Northern National Event

Shared Perspectives

About the participants...

Justice Murray Sinclair
Commissioner Marie Wilson
Shelagh Rogers
Richard Wagamese
Itah Sadu
Lisa Odjig
Beyond Sound Empijah
Red Spirit Singers and Dancers


The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair has led the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada since July 2009.

Justice Sinclair was appointed Associate Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba in March 1988 and to the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba in January 2001. He was Manitoba's first Aboriginal Judge.

He graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba in 1979, and was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1980. In the course of his legal practice, Justice Sinclair practiced primarily in the fields of civil and criminal litigation and Aboriginal law.

Shortly after his appointment as Associate Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba in 1988, Justice Sinclair was appointed Co-Commissioner, along with Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice A. C. Hamilton, of Manitoba's Aboriginal Justice Inquiry. In November 2000, Justice Sinclair completed the Report of the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquest, a study into the deaths of 12 children in the pediatric cardiac surgery program of Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre in 1994.

He has been awarded a National Aboriginal Achievement award in addition to many other community service awards, as well as honourary degrees from the University of Manitoba, the University of Ottawa and St. John’s College (University of Manitoba). He is an adjunct professor of Law and an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Manitoba.

Commissioner Marie Wilson is a fluently bilingual, university educated professional who has lived and worked in cross-cultural environments for almost forty years, both internationally, and in several parts of Canada, including the North. Throughout that time, Ms Wilson has dealt effectively with Aboriginal, church and political organizations at the operational, executive and political levels.

For 25 years she worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in radio and television as regional and national reporter, television program host, and Regional Director for northern Quebec and the northern Territories. As an independent contractor, Ms Wilson has developed and led complex, national profile, community development initiatives. Before becoming a Commissioner, she served as a senior manager (Vice President of Operations) in a public crown corporation, the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Ms Wilson holds a Bachelors degree with Honours in French Language and Literature and a Masters degree in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario.

She is a recipient of the 1999 “Northerner of the Year” award from the prominent northern/national newsmagazine “Up Here”, and a “Lifetime Achievement” CBC North
award from a jury of CBC staff and colleagues in 1999, in addition to various awards for documentary and writing excellence.

Shelagh Rogers is a veteran broadcaster and journalist. She has hosted flagship programs with CBC Radio, including This Morning and Sounds Like Canada. In 2000, she won the John Drainie Award, Canada's highest broadcasting honour. In 2008, she was named a Champion of Mental Health for a radio series about mental illness and the impact on families and friends. That same year, she received a Transforming Lives Award for speaking publicly about depression.

She has received the Native Counseling Services of Alberta Award for her work in reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and last year became a proud Honourary Witness to the great work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Currently, she is the host and a producer of The Next Chapter on CBC Radio, a program devoted to writers and songwriters. Last September, she was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada for her work in mental health, adult literacy, cultural promotion and reconciliation.

Richard Wagamese is one of Canada's foremost Native authors and storytellers. Working as a professional writer since 1979, he's been a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of eleven titles from major Canadian publishers.

The 56-year-old Ojibway from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in Northwestern Ontario is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Media & Communications in 2012.

His new novel, Indian Horse, arrived in February 2012. His series One Native Life runs as a radio commentary and newspaper column in both Canada and the U.S.

Wagamese received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops in June 2010. He lives in the mountains outside of Kamloops, B.C.

Itah Sadu is an internationally-known storyteller, author and keynote speaker. She is one of Canada’s best loved storytellers, and captures the imagination of children and adults alike, as she weaves her particular brand of “Stories of Our Time.”

She is deeply involved in community development in her hometown of Toronto, has a solid background working with children, young adults, and educators, and likes to lay emphasis on the incontrovertible fact that Black woman are, and always have been, a driving force in any market economy.

A former Vice-President of the Black Business & Professional Association, Itah is the co-owner of the successful Canadian bookstore A Different Booklist, located in downtown Toronto.

Itah has performed across Canada, Africa, Europe, the U.S., and the Caribbean. She is the author of the bestsellers; Christopher Please Clean Up Your Room, Christopher Changes His Name, Name Calling, and the award-winning A Touch of The Zebras. Her books have been adapted to film, and are widely used in Ontario’s school curriculum.

Lisa Odjig is of the Odawa/ Ojibwe/ Pottawatomi Nations from Wikwemikong, Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Lisa is a two-time world champion hoop dancer. She has also won six other hoop dance championship titles throughout Canada and the United States. She is the first woman in the history of the Annual World Championship Hoop Dance contest in Phoenix, Arizona to win World Champion Hoop Dancer in the adult female and male combined adult division.

Lisa has performed professionally for Queen Elizabeth II, the Prime Minister of Canada, Canada Day celebrations at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, UT, Vancouver Olympic Torch celebrations in Ottawa at Parliament Hill and Toronto City Hall,  the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in Winnipeg and Edmonton, the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards in Toronto, the Aboriginal People's Choice Music Awards in Winnipeg, the Calgary Stampede Grand Stand shows and has performed in Italy, France, Holland, Germany, Israel, Korea, Mexico and across the United States and Canada.

In addition, Lisa performed with the renowned American Indian Dance Theatre. Lisa has been a guest on television shows and talk shows. Recently, she advanced as one of 37 semi-finalists out of 13,000 contestants on Canada’s Got Talent.

Beyond Sound Empijah is a newly formed collective of young men of African descent between 10 and 25 years of age. They are drummers whose slogan is “old roots, new leaves”. Each member has been nurtured, trained and shaped under the tutelage of master drummers and dancers from the African diaspora, in the art of djembe and doudou playing and contemporary and traditional dance.

This group is the brainchild of Yvonne Francis, Ngoma Drum & Dance Ensemble’s musical director. It made its Toronto debut at the May 2011 Muthadi Drum Festival and in July wooed the Afrofest audience on the festival’s main stage. They have travelled throughout the GTA, Ontario, the United States, various Caribbean islands and West Africa.

Beyond Sound is an active and thriving collective that would like to continue to create learning opportunities for children and youth, while gaining the support of multigenerational audiences through its innovative performances.

The Red Spirit Singers and Dancers are of the Ojibway, Cree, Oneida, Mic Mac and Dakota Nations. They came together as a drum group in 1998.  

Over the years, Red Spirit Singers have traveled to pow wow’s all over Southern Ontario in addition, some of the Red Spirit Singers members have traveled to South Korea to perform at a ten-day International Dance Festival in Andong City. They are often asked to do cultural presentations for events such as: at the opening ceremonies for the World AIDS Conference in Toronto 2006, and performing in front of the Pope for World Youth

Day in Toronto at Downsview Park 2002 plus appearances on MuchMusic, CityTV and TVO . The Red Spirit Singer’s experiences have helped to initiate and demonstrate youth involvement in the community.