Fantasy Land Hotel, West Edmonton Mall
17700 87 AVE NW EDMONTON, AB
Nurturing Communities, Fostering Healing
Welcome to the Indigenous Wellbeing Conference, where community stands at the heart of supporting the health and wellness of Indigenous people. Our mission is clear: to build capacity within our diverse communities, recognizing their unique needs and developmental paths while addressing common challenges like addictions and trauma. At the core of our approach is the belief that healing and wellness flourish through collective and kinship care.
Join us as we bring together representatives specializing in Indigenous health from across Canada. Our multidisciplinary team is united by a shared passion for Indigenous health and a commitment to fostering Indigenous knowledge. Inspired by community-based approaches and Indigenous wellness models, we aim to create a robust network of resources for frontline workers, community helpers, and healers dedicated to supporting others.
Guided by themes of culture, community, Indigenous trauma, recovery from the impacts of COVID, and the Historical Trauma and Impacts resulting from the Validation of the Papal Apology, our conference promises a rich and enlightening experience. Esteemed Keynote Speakers, including Theoren Fleury, Jordin Tootoo, and Don Burnstick will share their expertise. Engage in interactive sharing circles designed to enrich your understanding and connection.
Creating Space for Growth
This gathering is more than an event; it's a space for learning, resource gathering, and addressing the needs of the community. Be part of this transformative experience as we collectively contribute to the betterment of Indigenous health and wellness.
Save the Date
Our 2024 Indigenous Wellbeing Conference awaits you at the Fantasy Land Hotel in Edmonton, Alberta, providing a valuable opportunity for participants to come together, connect, and contribute to the collective pursuit of Indigenous health and wellness. Join us in shaping a brighter, healthier future.
Who Should Attend?
Mental Health Workers
Child & Family Workers
Families Dealing with Addictions
Join us as we bring together representatives specializing in Indigenous health from across Canada and the United States. Our multidisciplinary team is united by a shared passion for Indigenous health and a commitment to fostering Indigenous knowledge. Inspired by community-based approaches and Indigenous wellness models, we aim to create a robust network of resources for frontline workers, community helpers, and healers dedicated to supporting others.
Alexis Health Services
Phone: (780) 967-1090
For Other Inquiries
Call/Text: (587) 989-3944
DAY ONE ACTIVITIES
- Opening Remarks
- Speaker: Theoren Fleury
- Speaker: Leigh Sheldon - R. Psychologist/Professor
- Speaker: Dr. Darlene Auger
- Speaker: Brenda Reynolds – MSW
- Sharing Circle
DAY TWO ACTIVITIES
- Prayer & Recap
- Speaker: Dr. Michael Yellowbird
- Speaker: Gene Tagaban
- Speaker: Dr. Karlee Fellner
- Speaker: Jon Jon Rivero
- Sharing Circle
DAY THREE ACTIVITIES
- Prayer & Recap
- Speaker: Jordin Tootoo
- Speaker: Don Burnstick
- Closing Comments & Next Steps: Chief Alexis
Luncheon Speakers TBD
Theoren Fleury is a former NHL All-Star, Stanley Cup winner and Olympic Gold Medalist. He is also a two-time best-selling author of ‘Playing with Fire’ and ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’. He is a healing motivator, a person of great life experience and has vast knowledge in the field of relational trauma. Theo’s mission is to help as many people get to where they want to go. He is committed to daily transformation through personal growth and through self-reflection, mindfulness, and new action. His compassionate spirit allows others to feel safe and whole through experiencing his vulnerability.
Theo is a recipient of numerous awards including: Canadian Humanitarian Award, The Queens Jubilee Medallion, Honorary Chief and recipient of the Aboriginal Indspire Award, he received an honorary doctorate in Science from the University of Guelph-Humber and a second honorary doctorate in Laws from Brandon University in recognition for his contributions combating child sexual abuse and for his outstanding efforts to promote healing and recovery. Theo pursues excellence in all areas of his life.
Mrs. Sheldon is from Swan River First Nation, a Registered Psychologist, and a University Professor, teaching Indigenous Psychology and LifeSpan Development. In 2021, Leigh founded Indigenous Psychological Services (“IPS”). Mrs. Sheldon uses trauma-informed techniques that honor the medicine wheel and integrates cultural techniques in a clinical setting. Mrs. Sheldon also focuses on research regarding the impacts of colonization, historical influences, systemic racism, and oppression.
Mrs. Sheldon honors the Two-Eyed seeing approach when it comes to operating her practice. Mrs. Sheldon created an internship program for students that want to base their practice on trauma and culturally informed techniques. She also provides presentations to organizations, schools and Indigenous communities on clinical and cultural awareness. Lastly, Mrs. Sheldon is a complex trauma specialist with being certified Somatic Attachment Practitioner, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and training in Indigenous Focused Oriented Therapy.
