Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization Gathering

Fri, Mar 31, 2023

About the SILR Gathering

The first annual Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization (SILR) Gathering 2023 is for language learners, language speakers, language advocates to come together to share, learn, connect and collaborate.

Let's gather to:

  • Explore the connection of mind, body and spirit in language, land and culture
  • Raise awareness on the importance of language revitalization
  • Language learning and teaching strategies and resources
  • Foster a network and communities of practice


First Nations, Métis and Inuit presentations and workshops include these topics:

  • Sharing language revitalization journeys
  • nêhiyawê Cultural Institute - Supporting Language Immersion
  • Indigenous language revitalization through the nēhiyawak Language Experience
  • Language, Culture and Land-Based Teachings; The Connection
  • Reclaiming Musical Voice in Indigenous Language Education
  • penehiyawe – come speak Cree
  • Supporting Independent Learners of Indigenous Languages

*Registration includes light morning snack, lunch and dinner.




Pipe Ceremony

Registration & Networking

Welcome: Opening Remarks and Prayer

MC: Dr. Kevin Lewis

Keynote speaker: Dr. Jessie Sylvestre

Dr. Jessie Sylvestre presents: Land is Medicine, Land is Healing, Land speaks to us

Youth Panel

Featuring Cameron Adams, Maggie Biagioni, Levi Wolfe. Moderated by Dr. Kevin Lewis

Entertainment: Zach Willier

Buffet Lunch

Presentation: Wayne Jackson

Presentation: Dr. Belinda Daniels

Presentation: Doreen Daychief

Presentation: Sherryl Sewepagaham

Presentation: Dr. Jordan Lachler

Presentation: Dr. Kevin Lewis

Presentation: Dr. Dorothy Thunder

Presentation (TBC 3B)

Presentation/Talk: Elder Elmer Ghostkeeper

Buffet Dinner & Networking

Entertainment: Donita Large

Elder Remarks, followed by Closing Remarks


Jessie Sylvestre



Dr. Jessie Sylvester is a Dene first language speaker and teacher from ejeredeséche Buffalo River, Saskatchewan. She is fluent in Dene and English and brings a wide range of experience in language and culture. She is president of the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre (SICC).

Kevin Lewis



Dr. Kevin Lewis (wâsakâyâsiw) is from the Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Kevin completed his iyiniw pitmâtisiwin kiskêyihtamowin Doctorate Program (ipkDoc) from the University of Nuhelot’ine Thaiyots’I nistamêyimâkanak Blue Quills in Alberta. Kevin was instrumental in developing, and is the lead instructor, for the Indigenous Language Certificate program in the College of Education. His research interests have been in Indigenous Knowledge systems, Second Language Acquisition Methodologies, Cree Roles in traditional parenting practices. He is also an active oskâpêwis whenever called upon. Dr. Kevin Lewis has worked with language teaching programs for the University of Alberta, the University College of the North, First Nations University of Canada and the University of Saskatchewan. Kevin assists the government of Canada in an official capacity as Cree language interpreter and translator. His ongoing research project has been running for over 21 years and is based around Cree Immersion Programming and Land-based education through a non-profit called kâniyâsihk Culture Camps (

Elmer Ghostkeeper



Elder Elmer Ghostkeeper was born to parents Adolphus and Elsie Ghostkeeper at the Paddle Prairie Métis Settlement, Alberta. He is Métis and speaks fluent Bushland Cree and Michif the language of Métis people and lives with the land. He is a Spiritualist, father, grandfather, teacher, student, learner, philosopher and entrepreneur. His work is “Weche Teachings”, a partnership of Aboriginal Wisdom and Western Scientific Knowledge, a methodology to understand and solve puzzles effecting Aboriginal People. Elmer has a BA in Anthropology a MA in Cultural Anthropology and a Civil Technology Diploma. He is the author of Spirit Gifting: The Concept of Spiritual Exchange which is his Master’s thesis. In 2004, Elmer received the Order of the Métis Nation. He serves on numerous committees to revitalize the four aspects of Indigenous culture, social, economic and politics.

