Indigenous Initiatives Educator
Reporting to the Development and Consultation team lead, Leah is responsible for assisting graduate students and faculty in incorporating Indigenous perspectives within their existing programs and curriculum.
Leah describes herself as tri-cultural – Dakota/Anishinaabe/Metis – with ancestry that is connected to the Sagkeeng and Long Plains First Nations, both located in Manitoba. Leah’s Spirit name is “nagweyaab ikwe, nindizhinikaaz”. Translated from Anishinaabe, it means “Rainbow woman”. These cultural roots have contributed to the philosophical base that assists her with her artistic and educational praxis in teaching and learning. Leah believes that teacher and learner can create an intersection of Indigenous and Western education that encourages respect, relationship building and reconciliation.
As the Indigenous Initiatives Educator, Leah believes that this position plays an integral role in the development of cultural resources and programming for instructors and graduate students around Indigenous education. This leadership role is an important one for it involves the Indigenous knowledges and understandings (epistemologies) of practices and methods to support learning that assist in the full development of a learner’s potential.
Leah’s teaching experiences include being a sessional instructor in the School of Art at the U of M as well as having worked as a community-based art teacher at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Indigenous and non-Indigenous community-based organizations and various educational institutions provincially and nationally. Leah’s skills and abilities have also been valuable at diverse Indigenous educational events across Canada. She is one of the founders of the Urban Shaman Contemporary Art Gallery located in Winnipeg and has been a lecturer in the Wendy Wersch Memorial Lecture Series (2016), sponsored by Mentoring Artist and Women Artist (MAWA), as well as a presenter at the Women’s World 2011 Global Feminist Conference held in Ottawa. Her lecture and presentation were both based on her thesis “Spirit Menders: the expression of trauma in art practice by Manitoba Aboriginal women artists” (2010). Leah has also appeared in various art publications as author and artist and has been recognized as a co-author on the Faculty of Engineering’s research-into-practice paper entitled “Engineering Education Re-interpreted Using the Indigenous Sacred Hoop Framework” (2019).
Leah is also a founding member of Sun Rope, an Indigenization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team (IEDI).
In community, we recognize a kinship. This kinship acts as bridge that contains our blood memories, our interconnections of all things, connection with the Sky, the Earth, the four cardinal directions and with our relatives, those that fly, crawl and swim, the four legged and two legged. The title of the “Sun Rope” acts like a bridge, much like a rainbow provided by the Sun, connecting our humanity that collectively employs the Earth’s axis to rotate globally.
In a similar way, we use the metaphor of a Sun Rope to reflect the kinship and connections among Indigenization, decolonization, equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives, and the relationships we form as educators. We recognize the connections and differences in our paths, and work to build bridges to support each other’s diverse aims.
B.A., B.F.A. (Honours), B.Ed., M.A.
Master of Arts Thesis:
Spirit Menders: the expression of trauma in art practices by Manitoba Aboriginal women artists (2010). University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Artist: Art Piece-Trickster: Aboriginal Studies10: Aboriginal Perspectives-Education Duvall House, Edmonton, Alberta (2005).
Writer: “The Iconology, Manitou(s) and Metaphors of Josh Kakegamic”, Gallery 111, School of Art, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba (2004).
Feature Artist: “Essay-Aboriginal Artists: Defying Expectations, Writer, Cathy Mattes, Canadian Dimension Magazine, (January/February 2007). Writer, Essay, “Reclaiming Our Stories”, Art exhibition, Mother’s, Mother’s, Mother, Southwestern Gallery of Manitoba, Brandon, Manitoba, (2008).
Co-Author, “Engineering Education Re-interpreted Using the Indigenous Sacred Hoop Framework (2019).” University of Manitoba, Faculty of Engineering, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“Celebration Wall”, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, (2005). “Cheque and Cash Indian”, Province of Manitoba, Provincial Art Collection, Winnipeg, Manitoba (2005).
“Elements”, New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families, Winnipeg, Manitoba (2005).
Grants, Scholarship & Fellowship
Artist In Residence: ARTSMARTS- (2011) -(2 Grants)-Manitoba Arts Council, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Graduate Studies, National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation -(3)-Scholarships, (2007-2009).
Awarded Graduate Scholarship: Cohen, Berdie and Irvin In Peace and Conflict Studies (2010), University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba and various scholarship awards from Indspire, Toronto, Ontario, a national Indigenous charity that invests in the education of Indigenous people in Canada.