Keynote Speakers

Joshua Whitehead Wednesday, May 19, 10:45am – 12:00pm CST

Joshua Whitehead (he/him) is a Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1) and an award-winning author, activist, and scholar. He is currently a PhD candidate, lecturer, and Killam scholar at the University of Calgary, where he studies Indigenous literatures and cultures with a focus on gender and sexuality. His dissertation, tentatively titled “Feral Fatalisms,” is a hybrid narrative of theory, essay, and non-fiction that interrogates the role of “ferality” inherent within Indigenous ways of being (with a strong focus on nêhiyawewin).

Whitehead is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks, 2017), which was shortlisted for an inaugural Indigenous Voices Award and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. He is also the author of Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018), which was longlisted for the Giller Prize; shortlisted for an Indigenous Voices Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, and the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award; and won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction, the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction, and CBC’s Canada Reads 2021.

Whitehead is currently working on a third manuscript titled Making Love with the Land to be published with Knopf Canada, which explores the intersections of Indigeneity, queerness, and, most prominently, mental health through a nêhiyaw lens. Currently, Whitehead is premiering his newly edited anthology Love after the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction. You can find his work published widely in such venues as Prairie Fire, CV2, EVENT, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Fiddlehead, Grain, CNQ, Write, and Red Rising Magazine.


Waneek Horn-Miller Thursday, May 20, 9:30-10:30am CST

The journey of Waneek Horn-Miller does not begin and end with being an Olympic water polo athlete. A Mohawk from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory near Montreal, Waneek was behind the lines during the Oka Crisis in 1990 when a Canadian soldier stabbed her with a bayonet. It was a near-death experience that marked a turning point in her life. Waneek has overcome discrimination and violence to emerge as one of North America’s most inspiring female Indigenous speakers, facilitators, and advocates with a compelling perspective and dynamic stories to share.

Her presentations aim at bridging the gap and repairing relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. While she recently stepped down from her role for the MMIWG Inquiry to focus on her family, she supports the goal of the Inquiry and advocates on Indigenous issues in other ways to help build healthy and prosperous communities.

Waneek is an advocate for building Indigenous sport and has worked with the Assembly of First Nations to develop their sport, fitness, and health strategy. Drawing on her experiences as the former co-captain of Canada’s Olympic women’s water polo team, Waneek shares her story and teaches how to build self-esteem through a balance of education and sport. Waneek travels extensively from border to border, speaking to Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences on reconciliation, sport, and why we all must strive for our dreams.


Tonia Jo Hall & Joel Wood Friday, May 21, 9:30-10:30am CST

Tonia Jo Hall (Lakota/Hidatsa, Fort Yates, ND, US) is a comedian most notably known for her comedic character, Auntie Beachress. Joel Wood (Cree, Maskwacîs, AB, CA) is a member of the nine-time Grammy-nominated powwow drum group Northern Cree. Joel will share about his travels across powwow country and beyond. “Our goal is to bring healing through laughter, prayer, and song.”