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Indigenous Communities

2023 Symposium Biographies

Danielle Bekintis headshot

Danielle Bekintis, Sandy Lake First Nation

My name is Danielle Beardy I am from Sandy Lake First Nation. I am one of the community coordinators for our community. I was on the housing board for two terms. I have been a volunteer firefighter for over 10 years & by day I am a special needs bus driver. My willingness to advocate and help my people comes from knowing how it feels to need help. I try to be the person that I needed when times were tough.. it’s still tough but I’ve learned how to cope. I’m blessed with 5 children, one granddaughter & a very supportive husband. They are my reason to keep trying to find ways to make life in a remote community manageable.

Fiona Blondin

Fiona Blondin, Board Member, IESO

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Pat Chilton, CEO, First Nations Energy

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Lesley Gallinger headshot

Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO, IESO

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Christine Goulais  headshot

Christine Goulais, CEO, Nbisiing Power

Christine Goulais is a proud member of Nipissing First Nation which is located on the north shore of Lake Nipissing in Ontario. Christine has established a consulting and advisory business focused on supporting Indigenous communities in the areas of strategic policy, economic development, energy and self-governance.  

Christine is the Chief Executive Officer of Nbisiing Power, an Electrical Equipment reseller created through a limited partnership, majority owned by Nipissing First Nation, with Composite Power Group Inc. Christine was instrumental in facilitating this partnership and is committed to supporting the growth of this new business in Nipissing First Nation.  

Christine has 15 years of experience in government and corporate environments focused on Indigenous relations, including 10 years with Hydro One. Christine prioritizes collaborative, respectful, and mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous communities across Ontario, and is proud of the relationships she has fostered with Indigenous leadership and community members. 

Christine lives in her home community of Nipissing First Nation where she enjoys watching her Children play hockey, fishing and spending time with her family and friends.  

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Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare

Glen Gwiingos Hare is the Ontario Regional Chief. First Nation Chiefs elected him as a candidate for the Ontario Regional Chief on June 16, 2022.  He has been happily married for 49 years to his wife Sally and with the support of my four boys, he stated he is ready to work for the Nations as the Ontario Regional Chief. He knows about commitment to family and communities.   

His familiarity with key Government Provincial and Federal levels is what he brings to the table, after all the advocacy at the Chiefs of Ontario level is crucial to addressing First Nation priorities. 

As the former Grand Council Chief with Anishinabek Nation, he worked tirelessly listening and getting answers to First Nation needs. When he worked with the Grand Council Chiefs in the Chiefs of Ontario Leadership Council they highlighted many issues that needed to be addressed. 

Major action will be required to coordinate a lobby effort to get a fair share of resources. With existing government programs, we will need to aggressively lobby for more funding. Ontario Regional Chief Hare says we need to start talking at all levels about joint ventures, look at the economies of scale, small business development and definitely work collaboratively at a solid economic plan.  His position is that we need to work on a region by region basis… there is no one size fits all.

Glen Hare stated he doesn’t take the Ontario Regional Chief position lightly.  The Ontario Regional Chief position is one of his political positions as he stated he has been at the tables for 38 years now, starting as a First Nation Councillor, First Nation Chief for 20 years, and then Deputy Grand Chief at Anishinabek Nation and Grand Chief at the Anishinabek Nation.

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Rashaun Harper, Sandy Lake First Nation

My name is Rashaun Harper, and I am from Sandy Lake First Nation. I am one of the community coordinators in the community. I was working with Housing In sandy Lake as a delivery truck driver and have worked with Valard construction for two years as an assembler and material yard man. I want to help my community and my people to have safe and comfortable homes to live in. It’s tough living in a rough home, especially when it’s cold up here. I also have a family of my own. I have two small kids, and a beautiful girlfriend. They keep me going when times are rough, and I’d do anything for them. My future goal is to attend college, and hope to do more for my community.

Matt Jackson headshot

Matthew Jackson, Director, Indigenous Relations, Hydro One

Matthew is someone who knows the value of trust-based relationships. 

He has accountability for the leadership of the company’s Indigenous Relations team and is responsible for the advancement of the Hydro One’s Indigenous relations strategy. 

A signature of his leadership at Hydro One is the company's industry-leading First Nations Equity Partnership model which will see First Nations and Hydro One sharing equal ownership in all future transmission line projects over $100 million. 

During his time in the energy sector, Matthew has advanced the construction of more than $12 billion in new infrastructure through engagements and partnerships with community and is currently leading partnership negotiations with over 45 First Nation governments in Ontario related to equity ownership. 

