MiningWatch Canada is a federally registered non-profit society.
The Directors have expertise and experience in community economic development, human health, education, resource management, labour rights, organisational management and fund-raising, international development, and Indigenous issues. Individual board members are responsible to the member organisations of MiningWatch as a whole and do not, in their governance capacity, represent specific organisational interests or affiliations.
Co-Chairs: Earl Commanda, Jean Symes
Treasurer: Ian Thomson
Secretary: Esperanza Moreno
Directors: Donna Ashamock, Tracy Glynn, Isabelle Ménard, Ramona Nicholas, Elysia Petrone Reitberger, Verna Power, Bev Sellars, Hilu Tagoona
As an Eeyou/Inninew (Cree) community organizer for over twenty years, Donna Ashamock contributed to the development of Indigenous governance with a self-defined Indigenous community—MoCreebec—in Moosonee and Moose Factory in northeastern Ontario. Donna is a member of the Cree Nation and affiliated with Fort Albany First Nation. Grounded in Cree-centred processes and worldview, she collaborated with fellow MoCreebec citizens to organize innovative community initiatives to support their collective governance and economic self-reliance such as the Cree Village Ecolodge, Community Education and Empowerment Project, and the MoCreebec Constitution. She is an auntie and stepmom and an advocate for family, community and land protection. Along with her late partner, Randy Kapashesit, they actively raised their family by modelling Cree principles in life and home-schooling. As a practitioner and community educator, Donna facilitated numerous employability and leadership programs for Indigenous young leaders through Northern College and MoCreebec non-profit programs. She has worked with non-profit organizations in community development and is currently a contract facilitator and writer in education. Her goal is to continue to build upon knowledge and capacity among inter-Indigenous networks in the north.
Earl Commanda, Co-Chair
Earl is a member of the Ojibway Nation from the Serpent River First Nation in Ontario. Born and raised in this community, Earl has worked for his people as Economic Development Officer initially and was their Chief spanning a twenty years term from 1983 to 2003. He also contributed his time as Chairperson of the North Shore Tribal Council for seventeen years and served as first President of the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation in Ontario from 1995 to 2000. Earl has been involved regionally with Grand Council Treaty #9 (now known as Nishnawbe-Aski Nation) in Timmins, Ontario in the early 1970's and more recently in two Housing Pilot Projects in Ontario, one initiated by him at the Union of Ontario Indians and the second with the Chiefs of Ontario. To July 2009, he was with the Assembly of First Nations on the Special Initiative on Housing as part of the Federal - Provincial Roundtable Process which begun in 2004. He is currently employed with the First Nations Market Housing Fund as one of the projects flowing from the AFN Housing Initiative.
Tracy Glynn is an activist from the Miramichi who resides in Fredericton where she works as the Acadian Forest Campaigner with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. She has a keen interest in environmental justice and eradicating Canadian mining abuses overseas and at home, which is rooted in her time spent at mine-affected communities in Indonesia and graduate work on mine pollution. She has written a number of articles for the Dominion and is a co-editor of the Mines and Communities website. She is a 2009 Gordon fellow exploring the impacts of mining on indigenous women in Labrador, Guatemala and Indonesia with the goal of telling women's stories and offering policy recommendations to government. Tracy is an active member of the NB Media Co-op, Fredericton Peace Coalition, Fredericton Palestine Solidarity, the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network and the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network. She teaches a course on environmental praxis at St. Thomas University.
Isabelle Ménard is a health and environmental advisor to the CSN Union in Quebec. With a master of science in biology and ecotoxicology, Isabelle has nearly 20 years of experience in the field of environmental and health impact assessment of industrial, government and municipal projects. Isabelle has participated in multiple environmental assessment reviews in the mining, energy and biodiversity sectors on behalf of the CSN Union.
Esperanza Moreno, Secretary
Esperanza recently completed her Masters in Political Science at the University of Ottawa. She is an experienced leader and senior manager of not-for-profit organizations – as Deputy Director of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation for over 12 years, and prior to that, in high-level positions in Oxfam Quebec and the Canadian Organization for Solidarity and Development. She has advanced research and analytical abilities that she has used to further her interest in human rights, international cooperation and international solidarity; and she has used those skills as a volunteer on our criminalization of dissent project.
