Maria graduated with an Education degree in 2018 and taught middle school for two years, both as a full-time classroom teacher and substitute teacher. She quickly found a passion for substitute teaching, enjoying the opportunity this provided her to morph into many different roles and reach a larger demographic of students. She has always wanted to work more closely with the Métis community, being a Métis citizen herself. The joy this role brings Maria is insurmountable, as she gets to use her education background to help guide, assist, and support students in achieving their academic goals.
- Favourite movie or book? The Harry Potter series! I read it for the first time while I was selling Taber Corn out the back of a truck in the summer of 2018. I’m definitely a Gryffindor. Although, I’ve recently explored philosophy books and have been quite invested in this genre.
- Favourite hobbies/activities? I love cookbooks and anything that involves being outside, running, hiking, skating, floating down the Bow River, and spending quality time with my family and friends. My record player is one of my greatest possessions and I love thrifting for records!
- Favourite treat? Dark chocolate and coffee. Anything 70% and darker and a cappuccino is my go-to!
Associate Director, Research Initiatives
Jenna was recruited to RLI and became a staff member in 2018, serving as one of RLI’s three K-12 Education Curriculum and Resource Developers. In 2019, after taking initiative and securing funding for Indigenous Languages in Education, Jenna was promoted to Michif Revitalization Project Manager. In 2020, Jenna began serving Métis in Alberta as RLI’s Associate Director of Research, Policy, and Strategic Partnerships where she enhances developments in RLI’s triple mandate areas of education, training, and research.
- Favourite treat? Gramma-made-sandwiches
- Favourite movie or book? The Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon
- Favourite hobbies/activities? LEARNING – exercising the brain
Senior Director of Operations
After graduating from the civil engineering technology program at NAIT, Mark joined RLI’s forerunner as a regional labour market development manager in Fort McMurray for a few years. He left to pursue his CET designation with a publicly-traded Alberta mining company where he recently wrapped up a 12-year career as Vice-President of Business Development. During this time, he also served on RLI’s Board of Governors for six years, prior to rejoining RLI’s staff in February 2020. Early on before returning to school as a mature student, Mark carved out a decade-long career as an award-winning writer for newspapers like Windspeaker and Native Network News.
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Playing with the kids, going to the movies, and watching the Oilers (not always in that order)
- Favourite movie or book? Tombstone/The North-West Is Our Mother
- Favourite treat? Bannock and smoked moose meat
Associate Director, Métis Education and Lifelong Learning
Billie-Jo is an award-winning educator with over 20 years of classroom experience teaching K-9 students in both public and Catholic school classrooms. Billie-Jo was the recipient of a 2017 Indspire National Award in the role model category for Indigenous education and she also received a 2018 International Women’s Award for her work in Indigenous education with her local community. Billie-Jo completed a Masters degree in 2018 and stepped out of the classroom into leadership to develop authentic, meaningful, and creative Métis resources with RLI.
- Favourite movie or book? Freedom Writers
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Yoga
- Biggest idol (athlete, performer, politician, etc.)? Senator Murray Sinclair
Job Coach, South Region
Laura is a registered social worker with over 14 years’ experience working in the field. Her focus in the past 11 years has been on employment and career coaching. Laura has been working in this field supporting a wide range of underrepresented populations find employment or training. With a focus on job search, interview skills, training, and financial literacy, she has helped to increase the workforce with great employees.
- Favourite movie or book? Shake Hands With The Devil, The Help
- Favourite hobbies/activities? I love to travel, swim and I am a big crafter
- Biggest idol(s)? My grandchildren
Chad recently joined Rupertsland Institute as a Post-Secondary Education (PSE) Advisor based in Calgary. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Economics from the University of Victoria. His past employment experience includes various roles in the non-profit and post-secondary sector supporting individuals to achieve their employment and educational goals. He has previously developed training, curriculum and supports for job seekers, job coaches, and community members throughout Canada and the United States.
- Favourite movie or book? Zoolander, a classic with Ben Stiller
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Learning Spanish and watching football ... not at the same time though
- Favourite treat? Peanut Butter cookies
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Jory is a graduate of NAIT’s Radio and Television program and spent just over a year working in radio news and sales before joining RLI in May 2020. His role involves creating RLI’s social media content, videos, advertising, and podcast “Rupertsland Sash Talks”. He enjoys sharing the exciting news and initiatives RLI continues to offer.
- Favourite movie or book? The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
- Biggest idol (athlete, performer, politician, etc.)? Ron MacLean
- Favourite treat? Old Dutch Salt and Vinegar chips or ice cream
Job Coach, South Region
Jessica has over 10 years of Career Advising and Human Resource experience. She helps her clients navigate the rapidly changing world of work: developing skills to be proactive, adaptable, and knowing about what it takes to be hired. Jessica will be completing her Career Development & Academic Advising certificate in March 2021 and applying for the Certified Career Development Practitioner (CCDP) designation.