Prior to Hydro One, Matthew held various senior roles with Union Gas and Enbridge, serving most recently as Senior Manager, Community & Indigenous Engagement for all Enbridge’s eastern Canadian operations in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.    

Matthew was born and raised in the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation on the Bruce Peninsula.  He previously served as a municipal Councillor in his community of Wiarton, within the Town of South Bruce Peninsula and enjoys spending time with his family and boating on Georgian Bay.

Denise Jamal headshot

Denise Jamal, Director, Stakeholder and Community Engagement, IESO

Denise Jamal currently serves as the Independent Electricity System Operator’s Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement. Denise brings more than 17 years of experience as an award-winning public affairs and engagement professional to the position. Throughout her career, she has held several senior leadership roles with Hydro One in the areas of community relations, customer experience, corporate communications and public affairs, and has a deep understanding of the electricity sector. Denise is committed to creative problem solving and collaboration with Indigenous Nations, communities and a variety of stakeholders to build partnerships that collectively advance the energy transition journey.  

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Dawn Lambe, Anishinabek Nation

Dawn Lambe leverages 30 years of experience in technology design, clean energy development, and strategic planning to support sustainable economic development.  

She has led international business delegations from Finland and Sweden to communities throughout northern Ontario to share opportunities in community energy sovereignty with bioheat and biopower. 

Dawn has led successful not-for-profit and for-profit organizations in the sustainable forestry and technology sectors, and enjoys guest lecturing at colleges and universities across Ontario on strategic innovation for a zero carbon future.  

Currently pursuing her MA in Economics, Dawn supports the Forestry and Energy files with the Anishinabek Nation’s Economic Development Department.  

Dawn treasures the time she spends hunting, fishing, harvesting, and just being in the forests and on the lakes and rivers of northern Ontario. 

Gail Lawlor headshot

Gail Lawlor, President, Conservation on the Coast, Energy Matters

Gail Lawlor has been involved in the residential energy efficiency industry for 40 years in a variety of capacities including as an air sealing contractor, auditor, retailer, researcher, consultant, mentor and trainer. Gail provided technical assistance to Fort Albany, Kashechewan and Attawapiskat First Nations in the delivery of their provincially mandated conservation programs and managed the development of their Community Energy Plans with a focus on housing policy development, local skills capacity, creating a “culture of conservation”, and renewable energy opportunities. In her ‘retirement’, Gail enjoys working with Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE) Catalysts in a supportive mentorship role and with the ICE ‘Bringing It Home’ energy retrofit project where she can share her conservation of energy mantra: Efficiency is the First Fuel!

Carla Nell

Carla Y. Nell, Vice-President, Corporate Relations, Stakeholder Engagement and Innovation, IESO

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Cindy Roks headshot

Cindy Roks, Demand Side Management, IESO

With over 25 years of experience in the energy sector, Cindy provides a variety of perspectives with exposure to the grid operator, an electric utility, a privately-owned energy services company, the regulator, and as a labour union representative. 

She was an integral team member integral member of the Feed-in Tariff (“FIT”) team in developing the policy, procurement, contract and communications for the ground breaking renewable energy initiative in 2009 and managed over 600 contracts for the IESO for more than ten years. She has also held roles in Government Affairs, Finance and Process Management in her tenure at the IESO. 

For the past year, she has been program advisor for the Save on Energy’s First Nations programs and has recently joined the Energy Affordability Program as well. Cindy is responsible for the implementation of these community support programs, as well as ensuring energy savings and demand savings are achieved.

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Elder Garry Sault, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation

Elder Garry Sault is an Ojibway Elder for the Mississaugas of the Credit First nation. His people signed over 20 pre-confederation treaties with the Crown, which covers most of the Golden Horseshoe. He is a Veteran and served in the United States Navy. He resides on the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation with his wife of 48 years and enjoys spending time with his 15 grandchildren. Elder Sault is also a story teller and has welcomed Prince Charles, two Prime Ministers, three Premiers, many Chiefs, Environmentalists and many more to the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

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The Honourable Todd Smith, Minister of Energy

For over 25 years, Todd Smith has been a trusted voice in the Quinte region. Born and raised in Riverview, N.B., he has lived in the Belleville area since the early 1990s. 

A graduate of Loyalist College, he embarked on a 16-year career in radio news broadcasting, rising to the news director of Quinte Broadcasting. In 2011, Smithwas nominated to run as the Progressive Conservative candidate provincially. As a first-time candidate, he unseated a well-tenured Liberal cabinet minister. 

While in opposition, Smith served the Prince Edward-Hastings riding for seven years. He served as the PC critic on several files, including small business and red tape reduction, Pan and Parapan American Games, the Hydro One sale, natural resources and forestry, and energy. 

