2019 Keynote Speakers


Dr. Kevin wâsakâyâsiw Lewis is a nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) instructor, researcher, and writer. Dr. Lewis has worked with higher learning institutions in the Prairies, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta—here, his areas of practice focused on Cree language development and instructional methodologies. His ongoing research interests include language and policy development, second language teaching methodologies, teacher education programming, and environmental education.


For the past 11 years, Dr. Lewis has worked with community schools to promote land- and language-based education. He is the founder of kâniyâsihk Culture Camps (www.kaniyasihkculturecamps.com/), a non-profit land-based educational program focused on holistic community well-being. Dr. Lewis is currently Assistant Professor in Curriculum Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. He is from Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6 Territory.







Dr. Lorena Sekwan Fontaine (LL.B., LL.M., Ph.D.) is Cree-Anishinabe and a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. She is the Indigenous Academic Lead at the University of Winnipeg and an Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies.

Professor Fontaine has taught for the First Nations University of Canada and the School of Public Policy Graduate Program at Queens University. She has spoken both nationally and internationally and has authored articles on residential school issues and Indigenous language rights in Canada. Her most recent publication “Our Languages are Sacred: Indigenous Language Rights in Canada” is contained in a collection of essays that reflect the recommendations of Indigenous legal scholars and policy leaders on how Canada can braid together a new legal framework through the implementation of UN Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Her Ph.D. research was presented in a CBC documentary entitled “Undoing Linguicide” which was awarded the 2017 RTDNA Adrienne Clarkson Award for Diversity – Radio and Network. She has also worked with the Assembly of First Nations as an advisor on Aboriginal languages for many years.

Professor Fontaine is also a strong supporter of equality rights. She was an Equality Rights Panel Member of the Court Challenges Program and has been involved with the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund as a board member and subcommittee member. Currently, she is a National Steering Committee Member for National Association of Women and the Law.


Dr. Onowa McIvor is maskékow-ininiw (Swampy Cree) and Scottish-Canadian from Treaty 5 territory but grew up in Treaty 6 territory (northern Saskatchewan). Her Cree family is from kinosao sipi (Norway House) and Pimicikamak (Cross Lake) in northern Manitoba. She currently resides in SENĆOŦEN and Lekwungen speaking territories in southern Vancouver Island in BC. Onowa is a lifelong adult learner of her mother tongue nehinaw/nehiyaw/nehithaw (learning across all three dialects at once!). Dr. McIvor is an Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous Education at the University of Victoria and co-leads the NEȾOLṈEW̱ Research Partnership Grant, a six-year SSHRC project working to understand and enhance Indigenous adults’ contributions to reviving Indigenous languages in Canada. However, her most important job is raising two daughters with the help of her extended family.




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