Erin (Kalaga Jaad) is of the Laana T'aadas Eagle Clan of the Haida Nation and Cree ancestry. Her life's work has been in deep connection to her people. From the age of 14, Erin was assisting her mother, Edna Brillon, in promoting, marketing and selling Northwest Coast Native art. She worked in this field until her early 20's, then moved into the area of developing and coordinating healing programs on Reserves throughout B.C. Fortunate to been given the opportunity to experience many forms of healing and wellness models and techniques herself, Erin strives for others to have access to healing and wellness also. These programs addressed the intergenerational effects of colonization and the traumas of the Residential school system. This provided her with an in-depth experiential understanding of the issues that are at the heart of the disempowerment of Indigenous people, and her own family legacy. For nearly 10 years, Erin worked for an Aboriginal non-profit organization: Wachiay. Erin’s work focused on the development and coordination of a variety of Indigenous youth and family based empowerment programs. Erin completed a bachelors degree from VIU, while maintaining a 3.7 GPA and working 20 hours a week at Wachiay, and parenting her three active kids. Erin also founded and coordinated a NWC art program and social enterprise, called OneTribe, a youth artist collective, along with establishing the Wachiay Studio. In 2015 she started a family enterprise, Totem Design House, making clothing and home decor. Using her brother Jesse’s Haida motif and her daughter helping with screen-printing. Now a thriving brand, Totem Design House is founded on Indigenous values, sharing cultural knowledge, being eco-friendly, giving funds to a variety of cultural and Indigenous Youth projects. Erins true passion lies in the empowerment of Indigenous people, which is why she was called to develop Copper Legacy Society.
For more info:
Founder of Copper Legacy
Director of Enhancement Projects
Carla Voyageur (Maxmuwidzumga) is of the Musgamamgw Dzawada'enuxw and Nisga'a nations. Her traditional name bestowed upon her, roughly translates to "leaves a part of herself wherever she goes - her wisdom, her essence." She was raised immersed in the richness of the Kwakwaka'wakw language, culture, values and traditions. In contrast, keeping up with modern technology was instilled in her as a young child by her late grandfather who always ensured they had a computer. Her skill set is unique and vast - working with organizations in the nonprofit (education, Indigenous), tourism, media sectors in areas of event coordination, language revitalization, administration, project management, and proposal writing. Currently, she is employed as a web developer with an array of responsibilities to the Pathwise Solutions team including marketing, SEO, analytics, etc. Carla attempts to weave both culture/language, with education and technology throughout her life and all projects she is involved in. Carla is the co-founder of the Lil' Red Dress Project, which aims to raise funds via beadwork sales to create and install missing person signage on Vancouver Island to promote awareness, and local calls to action on the MMIWG issue.
Co-Founder of Copper Legacy
Director of Revitalization Programs
Avis (N’alaga, Kaawkuuna), is Haida/Kwakwakw’wakw artist and cultural empower- ment facilitator, was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia. She belongs to the Kaa’was Staa’stas Eagle Clan from Kiusta Village in Haida Gwaii and the Geegilgum Clam of the Ligwildawx people of Cape Mudge. She is grateful to live on the traditional unceeded territory of the Komoks people in the Comox Valley. She is a mother of 2, and is committed to the red road with 12 years of sobriety.
Avis’ introduction to the sacred treasures of the Northwest Coast started when she learned to weave from her older sister, Meghann O’Brien. This was the beginning of her journey to where she is now, embracing the richness of her cultural identity and creating weavings and workshops that reflect the beauty of Northwest Coast Culture.
Avis is a weaver and cultural empowerment facilitator. She started Nalaga Designs in 2012 to share the cultural knowledge and power of cedar bark weaving with the world. Weaving has been her connection to the rich legacy of the Haida and Kwakwakw’wakw, which led her to pursue facilitation. Nalaga Designs offers a unique array of workshops that aim to facilitate a connection to the land, develop a positive con- nection to Indigenous identity, and inspire a connection with other parts of their culture.
Avis has had many teachers who have helped her on her path including Marlene Liddle, Kerri Dick and Donna Cranmer. She apprenticed with master Haida carver, Jay Simeon. She is trained in creative facilitation, and her passion is empowering people to feel good about who they are and where the come from in the world.
She is currently employed at the John Howard Society North Island as the Cultural Program Co- ordinator for a youth Restorative Justice Treatment Program, where she develops culturally safe programs for Indigneous and non Indigenous youth that help youth to heal from trauma through land / culture based healing practices.
For more information on Avis's work:
Director of Empowerment Programs
Damen Bell-Holter was shaped by the land and people of Hydaburg, a small village community located in Southeast Alaska. Raised in a Haida experience, his upbringing was grounded in the rituals and practices that maintained traditional regenerative social ecological and biocultural relations. As a young boy, Damen learned to speak Xad Kil (his Native language), draw, dance, sing, hunt and fish.
