Role models are an important aspect in our community. At APAC, we showcase our amazing Aboriginal professionals through our Recognizing Excellence program. As part of APAC’s founding pillars, Recognizing Excellence includes sharing success stories from Aboriginal professionals across Canada.
To nominate someone for our Recognizing Excellence program kindly email email@example.com
By Millie Knapp
Describe your job in just under four sentences.
My role as the executive director for the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada is to work with the board of directors and members to bring the vision of our organization to life. The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada is a network that promotes philanthropy in Aboriginal communities across the country. We connect individuals, organizations and communities to each other to share, learn, and collaborate.
Why did you start working in your industry? What sparked your interest in this area?
The common thread in my professional experiences is to improve the health of Indigenous peoples in Canada. I am a registered dietitian with a masters in public health.
About career choices, I ask, “Will this make a positive difference and how?” There are opportunities to inspire people to give back. I work in the non-profit sector because I like to work with key people to achieve a common goal such as starting a national school breakfast program.
What do you enjoy most about your job? What aspect makes you learn the most while on the job?
I like learning about opportunities, possibilities, and the amazing things that people behind projects and activities achieve.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I want to feel challenged and positive about my work and manage a balance outside of work. I appreciate professional success yet I take care of myself and find time for friends and family.
What does success look like to you?
At the Assembly of First Nations, my team’s rationale to include a chapter in a regional health survey on food security in First Nations was approved. For the first time, a chapter that I co-wrote was published and now provides a benchmark for work we’re involved in to improve food security.
What has been the most outstanding moment thus far in your career?
For me, completing my thesis research in partnership with my father’s community of Elsipogtog First Nation stands out. My elder’s advisory committee helped me to weave “community” into the academic framework.Over 30 people attended my community presentation. Recently I was contacted as part of a Ph.D. study about what it means to do research within the community. Our project was selected as a best practice.
Do you volunteer? If so, where and why is that important to you?
I am on the board of directors for Imagine Canada and I co-chair a national professional practice network called the Aboriginal Nutrition Network. I am on an advisory committee of Sustain Ontario and volunteer as an advisor for a number of food-related organizations. Volunteering has always been important to me. It provides an opportunity to give back and share my strengths outside of work.
Do you have any advice for other Aboriginal professionals in Canada?
Embrace opportunities to mentor students or individuals who are looking to enhance professional growth. Look for mentors to help you. We are stronger together.
What do you think is the most unique challenge for an Aboriginal person in your industries?
One unique challenge as a health care professional is when my professional practice guidelines don’t align with my traditional holistic health teachings.
There are over 85,000 charities in Canada. There is no information about the percentage of Aboriginal people on the boards or working in these organizations. This is an opportunity to understand unique issues and to tell a story.
What made you interested in joining the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada and why would you encourage others to join?
I was looking for this type of network 12 years ago during my first job in Toronto at a provincial cancer agency.
April Member Profile:
Victoria Grant, Moving Red Canoe
March Member Profile:
Denise Booth, Ryerson University
February Member Profile:
Mark Rutledge, Owner, MHR Studies
January Member Profile:
Natalie Bomberry, Director of Client Experience at Pilot PRM
March Member Profile:
David Abbott, Ojibway-Métis with CIBC Mellon
April Member Profile:
Sage Paul, Denesuline with imagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival
May Member Profile:
Barry Payne, President and CEO of Adirondack Group of Companies
June Member Profile:
Jennifer Bolton, Gladue Caseworker with Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto
July Member Profile:
Lisa Charleyboy, Freelance Writer/Blogger/Communications Specialist and VP Communications at APAC
August Member Profile:
Janet Janvier, Aboriginal Relations Advisor at TransAlta
September Member Profile:
Robert Jolicoeur, Aboriginal Relations Advisor at TransAlta
October Member Profile:
Jason Ryle, Saulteaux, Executive Director, imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
November Member Profile:
Kira Thompson, owner and operator of The Brow House
December Member Profile:
Dan Shaule, researcher and document manager at Olthius Kleer Townshend – LLP