Elders Council

Our mission is to align strategic paths and foster the flourishing of Indigenous students’ potential. At the very core, the Elders Council directs us, tasked with the crucial role of advising the Steering Committee. This guidance ensures our Blueprint initiatives remain rooted in community values and meticulously attuned to the educational needs of Indigenous learners. In a milestone event, the Elders Council Launch convened in Winnipeg on August 30 and 31, 2023, marking a significant beginning. It was here that the council’s members connected, laying the groundwork for a relationship of mutual respect and shared objectives among themselves, the Steering Committee, and the dedicated Blueprint staff. It was an invaluable opportunity for everyone to delve into the rich legacy of the Blueprint, explore current endeavors, and strengthen their communal bonds. Join us on this visionary path as we endeavor to create a future where Indigenous education is not just a priority, but a celebrated model of success.

Paul Guimond

Paul Guimond is part of the Turtle Clan and his Spirit Name is Okonace (Little Eagle Bone). He lives with his wife Kim in Sagkeeng First Nation and together they have three children, 16 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Elder Paul studied Counselling Skills at the University of Manitoba and is a certified coach in hockey, baseball and lacrosse.

In Sagkeeng, Elder Paul sat on Chief & Council for 20 years and served as the School Board Chairman for ten years. Elder Paul is a Sundance Bundle Carrier (Chief), Sweat Lodge Bundle Carrier (Water drum) and Dark Room Bundle Carrier. He is an active Elder with Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and Sagkeeng Child & Family Services, where he offers healing, guidance in spiritual growth and personal development through ceremony, programming and encouraging healthy relationships.

Susan McPherson-Derendy

Susan McPherson-Derendy is Nehiyaw (Cree) from northern Manitoba and resides in Anishinaabe territory in southwestern Manitoba, home now to many nations including the Dakota, Nehiyaw, Anish-Nehiyaw (Oji-Cree), Métis, Inuit, Dene, and settlers and immigrants.  Susie is a family and community minded person first and has a passion for spiritual revival and cultural restoration and reconciliation through relationships and community development.  She is a life-long learner and a strong advocate for empowerment and justice.

Myra Laramee

Dr. Myra Laramee | Cree, ocêko-sîpiy (Fisher River Cree Nation)  

Since 1976, Myra Laramee, a member of Fisher River Cree Nation, has helped transform Manitoba’s education system as a beloved teacher, co-founder of the Aboriginal Teaching Circle, administrator, counsellor, mentor, Traditional Indigenous Knowledge Keeper, and creator of no fewer than 12 guiding documents on how Manitoba can infuse Reconciliation, Indigenous languages, and Indigenous-centred content into curricula. 

Her doctoral thesis, “Teaching and Learning as an Act of Love:  An examination of the impact of seven traditional Indigenous teaching practices in teacher education and on teacher’s classroom practices” has revolutionized the classroom and was groundbreaking in legitimizing the recognition and citation of Traditional Knowledge in academic works.

Winner of the Distinguished UM Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation’s Outstanding Aboriginal Educator Award, Myra has served her community tirelessly. She has shared her wisdom and guidance as an advisor and policy maker for innumerable initiatives and institutions; the Winnipeg school division, Manitoba Education and Training-Post-Secondary Partnership Group, the University of Manitoba-Dean’s Aboriginal Education Task Force, the Manitoba Industry-Academia Partnership’s Indigenous Pillar and MCIEB Elders Council are just a few.  

Above all, Myra is a Capan (Chapan, Grandmother), Mother, Sister, Daughter and friend.  These roles have been significant in shaping the person that she is today, as have the mentors in Myra’s life who encouraged her to reach her potential. As a Traditional Knowledge Keeper, she imparts the importance of these relationships by teaching Ogichi Tibakonigaywin, Kihche Othasowewin, Tako Wakan: The Great Binding Law. 

Myra’s lifework embodies this law that connects us all. She gives endlessly of herself to empower all her relations to reach their potential and pay it forward to others.

Ivy Chaske

Ivy Chaske is a Dakota Grandmother, Elder, and Knowledge Keeper. She has been working with the NorWest Co-op Community Health Intervention and Outreach Team for over three years and provides teachings and support to the youth participants and their families. She has been instrumental in changing the way the Intervention and Outreach Team approaches wraparound supports and was invited to sit on the Wrap Canada board two years ago.

She has dedicated her life to working on Indigenous issues through community activism and is passionate about improving relationships and developing alliances with non-Indigenous people. Ivy believes that traditional teachings are a foundation for the work that IOT does with youth and families and that through reclaiming this knowledge youth will develop a sense of pride in their identity, strength of spirit and belonging, and a sense of place within their Indigenous Nation.

Barbara Bruce

Barbara Bruce (Flies High Thunderbird and Truth Talker) is a citizen of the Red River Métis Nation. Her beliefs of Métis and other Indigenous traditional teachings are reflected in her 40+ years of experience. Her dedication to advancing the rightful place of the Two Spirit community, Indigenous women and children are an integral part of her life.

She has an extensive network and working relationships with the Métis Nation and other Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders, and organizations.   Her portfolio includes board appointments with the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, the Manitoba Communities Economic Development Fund, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Top 40 Under 40, the University of Winnipeg Board of Regents and the Métis Child and Family Services Authority.

Barbara has received extensive recognition and honour for her work in cultural social justice and for her contribution to the wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples from many communities and organizations.  Some of those are, the Human Rights Commission of Manitoba, Sagkeeng First Nation, Keeping the Fires Burning with Ka Ni Kanichihk as a Kookum, the Order of Manitoba, the Nellie McClung Foundation 150 Manitoba Women Trailblazers Award, and the Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for Manitoba.

Ron Cook

Ron Cook is a speaker of nēhinawēwin, the language of the ininiw. He was a fisherman on Lake Winnipeg before he made the decision to become a teacher in order to teach the language. He graduated with a B.Ed from Brandon University in 1996 with greatest distinction. An ability to converse in the language has allowed him to sit with nēhinawēwin speaking knowledge keepers and to learn about the language. He is now retired but is still a student of nēhinawēwin, following the instructions of the Elders to learn what the language is saying about the ininiw and their world view. 

Martha Peet

Martha Peet, Inuit Elder and Traditional Knowledge Keeper from Taloyaok, Nunavut, believes that coming from the Traditional Knowledge perspective telling stories is about sharing her own experiences and the traditional Inuit way of life.

Taloyaok was founded in 1948 when the HBC established a trading post. Five nomadic families moved in, including hers. Martha Peet was born in 1950.

“I was there from the beginning. I lived in an igloo in the winter and a tent in the summer. My job as a child was collecting cotton in the summer for the wick on the seal oil [soapstone] lamp, which was fueled by blubber. I always had chores. I carried water twice a day from the lake. I made bannock and tea. We boiled our meat—seal and caribou,” she says.

As a Traditional Knowledge Keeper and a storyteller for over 30 years, Peet enjoys sharing stories about her life, where she is from, and the Inuit way of life of years ago including the importance of animals and traditions.

The Inuit have the same sacred teachings, the animals are not use to send the messages but rather teachings the same messages.