Cameron Adams



Cameron Adams is a 5th year Integrated Education student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg. Cameron is ininiw-Anishinaabe and French Canadian with Scottish and English ancestry from Gimli, Manitoba and Treaty from Memewiziibiing (Berens River) situated in Treaty 5 Territory. For the last decade, Cameron has been learning about his ancestral routes. It was in high school where he developed a passion to learn nēhinawēwin after meeting an Elder, Florence Paynter who shared their story in Indian Residential School. It was there where Cameron asked his Great-Grandmother what Indigenous language she spoke, and he found out it was ininīmowin (Swampy Cree) from kinosēw sīpīhk (Norway House, MB). 

Margaret Biagioni



Margaret Katherine-Rose nitisińīhkāson ēkwa ē-okwēmēsiyān nōhkomipanak. māka Maggie isiyihkāso.

ēkwa nińa awa okāwīmaw, ninēhińāwiskwēwin, ēwka mīna nimaskihkīwiskwēwin.

oskana kā-asastēki kayahtē nitohcīn ekwa mēkwāc Terrace BC niwīkin otaskīhk of the unceded Territory of the Tsimshian People.

hay hay

My name is Margaret Katherine-Rose and I am named after my grandmothers. But call me Maggie.

I am a mother, a Cree person, and a Registered Nurse. I was born in Regina and I currently live in Northern BC on the unceded land

of the Tsimshian People.

Levi Wolfe



Tanisi/hello, my name is Levi Wolfe from Onion Lake Cree Nation. As a student attending university, I have the opportunity and honor to learn the many teachings from what the two worlds (Indigenous & Western ) have to offer as I continue this journey of learning. wahkohtowin, is what helps guide me to understand the world a little better, because as an oskapewis (ceremony helper/server) this is a role I have the honor and privilege to guide me in doing my best in any way to help and serve our communities. I have other important roles such as being an uncle, a mosom (grandpa), a brother and it is these roles that have an impact on me, and the past and future generations.

I have the privilege to learn from--and it is why I continue to do advocacy work for the Truth and Reconciliation’s: 94 calls to Action--speak on behalf in support of MMIW, and other indigenous related issues, and to also voice out the importance of indigenous inclusion, knowledge, and the treaties that still bind our relationships for a brighter future. I am honored to be a part of something big that really helps our future generations. Ay hay (thank you)

Doreen Daychief



Born and raised near Rocky mountain House, Alberta, on Sunchild First Nation, 280kms southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Doreen grew up learning two languages, Cree and Annisnabe. Ancestors, great- grandparents, who were medicine men and women, and held ceremonial lodges and taught Doreen an abundance of traditional knowledge and protocols and they originate from a sacred place called ‘Manitou Lake’, near Marsden, Saskatchewan. Doreen also has family ties to North Battleford, Saskatchewan region.

Wayne Jackson



Wayne Jackson is the program lead and instructor at University nuhelot'įne thaiyots'į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills (UnBQ) for the Bachelor of Arts in nêhiyawêwin and the Director of the Nêhiyawê Cultural Institute. Wayne grew up on the Goodfish Lake First Nation in Treaty Six territory and speaks Plains nêhiyawêwin. For several years, Wayne taught nêhiyawêwin at the Ashmont Secondary School. In 2003, he obtained his Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Alberta and in 2013, also received a Masters of Indigenous Languages degree from UnBQ, and currently is a doctoral candidate in the iyiniw pimâtisiwin kiskêyihtamowin doctoral program at UnBQ. 

Wayne enjoys many sporting events and activities, in particular football and hockey; he is also a professional recording artist who goes by the stage name, W.T. Goodspirit. 

Belinda Daniels



Dr. Belinda (kakiyosēw) Daniels is from the community of pakitahwākan sākahikan - Sturgeon Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan. Now a faculty member with the University of Victoria and founder of a not-for-profit organization called nēhiyawak Language Experience. kakiyosēw holds a Ph.D. from the University of Saskatchewan, Interdisciplinary Department. She was awarded the Outstanding Indigenous Educator Award of 2015 by the Canadian Teachers Federation. She has also been recognized by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations for her exceptional work in Indigenous Language revitalization. Finally, she has also been recognized globally as one of the top 50 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize of 2016.

