Cover Image for 10 Indigenous Influencers & Trailblazers You Should Know

10 Indigenous Influencers & Trailblazers You Should Know

Avneet Takhar

10 min read

Teoni Spathelfer | Author


Teoni is the author of trilogy series Little Wolf,White Raven, and Abalone Woman. She lives by the powerful mantra that "Stories are medicine", and her children's books centre around cultural healing, teaching tools for trauma and identity-driven resilience. She has been nominated as a Finalist for Indigenous Voices Awards 2022, and been recognized by CBC for her work. Her books have also been selected as part of the TD Summer Reading Club 2022!

An Indigenous person we should know?

A First Nations person to know and follow is Chief Robert Joseph, Founder of Reconciliation Canada.

"My family and ancestors date back over 14,000 years in our territory! Having a Status Card is an important way I can identify as being part of my First Nation."

Angela Sterritt | Investigative Journalist at CBC & Author


Angela is has been awarded with 'Best Reporter' by Canadian Screen Awards 2021 and is from the Gitanmaax band of the Gitxsan Nation. She broke the story that went viral about the handcuffing of an Indigenous elder and his granddaughter when they tried opening a bank account with government-issued Status Cards. Her debut memoir Unbroken, published by Greystone Books is set to come out in the fall of 2022 and she is currently in production of a podcast called Land Back to be released in September 2022.

An Indigenous person we should know?

I have two, Deoné and Jaye Simpson.

"Being Gitxsan, my father taught me that my identity is something that is in me, but it is also a responsibility I carry to uphold our laws and oral history."

Elaine Alec | Founder of Cultivating Safe Spaces | Writer & Speaker


Elaine is from the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation and Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation, and a member of the Penticton Indian Band in the Interior of British Columbia. She has spent over 20 years in over 100 communities across Canada to promote healing and wellness. A first-time author Calling My Spirit Back is her memoir about growing up as an Indigenous girl in Canada and the impacts of colonization. It also provides Indigenous knowledge and teachings on how to cultivate safe spaces for diversity and inclusion.

An Indigenous brand you recommend?

Companies that I've worked with that are doing amazing work, such as Animikii and Reciprocal Consulting.

An Indigenous person we should know?

SO MANY! But the first that comes to mind is Nadia George.

"Indigenous identity is having faith in our knowledge. My heart and spirit is that of my ancestors, and my purpose is to share what I know with those wanting to learn to promote healing."

Kwakwaka’wakw Kory Wilson | Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives & Partnerships at BCIT


Kwakwaka’wakw Kory Wilson is not only an executive director, but also Chair of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics Indigenous Affinity Group. A sought-after speaker and strategist on advancing and ‘truth-telling’ about the past and moving forward towards reconciliation, she has a deep commitment to education, both formal and informal. She leads innovative and creative solutions that are a must to move Reconciliation into ReconciliACTION!

An Indigenous person we should know?

Candice Loring at Mitacs!

"My Indigenous identity is who I am. I have been raised to make a difference and work hard to make the world a better place."

Paul Lacerte | Managing Partner at Raven Indigenous Capital Partners


Paul is a Managing Partner with Raven Indigenous Capital Partners (the first Indigenous owned financial intermediary in Canada!) and Co-Founder of Moose Hide Campaign, working to end violence against Indigenous and non-Indigenous women.

An Indigenous brand you recommend?

I have a few! I would recommend Cheekbone Beauty,Virtual Gurus, Social Awareness Group,Plato Testing and Aki Energy.

An Indigenous person we should know?

Sage Lacerte, the CEO of the Sage Initiative which trains young Indigenous women as impact investors. She's also an Indigenous doula, R&B singer, skilled moose hunter and a university graduate!

" Indigenous identity is at the heart of who I am and how I live my life. And my Status Card enables me to participate in important systems and processes that are governed by the Indian Act."

Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee | Founder of Nahanee Creative Inc. & Decolonial Educator


Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee is a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh change-maker, decolonial facilitator, strategist and designer catalyzing social change to transform colonial narratives and impacts. Her deeply personal and care-centred work comes from her experience as an Indigenous mother, entrepreneur, punk, academic, and radical change-maker. Her work is woven together with the teachings of her Elders, her Nation and the Land.

An Indigenous brand you recommend?

I am a big fan of Skwalwen Botanicals. I love their products, their brand and their ethos. I highly recommend them.

An Indigenous person we should know?

You should follow Nalaga Avis O Brien! They are doing so much amazing work, follow them at Nalaga Consulting on Instagram.

"The word 'Indigenous', links me globally to the First Peoples of many Nations. I have a love/hate relationship with Status Cards, but I'm not willing to rescind representation of my legal rights as a First Nations person."

Nicole McLaren | Founder of Raven Reads


Nicole is a Métis entrepreneur from British Columbia and Saskatchewan, who has won awards with Startup Canada and BC Achievement Foundation. She has invested over $400,000 back into the Indigenous economy, and donated over $2,000 to literacy programs for Indigenous children and youth. She's also the Founder and Chair of the Indigenous Women’s Business Network, an organization that she created to provide coaching and mentoring to other Indigenous women business owners.

An Indigenous brand you recommend?

I would recommend Yukon Soaps Company.

An Indigenous person we should know?

A Canadian Indigenous person you should know is Joella Hogan.

“To me, Indigenous identity means an inherent sense of community and an obligation to provide for family, and my broader community.”

Matthew Norris | President at Urban Native Youth Association


Matthew is a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in Northern Saskatchewan, an Indigenous rights advocate/activist and the candidate for Vancouver City Council 2022! He has also had four years of experience working for Union of BC Indian Chiefs as a Policy Analyst.

An Indigenous brand you recommend?

There’s so many! To name a quick few: Massy Books (a fantastic indigenous woman-owned book store in Vancouver), Section 35 (a great Indigenous-owned streetwear brand based out of Vancouver); and Salmon n' Bannock (one of the best restaurants in the city!).

An Indigenous person we should know?

It's been my pleasure to have got to know and work with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. I’m constantly impressed by his dedication, passion and commitment to the fight for the recognition of our Indigenous rights, to improve the lives of current and future generations.

"Being Indigenous means belonging to a proud and resilient community. My Status Card represents my place in the community, as well as my protected rights and freedoms."

Nang Ḵ‘uulas Patrick Shannon | Co-Founder of Supernaturals Modelling & Film Director


Nang Ḵ‘uulas Patrick Shannonof Haida Gwaii,has previously been awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the BC Aboriginal Business Awards and won the Indigenomics '10 to Watch' 2022 award for his culturally-focused modelling agency. He also runs film production company InnoNative which shares short stories told through an Indigenous lens.

An Indigenous brand you recommend?

I love the work that Devon Fiddler of SheNative has been doing to uplift and empower Indigenous women through clothing and fashion.

An Indigenous person we should know?

Joleen Mitton of Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week and Supernaturals Modelling is one of the most impactful Indigenous people that I've had the privilege to know.

"For me, being Haida means to be connected to a community. I was fortunate enough to grow up on lands that my family have been on for 14,000+ years, and I’ve always understood who I was and my role in the community."

Jace Meyer | Founder of COYA Productions Inc.


Jace is Mètis and living as a guest on Lekwungen Territory. She is an entrepreneur, and has travelled the globe and spoken to 160,000 people in order to co-create the conditions necessary for other Indigenous business owners to thrive. She has been recognized as a BMW World Responsible Leader and provides her services for educational programs, courses and events with social impact.

An Indigenous brand you recommend?

Yukon Soaps - watch out for an education program to support Tutchone reclamation of medicine harvesting and natural wellness product production supported by e-commerce!

An Indigenous person we should know?

Chief Robert Joseph. Order his new book Namayut, We Are All One, for some actionable ways we can all lean into reconciliation.

"My Mètis identity, to not be tamed, is ever present in my world. To be the consequences of my actions, and not the product of my circumstances is a lens I take with everything I create."