Team Leader of the Housing & Infrastructure Department at Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat
Celeste joined the provincial government over 10 years ago after a career as a tenured professor of communication studies at Cape Breton University. Before coming to the Office of Aboriginal Affairs, she worked with Communications Nova Scotia as a communications director and as a managing director in a number of government departments; served as senior policy director on the First Nations gaming file at Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation; and before taking on her current role spent a year leading the dispute resolution team at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She has a passionate interest in diversity, inclusion and equity; regularly contributing to a number of provincial government networks and community organizations. As a livelong learner and educator, she sees being part of the province’s Treaty Education initiative as a highlight of her career - she firmly believes ‘We are all Treaty People.” Originally from Cape Breton, Celeste lives in Fall River with her husband and their two Labrador Retrievers who ensure she gets outside to enjoy nature every day.
Loni started working the Office of Aboriginal Affairs in the summer 2015 after completing her undergraduate degree at Saint Mary’s University. She contributes to a variety of provincial government initiatives including the Mi’kmaq History month committee; L’nu Network; Treaty Education Implementation Committee; and this year was the province’s lead on Treaty Day events. She consistently demonstrates her commitment to the advancement of truth reconciliation in all aspects of her work on Treaty Education, especially in the development of a Mi’kmaw Speakers Bureau and training and education pieces for public servants. Loni lives in Bedford with her partner Jacob and their two children but will always call Listuguj First Nation home.
James MacKinnon is the Team Leader of the Housing & Infrastructure Department at Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat (APC). James began working at APC as a Junior Policy Analyst in 2012 and has worked diligently to bring awareness to the housing and infrastructure challenges of Atlantic First Nations. Currently, James is working toward a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Dalhousie University, and holds Bachelor of Science (Chemistry & Sociology) from Dalhousie. Before working at APC, James spent time as an Assistant Chemical Safety Officer with Dalhousie University’s Environmental Health and Safety Office and as a Technical Officer in a Natural Products Chemistry Lab at the National Research Council of Canada.
Penny Polchies is a member of the Wolastyik Nation, and resides on the St. Mary’s Indigenous Community in Fredericton NB.
Penny has been working on Indigenous economic and labour market initiatives for the past 25 years. She brings with her many years of experience to her employer, the Joint Economic Development Initiative. An Indigenous not for profit organization dedicated to serving 15 first Nations and the Indigenous communities off-reserve. Penny has been employed with JEDI for the past 6 years as the Provincial Aboriginal Employment Coordinator. Penny, advocates between Provincial and Indigenous governments to bring programs and services to frontline workers at the community level. Penny sits on various working committee’s such as the New Brunswick Career Development Action Group, Indigenous Works and is the chair for the Aboriginal Employment Services Initiative. She’s created a network of Employment and Training officers and have created certification training in partnership with a National organization called the Canadian Career Development Foundation. Just recently, CCDF had certified N.B.’s largest Indigenous group in Canada.
Penny continues to advocate and bring awareness to the systematic barriers facing Indigenous people and in support, JEDI had created a TRC Cultural Awareness Module as it relates to the mandate of the JEDI organization.
Atlantic First Nations Water Authority
Provincial Indigenous Employment Coordinator, Joint Economic Development Initiative
Director, Treaty Education,
Nova Scotia Office of
Treaty Education in Nova Scotia
This session will educate conference attendees on Peace and Friendship Treaties in the Maritimes. On the East Coast, Peace and Friendship Treaties were signed with Mi'kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy First Nations prior to 1779. Treaties are solemn agreements that set out long-standing promises, mutual obligations and benefits for both parties.
Junior Policy Analyst, Treaty Education, Nova Scotia Office of Aboriginal Affairs