Economic Forum 2024


Bernd Christmas
Bertha Rabesca Zoe
Caitlin Cleveland
Caroline Wawzonek
Chief Danny Gaudet
Chief Fred Sangris
Chief Robert Charlie-Tetlichi
Darrell Beaulieu
Dawn Madahbee Leach
Eira Thomas
Francis MacDonald

Francis MacDonald
National Chief Gerald Antoine
Grand Chief Herb Norwegian
Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty
Heather Exner-Pirot
Hillary Thatcher
Jeff Hussey
Jessica M. Shadian, Ph.D
Kimberly Lavoie
Louise Corriveau

Mark Podlasly
Michael McLeod, MP
Nancy C. Southern
Paul Gruner
Reggie Leach
Robert Campbell
Roy Erasmus Jr.
Steven Berna
Tom Hoefer
William Lomax

NWT Indigenous Leaders Economic Forum 2024  SPEAKERS BIOGRAPHIES

Bertha Rabesca Zoe, is Tłı̨chǫ Executive Officer of the Tłı̨chǫ Government.   Earning her law degree in 2003, she has since built an impressive career serving her people and playing a key role in the Tłı̨chǫ Government, previously serving as legal counsel, Director of Planning and Partnerships, and leading initiatives such as the Tłı̨chǫ Devolution Agreement.

Caitlin Cleveland, is GNWT Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, and Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. She was elected to the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly representing Kam Lake for two terns running.   Before entering politics, she was known as a respected Senior Policy Analyst in the Department of Finance.

Caroline Wawzonek, is the Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance, Minister of Infrastructure, and Minister Responsible for the NWT Power Corporation, GNWT.  She is now in her second term as MLA for Yellowknife South.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Law degree and is committed to positively shaping the territory’s future.

Chief Danny Gaudet, is Chief (Ed’wahtide) of Deline Got’ine Government. As former chief negotiator for the Déline Final Self-Government Agreement and Chair of the Canada/Déline Uranium Table, he advanced rights and well-being for his people. With experience in aviation, construction, and community development, he has proven a versatile and effective leader.

Chief Fred Sangris, of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation descends from a long line of distinguished chiefs. Fred guides his people, securing land settlements and safeguarding their way of life. A devoted long-term leader, he continues to inspire future generations as he passes on knowledge and respect.

Chief Robert Charlie-Tetlichi, has been Chief of the Inuvik Native Band since 2019, previously serving as Councillor and as Director for the Gwich’in Tribal Council.  He has dedicated over 15 years as Chair to the Gwich’in Renewable Resources Board and now also serves as Chairman of DDC and Vice-chair of DII.

Darrell Beaulieu, was appointed President and CEO of Denendeh Investments Incorporated (DII) and group of companies in October 2005. DII holds investments on behalf of the NWT Dene First Nations in Mineral Exploration, Communications Infrastructure Logistics, Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution, Food and Supplies Distribution and Real Estate. He is also Founding Director, President and CEO of DEMCo Ltd., a 100% Indigenous owned mineral exploration company established in 2013. Darrell was honored in 2016 by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada with their prestigious Skookum Jim Award, for exceptional Indigenous achievement in the mineral industry.

Mr. Beaulieu served as Councilor for 2 years and 8 years as Chief of Ndilo, Yellowknives Dene First Nation. He is a founder and past president of Det’on Cho Corporation from 1990 to 2000 and served as CEO from 1997 to 2002. He is a founding director and served as President of Det’on Cho Diamonds Inc. from 1998-2002.

Mr. Beaulieu was co-chair of the Mine Training Committee from 1996-2004. He also served on the NWT-Nunavut Chamber of Mines from 1998-2001 and was reappointed in 2015 for another term. And on the Government of the Northwest Territories Mineral Advisory Committee.  Currently, he serves on the Northwestel’s Community Advisory Board and ATCO’s Indigenous Advisory Board, and is the co-chair of Northland Utilities Enterprises Ltd.

Dawn Madahbee Leach, Chair of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board and long time General Manager for the Waubetek Business Development Corporation, is a groundbreaking role model dedicated to economic empowerment. She is renown as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women and a recipient of many prestigious awards.

Eira Thomas, Chair of North Arrow Minerals, is an esteemed geologist with over 25 years of experience in Canada’s diamond industry, and discoverer of one of the world’s highest-grade diamond deposits northeast of Yellowknife. Thomas’ career includes leadership roles at prominent companies such as Stornoway Diamond Corporation, Diavik Diamond Mine and Harry Winston Diamond Corporation.