Ramona Nicholas is from Wolastoqey territory in New Brunswick. She has been an Archaeologist for more that 20 years, incorporating Traditional Knowledge into the archaeological records as well any research she gets involved in. She is currently an Instructor at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton in the Department of Anthropology and developing On the Land programs with the Mi’kmaq Wolastoqey Centre. She earned her undergraduate degree from St. Thomas University majoring in Native Studies and her Master of Arts degree from the University of New Brunswick. Her thesis was titled Listening to the Ancestors: A Wabanaki Perspective on Engagement in Archaeology. One of her greatest accomplishments is a permanent exhibit at the Fredericton Regional Museum called The Wabanaki Way. This ever-evolving exhibit will also be a teaching tool for Indigenous people to begin the process of decolonizing museums. Her main interest is protecting the land for future generations. She is one of a group of Mothers and Grandmother who are living on the land to protect it from future development such as mining and forestry.
Elysia Petrone Reitberger
Elysia Petrone Reitberger is from Thunder Bay. She graduated from Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law in 2016 making her a member of the faculty’s first alumni. She is of mixed Italian, German and Ojibway (Eagle Clan, Fort William First Nation) ancestry. She did her Master’s thesis on Aboriginal Consultation for the Ontario Mining Act modernization process. Before that, she received her Honours BA from the University of Ottawa in Environmental Studies and Geography. Elysia volunteers with the Aboriginal Community Council Program, a diversion program out of the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre. Elysia enjoys biking, fishing and playing basketball.
Verna Power is an Old Fort member of the Lake Babine Nation in British Columbia and has served as a member of Council for 6 years. With over 20 years of experience and knowledge of the mining industry, Verna has an extensive natural resource background, from equipment operation to the management of natural resources within Lake Babine territory. Verna has first-hand experience in the environmental impact assessment process as a member of the Technical Working Group for Pacific Booker Minerals' Morrison copper-gold project, as well as an advocate for her community. As a single mother of two and grandmother, Verna is a founding member of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM). She is also a champion for Aboriginal rights and title, and has been engaged with federal and provincial governments to examine relationships to develop approaches of working together towards reconciliation.
Bev Sellars is a former councillor and chief of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek) First Nation in Williams Lake, British Columbia. She earned a degree in history from the University of Victoria and a law degree from the University of British Columbia. Sellars has long been an activist and spoken out on racism and residential schools and on the environmental and social threats of mineral resources exploitation. She has served as adviser for the B.C. Treaty Commission and a representative for the Secwepemc communities on the Cariboo Chilcotin Justice Inquiry in the early 1990s. Sellars is the author of several books, including They Called Me Number One (2013), a memoir of her childhood experience in the Indian residential school system and its effects on three generations of women in her family, and Price Paid: The Fight for First Nations Survival (2016), about the history of Indigenous rights in Canada from an Indigenous perspective. Her community was directly affected by the Mount Polley mine disaster in 2014, and she served until 2018 as the chairperson of the First Nation Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM).
Jean Symes, Co-Chair
Based in Ottawa, Jean Symes is currently responsible for Inter Pares' Africa program, as well as policy analysis and program development on extractive industries and tax justice. Jean's previous work at Inter Pares includes Program Coordinator and Director of Communications. She also spent several years working in Inter Pares' Latin America program, focusing on peacebuilding, refugees and internally displaced people, and bringing a feminist perspective to human rights protection, including developing programming on sexual violence against women in conflict areas. Prior to Inter Pares, Jean's experience includes human rights promotion and monitoring, social policy development, and financial management.
Hilu Tagoona is from the inland Inuit community of Baker Lake, Nunavut, in the Canadian Arctic. Her people are known as the Caribou Inuit. She is a member of Nunavummiut Makitagunarngningit ('The people of Nunavut can rise up' -- ‘Makita’ for short), an independent non-governmental organization formed in 2009 to inform residents of Nunavut about the impacts of uranium mining. Hilu represented Makita in the final review process regarding AREVA's proposed Kiggavik uranium mine 80 kilometres from her home community. She is a mother of two young adults, and has just completed her BA at Carleton University.
Ian Thomson, Treasurer
Ian lives in Ottawa where he works for Oxfam-Canada. Since 2007, he has chaired the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) that unites over 20 Canadian civil society organizations promoting legal reforms to hold corporations accountable in Canada for the human rights and environmental impacts of their international operations. Prior to joining KAIROS, Ian worked as a mining sector analyst at a leading socially responsible investing company in Toronto. He has engineering degrees from the University of Toronto (MASc) and Queen's University (BSc).