Symposium Speakers

  • Stephen Augustine, Dean of Unama’ki College & Hereditary Chief, Sigenigtog District Mi’kmawey Mawiomi and Keptin on the Mi’kmaq Grand Council [bio…]
  • John Hutton, Student Leader from Dalhousie University [bio…]
  • Dr. Kent MacDonald, President & Vice-Chancellor, St. Francis Xavier University [bio…]
  • Dr. Dan MacInnes, Professor, St. Francis Xavier University [bio…]
  • Dr. Laura Penny, Professor & Writer, University of King’s College [bio…]
  • Dr. David Wheeler, President & Vice-Chancellor, Cape Breton University [bio…]
  • Dr. Carolin Kreber, Dean of Professional Studies and Professor, Cape Breton University [bio…]


  • Sons of Membertou, Drumming Group  

Event Moderators

  • Dr. Dale Keefe, Vice President and Provost, Cape Breton University [bio…]
  • Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, Canada Research Chair & Assistant Professor, Cape Breton University [bio…]


Speaker Bios

Stephen Augustine

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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.

John Hutton

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John Hutton is a recent graduate from Dalhousie majoring in international development studies and economics. He currently serves on the Dalhousie Student Union as the Vice president Academic and External, following years as a student organizer and student representative on the Dalhousie Board of Governors. John is dedicated to advocating for the public interest in other fields as well, having organized lobby efforts and grassroots campaigns with the Nova Scotia Citizen’s Health Care Network, and served in his Canadian Union of Public Employees local while working to pay his way through school. John is from Halifax and determined to stay in Nova Scotia. When not fighting the good fight, John spends his time at his farm in Centre Burlington, Nova Scotia.

Kent MacDonald

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Dr. MacDonald is a highly regarded leader in Canada’s post secondary system. Over the past two decades, Dr. MacDonald has become well known for his highly personal and authentic style of leadership and has spoken to audiences around the world including Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and across North America.

Professor MacDonald’s interest is higher education leadership. Over the past two decades he put this interest into practice by holding increasingly complex leadership roles including President (Algonquin College, Ottawa, Ontario); Vice President, Academic; Vice President, Student Services and Development, and Dean, School of Business.

Dr. MacDonald completed undergraduate and graduate work at StFX University and he earned an MBA from Université d’Ottawa. Dr. MacDonald completed his doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA where his research focused on high performing institutions and higher education leadership and management.

Dr. MacDonald has also held senior leadership positions in the private and the not-for-profit sectors, has served on a variety of public and private boards and is a proud educator who has worked in the elementary, secondary and post-secondary systems in Canada and New Zealand.

Dr. Dan MacInnes

Dan MacInnes

Dr. Dan MacInnes is a Senior Research Professor at St. Francis Xavier University. He taught Sociology at St. Mary’s University (1970-80) for seven full years — a period when student demand permitted lecturers to undertake successive graduate degrees while teaching full time. His initial degree was taken as a Jesuit Scholastic, miles from home in a discipline even further removed from sociology, Classics (Gonzaga, University 1966).

Dr. MacInnes came to St. Francis Xavier University, as Associate Professor in 1980, retiring as Professor thirty-four years later. His research on Eastern Nova Scotia began with a Master of Arts thesis (M.A., Memorial University, 1973) on culture and outmigration in the Mabou area of Cape Breton. In his doctoral work (Ph.D., McMaster University, 1978) the formation of the Antigonish Movement was addressed. In subsequent years, papers related to the political economy of Eastern Nova Scotia were focused on regional development, community, culture (religion and ethnicity), and the fishery. His comparative study of the marginality of Highland Scots and their diaspora in Eastern Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island continues. Recent works include, Daniel W. MacInnes: “The Legacy of Highland Heather Priests in Eastern Canada” in, MacDonald and MacLeod, Keeping the Kirk: Scottish Religion at Home and in the Diaspora, Centre for Scottish Studies: University of Guelph. 2014, 85-118; Evelyn MacLeod and Daniel W. MacInnes, Celtic Treads: A Journey in Cape Breton Crafts, Sydney: Cape Breton University Press.

Dr. Laura Penny

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Dr. Laura Penny was a member of the first graduating class in Contemporary Studies. She has served as a teaching fellow, senior fellow and assistant professor in the Foundation Year, Contemporary Studies and Early Modern Studies Programmes at King’s. Her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen, National Post, Chronicle Herald, International Journal of the History of Philosophy, Philosophy and Literature and Theory and Event. She is the author of Your Call is Important to Us: The Truth About Bullshit (2005) and More Money than Brains: Why School Sucks, College is Crap and Idiots Think They’re Right (2010), both of which made the Globe and Mail’s 100 Books of the Year list. She has recently written an episode of CBC Radio’s Ideas about the ways we flatter and fool ourselves, and has appeared on The National’s “3 to Watch” political panel.

Dr. David Wheeler


David Wheeler is the President and Vice Chancellor of Cape Breton University. Before starting his term as President at CBU, he most recently held the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability) and Executive Dean of Business at the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom (UK). In 2010, the University of Plymouth was assessed as the #1 Green University in the UK and in 2011, the University won the Green Gown award in the category of Institutional Change. In 2012, the University won the Most Sustainable University in the Public Sector Sustainability Awards.

Dr. Wheeler is an internationally experienced academic and business person with more than two decades of senior executive level involvement in change management and sustainable business practice, research and teaching. Throughout his career, David has provided support to senior management teams in pursuing strategic change. He has particular expertise in service industries and energy and extractive industries.

In the last five years, David Wheeler has focused much of his advisory work in the fields of energy conservation and renewable energy policy in South West England, Nova Scotia and Alberta. He continues to pursue his interests in the role of the private sector in international development which has been built on major projects undertaken for the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, the Canadian Development Agency, the International Development Research Centre and the UK Department for International Development. https://www.cbu.ca/president

Dr. Carolin Kreber


Carolin Kreber became Dean of the School of Professional Studies, Cape Breton University in August 2015. For the previous ten years she was Professor of Higher Education in the Institute for Education, Community and Society at the University of Edinburgh, where she also directed the Higher Education Research Group and was Institute Director of Research. She is presently working on a new book on civic-minded, community-engaged and democratic professional practice and university-based professional education. She holds a PhD from OISE/UT (1997) and from 1997 -2005 was Associate Professor of Adult and Higher Education at the University of Alberta.

Event Moderators

Dr. Dale Keefe


C. Dale Keefe is Vice-President Academic & Research (Provost) and professor of chemistry at Cape Breton University. Dr. Keefe completed his BSc(Hon) in Chemistry and Mathematics from Memorial University and his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Alberta. After an NSERC post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Ottawa, he joined the faculty at Cape Breton University. His research is on the study of weak interactions in liquids, particularly hydrocarbons, to better understand how the interactions between molecules affect the physical properties of the liquids. He has supervised more than 30 research students and published more than 50 scientific papers. In 2006, Dr. Keefe was awarded the prestigious Canada Research Chair in Molecular Spectroscopy. In 2010, he was appointed Dean of Research at CBU and in 2011 Graduate Studies was added to his portfolio. In 2014, he was appointed Vice-President Academic & Research (Provost).

Ashlee Cunsolo Willox

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Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is a 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. 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 health research, and the social justice implications of social and health inequality.

She is a passionate researcher and environmental advocate, 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. She has given over 150 talks and presentations, was a recent TEDx Cape Breton speaker, and her research was highlighted in a feature interview on CBC’s Quirks & Quarks. She is currently the Fellowship Officer for the Royal Society of Canada Atlantic chapter.