Dr. Darlene Auger
A Cree woman originally from Wabasca (Bigstone Cree Nation), who resides in Edmonton (Amiskwâci Wâskahikan), is a fluent Cree speaker and is passionate about passing on her language through song, story and healing. Darlene is an educator, researcher, holistic practitioner, performance artist and author. Darlene holds a Psychology Degree from the University of Alberta, a master’s degree in Indigenous Social Work and a Doctoral Degree from the University Nuhelotine Thayotsi Nistameyimakanak Blue Quills in “Iyiniw Pimâtisiwin Kiskeyihtamowin”.
As a lifelong learner, Darlene continues to teach her traditional Indigenous ways of being, doing, and sharing. Dr. Auger is an assistant professor at the University of Alberta within the faculty of education in both the Indigenous Peoples Education program and the Aboriginal Teachers Education program.
Brenda Reynolds is Saulteaux from Fishing Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan, Canada, and is a traditionally adopted member of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Alberta. She is known for her development of the trauma-informed and culturally sensitive Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support program under the Indian Residential Settlement Agreement and the Canada Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Brenda’s master’s degree studied intergenerational trauma suffered by family members of former Indian residential school survivors.
Currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology, Brenda is studying post-trauma growth in survivors of Canadian cultural genocide. Brenda has been recognized throughout her career including, the Alberta Social Worker of the Year in 1992 and the 2019 Alberta Medical Association, Medal of Honor. In 2023 she was awarded the Owen Adams Award of Honour by the Canadian Medical Association which recognizes a non-physician who has made an outstanding contribution to health and awareness in Canada. More recently, Brenda was appointed to the Canada National Advisory Committee on Residential Schools for Unmarked Burials and Missing Children.
Dr. Michael Yellowbird
Michael Yellow Bird, PhD, is Dean and Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba. He is a member of the MHA Nation (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) in North Dakota, USA. He is a certified, internationally trained mindfulness meditation teacher, professional, and scholar. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Mindfulness Council of Canada Board of Directors, the Global Compassion Coalition Board of Directors, the Council of Elders for Indigenous Mindfulness Practices, and a External Advisory Board Member of the Brown University Mindfulness Center. He is a recognized Decolonial Contemplative Mentor and Scholar.
He has held faculty appointments at the University of British Columbia, Kansas, Arizona State, Cal Poly Humboldt, and North Dakota State University. His research focuses on colonization, decolonization, healthy Indigenous aging, mindfulness, Arikara ethnobotany and traditional agriculture, and the cultural significance of Rez dogs.
He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and the co-editor of four books: For Indigenous Eyes Only: The Decolonization Handbook; For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook; Indigenous Social Work around the World: Towards Culturally Relevant Education and Practice; and Decolonizing Social Work. He is the co-author of two books: A Sahnish (Arikara) Ethnobotany (2020) and Decolonizing Holistic Pathways Towards Integrative Healing in Social Work (2021). He is currently co-authoring two books, Arikara Traditional Agriculture and Decolonizing the Social Work Curriculum, and is working on three books, The Memoirs of a Mindful Rez Kid, Rez Dog Meditations: Contemplative Practices for Healing People and the Lands, and A Rez Dog Manifesto: Rediscovering Sacred Connections.
For over 30 years Gene has worked nationally and internationally creating a world in which we want to belong. Gene’s passion is mentoring, speaking, performing, facilitation and healing. Gene is a board member and trainer with the Native Wellness Institute. A trainer for ANDVSA, facilitating COMPASS: Choose Respect, a male engagement and mentorship program to end Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Hurt and Harm.
Gene has also been featured at storytelling festivals nationally and internationally and is a specialty instructor and honorary uncle with the Wilderness Awareness School. Gene performs with Khu’eex, a Native Funk band based out of Seattle. Gene is always open to share stories, spirit and inspiration with people of all ages. In the words of one participant, “Gene has the ability to make the audience feel safe while holding our hearts in his hands.”
Dr. Karlee Fellner
Dr. Karlee Fellner is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, a Registered Psychologist, and CEO and Founder of ᒪᐢᑭᐦᑭᕀ maskihkiy wellness. Dr. Fellner served as an Associate Professor in Counselling Psychology-Indigenous Education at the University of Calgary for over 10 years. Dr. Fellner is a prominent scholar activist who has been doing clinical, activist, research, and educational work in the fields of iyiniwak (Indigenous) healing, wellness, and psychologies for over 13 years. Dr. Fellner has been working with people in clinical practice for 16 years, and has been designing and implementing land-based, culturally-rooted programming for 8 years.
Dr. Fellner has an extensive program of Indigenist research directly addressing decolonizing and liberatory Indigenous approaches to addictions, psychotherapy and trauma work; and holistic and traditional Indigenous approaches to health and wellness. Dr. Fellner is trained in Indigenous Focusing-Oriented Therapy and is a practicing psychologist who implements Indigenist psychotherapy in individual, couples, family, and community contexts. Dr. Fellner has a Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology and completed her applied training in Clinical Psychology at the Indian Health Board of Minneapolis. She has designed and implemented culturally-rooted, genocide-informed, land-based healing programs for complex and intergenerational trauma, addictions recovery, compound grief, suicide, and other dis-eases of colonialism. Dr. Fellner's current work focuses on providing land-based iyiniw psychological services both on- and off-reserve.