Jordan Lachler



Dr. Lachler is the Director of the Canadian Indigenous Languages and Literacy Development Institute (CILLDI). He brings in considerable experience from many years of close collaborative work with a range of Indigenous language communities including Haida and Nakota, and is actively developing partnerships with Cree, Stoney, Dene and other communities. Dr. Lachler leads overall project planning and management of CILLDI, and fosters an inclusive research and teaching environment where community involvement and feedback are ensured.

Sherryl Sewepagaham



Sherryl Sewepagaham (MEd, BEd, BMT) is Cree-Dene and belongs to the Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta. She is a Cree hand drum and rattle vocalist and incorporates gifted and newly-composed Cree songs in her work in elementary music education, choral composition, curriculum resources, and music therapy. Her Cree choral compositions have been sung by various children’s and adult choirs such as The Canadian Chamber Choir, ProCoro Canada, The Vancouver Youth Choir, and The Toronto Children’s Choir. Sherryl currently works as an academic research and project analyst for the Supporting Indigenous Language Revitalization (SILR) project through the University of Alberta. She recently completed a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and will begin a PhD in Music, emphasis in Ethnomusicology at the University of British Columbia in September 2023. Sherryl is passionate about sharing the Cree language in many facets of her work and is dedicated to composing in Cree to share the beauty of the language with many singers and audiences on a community and international level.

Dorothy Thunder



Dorothy Thunder is a Plains Cree (nêhiyawiskwêw) from Little Pine First Nation, Saskatchewan and full-time Cree instructor in Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. She is a Language Keeper, educator, and an Aboriginal woman who practices the traditional way of life. Her passion for the Cree language began at the U of A, where she completed her BA in Native Studies in June 2002 and MSc in Linguistics in December 2015. She co-authored the book, Beginning of Print Culture in Athabasca Country, which won the Scholarly and Academic Book of the Year in June 2011. In March 2011, she received the Graduate Studies Teaching Award in recognition of excellence in the performance of teaching duties in the Faculty of Native Studies. Being a fluent nêhiyawêwin speaker and instructor has inspired her to continue in developing resource materials and promoting nêhiyawêwin language programs. Her purpose is to assist in strengthening confidence and competence in Cree language skills by supporting educators and nehiyawewin language learners. As an advocator of nehiyawewin, she shares various methodologies to strengthen existing or new Indigenous programs. Her main focus is integrating nehiyaw language and literacy strategies from cultural perspectives of First Nations teachings and the inclusion of Aboriginal stories and teachings.

Zach Willier



Zach Willier is an 18-year-old Indigenous singer, songwriter and fiddler who comes from Sucker Creek First Nation but is currently based out of Edmonton performing at many different events all over the city. In April 2022, he was asked by the Royal Canadian National Geographic society to represent Alberta at the launch for the International Decade of Indigenous Languages in Ottawa. In March 2023, he released his first album which includes nine of his original songs. Zach loves to bring back old songs as well as writing his own songs for performing to showcase his own unique style of singing and playing.

Donita Large



Donita Large is a Cree singer-songwriter who can lift the hair on the back of your neck when you experience her singing and feel the story in her songs. She is a multi-genre singer and has released original music in blues and world rock that is flavoured with traditional and contemporary Indigenous sounds. Regarding her latest 2022 single, producer Chris Birkett (Buffy Sainte Marie) recently announced: “Look out for this heartfelt song called ‘Reconciliation Sky’ -  it will open your eyes, ears, heart and soul!” Her 2021 single ‘Going to Walk that Line’ reached #1 on the Indigenous Music Countdown. Donita has recently paired with guitarist Anthony King (lead guitarist for Buffy Sainte Marie) to share her original songs and stories in her show “Ancestors in My Bones”. 

Location details

Address: 16615 109 Avenue Northwest, Edmonton, AB, Canada