Gerry. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother. Beatrice has a Native Teacher’s Certificate from Lakehead University and an Ontario Management Development Certificate from Confederation College and numerous courses in human resources. She has worked in Human Resources at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, and has been their Cultural Manager since December 2012. Beatrice is a traditional women’s dancer who makes her own regalia. She is a grandmother pipe carrier, a sacred circle facilitator, songwriter, singer and drummer.
She shares teachings on the Medicine Wheel, the Sacred Medicines, and the Seven Sacred Grandfathers, women and water teachings, and teachings on the hand drum, drum-making and birthing. She facilitates sacred circles. In her role as Cultural Manager, Beatrice has had the opportunity to sit in on traditional healing sessions with a traditional healer since January 2014 and has learned a lot of teachings. Beatrice has been a member of the Elders Advisory Council, Aboriginal Liaison with the City of Thunder Bay since December 2013 and a member of the Elders Council at Lakehead University since April 2015. She is also one the Elders-in-Residence at Lakehead University.
Often called Cedar Woman, Trish Monague is from Beausoleil First Nation, a mother of four children and grandmother to six grandchildren. Trish began her relationship with the spirit at the age of three and uses her gift as a cultural teacher and spiritual healer. She has been clean and sober and walking the Anishnawbe Miikan for 30 years. For 15 years she worked as an addiction’s counsellor with the Beausoleil Family Health Centre. Currently, she is the Heritage and Culture Coordinator for Beausoleil First Nation.
For the last three years, Trish has shared her time, wisdom, and teachings with Lakehead Orillia students, faculty and staff as a visiting Elder and traditional Counsellor. Her guidance has led to the spiritual growth of various departments resulting in improved supports and accessibility for Indigenous students and community members who visit.
Trish has shared sacred teachings and traditional medicines with students who are looking for clarity and direction for their education, career and life path. She has led ceremonies on campus to ensure the campus is a positive and safe learning space for all. Through her open approach to teaching, she has also contributed to the personal and professional development of staff and faculty who attend her teachings.
Trish is a member of the Elders Council at Lakehead University, and currently acts as an Elder-in-Residence.
Ernie is a member of (Whitesand First Nation). He works with his wife Charlotte on traditional ceremonies such as sweat lodge ceremonies, pipe ceremonies, sunrise ceremonies, naming ceremonies, young men’s teachings, etc. Ernie is also an Elder for Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and conducts sweat lodge ceremonies for community members.
Gerry no longer serves on the Elders Council, however he remains one of the Elders in Residence. Gerry is from Mattagami First Nation. He is a former nurse and student of traditional Aboriginal healing methods. He enjoys teaching and sharing knowledge of traditional healing methods and considers it a life long journey to learn more. He provides traditional counselling, knowledge of medicine, history, art and storytelling to students at Lakehead University, Confederation College, and Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment & Training Services, Matawa First Nations Management Inc. (KKETS).
Ma-Nee has faced numerous challenges in her life that have prompted her to embark on a path of spiritual healing through art. She was born in Thunder Bay, Ontario and was adopted by a French Canadian family. She was then found and returned home to her Cree kokum at the age of two to be raised in a remote Ojibwe community north of Lake Nipigon. Being a two-spirited Elder and storyteller, she uses various media for personal and community spiritual healing. She is visually impaired and her art tells a story of the journey people face each day. Ma-Nee has also authored, A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder; a compelling and harrowing, but ultimately uplifting story of resilience and self-discovery.
Senator Ken Simard
Senators have a special place in Métis culture, the Métis Nation of Ontario and in its governance structure. They are highly respected for their knowledge, values, and experience.
Senators provide an Elder’s presence at community events and meetings, and they help to keep Métis culture alive by sharing Métis traditions and ways of life. For the past 22 years, Ken has been ‘Captain of the Hunt’ for the Métis Nation of Ontario in Region 2 and has also served on the Thunder Bay Métis Council and the Lands & Resources and Consultations committees for the Métis Nation Region 2. Ken is greatly admired for his leadership ability and cheerful disposition.