Laurie Hermiston is an Anishinaabe woman from Batchewana First Nation in Northern Ontario, where her family resides in the community of Rankin Reserve. She holds a Diploma in Community Gerontology and a Bachelor of Arts in Women Studies and Sociology from Carlton University. Laurie is strong advocate, community developer and partnership specialist with 20 years of experience working in the Indigenous community on local, provincial and national level.
She has organized several community engagement projects, advisory circles and symposiums in Ontario, and presented to countless audiences on Indigenous issues. Her work has spanned across areas of Indigenous health and well being, family, infant and child development, education and training, homelessness, mental health and addictions, and most recently, a primary focus on violence against women and human trafficking and exploitation within the Indigenous community.
Laurie lead the development and acted as the Coordinator of the Native Women’s Resource Centre’s Sexual Violence Response Team Project in Toronto, and most recently was part of the Provincial Anti-human Trafficking Team in Ontario, where she was a Program Analyst, with a specialization in Indigenous issues. She currently provides training and support to different projects across the province and country within the Indigenous community.
Brianna Olson- Pitawanakwat is a social worker, diverse multi-media artist and member of Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation. The past decade has seen her committed to supporting children and youth, Indigenous families and other communities through the arts and harm reduction at iHuman Youth Society in Edmonton, Alberta.
She is passionate about developing culturally based, trauma-informed, environmentally aware and anti oppressive programming. She has lent her knowledge to public education and training that were highly sought after, while also specializing in perinatal, parenting and reproductive health. As an artisan and jingle dress dancer she channels this medium to promote healing by implementing artistic and cultural expression into social work practice. Her experience translates to social policy work with experience on investigative committees and city council initiatives.
Brianna carries Indigenous specializations with a Masters in Social Work through the University of Toronto and undergraduate degree from University of Victoria. She has a strong focus on sharing her energy and gifts of Indigenous artistry and leadership with the community. Her work has recently supported various agencies around the GTA such as the Native Canadian Center of Toronto, Native Women’s Resource Center and Native Child and Family Services. She currently serves as a researcher and part time educator in the Politics & Public administration and Social work departments at Ryerson University as well as Education at York University.
As an avid volunteer, she lends her time and support to the University of Toronto First Nations House and the Walking with Our Sisters memorial installation, as well as fundraising for numerous important causes. Brianna has received a Harm Reduction award (Kaiser Foundation, 2006), Top 100 women in business, (Wanderer, 2013), Esquao award (Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal women, 2013), Top 30 under 30, (Centre for Global cooperation/ 2014) and Human Rights award (John Humphrey centre for Peace and Human rights, 2015)