Also during that time, he put forward Private Members’ bills dealing with tax fairness for realtors, market access for craft beverage producers, and mobile soccer net safety. He also was an instrumental supporter of several important projects in his riding, including advocating for the protection of Prince Edward County’s natural south shore, the ongoing operations of Belleville’s Sagonaska Demonstration School, and the continued funding and sustainability of small and rural hospitals.  

He has always had an open ear for the interests of business and a willingness to find common sense solutions that reduce red tape and barriers to success. 

In June 2018, Smith was elected in the new Bay of Quinte riding as part of a Progressive Conservative majority government. Since then he’s been fortunate to have been named to several important porfolios under Premier Doug Ford. 

Beyond politics, Smith has been active with numerous charitable and community causes. He is a past chair of Operation Red Nose Quinte and he has served as volunteer hockey coach for several years. 

Amid all of his commitments, Smith’s family remains his most important priority. He enjoys spending time with his wife Tawnya, a local high school vice-principal, and his daughters Payton and Reagan.

Jennifer Tidmarsh headshot

Jennifer Tidmarsh, Vice-President, Indigenous Relations and Partnerships, Ontario Power Generation

With a strong background in the energy sector, Jennifer has worked with various organizations, associations, regulated and unregulated businesses, Indigenous communities, governments, and ministerial departments. Prior to becoming the Vice President of Indigenous Relations and Partnerships at Ontario Power Generation, Jennifer was the President of Transmission in Canada for NextEra Energy, the largest renewables developer in North America. In addition to business development in Canada, Jennifer also led the development and construction of the East West Tie transmission project in Northwestern Ontario, which went into service in March 2022. The East West Tie project is proud to have an equity partner in six First Nations communities, as well as training and employing a large Indigenous workforce in the region.

Before joining NextEra, Jennifer was the Director of First Nations and Métis Relations at the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) – now the Independent Electricity System Operator. She was responsible for facilitating and integrating all aspects of Indigenous involvement into the work of the organization.  She also designed and managed the Aboriginal Renewable Energy Fund and the Community Energy Partnerships Program to enable renewable development opportunities for Indigenous and local communities. 

Annette Verschuren headshot

Annette Verschuren, Chair and CEO, NRStor (Oneida Energy Storage Project)

Annette Verschuren is the Chair of the Ontario Energy Association and member of the IESO Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC). Ms.Verschuren sits on the corporate boards of Liberty Mutual, CNRL, Air Canada and Saputo.  She is Chair of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and of the MaRS Discovery District Board.

Ms. Verschuren is the Chancellor of Cape Breton University and is on the Board of the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment, (VCSEE).

Annette Verschuren has received numerus Honourary Doctorates from Canadian universities including her alma mater, St. Francis Xavier University. She is a founding member of the Rideau Hall Foundation.

Annette Verschuren is a Companion of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. She was named as on Officer to the Order of Canada for her contributions to the retail industry and corporate social responsibility.

Ms. Verschuren wrote the book Bet On Me, about succeeding in business and in life.

Stan Wrsley headshot

Kahnekahnekahtahk Stan Wesley

Stan Wesley is from Moose Factory and currently living in Six Nations Territory with his wife Mandy and two daughters Maya and Tenona.

With his high-energy and sincere professional approach, he’s considered by many to be one of the most high-energy speakers around.

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Emily Whetung-MacInnes, Director, Indigenous Partnerships, Ontario Power Generation

Chief Emerita Emily Whetung grew up in Curve Lake First Nation and left long enough to pursue a higher education at Trent University and Osgoode Hall Law School. She married a Mohawk from Wahta and convinced him to build a life on the Chemong side of Curve Lake. She practiced Real Estate Law in Peterborough for a decade while she started to work on the next generation of Whetungs, raising two lovely little boys. 

Serving as Chief of Curve Lake from 2019-2022, Chief Emily is passionate about the rights of First Nations people, ensuring her community has every opportunity to thrive, protecting the environment for all future generations, protection of Treaty Rights, finding ways to ensure economic advancements occur in sustainable manners, and building healthy relationships between First Nations and Canadians.  

Chief Emily is the Director of Indigenous Partnerships, Business Development at Ontario Power Generation, sits on the Anishinabek Nation Leadership Council and is a member of the Canadian Electricity Advisory Council. She has served as a part of the Electrification and Energy Transition Panel in Ontario, as the vice-chair to the Indigenous Advisory Council for Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactor Action Plan, and was the representative plaintiff in a class action lawsuit fighting for clean drinking water for First Nations in Canada which reached an $8billion settlement in 2022. She continues to use her expertise and knowledge to ensure that that voices of Indigenous people are heard and respected.