Like many Native children, Damen also developed a love for basketball and worked to excel at the game as he got older. Motivated to chase his dream of competing at the collegiate and professional levels, he left Hydaburg at 14 years-old to attend Mount Edgecumbe High boarding school, followed by Ketchikan High School where he would become the first graduate to sign a Division I Basketball National Letter of Intent.
Damen competed at Oral Roberts University from 2009 - 2013, finishing his career ranked in the school’s top-10 in rebounds, blocks and wins, respectively. He earned all-conference accolades in 2010 and 2013, and was also named a mid-major-all-American his final year. After college, Damen became a professional athlete spending time his rookie season with the Boston Celtics - becoming the first Alaskan Native to play in an NBA game.
Damen’s professional career would take him to Hungary, Turkey, Finland, Germany and Italy.
In thanks to those who supported his dream and in hopes of giving back to Native American communities throughout North America, Damen established his first basketball camp as a college sophomore in 2010. Traveling this path of gratitude and supporting the next Native dreamers has taken him to over 50 US and Canadian communities and engagement with thousands of Native American youth.
His passion to uplift the health and wellbeing of Native communities has evolved beyond the gym and today, includes group work, classes, workshops and providing keynote speeches.
Believing in the power of shared story, Damen speaks candidly and authentically about his journey. From growing up in the Hydaburg community of 300 people as the only (one of few?) half-black Haida, through his growth as a basketball player, and now as a proud young native man and father advocating for youth and community. Damen shares his personal experiences with substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide and how we can work together to adapt survival strategies to be strengths that empower youth to dream and communities to thrive. Skilled at weaving old with new, reality and resilience, strength and vulnerability, Damen unabashedly acknowledges his own trials and what he has learned from the thousands he has engaged with in community work. Damen’s is the story of a young Native man joining the fight to restore relations with self, family, and community. Nang Gaahlang Stangs, Damen’s Xad Kil name meaning Big Enough to Hold Two Souls, will empower you to step into your own soul’s journey, to be the resilient and solution-oriented peoples our ancestors are, and to respect and revere Native wisdom to guide our way forward.
In 2018, Damen made the decision to retire from basketball to dedicate all of his time to working with Native youth. Damen is now the Director of Youth and Community Development for Sealaska Corporation (www.sealaska.com) based in Juneau, Alaska.
Director of Empowerment Programs
Alissa Assu is of the Laksamshu Clan (Fireweed) and supported by the Gitdumden Clan (Wolf/Bear) of the Witsuwit’en People located in Witset, British Columbia. The word Witsuwit’en translates to “People of the Wa Dzun Kwuh River” otherwise known as the Skeena River People. Alissa was raised by her grandmother (Skokum’halyte), who actively witnessed and participated in feasts, traditional food gathering, dancing and attending cultural camps.
She graduated with a Degree in Arts, with a double minor in Criminology and First Nations Studies from Simon Fraser University. She also earned an Aboriginal Health and Community Administration Certificate from the University of British Columbia and currently enrolled at the University of Alberta to complete the Indigenous Sport and Recreation Graduate Certificate. Her academics contributed a deeper understanding towards the complexities and uniqueness of working alongside and supporting Indigenous people. Her richest learning has been rooted in frontline positions that allow her to work directly for and within Indigenous communities.
Alissa has an extensive background in sport and health. She earned a sport on Team BC to participate at the 2008 North American Indigenous Games; she earned a gold, silver and bronze. Following NAIG, Alissa received an athlete scholarship to join the Langara Falcons for two seasons at Langara College. She also competed at the BC Winter Games, winning the BC High School Provincial Championships and competed at three Jr. Canadian National Badminton Championships.
Alissa received a kidney transplant on June 27, 2011. Following her transplant, she is an active volunteer with BC Transplant and serves as an Indigenous Patient Partner (IPP) on two critical projects. She is an IPP on the Can-SOLVE research program that is comprised of 18 multidisciplinary projects. One of these 18 projects is the “Kidney Check: Identifying kidney disease and diabetes in Indigenous communities”. The second project she serves as an IPP is the “BC wide program for rural, Remote and Indigenous communities to Gain Equitable Access to Kidney Transplantation (BRRIDGE). Her enthusiasm to volunteer on kidney-related projects stems from the knowledge that Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) disproportionately affects Indigenous communities. Specifically, the Indigenous people living in rural and remote communities. She advocates for the elimination of disparities in access of diagnosis to treatment of Indigenous people.
Alissa has a genuine aspiration to support the advancement of sport, health and wellness outcomes and opportunities for Indigenous people.
Director of Empowerment Programs