Michele A Sam is Ktunaxa ʔaqⱡsmaknik—her father is Haudenosaunee with Italian heritage and she honours her fathers’ people by following her mothers’ lineage. Michele returned home as a 60s scoop survivor having been adopted by a Dutch Catholic immigrant family, raised as the youngest of 5 brothers and one sister. Michele has familial ties across all 6 Ktunaxa/Ksanka communities and is an “official band member” of ʔaq̓am. She is the eldest daughter of 7 girls and a brother and is becoming an infant Ktunaxa language learner.
Michele focuses upon active Truth and Reconciliation including workshops, seminars and invited presentations and lectures guided by principles of: Nation Rebuilding, Good Governance, Restoration of Peoplehood, Cultural Continuity, (Re) Attachment to Lands and Waterscapes, Intellectual Sovereignty and Cognitive Justice for Indigenous Peoples ways of being, doing and knowing.
History: Since 1998 Michele A Sam has been offering professional services including grant and report writing; workshops on research and “Pre-Engagement ethics” and policy review on an ad hoc basis. During this time, she has also been completing graduate studies, raising a family, and working in the areas of research and governance. More recently she was given the opportunity to further develop and fine tune her workshop offerings specifically to research and meaning-making both for Indigenous Peoples and those whose efforts to engage have had limited results.
Michele has over 25 years of active research with Indigenous Peoples across Canada, and across disciplines including fields of Health, Governance, Education, Human Development and Social Work. She has institutional experience teaching First Nations Studies, Social Work and as a researcher. She currently sits as a Social Advisory Committee member providing an Indigenous Perspective, with the Columbia Basin Trust and as a Board Representative for the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia (until July 2019). Michele holds earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. Through her undergraduate studies she regained an understanding of her and her ancestors lived experiences of genocide but also of cultural continuity. Her graduate degrees have focused upon appreciating the unique Ktunaxa knowledge and experience inherent to raising up of human beings from the early years onwards. She has gained an appreciation for both the theory of Intractable Conflict and its resolution as well as the role research has played within Indigenous Peoples’ self-development.
She is a single sole-supporting and grateful parent of two amazing kids —one of whom has started her own life in Calgary and the other finding his way through relationships with lands and waters as a high school student. She is both a dog and cat parent. She is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to share her experiences and knowledge with you.
The Logo: Back in 2009, I had the opportunity to workshop with the Manitoba First Nations Education Steering Committee. At the end of the condensed version, I noticed one of the participants crumpling up a piece of paper with a drawing on it, and asked her about it. She said, “oh I was doodling while you were talking, it helps me process”. I asked to look at it, and was truly inspired. She had captured the workshop content in the most beautiful of ways. I had never had anyone capture the workshop before. Mahikan Ikwe (Nadine) gifted the drawing to me, and I have used it ever since, having been given permission to do so. I have the original hanging on my wall in my office space. I share this story whenever I use the image for 2 reasons: one in hopes that she hears about it and second, because often we are creating beautiful works of art without anyone seeing us do so and I like to make visible again, our inherent gifts.
chi meegwetch Mahikan Ikwe
Photo Credits: I traded a grant writing opportunity for 2 pictures, in a mutually beneficial reciprocal business venture, in support of an up and coming photographer. He was successful in attaining his grant! and the pictures I traded for, are fantastic!
Indigenous View Photography