Audrey Mae Poitras has served as president of the Métis Nation of Alberta since 1996, the first female in that position. She also serves as vice-president on the Canadian Métis National Council and joined the Board of the Canadian Executive Service Organization in 2004.
Born Audrey Mae Dumont, the daughter of Jean Baptiste Dumont and Mabel Kinchshe, she shares common ancestry with Gabriel Dumont, and has family ties to the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement. She grew up on a farm near Elk Point, Alberta, 150 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) President, Audrey Poitras is one of the highest profile Métis women in Canada. Audrey was elected as the first female President in 1996, becoming the longest-serving President of the MNA. This is a strong statement that displays the trust and leadership she has gained. Audrey has been a strong advocate for Métis rights and will continue to move the Métis rights agenda forward with the help of the Daniels Supreme Court decision in 2016.
President Poitras successfully negotiated partnerships with colleges and universities, for Métis Endowment funds of 22 million. She also oversaw the creation of the MNA’s Rupertsland Institute, Métis Centre of Excellence, which is a unique partnership with the University of Alberta promoting education, training, and Research.
Audrey is recognized within Alberta as a leader who is committed to helping build a better economic future for the Métis Nation. She has been supportive in developing business relationships, which has included the establishment of a business vendor database that has helped open doors for Indigenous people’s involvement in the natural resource sector.
In 2017, Alberta Chamber of Resources selected Audrey as the 2016 Indigenous Leader of the Year. The award is designed to honour Indigenous leaders dedicated to advancing the cause of their people while building bridges with the resource sector. She has also received numerous awards and achievement milestones throughout her leadership, including a National Aboriginal Achievement Award.
One of Audrey’s greatest achievements, in the preservation of Métis culture, history and language was the creation of Métis Crossing, a multimillion-dollar cultural interpretive site, along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River near Smoky Lake, Alberta. Métis Crossing has proved to be not only a smart business choice, but one that will remain for a long time to come.
Under her leadership, the MNA continues to be a model of success in representing and pursuing the social, political, and economic interests of the Métis people in Alberta. The credibility of the MNA continues to increase, as evidenced by activities over the past 21 years with Audrey Poitras at the helm, where the legitimacy and accountability of the MNA has risen to unprecedented heights.
Carl Quinn is a Cree First Nations singer-songwriter from the Saddle Lake First Nation in Alberta. He is also a traditional pow-wow dancer and sings with the Pisimoyapi drum group, since their inception. Throughout his music career Quinn has developed a genre in which he self-described as “New World” and that can be identified by its assortment of pop, rock, pow-wow, and electronica. He has released three albums focused on life, love, tradition and values, all of which he sang in his Native Cree (Nehiyo) language. In 2003, Quinn was awarded the Best Traditional Album, Contemporary Award at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (CAMAs) for his Nehiyo Album and in 2005 at the CAMAs he was awarded the best songwriter for “Ni Ototem” and “Otapihkes” which were both from his Ni Ototem album.
Carl Quinn is one son from a family of twelve and he was born on the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in a dirt-floored one room shack. Although, throughout his life he has experienced being a hunter, trapper, farm hand, construction worker, and a human resource consultant, he is best known for being a leader in his community by becoming the youngest Chief ever to be elected on the Saddle Lake reserve and even greater known by becoming a great musical inspiration upon his people. The musical influences Quinn originally grew up with were the songs of the traditional ceremony, round dance, handgame, and pow-wow of his Cree heritage. When receiving his first guitar at fifteen Quinn began emulating music of the folk and rock sound from the late sixties and early seventies. Quinn eventually started writing his own music that combined sounds from his musical influences, such as: Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Beatles, Dwight Yoakam, and his traditional musical background.
Carl Quinn resides in Saddle Lake where his daughter, Pamela Quinn, follows in his footsteps as an elected member of Saddle Lake Cree Nation Band.
James Jones aka Notorious Cree
TikTok is largely dominated by trending songs, dance challenges, and overall embracing creativity, but it’s not as well known for its fashion scene. That being said, a stylish community is forming on the app—here is one of the most inspiring, and most stylish, creators.
This week’s must-follow account is James Jones (@notoriouscree), a 34-year-old Indigenous creator from Edmonton, Alberta. He’s known on TikTok for hoop dancing, which captures your attention mid-scroll. Hoop dancing is an Indigenous healing dance, where each hoop represents honoring the circle of life; it is often performed at powwows and other cultural events. A video of him differentiating the style from hula hooping has been viewed over 5 million times. He has also done popular dance videos set to trending songs of the moment, such as this hoop dance set to the “Laxed (Siren Beat)” tune you’ve been hearing everywhere.
Jones, who is Cree, is a full-time speaker and performer; his main cultural artform is hoop dancing, but he also does grass dancing and fancy dancing as well. “I started out as a breakdancer when I was a youth, and transitioned to my traditional dances as I started to reconnect with my culture,” Jones tells Vogue. In 2019, he was even a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and he has also performed with the Indigenous EDM group A Tribe Called Red.
Since posting his very first TikTok on March 30 this year, Jones has amassed more than 713,000 followers on the app. “I started my TikTok account when the COVID-19 lockdown went into effect,” he says. “I wanted to be a comedian on the platform. I started making funny Indigenous humor videos at first, but soon realized people engaged much more with educational and cultural dance content from me.” Now, his page spreads awareness and education around his culture, and his dancing is especially positive and popular. A video of Jones explaining that “light-skinned Natives” and those who don’t speak traditional languages are still Indigenous has resonated with his audience, many of whom thanked him in the comments and related to the feeling of being inadequate. “I feel it’s an important message for all those struggling with identity as Indigenous people,” Jones says of the viral video, a favorite of his.
Jo-Ann Saddleback’s heritage (her Mother) is Saddle Lake Cree First Nations and (her Husband) Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacîs. She inherits from her Mother, Christine Daniels, the Eagle Thunderbird Clan of the Western Mountains. Elder Saddleback is also Elder for the City of Edmonton Indigenous Framework development, City of Edmonton Indigenous Artist in Residence Program, Lead Elder for the Canadian Research Initiative on Substance Misuse (CRISM); for Thunderbird Partnerships, the Indigenous National research organization; for Dreamspeakers Festival Society. She has also worked with the Federation of Sovereign Nations, Maskwacîs Cultural College, and Cultural Advisor to The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada when it was in Edmonton, and gives lectures at many educational institutions, organizations and conferences. She is also an artist/artisan who owns Câhcacêp Art and BowsArt.
In April of 2021 Jo-Ann Saddleback was announced as the Edmonton Public Library 2021 Elder in residence and the first Elder in Residence to maintain residency in PÎYESÎW WÂSKÂHIKAN (Thunderbird House) at Stanley A. Milner Library.