New Paths for Education: Innovation selection committee
Susan Irwin (Chair)
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
Ms. Irwin is the senior program manager at INAC for kindergarten to grade 12 education programs for First Nation students, which includes the New Paths for Education program in the Education branch. She has her Master in Canadian history from Carleton University, and taught Canadian history as a sessional lecturer at Carleton before starting at INAC in 2009. Ms. Irwin has held several senior positions including as a senior policy specialist and negotiator in the Northern Affairs Organization on the Northwest Territories Devolution Act. Ms. Irwin has experience working with rural and Northern communities, having worked as a senior policy advisor for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on the standing committees for Socio-economic, Rural and Northern, and Housing. She also served as a town councilor and deputy mayor in Twillingate, Newfoundland for several years, following her dream of living beside an ocean.
Ms. Robinson is the senior program officer responsible for the coordination of external relationships under the International Major Multisport Games component of the Hosting Program at Sport Canada. Ms. Robinson received her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in economics with a minor in business from Carleton University in 2007. Following this, she got a post-graduate certificate in sport business management from Algonquin College in 2009. As part of her role at Sport Canada, Ms. Robinson worked with INAC on the department's involvement in the Toronto 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. This included participating as an observer on the Aboriginal Leadership Partners advisory group, which drove the planning, engagement and communications efforts between the Toronto 2015 organizing committee and the Métis Nation, the Six Nations of the Grand River, the Huron-Wendat First Nation, the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and other Indigenous communities and organizations.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)
Since 2001, Mr. Nakamura has worked for INAC in both the Education branch and the Treaties and Aboriginal Government branch as a policy analyst and lead negotiator. He has a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology and a professional teaching certification from Simon Fraser University, as well as a Master in public administration from the School of Policy Studies at Queen's University. Prior to becoming a federal public servant, Mr. Nakamura worked as a teacher and school administrator in British Columbia.
Mr. Harris is a master coach developer for the Coaching Association of Canada and the manager of Regional Sport Development for Sport Manitoba. He has an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree in sport administration from Laurentian University, and has spent the past 14 years working and volunteering in the sport and recreation industry. He has extensive sport development experience in northern, remote and rural communities, including Indigenous communities. Mr. Harris grew up playing sports in the fly-in community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador, and later lived in Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk, Nunavut where he was fortunate to be a part of the Kugluktuk high school association, Team Grizzly, where his passion for sport deepened. Mr. Harris continues to work with coaches and communities to build youth sport programs that have a real impact on participants, and knows first-hand the ability of sport to transform lives.
Dr. Sean Lessard
University of Regina & University of Alberta
Dr. Lessard is Woodland Cree and is from Montreal Lake Cree Nation in Northern Saskatchewan. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Regina and an associate professor at the University of Alberta in Indigenous education and teacher education. Dr. Lessard is a former youth worker, teacher and high school guidance counsellor. He is known for his award winning work alongside Indigenous youth and communities in the development of innovative educational programming. His work and research areas include transition to post-secondary and work force opportunities, high school completion, Indigenous youth leadership and mentorship, and Aboriginal curriculum perspectives. His research has led to over $150,000 in Indigenous youth bursaries and scholarships over the past 3 years. He was recently awarded the Pat Clifford Award for emerging research. Dr. Lessard is also the founder and CEO of Name to Place and Associates Education and Community Consulting, a First Nations education and evaluation company.
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