First Nations Women's Council on Economic Security

Gail Bitternose

Gail Bitternose is a mother and grandmother. A former lender, Gail is now developing businesses with First Nation communities. Gail dreams of building her own brand with her family and a business using the natural strengths and talents of those around her. Gail believes women are central to the family’s success and structure. Gail is working toward a Master of Business Administration in Community Economic Development, giving her skills and knowledge to help First Nations people reach their goal of financial independence.

Tracy Lee

Tracy Lee is a senior advisor for Aboriginal Health at Alberta Health Services leading several collaborative projects that speak to the health inequities women face. A member of Ermineskin Cree Nation, Tracy has held various leadership positions that have allowed her to understand and address the issues and challenges First Nations women face in the areas of health and wellness, education, employment and culture. Tracy has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in public administration.

Suzanne Life

A member of the Liidlii Kue First Nation, Suzanne Life-Yeomans has a Master of Business, a Bachelor of Law, an Indigenous Corporate Relations Diploma and an Indigenous Governance Diploma. Suzanne has worked with First Nation communities in the areas of consultation, lands, policies, economic development and communication. Suzanne has worked with municipal, provincial and First Nation governments, as well as First Nation companies. Suzanne is a member of the Alberta Lands and Economic Development Advisory Committee, serving as its chair from 2014 to 2018, as well as co-chair for the Town of Ponoka Economic Development Board.

Dakota Manson

Dakota Lane Tallow Manson is a First Nations mother from the Kainai Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy with the spiritual name Akoo. Dakota is an advocate for Indigenous youth, promoting Indigenous rights and physical and spiritual wellness. She is currently an Indigenous mentor in the community of Lethbridge and is working toward an accounting degree with a minor in First Nations governance from the University of Lethbridge. After her degree, Dakota plans to apply for law school and specialize in First Nations law.

Alayna Many Guns

Alayna Many Guns is a member of the Siksika Nation. She has a degree in administration concentrating on Aboriginal Health. She has worked at the community, Tribal Council and regional levels in Alberta, where she learned best practices in community development, strategic planning, managing and building partnerships. Alayna owns an event-management company that shares First Nation wisdom and experiences to empower Indigenous communities. She is also a Board Member of the Siksika Nation Treasury Board.

Tina Northwest

Tina Northwest is a contract service provider and has taught employers such as the Samson Cree Nation and the Maskwacis Cultural College. Tina has a degree in Indigenous Doctoral Studies in iyiniw pimatlsiwin Kiskeytamowin at nuhelots'ine thaieyots'inistameymakanak Blue Quills University. She also has an Indigenous Leadership and Management Certificate from the Banff Centre, a certificate in Business Administration, a Master of Arts in Leadership and Administration and a Bachelor of Social Work.

Meeka Otway

Meeka Otway is president of the Inuit Edmontonmiut, the Inuit Society of Edmonton, and serves on the Pauktuutit, the national board for Inuit women. She is a community liaison officer for the Indigenous and Global Health Research Group at the University of Alberta. Meeka is fluent in Inuktitut and translates for various groups, such as the Baffin Regional Education Board. Meeka has volunteered at numerous conferences, most recently at the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Marlene Poitras

A member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, Marlene Poitras has spent much of her career working with Indigenous communities, organizations and individuals in several capacities across Canada and internationally. Marlene is currently the Alberta Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations. Previously, Marlene chaired the Alberta Treaty 8 Health Authority and was appointed by the Alberta Chiefs to chair the Resolutions Committees and the Assembly of Alberta Chiefs meetings. Marlene received the 2015 Alberta Aboriginal Role Model Humanitarian Award. She is pursuing a Master in Business Administration Executive Management.

Crystal Shade

As a member of the Blood Tribe, Crystal Shade has worked for her First Nation both on- and off-reserve. She has a Bachelor of Management in Business Enterprises for Self-Governing Systems and experience in Indigenous economic development. Her volunteer experience ranges from delivering meals with Meals on Wheels to helping with home construction with Habitat for Humanity to presenting The Economics of Success to students with Junior Achievement. She is currently on the board for the local boys and girls club.

Rhonda Spence

Rhonda Spence is a First Nations woman from Sandy Bay First Nation, Treaty 1 Territory, Manitoba, but has lived in Edmonton for 20 years. Rhonda is a Canadian Certified Addiction Counsellor and works with the Enoch Cree Nation. She has also worked at the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, volunteered with the Women's Advocacy Voice of Edmonton and served as a board member with the Wichitowin's Housing Action Circle, Red Road Healing Society and Creating Hope Society.