Melody is a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation and was raised in our beautiful community of Fort Chipewyan. My family and community teachings in environmental values and stewardship at a young age motivated me to advance my education and study environmental conservation sciences at the University of Alberta. This balance in teachings of both traditional knowledge and western science has become my key strength in her professional career. I am honored to have been working directly for our First Nation for the past eleven years, first as the environmental coordinator and now currently as the Director. During my time with the GIR, I have been managing numerous files some of which include six oil sands regulatory interventions, co-developing the Mikisew Cree consultation protocol, numerous traditional land use studies and oil sands application reviews, initiating a community based environmental monitoring program and participating in multiple government policy initiatives. I am now enrolled in the Masters of Science program of Environment and Management at Royal Roads University will complete the program in the Fall of 2016. When I’m not working I enjoy Alpine climbing, canoeing, camping, travelling, gardening and spending quality time with myfamily.
MANAGER, internal operations
Ashley Jacobs is from Keswick, Ontario and has been with the GIR since June 2013. She was hired as the Administrative Assistant and worked in that position until February 2014, before transitioning to Melody Lepine’s Executive Assistant. Ashley has a broad educational background; including her graduation from Georgian College with a diploma is Ski Resort Operations and Management -which ultimately led her to Fort McMurray in the winter of 2009. Upon graduation in the summer of 2010 she moved to Fort McMurray to take advantage of the exciting and diverse employment opportunities in the thriving Oil Sands Region. In 2013 she pursued her Business Management Diploma at Keyano College, and realized she enjoyed the HR focused courses and chose to transfer programs. In May of 2015 she received the Human Resources Management Certificate from Keyano College and, and then transitioned into her current role of Manager of Internal Operations. She is very passionate her role in HR and hopes to pursue her degree in Human Resource Management in the fall of 2015. Ashley has thoroughly enjoyed working at the GIR, and meeting the MCFN members through various meetings and events. She is an avid snowboarder, who loves to travel to the beautiful mountains throughout BC and Alberta, while also going home to Ontario frequently to spend time with her family.
Sheena is a proud Mikisew Cree First Nation member of Fort Chipewyan. After High School, Sheena held many Office Administration roles in Fort Chipewyan including working for the Mikisew Cree First Nation band office and for the Nunee Health Board Society. Realizing that she wanted to further her education, she moved to Fort McMurray in 2012 and enrolled in the Office Administration program at Keyano College. Sheena began working part-time with the Mikisew GIR in March 2014 to complete her On-The-Job training portion of her program. In May 2014, she graduated with a diploma in Office Administration with a specialization in Electronic Publishing and was hired full-time at the Mikisew GIR as the Administration Coordinator. Sheena feels privileged to work for her First Nation and to stay so well connected to her hometown of Fort Chipewyan.
When Sheena is not working, she enjoys: yoga, travelling, yard saleing, trips home to Fort Chip and spending quality time with her family, friends and boyfriend.
As a Mikisew member, working at the GIR office in Fort McMurray for the past 10 years, I have enjoyed my position in the Finance department as I work closely with the Business Centre in Fort Chipewyan. This opportunity has given me the chance to be involved in the organizations many events such as: The Cultural Retreat (9th Annual), Elders Christmas Celebration, Treaty Days and Roadshows. I enjoy talking to the Elders, and I have many relatives in the Community. Some highlights of my career while being at the GIR include: a 2004 invitation to plant the 3 millionth tree at the Suncor Reclamation site, and again in 2011 to plant the 5 millionth tree. Both were exciting experiences that brought back memories of being one of the first tree planters for the Alberta Forestry Service in the early 1970’s.
Jocelyn lived on the land for most of her earlier years. She attended school but left early all the while continuing to practice her cultural heritage. Jocelyn has the knowledge that enables her to understand what is needed in her role as a Community Coordinator, which bridges the link in translating the traditional knowledge to what is needed by the Government and Industry Relations (GIR).
