Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is a passionate researcher, environmental advocate, mother, and ally, working with research and policy to make a difference in how we live with and in this world. As a community-engaged social science and health researcher working at the intersection of place, culture, health, and environment, she has a particular interest in the social, environmental, and cultural determinants of Indigenous health, intercultural learning and dialogue, capacity development, environmental ethics, and the social justice implications of social, environmental, and health inequality.
For the past 10 years, she has been working with Indigenous communities and leaders across Canada on a variety of community-led and community-identified research initiatives, ranging from climate change impacts on physical and mental health, cultural reclamation and intergenerational knowledge transmission, suicide reduction and prevention, land-based education and healing programs, environmental grief and mourning, and Indigenization of higher education.
Ashlee is the Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Healthy Communities and an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Nursing and Indigenous Studies at Cape Breton University in Unama’ki/Cape Breton and has been recognized nationally and internationally for her community-based research and science outreach, including being inducted as one of the inaugural members of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists and being chosen as one of Nature Canada’s 75 Women for Nature. In 2014, she released a documentary film, collaboratively produced with the five Inuit communities in Nunatsiavut, Labrador, about the impacts of climate change on Inuit culture, livelihoods, and wellbeing (www.lamentfortheland.ca).
Stephen Augustine is a Hereditary Chief on the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and Dean of Unama’ki College and Aboriginal Learning at Cape Breton University. A renowned Elder and Mi’kmaq scholar, he has shared his expertise in research and traditional knowledge with many organizations, including government departments, the Assembly of First Nations, and various Aboriginal communities across Canada. He is part of an international advisory panel on biodiversity issues and has worked extensively with the United Nations programs on development and the environment. He has been invited as guest speaker at national and international conferences, and he has published many papers on and been recorded for radio programs and various video programs on traditional knowledge, Maritimes history and treaties, and storytelling. He has organized cross-cultural workshops and made presentations to a wide variety of institutions (U.N., federal and provincial departments, universities, museums, UNESCO and The Vatican). His book on the CMC collections (Mi’kmaq & Maliseet Cultural Ancestral Material, Mercury Series, CMC, 2005) has proven a valuable resource for academic researchers and educators alike.
Over the last few years, he has been accredited as an expert witness in various court cases, involving Aboriginal access to resources in the Maritimes, being recognized for his knowledge both of oral history and ethno-history, and of the treaties in the region. He has also been named member of the Sectoral Commission for Culture, Communication and Information for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. He has been Elder Advisor to the Federal Court of Canada Judges, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Human Rights Commission of Canada. In 2009, he received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Culture, Heritage and Spirituality and the New Brunswick Lieutenant-Governor’s Dialogue Award. In his role as a hereditary Chief on the Mi’kmaq Grand Council and by Elders’ training since an early age, Stephen J. Augustine has a thorough command of traditional practices, his language and the history of his people. Before coming to CBU in 2013, Stephen Augustine was the Curator of Ethnology for Eastern Maritimes, in the Ethnology Services Division of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (since 1996), in Gatineau/Ottawa for sixteen years. He holds a Masters degree in Canadian Studies from Carleton University (Ottawa) focussing on traditional knowledge curriculum development in the context of the education system.