Evan Veryard is a chemical engineering graduate from McGill University and is currently taking graduate studies in Chemical Engineering at the Royal Military College of Canada. He also teaches 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.
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.
My name is Paul (Colosimo), I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Education Program at Queen’s University. I grew up in Thunder Bay, where there is a large cultural divide between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people and I wanted to join an organization that nurtured collaborative relationships that build trust between our communities. I enjoy community outreach and working to create awareness and organizing fundraising initiatives. My undergraduate background is in biology, which has guided my thinking in a direction that seeks sustainable solutions to a variety of issues. I am currently studying to become a biology teacher in the Consecutive Education Program at Queen’s University.
Britino Milburn has a B.A. (Hons) in Economics with certificates in both Business and Law. He has served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 13 years which has honed his problem solving skills and finely tuned his leadership abilities. He began volunteering with FFFIY as a Marketing Officer to be behind the story-telling of FFFIY's great initiative in helping youth through locally developed trades-based education.
Rebecca (Rolfe) is a Queen's University graduate with both a BAH and MA in Global Development Studies where she focused her research on Indigenous-settler relations and cultural heritage. Rebecca has worked with Indigenous-led organizations and businesses to create programming that promotes Indigenous ways of knowing and creates space for dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. As Project Coordinator, Rebecca is excited to work alongside Indigenous communities on self-determined projects to see their visions for their communities come to life.
A dual-degree student in commerce and economics at Queen’s, Konner (Fung Kee Fung) supports Focus Forward's outreach and communications efforts in the Kingston community. Born and raised in Ottawa, his longstanding interests in economic empowerment and civic organization made Focus Forward a natural fit. In his spare time, Konner follows the Ottawa Senators intently and struggles to improve his Mandarin language skills.
Anna (Woodmass) is a recent Queen’s graduate in English Writing/Literature and Global Development Studies; an area of study which introduced her to topics in Indigenous contemporary writing, and briefly to the unique histories of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. While at Queen’s, Anna also held a volunteer position on the Journal of Indigenous Studies, which sought to create a platform of discussion for Indigenous issues. She looks forward to supporting Focus Forward’s mandate as a communications specialist through blogging.
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.
Focused on the implementation of energy and technology solutions central to environmental stewardship, community engagement, sustainability, and opportunities for growth and development. Partial Cree genealogy has drawn me to the values and objectives inherent to FFIY and offer an opportunity to connect indigenous peoples with technology and opportunities at the forefront of human accomplishments wherever/whenever possible, in most cases pushing boundaries and/or advancing established methodology.
Currently an Infantry Officer Cadet with the Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment here in Kingston. I have an MA in War Studies and decided to work with FF as a way to become more involved in the community and learn some new skills. On the side I play women’s volleyball and board games if I have time!
I am Oneida from Oneida Nation of the Thames. I am part of the bear clan. I am the Aboriginal Youth Worker at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Center and I am working on providing Cultural training for our team at Focus Forward For Indigenous Youth. Working alongside community members, I plan to bring pieces of the culture to the team members to help them understand the culture and the different ways of living, as well as educate them on the past and present relationships between the indigenous peoples of Canada and the Settlers.
Andrew Ward is an graduate of the MA program at the Department of Art History & Art Conservation at Queen's University. He has extensive experience in research, and funding and grant writing. He joined Focus Forward as a way to contribute to his own iteration of reconcili-action. He hopes to work in a position that positively contributes to the reconciliation efforts in Canada. He enjoys literature, most stringed instruments, and traveling to Europe.
Paul Fast-Grass was born in Toronto and raised in Kingston, Ontario. He holds an undergraduate degree from Carleton University, with a major in Law and minor in Political Science. Throughout his degree, he had the opportunity to learn about Indigenous history and some of the social issues facing the community. Upon moving back to Kingston, becoming more engaged in the community was a priority. The mission of Focus Forward FIY resonated with Paul, and lead him to join the organization. As a member of the Marketing Outreach Committee, he supports
Focus Forward FIY outreach initiatives and helps to highlight the different projects the organization is completing to increase opportunities for Indigenous youth.
Taylor Bluhm is currently in the Nursing program at Queen’s University, and will be entering her fourth and final year in September 2018. Originally from the Six Nations reserve and self-identifying as Indigenous, Taylor joined Focus Forward in hopes of strengthening the relationship between the Indigenous communities in Canada and the non-Indigenous. As well, Taylor hopes to incorporate cultural training for the team to provide education on Indigenous culture.
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.
Althea (Wishloff) is an investment analyst working in downtown Toronto. She is originally from Vancouver and is of Gitxsan heritage on her maternal side. During her undergrad, she devoted substantial time to work with the Ch’nook Indigenous Aboriginal Program, coaching and mentoring Aboriginal youth to encourage them to seek out post-secondary education opportunities.
My name is Keerthana Sethulingam, I am a Health & Society grad from York University. Through some courses during my undergrad, I got the opportunity to work with the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services by helping with projects and participating in events. Through this opportunity, I gained an in depth knowledge on the history of Indigenous people and the social issues that are prevalent in their communities. I hope to use my theoretical knowledge and my experiences in education, administrative, marketing and customer service roles to provide the best possible support to the Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth team.
Nayel (Halim) is currently doing his Master’s in Environmental Studies at York University and is enrolled at Schulich’s Business and Environment program. He has a passion for renewable energy and green building. His current research focuses on community energy planning and sustainable development. He strongly believes that a well-developed community energy plan is one that is built from the ground up, where the community had been actively involved in its formulation, as this has the potential of producing the best results. Nayel has worked in the planning, energy, and environment sectors. He has had exposure to working in NGOs, a start-up, academia, government, and in business consulting. He is a ‘nature junkie’ and loves hiking, swimming, travelling, and the great outdoors.
I am a plant molecular biologist. I spend a lot of time researching novel ways to improve agriculture. I worked in a laboratory setting understanding the fundamental science for a long time. I loved the work but I have been thinking more about the big picture impact of agriculture and nutritional security in global and local health, which is why I am excited to serve FFFIY’s mission.
Telfer Carpenter is student at the University of Toronto with a degree in Equity Studies focusing on Indigenous Studies. She has a background in social justice work and community outreach. Recently she has been working with the Toronto social media and marketing team to help grow the reach of Focus Forward.
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.
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.
In addition to her work at FFFIY, Laura is a Policy Analyst at Global Affairs Canada, where she drafts policy, manages international projects and provides strategic advice to ensure that Canada’s international assistance effectively promotes inclusive governance and respects the human rights of all persons. In this role, she ensures the rights of Indigenous peoples are upheld in international fora. She also has experience working on a gender-based violence (GBV) project at the Human Rights Advocacy Centre in Accra, Ghana, where she created a culturally relevant training guide that provided teachers with information on how to deal with instances of GBV.
Cole Byvelds is a chemical engineering graduate working internationally in the specialty chemicals industry. He spends his free time coaching volleyball and playing lacrosse. Cole contributes to FFFIY by finding corporate sponsors and writing grant proposals.
I'm a recent graduate with an MA in Conflict Analysis with a goal of working in Alternative Dispute Resolution practices in British Columbia. I currently work at UBC's Vancouver campus with Indigenous student finances and I'm looking forward to developing content for students transitioning out of high school into the realm of a career, further skills training, or post-secondary education.