Jocelyn then went back to school later on as an adult and completed school. Upon achieving her grade 12, Jocelyn then applied for a job with the Mikisew Cree First Nation (GIR).
Jocelyn started working part-time for the MCFN- GIR out of the Fort Chipewyan office in 2010 and flourished in her job role, taking on a wide variety of responsibilities. In 2013 she made the transition to a full time employee, and continues to work closely with staff at the Band office, various consultants, industry partners and the GIR team. She also is actively involved with engaging the MCFN of Fort Chipewyan, Trappers, Hunters and Traditional Knowledge Keepers into community events and initiatives.
Manager, Government Relations
Mr. Braun is a member of the Pimicikimak Cree First Nation and was born and raised in Northern Manitoba in Treaty 5 Territory. His family and community teachings fostered a natural inclination toward an environmental career with values in promoting stewardship. Mr. Braun spent much of his youth on the land trapping fishing and hunting and further was employed in the mining and logging industries and went on to be educated as a Natural Resource Management Technologist and further into the Environmental Sciences. Knowledgeable in both the traditional and scientific ways, Mr. Braun has created the ability to collaborate well, focusing on communication and understanding of both the community, government and industries aspirations.
Mr. Braun has been working directly for First Nations and government for the past twenty years, first as a technician in the fisheries, wildlife, forestry fields and then as a consultant for First Nations in environmental monitoring and natural resource management. More recently Mr. Braun has worked on Treaty Land Entitlement processes on behalf of 21 First Nations in Manitoba alongside the Federal and provincial governments. Mr. Braun also worked for the Anishinabek of Ontario as a Minerals and Mines Analyst facilitating consultation processes within the Ontario mining sector and also served as a Senior Policy Analyst for Manitoba’s Department of Conservation and Water Stewardship working specifically on the topic of the Duty to Consult. Mr. Braun has joined the Mikisew Cree First Nation’s Government and Industry Relations office as Senior Consultation Coordinator and is managing specific projects being planned by government and industry.
Margaret comes to us after three years of working with the Fort McKay community as their regulatory coordinator responsible for coordinating all of McKay’s regulatory applications. Originally born in Toronto, Ontario she spent most of her youth living in small northern communities in Ontario where she enjoyed time spent outdoors in the northern wilderness, especially camping and fishing and trapping with her dad. After moving across Canada from Ontario to Saskatchewan, she finally settled in Alberta where she completed her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Alberta in their Environmental and Conservation Sciences program, specializing in Wildlife Restoration and Conservation Biology. She followed her husband to Fort McMurray after completing her university studies where she was employed by Golder Associates Ltd. and eventually the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA) where she served eight years as their Land Program Manager, specializing in contracts management, multi-stakeholder relations and negotiation/facilitation. The relationships she built with several of the First Nations and Métis communities during her time with CEMA furthered her interest and passion in working with Aboriginal communities to address consultation issues.
While not at work, Margaret enjoys spending time with her family which includes her two children, two Great Danes, Siamese cat, Senegal parrot and of course her husband. As an avid animal lover Margaret enjoys supporting animal rescue and showing her Great Danes in competition.
Sebastien Fekete has been working with the GIR for the past 4 years as a Consultation Coordinator, and is known for his accurate shot which he mastered in the Peace Athabasca Delta. Prior to joining Mikisew, Sebastien studied abroad in the Netherlands where he got a Master’s degree in International Development with a major in Human Rights and Social Justice and a minor in Environment and Sustainable Development. He also has a degree in Commerce, which he obtained in Montreal from Concordia University. Sebastien has experience in project management, group facilitation, policy analysis, and report writing/editing.
In his spare time, Sebastien enjoy’s snowboarding, tennis, volleyball, rock climbing and fishing.