- Favourite movie? The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Favourite hobby? Studying ancient history
- Favourite treat? Trophy sour candy
Post Secondary Education (PSE) Advisor
Michelle has worked in post-secondary for 30 years. She left her position as Team Lead, Student Recruitment and Advising at SAIT in November 2017. Michelle most recently worked at Mount Royal University as a Recruitment Assistant, until March 2020 when in-person student services were shut down. Michelle also works part-time as the Executive Director of Encorps Winterguard, a non-profit performing arts organization she founded in 1997.
- Favourite movie or book? Less Than Zero
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Coaching and performing with Encorps Winterguard
- Favourite treat? Movie Theatre Popcorn (my favourite food group!)
Client Resource Assistant
Makayla is the first point of contact for those inquiring about the multitude of programs and services Rupertsland Institute offers in the Central Region. As a recent graduate from Macewan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Political Science, she is very grateful to have begun her work in the community as a Métis Albertan herself.
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Playing hockey or any sports. I hit my first home run in Slo-Pitch this past summer!
- Favourite treat? Kraft Dinner, Velveeta on Shells specifically. It is my guilty pleasure.
- Do you have a unique skill/talent? I used to do Ballroom and Latin Dance competitively.
Associate Director of METI-Online Services
Roxanne has been with RLI for 17 years. Starting out as a Program Assistant in 2003, she moved up the ranks from Coordinator to Assistant Manager to Manager of RLI Central Region. Recently she was promoted to Associate Director of METI-Online Services. She has enjoyed her years working with RLI, a company that recognizes their staff for their hard work and dedication and looks forward to many more years helping the Métis community move forward in their education.
- Favourite movie or book? I love all the old black and white Christmas movies
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Reading fiction
- Biggest idol (athlete, performer, politician, etc.)? Oprah, she has done such amazing things to help young girls in developing countries.
Human Resources Assistant
Emily is a graduate from MacEwan University’s School of Business and has a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resources Management. She began her HR career in recruitment, and has been working with RLI since May 2020. Emily has a passion for helping others, while advocating for healthy and positive workplace cultures.
- Favourite book: The Alchemist, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Kite Runner. Hard to choose just one!
- Favourite hobbies/activities: Biking, traveling, snowboarding, hiking, practicing yoga, and overall enjoying the outdoors.
- Favourite treat: Popcorn
Director, Human Resources
Joey-Lee is a human resources professional with over 10 years of experience, working in different industries such as automotive, construction, financial services, and non-profit. Joey-Lee is currently the Director of Human Resources for the Métis Nation of Alberta and Rupertsland Institute. Joey-Lee believes in all employees’ success and strives to ensure a positive work environment for everyone to thrive.
- Favourite movie or book? Alex Cross book series
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Walking my 3 dogs and reading
- Biggest idol (athlete, performer, politician, etc.)? Maya Angelou
Post-Secondary Education (PSE) Quality Assurance Assistant
Sheryl previously worked at the University of Alberta for many years. She enjoys working within a business office and also has experience with the hospitality industry. Sheryl believes life is a journey and helping people in our communities achieve their dreams makes us each a better person.
- Favourite movie or book? Rocky
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Camping
- Biggest idol (athlete, performer, politician, etc.)? My mother
Online Employment Counsellor
Laura is an administrative professional with over 25 years of experience. She has been involved with the Métis Nation for most of her career, and has worked as a Career Counsellor for RLI, and Office Manager for a Métis Local office. She truly enjoys connecting with and assisting students enrolling into post-secondary training.
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Going to our lake lot and camping! There’s nothing better than cooking and eating a meal outdoors and sitting by a campfire at night. The sights and sounds are invigorating!
- Favourite movie or book? I like reading “murder/mystery” books. I also like reading books that have some sort of history relating to my indigenous background.
- Favourite Treat? I absolutely love apple pie. Preferably freshly homemade.
Post-Secondary Education Advisor
Myrtle is a social worker, and has Certification in Career Development. She worked as an Employment Counsellor for over 7 years with Rupertsland Institute and her current position at RLI is as a PSE Advisor in a new department. Most of her experience and training is in Crisis intervention working with RCMP Victim Services.
- Favourite movie or book? Overboard (the first one)
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Hiking
- Favourite treat? Dairy Queen mud slide
K-12 Theme Development Intern
Upon completing her undergraduate degree in history, Kate was hired as a Métis summer student working with the K-12 Education team. Kate recently began her Master’s Degree in Indigenous Studies through the University of Saskatchewan. She continues working on the current theme development project with the Rupertsland K-12 Education Department.
- Favourite movie or book? Anything by Quentin Tarantino
- Favourite hobbies/activities? Yoga
- Favourite treat? Miss Vickies Salt and Vinegar chips