Jon Jon Rivero, OT (C), CTP-C
Jon Jon Rivero is an award-winning Filipino Canadian producer, director, actor, martial artist, musician, and occupational therapist who teaches the art of “Awethentricity”, how to use what you’ve got, and discover you’ve got more than you know. Jon Jon is best known for his feature film, Balikbayan: From Victims To Survivors which won Audience Choice Awards for Best Feature Documentary at EIFF 2020, Exceptional Merit at Docs Without Borders, Best Feature Film at LA Sun Film Fest, and was nominated for Best Documentary and Best Director at the 2021 Rosie Awards. Jon Jon has been featured on CBC, CNN, TED Summit, Tatler Magazine, Sickboy Podcast, Global, as well as in the entire season 2 of APTN’s Docuseries, Queen of the Oil Patch. Jon Jon and his wife, Paula Audrey Rivero, have co-written the internationally-acclaimed children’s illustrated children’s book, My Name Is Trauma, and together teach children and their caregivers on how to help heal trauma using the expressive arts such as through martial arts, music, hip hop, and cultural Filipino Folk Dances.
Paula Audrey Rivero, MSW, RSW, EMDR Trained, CTP-C
Paula Audrey Rivero is a registered social worker, a trauma specialist and an entrepreneur that believes that everyone has the ability to be awesome. She is passionate about helping people all over the world to develop their strengths and talents and help them celebrate their own awesome. Paula is the co-author of the internationally-acclaimed children’s illustrated book, My Name Is Trauma, and has helped thousands of people through workshops, keynotes, and seminars to build resilience through connection, play, and trauma-informed care. Paula’s most notable work is showcased in the award-winning feature documentary Balikbayan: From Victims To Survivors (2020), as she helped facilitate creative trauma interventions with Streetlight Philippines Orphanage following Typhoon Yolanda in 2014. She is a feisty leader who is inspired to love fiercely, play with colours, and create more awesome in the world. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with her husband and two beautiful children.
Jordin Tootoo made history as the first Inuk player to be drafted by the NHL. Over his 13-year career, he played for the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, and Chicago Blackhawks, banking 161 points, including 65 goals, in 723 career games. A trailblazer both on and off the ice, Tootoo has since become a vocal mental health advocate dedicated to giving back to his communities. He speaks to the power of creating a culture of inspired inclusivity and explores what real teamwork looks like, both at home and work.
Of Inuit and Ukrainian descent, Tootoo is not only the first Inuk NHL player, but also the first one raised in Nunavut. He played for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League (WHL) from 1999 to 2003 and was drafted by the Nashville predators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Tootoo was nominated for the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2015, which recognizes players who enrich the lives of people in their community. He announced his retirement from the sport in 2018.
As an Indigenous athletic leader, Tootoo has long understood his responsibility as a role model and speaks openly about the need to fight the stigma around mental illness and to provide more mental health support. He founded the Team Tootoo Foundation in honour of his late brother Terence, to provide grants to various charities for suicide prevention and at-risk youth. In 2016, Tootoo was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal through the Order of Canada in recognition of his work.
Tootoo is the bestselling author of All the Way: My Life on Ice, a searing, honest look at the tragic loss of his brother and his ensuing battle with alcoholism, and Mind Over Matter: Hard-Won Battles on the Road to Hope. As a speaker, he offers a moving and timely discussion of grit and resilience, goal setting, overcoming adversity in the pursuit of excellence, and how life can be improved through meaningful stewardship.
Don Burnstick is a Cree from the Alexander First Nation located outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Being the youngest of 15 children and growing up on the reserve taught Don a variety of coping mechanisms, most notably his sense of humour. His early life was steeped in violence and addiction. "I lived on the streets of Edmonton as an alcoholic and drug addict. In 1985, when I sobered up at 21, there were not too many 21 year old males that were alcohol and drug free so I was asked to share my story." Don attended post secondary education at the University of San Diego in Holistic Urban Youth Development. He also has obtained certification as an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor and graduated from the Native Trainers Development program at the Nechi Institute in Edmonton.
He has now been involved with the healing/personal wellness movement for over 30 years and has utilized humour and performance to provide a holistic approach to healing. His message speaks to a proud heritage, the importance of healing through laughter and his continuing desire to leave a better world for future generations. Don wrote and performs a one man play: "I Am Alcohol - Healing the Wounded Warrior". In this production, free of preaching or moralizing, Don presents a gripping dramatization of the addictive power of alcohol and drugs, and the connections to other destructive forces that have plagued the Indigenous communities. In addition to his healing work, Don has established himself as one of Canada’s most sought after comedians.