Patricia (Trish) Hardisty is from Colville Lake, NT and is a member of the Behdzi Ahda First Nation in the Sahtu Region and Treaty 11 Territory. Prior to moving to Fort McMurray in July 2012, she spent most of her career living and working in various communities throughout the Northwest Territories, including Colville Lake, Norman Wells, Yellowknife and Fort Simpson.
During this time, Trish worked in various Private, Government and First Nations Government roles, including five years advocating for First Nation youth by co-founding the NWT Youth Council and representing the Northwest Territories at the national level for the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).
Ms. Hardisty’s various work experience has resulted in a diverse skill set including: stakeholder relations; project management; budgeting and finance; and community and business development. She most recently worked in the Economic Development Department for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, specializing in Rural Areas.
Trish was raised in a traditional community where many people today continue to live off the land hunting and trapping. She has a strong respect and connection to the land and is pleased to be a part of the Mikisew Cree First Nation Government and Industry Relations Team as a Consultation Coordinator.
Denise Golden is a Ph.D. Candidate in Forest Sciences at Lakehead University-she is defending her dissertation 16, September, 2016. Her research examines boreal forest carbon, forest conservation and utilization approaches to mitigate climate change, and climate change policy. The study is a collaboration with Nishnawbe Aski Nation First Nations’ to document their observations of changes occurring on traditional homelands, above the 51st N parallel, attributed to climate change along with their perspectives on climate change. The research also examines First Nation engagement in climate change policy within Ontario. She received the Aboriginal Partnership Research Award from Lakehead University in 2012 and was recognized in 2015 as one of the 50+ Research Stories to celebrate Lakehead University’s 50th Anniversary. Prior to undertaking graduate studies she worked for 20 years in the environmental field in Alberta. Denise also volunteers in the communities she has lived; she served on the committee to City Council for Thunder Bay to implement the community’s action plan to reduce greenhouse gases from January 2009 – 2011. Denise is a published lead author in peer-reviewed science journals and contributor to book chapters, as well as, an academic lecturer, guest speaker and has presented her research and other topics related to climate change and the boreal forest at conferences across Canada and the U.S.A.
GIR SUMMER STUDENT
- RESEARCH Intern
Katie Wheatley is a Master’s candidate in Environmental Anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan. She has an avid interest in energy governance, Indigenous rights and sustainable development. Katie is working in government relations on behalf of the GIR, while researching the social and political contexts of energy development in Northern Alberta.
Katie grew up in Montreal, which is traditional Haudonesaunee territory. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Joint Honours International Development Studies and Anthropology from McGill University. In the past, Katie’s professional experience has involved social development planning, community organizing, and work in philanthropy. She specializes in policy-oriented, social science research.
GIR SUMMER STUDENT
- administration & finance
Sara Voyageur is a proud member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation. She will be joining the MCFN GIR for the summer to assist the finance and administration team. Sara is a full-time student at Keyano College in Fort McMurray. This upcoming fall, she will be entering her third year in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Sara has worked with MCFN in the past as a summer student in the finance department. She has also been GIR’s casual administration assistant for the past 2 years while she attended Keyano College.
GIR SUMMER STUDENT
- Industry & Administration
Breanne Whiteknife, a member of Mikisew Cree First Nation, will be job shadowing the industry consultation team, as well as assist in daily administrative work. Breanne is a full-time student at the University of Alberta, studying a combined degree in
Bachelor of Science in Environmental Conservation Sciences and Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies. Having grown up trapping and hunting on the Athabasca River, Breanne hopes to give back to the community through her efforts to achieve a more environmentally committed future.
GIR SUMMER STUDENT
- CBM (COMMUNITY BASED MONITORING)
Liam is a proud MCFN member and a student at Portage College in Lac La Biche in the Natural Resources Technology program. Liam will be working with our Community Based Monitoring (CBM) and our Community Based Environmental Monitoring Training program for the summer. He will be working both from our office at the GIR and in the field in Fort Chipewyan with Denise Golden and Bruce Maclean.