Mr. Fontaine is an articulate advocate for the future of Canada and for Indigenous peoples. He is the former three-term National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, known for his calm and confident demeanor and has a proven track record of opening the lines of communication and bringing people together in a common cause for a better future and to resolve issues of the past. Mr. Fontaine has been instrumental in facilitating change and advancement for First Nations people from the time he was first elected to public office as chief, when he was only 28 years old.
As a fierce advocate for human rights, one of Mr. Fontaine’s crowning achievements to date is the residential schools settlement. At $5.6 billion in individual compensation, Mr. Fontaine negotiated the largest settlement in Canadian history –for the largest human rights violation in Canadian history – arising out of the 150-year Indian residential school tragedy.
Phil Fontaine has dedicated most of his life to the advancement of First Nations people. Respected at home and abroad, Fontaine attended President Obama’s inauguration, met with Pope Benedict XVI to gain an apology for his people, and raised the Corporate Challenge to Canadian organizations.
Michael Hart is the vice-provost for an Indigenous engagement at the University of Calgary. As part of his role he serves as a key champion and advocate for the Indigenous Strategy at the University of Calgary, and as a strong and visible role model for everyone, but in particular to the University of Calgary’s Indigenous scholars and students. Mr. Hart’s career has been focused on Indigenous Peoples and ways of helping that will enable the University of Calgary to realize its goals for indigenization on our campuses. His approach is about connecting with and learning from Indigenous elders and traditional knowledge keepers to explore how these philosophies can guide us, transcend boundaries and take incremental steps to change the conversation between different cultures. Since 2012, Michael Hart has held a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledges and Social Work through the University of Manitoba. He has also held the role of acting director of the Master of Social Work in Indigenous Knowledges program at the University of Manitoba. For the past 17 years, he has been a board member for the Aboriginal Social Workers’ Society in Manitoba and was a founding committee member. His work has spanned multiple provinces, including Manitoba, Quebec and Yukon. Hart holds a BSW, MSW and PhD in Social Work from the University of Manitoba, as well as a BA in Psychology from the University of Manitoba.