Cedric Pepelea is an Energy Systems Technologist with experience in research, public and private sectors, and has worked with multiple non-profits. His passion for sustainability and self-sufficiency is clearly translated in his role as Operations Director and Design team lead where he consults with our community partners to develop a design that would meet their needs with minimal operational costs. Utilizing Sustainable Building Techniques and Renewable Energy provides the youth with exposure to these new and innovative technologies that can help their communities thrive for the next seven generations.
Ty Kushnir is a Commerce graduate from the University of Manitoba, Asper School of Business. In his current role as an Analyst for the TD Bank Group, he works to ensure the delivery of various enterprise risk related exposures to the Chief Risk Officer, and Risk Committee of the Board.
A proud member of the Peguis First Nation, Ty is passionate about working with Indigenous communities. His position with Focus Forward involves the relationship management, and goal communication to our portfolio of corporate partners
Paul Colosimo is a tutor at the Matawa Education Centre (MEC) in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He obtained his B.Ed at Queen’s University and his HBSc in biology at Lakehead University. He entered the education field with the idea that change in society starts with youth and their education. Knowing this, Paul returned to Thunder Bay hoping to bring about change through his role as an educator, both with Focus Forward and as a tutor at MEC. Paul is actively building a team of volunteers to support Focus Forward’s mission where he hopes to spread awareness about Indigenous issues to the people of Thunder Bay, while gaining support in Northern Ontario to facilitate Focus Forward’s youth-centred construction programs..
Jadelyn Psutka is an urban Indigenous woman, her family from Oneida Nation of the Thames, Turtle clan. Jadelyn current resides in Toronto as part of the Inclusive Recruitment team at RBC. In her role as lead on Indigenous Sourcing she supports a number of Indigenous youth programing as well as recruitment and candidates in the recruitment process. As the co-chair of the Royal Eagles Ontario chapter, an employee resource group, she supports recruitment, retention, inclusion and education of Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees. She is passionate about her community and supporting others in reaching their potential.
Rebecca (Rolfe) is a Queen's University graduate withboth a BAH and MA in Global Development Studies where she focused her research on Indigenous-settler relations, Indigenous Studies, Critical Heritage Studies, and community development. Rebecca has worked with Indigenous-led organizations and businesses to create programming and develop initiatives that promotes Indigenous ways of knowing, creates space for dialogue, and builds relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Rebecca is passionate about supporting young people achieve their goals and support their development and also volunteers with Jays Care, the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays, with a life promotion program for First Nations girls from the James Bay coast.
Evan Veryard is the Head of Marketing and Growth at Grizzle, a financial media start-up based in Toronto, ON. He has an MaSc’ in chemical engineering from the Royal Military College and a BEng’ in chemical engineering from McGill University. While in school he taught woodworking to youth at a local alternative school, an opportunity that sparked the idea behind Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth. After realizing how much the hands-on learning opportunities he was exposed to in his youth helped him grow and build self-confidence, he wanted to try to bring more of those same opportunities to Indigenous youth all across Canada while taking a community-centred approach to develop the projects.
My name is Rick Helgason, I have experience working with the project management team for a large mechanical contractor. With them, I have worked on several large construction projects, including one in a remote community in Nunavut. I am currently completing my master's degree in mechanical engineering at Queen's University.
My name is Michael Suenaga, I am a recent graduate from Carleton University where I studied Criminology and Criminal Justice. Concentrating my studies in the field of Sociology, my electives consisted mainly of Indigenous studies courses where I was fortunate enough to learn about the discrimination, the socio-cultural oppression, the institutional and systemic inequalities and mistreatment of Indigenous peoples within our Canadian Criminal Justice System and society as a whole. I am currently pursuing a career in policing where I feel it is my obligation to develop a better understanding of these issues. At Focus Forward FIY myrole mainly falls under the category of website maintenance and marketing design.
Nicole is a recent Queen’s University graduate with a BSc in Life Sciences and has hopes to pursue a career in healthcare. She is currently working with the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s as a course development associate, a position that has led her to develop skills that directly translate to Focus Forward’s educational initiative. Her partial Iroquois ancestry and passion for bringing both awareness and solutions to communities in need have drawn her to Focus Forward, where she is involved in community outreach, fundraising, and event planning.
I am an energy analyst working in the Toronto area. I went to school for Energy Systems Engineering Technology at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario. I wanted to be involved with focus forward to share my knowledge and put it to good use helping show indigenous youth the satisfaction that can come from a life of work in technology and the trades.
Erica Tropea is an environmental biologist who endeavours to find green solutions for environmental issues. She is currently working in Thunder Bay to develop the first composting facility to service Northwestern Ontario. She holds a master's in Environmental Science and sits on various environmental committees. Erica is an avid traveller, lover of the outdoors, and exercise enthusiast. Born and raised in Thunder Bay, she is passionate about her hometown and building positive relationships between all members of the community. After learning of Focus Forward while living in southern Ontario, Erica is excited to join an organization that directly benefits Indigenous youth and fosters learning, trust, and collaboration in the Thunder Bay community.
Boozhoo! I have been living in Thunder Bay, traditional land of Fort William First Nation for just over a year now! I am from the beautiful region of the 1000 islands, Gananoque, traditional Iroquoian land. I have been passionate about Indigenous issues and affairs for many years and am excited to be involved with Focus Forward! I love music, travelling, thrifting, laughing and learning! Miigwetch!
Lexy Engberg is a business school graduate with a Marketing Management diploma from Copenhagen Business Academy. Born and raised in Thunder Bay and its surrounding area she has a love for the nature and history it has. Lexy just recently moved back to Thunder Bay after living abroad in Denmark for four years and traveling around Europe. She has a passion for learning about the many different beliefs and culture around the world, having a big heart to lend a helping hand where it is needed. Lexy currently is part of the marketing team for FFFIY, helping spread awareness and raise money to help fund projects.
Jason Whatley is a graduate of the Business Administration Human Resources Program at Confederation College. After receiving his diploma, he completed a summer internship at Oshki-Pimache-O-Win as a Recruitment Assistant. In this role, he successfully recruited several students for multiple Post Secondary programs in Indigenous Communities across Ontario. Additionally, he was tasked with delivering time-management workshops to guide students in best practices for prioritizing tasks. After completing this work, he realized the positive impact he could make on the lives of youth and continues with that endeavor with his placement at FFFIY. Currently, Jason works as a Research Associate at the Phelpsgroup where he is responsible for fulfilling numerous executive searches across Canada.
Matt Olinski is a Civil Engineering graduate from Lakehead University. He has a variety of experience in the contracting industry, from the position of the contractor, consultant and owner. When possible he enjoys providing solutions through the use of technologies; such as various computer programs, cloud based file systems, Microsoft Suite, Autodesk Suite and UAV imagery. He has competed in multiple engineering design competitions while attending university and takes pride in developing small scale structures with limited materials.
My name is Patrick (Galloway), I am a graduate of the Business Marketing program at Confederation College. Growing up in Thunder Bay, I wanted to get involved with a group to help bring light to those who need it. Locally, there is a discomfort of cultural divide between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people and I wanted to join an organization that help bring a rapport between the communities and with evidence, show that it doesn't have to be this way. I enjoy being involved in many different boards in the community and have experience bringing awareness of local events/campaigns. Experience with working directly with the PGA to run a world class event, has given me the opportunity to express interest in community involvement for planning and execution. With my background of Sports Marketing and general Marketing, I creating a path for myself to become a Sports Agent .