Francis MacDonald, CEO of Li-ft Power, and Founder and CEO of Kenorland Minerals is an experienced exploration geologist with over 15 years in the mining industry. Mr. MacDonald previously worked for Newmont Mining, leading greenfield exploration projects in Nunavut, West Africa, and East .

National Chief Gerald Antoine, previously served as Dehcho First Nations Grand Chief, and Chief of Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ (Fort Simpson), NT. He has held numerous leadership positions and played important roles in the Berger Inquiry, the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, Nahʔą Dehé Strategic Plan, and promoting Dene heritage through his work with Native Communications Society CKLB, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Parks Canada.

Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty, of the Tłı̨chǫ Nation served five consecutive terms as MLA for Mǫnfwi in the Northwest Territories, acting as Deputy Premier and holding various ministerial portfolios over 16 years. Now as Grand Chief, he draws on his extensive background to lead the Tłı̨chǫ people forward.

Heather Exner-Pirot, is the Director, Natural Resources, Energy and Environment, and Senior Fellow with MacDonald-Laurier Institute.  She is a distinguished policy expert on the environment and the economy with a focus Indigenous peoples and Canada’s North.  She also serves as Special Adviser to the Business Council of Canada.

Hillary Thatcher, is Senior Director, Indigenous Infrastructure, Canada Infrastructure Bank as well as Managing Director of Investments.  As the former Director General of Innovation and Services at Indigenous Services Canada, preceded by15 years in senior roles with the Ontario Government, she fosters collaboration on projects involving Indigenous affairs, energy, infrastructure, and natural resources.

Jeff Hussey, CEO of Pine Point Mining Ltd.  has over 35 years of experience in open pit and underground mine operations across various stages of the project lifecycle. With a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of New Brunswick, his expertise in exploration, mining, and geo-metallurgy has proven instrumental in advancing projects and securing  funding.

Jessica M. Shadian,  is Founder, President, and CEO of Arctic 360, is renown for her advocacy on pressing Arctic issues.  With over 20 years experience across the Nordic region and North America, Jessica focuses on Arctic geopolitics, infrastructure, and critical minerals. Through Arctic360, she aims to establish Canada as a global hub for Arctic dialog and policy innovation.

Kimberly Lavoie, Assistant Deputy Minister of Nòkwewashk (NRCAN) since 2019, has led crucial initiatives in reconciliation, regulatory affairs, and Indigenous participation in natural resources. Previously excelling in Mineral Policy and Critical Minerals, Kimberly holds an Honours degree in Law from Carleton University.

Louise Corriveau, Research Scientist, Geological Survey of Canda, specializes in Canadian Shield geology. Her innovative field methods identify unconventional deposits in metamorphic terrains, focusing on mineral potential in the Grenville and Bear provinces. Louise’s research provides crucial geological insights for mining exploration and land use, enhancing efficiency.

Mark Podlasly, is Chief Sustainability Officer at the First Nations Major Project Coalition.  He ensures Indigenous environmental and economic values are protected. With expertise in energy and resource development globally and a Masters from Harvard, Mark advises major corporations on Indigenous relations and teaches at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.

Steve Berna, is COO with First Nations Finance Authority, overseeing loan programs, investments, maintaining relationships and helping develop policies. Previously, he was with KPMG and CEO of the Municipal Finance Authority of BC. Steve has experience presenting innovative models internationally and teaching finance locally, holding designations of Chartered Professional Accountant and Bachelor of Commerce.

Michael McLeod, MP, was elected in 2015 as Member for Parliament for the NWT, and now also serves as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance and Chair of the Arctic and Northern Caucus. Previously he was a member of the NWT Legislative Assembly, mayor of Fort Providence, president of his Métis Local, and vice-president of the Deh Cho Regional Council. He is a Canadian Junior Rangers Master Corporal.

Nancy C. Southern, Chair & CEO of ATCO Ltd. is recognized for her advocacy for Indigenous rights and women in business, receiving honors from the Kainai Nation in 2012.  She is a recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including aLifetime Business Achievement in the Americas Award, and the Energy Person of the Year Award   Fortune and Macleans have hailed her as a leading global business and advocacy figure.

Paul Gruner, is CEO for Tlicho Investment Corporation., with a wealth of experience in Indigenous business leadership in many northern regions.  He was previously CEO for Det’on Cho Management LP, and the Tahltan Nation.  He is known for his ability to achieve outstanding business results while collaborating closely with Indigenous stakeholders.

