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Elder Whabagoon

Born in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Whabagoon is a member of the Lac Seul First Nation and she sits with the Loon Clan. Her mother was a residential school survivor, and her grandmother was a medicine woman with Sapay and Petawayway lineage. Whabagoon is a Sixties Scoop survivor. She is a Keeper of Sacred Pipes, a speaker, artist, active community member, land defender, and water protector. As the inaugural First Peoples Leadership Advisor to the Dean of the University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, Whabagoon advocates for more Indigenous content within the Daniels Faculty curriculum, advises on respectful engagement with Indigenous people and communities, considers ways to introduce Indigenous languages, imagines the visual presence of Indigenous cultures in the Daniels Building, supports a greater awareness and sensitivity towards Indigenous students, and clears the path for the next generation.

Since 2018, Whabagoon has been a co-leader of Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag, an Access Program for Indigenous youth at the University of Toronto. Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag is a culturally grounded, land-based mentorship program and pathway to post-secondary education that responds to Call 26 of U of T’s Truth and Reconciliation Report. “Our youth need to connect with the teachings of the land,” says Elder Whabagoon. “The program strengthens their cultural identity, gives a platform for their voice on environmental issues, and guides them to envision their role as future caretakers of Mother Earth.”

Whabagoon was honored at the High Table at Massey College for her community leadership role. She was invited to present on Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag at the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects 2019 Annual Congress, which was dedicated to Reconciliation. That same year, Whabagoon took Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag home to participants in the Elder and Youth Conference in Lac Seul. She was also a part of U of T Engineering’s Centre for Global Engineering (CGEN) delegation that presented to 15 northern communities at the at the Sioux Lookout Innovation Station Conference.

Whabagoon is active in the Toronto Indigenous community. She is involved with many Indigenous organizations across Toronto, including the Native Canadian Centre Toronto, Native Earth Performing Arts, and the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. She loves the arts, and is a peer assessor on the Indigenous Arts Grants Panel with the Toronto Arts Council and an advisory member of the StART Partnership Program, a City of Toronto program that funds large-scale street and graffiti art projects.

Elder Whabagoon will be performing an opening water ceremony for Tech Forum.