Mercedes Jacko, she/they
Indigenous Initiatives Coordinator Personnel
Mercedes Jacko, she/they, is Bear Clan and her family is from Birch Island in Whitefish River First Nation. She is proudly both First Nation Ojibwe and Canadian and brings an urban Indigenous perspective from her experience living in Toronto, Ontario.
Mercedes Jacko is the Indigenous Initiatives Coordinator on the Orillia campus and has worked in post-secondary education since 2015. She previously held the positions of Indigenous Student Advisor in Indigenous Services, Indigenous Advisor in the Youth Employment Pathways (YEP) program, and Instructor – Indigenous Peoples of Canada at Georgian College. Within her advisor roles, she academically supported Indigenous students and led Indigenous initiatives by coordinating awareness campaigns, events, workshops, and activities for Georgian College students and staff on the Orillia campus. In addition, she has worked as a Transition Outreach Worker at Biminaawzogin Regional Aboriginal Women’s Circle (BRAWC) by supporting clients with obtaining permanent housing and addressing barriers to economic independence. Furthermore, she has worked as a Learning Facilitator in the Community Integration through Co-operative Education (CICE) Ontario College Certificate program at Georgian College by supporting students with diverse learning challenges who require academic accommodations and modifications.
Additionally, Mercedes volunteers as the Board of Directors Secretary at Orillia Native Women’s Group (ONWG). She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Psychology Degree and a Certificate in Women Studies at Laurentian University. Always learning, she continues her education through on-going professional development in equity and diversity, Safer Spaces (2S-LGBTQ+), health and wellness, Indigenous knowledge sharing and community programs, life promotion and suicide prevention, and substance care and treatment. Mercedes is currently upgrading her BA to a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Specialization in Psychology Degree at Laurentian University and plans to apply for her Master of Arts (MA) next.
“I seek to actively learn from the multitude of teachings from different peoples and global perspectives. I am dedicated to creating safer spaces where everyone is valued regardless of race, culture, religion, gender, sexuality, class, and ability. Honouring diversity will lead to change. Change is when people come together and celebrate their differences. By truly honouring everyone’s gifts, knowledge, and perspectives, we can shift our intentions towards growth, inspiration, and change. Everyone has knowledge to share and that is the true strength of diversity. Let's learn from one another!” – Mercedes Jacko