Reggie Leach, known as the “Rifle” for his 115 mph slapshot, was a record-breaking right-winger who had a 14-season career in the NHL, was the first First Nations superstar, and inducted into two halls of fame. He shares his skills with Aboriginal youth in Canada, educates on alcoholism risks, and captivates audiences with his storytelling.

Robert C. McLeod, Chair, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.  IDC’s Board of Directors have appointed Robert McLeod as the Chair of the Inuvialuit Development Corporation. This position took effect on April 29, 2022.

Robert has been Acting-Chair since November of 2021 and has been a member of the IDC Board since 2020. Prior to joining IDC Robert was an MLA and Finance Minister for the NWT.

As the Chair of IDC, Robert will continue to lead the IDC board and subsidiaries, ensuring that good governance practices are in place and observed. He will be fully engaged in the essential function of IDC, including day-to-day oversight and governance of the company’s numerous subsidiaries. He will represent IDC as its public face and chief communicator to IRC, beneficiaries, the business community and within community, regional and national forums.

Robert Campbell, is a senior partner and National and Provincial Director of Indigenous Services at MNP LLP. With decades of experience advising Indigenous communities and organizations, he provides trusted consultation on community and business initiatives to empower Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Roy Erasmus Jr., CEO, Gwich’in Development Corporation has extensive experience working with community, regional and territorial Indigenous corporations.  Roy has a Bachelor of Management from the University of Lethbridge, a Certificate in Conflict Resolution from the Justice Institute of BC, and a Certificate in Project Management from Genesis Group.

Scott Cavan, is Vice President of Member and External Relations with First Nations Major Projects Coalition (FNMPC).  Kanien’kehàka (Mohawk) from the Six Nations of the Grand River, he has been active both personally and professionally in enacting meaningful change through mainstream and Indigenous political systems.

Over the past 20 years, he has worked with and advised National and Provincial Indigenous leadership on building relationships with government, and the private sector, as well as working in the exploration industry, provincial government, and not for profits on addressing issues, and building lasting relationships with Indigenous communities for the mutual benefit of all peoples.

Scott leads member and external relation activities for the FNMPC.  As a senior team member, Scott contributes to public policy issues such as critical minerals, represents the FNMPC at public events, and works wit h the CEO on member relations and national outreach.

Tom Hoefer, Senior Advisor, NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines, holds a Batchlor of Science (Hons) in Geology.  Tom’s 30+ years experience promoting northern minerals includes, Executive Director of the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines, NWT Director of Mineral Resources for the Federal Government; Manager of Public & Government Affairs at Diavik Diamond Mine; and Manager of Public Affairs & Environment at Highland Valley Copper. 

William Lomax, is a member of the Gitxsan Nation and grew up in Terrace, B.C. In his most recent role as Vice President, Wealth Management with Goldman Sachs in Seattle, WA, he has a primary focus on wealth fund strategies and investment management for Tribal Nations across the United States. He brings more than 20 years of international experience in financial management and wealth creation, having represented Indigenous clients across North America.

Mr. Lomax, who did undergraduate studies and earned a law degree at the University of British Columbia, served as legal counsel for the Federal Department of Justice and as a Treaty Analyst with the British Columbia Treaty Commission. He earned a Master of Business Administration (Finance) degree at Columbia University in New York, NY, and began a 20-year career in the financial industry, including two years as the Senior Portfolio Manager for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in California, one of the most financially successful tribes in the United States. Mr. Lomax joined Goldman Sachs in 2015 and has grown a portfolio of more than $2 billion, working with Indigenous clients on investment strategies and communication to their membership.

Throughout his career, Mr. Lomax has been active in building financial capacity in Indigenous communities. He is an Adjunct Lecturer on Tribal Economic Development and Sustainability at Stanford University and has been a frequent speaker and panelist at national and regional events related to the interests of Indigenous financial development.

Grand Chief Herb Norwegian, from Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation (LKFN), is a former chief of Dehcho First Nation as well former chief of LKFN. He’s worked as a negotiator on issues of land withdrawals, the Nahanni Park and the boundary agreement between the Tłı̨chǫ and the Dehcho lands.

Bernd Christmas, is Senior Counsel for JFK Law LLP and a Director on Denendeh Investments Incorporated.  He is a recognized and accomplished leader in the Indigenous and business communities, specializing in corporate and commercial law as well as Indigenous Peoples law