We Are All Treaty People

Harry Lafond

Executive Director

Harry J. Lafond is the Executive Director of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. He has a wide range of experience in the community, in politics and in academics, which he brings to the OTC. He has been Chairperson for the Board of Trustees First Nations since 2003. Previously, he served his Nation as Chief (1990-2000). Harry has worked extensively in the area of education as the Director of Education and earlier as Principal of Kihiw Waciston School at Muskeg Lake.

Harry’s academic education includes: B.A.; B. Ed, and an M.Ed. He was appointed to serve on the Senate of the University of Saskatchewan (1995-2002) and was also appointed to the national Federal Task Force on Education (2003). Family is a priority and Harry spends many hours with his children and grandchildren teaching them about being Cree.

Brenda Ahenakew

Director of Educational Programs

Brenda Ahenakew is a member of the Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation. She received her early education at Marcelin and later at the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute. She obtained her Bachelor of Education from the University of Regina and has also studied at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Manitoba. As a classroom teacher, she has taught students from kindergarten to University. Brenda has focused on improving the education systems in First Nations communities by being actively involved in youth sports and education. The majority of her career has been as a Director for Education for the Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation, the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the Ahtahkakoop First Nation. Growing up as the daughter of Freda Ahenakew, one of Canada’s leading Aboriginal scholars, set the stage for Brenda to become a writer, a translator, and an editor with several publications. She has co- translated three of Tomson Highway’s Children’s books into Cree and has complied two anthologies; Native Voices: The Issues Collection, and Voices of First Nations People, both of which are used to complement high school Language Arts curricula. She also worked as part of the team that wrote the Saskatchewan Core Cree 10, 20, 30 Curriculum. A strong advocate for the advancement of First Nation’s youth and education, Brenda has an active participant on numerous Boards and Committees at the local, provincial and National levels.

Milton Tootoosis

Director of Livelihood/Economic Independence

Milton is a member of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Treaty Six Territory. Milton has extensive experience in human resource management at the tribal, provincial and federal levels of government. His HRM focus has been on attraction, recruitment and retention. Milton has served on numerous committees and boards with a focused attention to youth, community/employment development and economic independence within First Nations communities.

Tootoosis received his Bachelor of Indigenous Studies from the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now the First Nations University of Canada)/U of R, has studied public administration and taken numerous professional development courses. He was granted his Professional Aboriginal Economic Developer Certificate from the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers in 2009. Milton is married to Shelly and has three grown children.

Jennifer Heimbecker

Director of Speakers Bureau

Jennifer attended the University of Saskatchewan and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honours in Aboriginal Public Administration. At this time she was presented with the Most Outstanding Student Award. While continuing full-time work with OTC, she has also obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Agriculture and Land Management with the U of S. Since 2008, Jennifer has been the Speaker Bureau/Project Coordinator. Under Jennifer’s direction the members of the OTC Speakers Bureau have reached well over 20,000 Saskatchewan residents with Treaty Education. Jennifer has also been involved with various projects such as the Treaty Essential Learnings document, CTV vignettes, the Building New Relationships program, and has been instrumental in the creation of such partnerships with the University of Saskatchewan Students Union and the Aboriginal Students’ Centre. Jennifer is also a mother of four beautiful and energetic children: Shaid, Elijah and twins Abigail and Charlie. Jennifer has long maintained that her family is her number one priority and also the inspiration for the work she does for the Treaty people of Saskatchewan.

Alanis Lafond

Event, Social Media and Archives Coordinator

Alanis Lafond is from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in the Treaty 6 area. She grew up in Muskeg Lake and completed her Grade 12 at Blaine Lake Composite School.

Alanis worked at kihiw waciston School in Muskeg Lake as an Educational Assistant, Library Assistant and Hot Lunch Program Coordinator. She decided to pursue her interest in libraries and moved to Saskatoon to attend SIAST in the Library and Information Technology Program. After completing the 2 year course she joined the team of Library Technicians at Prairie Spirit School Division. Alanis joined the Office of the Treaty Commissioner in September of 2011 as Administrative Assistant and in November 2012 she became the Coordinator for Records and Archives.

Alanis resides in Saskatoon with her three children Payton, Liam and Mateo.

Tamara Nesbitt

Financial Controller

Tamara joined the OTC as Financial Controller in July 2009. As a part-time consultant, she has had experience with and continues to provide financial services to other private companies and non-profit organizations. As the accountant for the OTC, she is charged with keeping the operations within the budget and ensuring the organization maintains a strong reputation with its clients.

Raised in Saskatoon, Tamara has two wonderful children; Trinity age 21 and Spencer age 19.  She loves to travel with her partner Jim, is an avid gardener and enjoys the outdoors.

Tamara brings a high level of expertise, this combined with her openness, sensitivity and down to earth approach are characteristics which are valued at the Office of the Treaty Commissioner.

Rhett Sangster

Director, Reconciliation and Community Partnerships

Rhett Sangster works with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, coordinating efforts to engage both the public and community leaders on the nature of reconciliation in Saskatchewan. This process aims to work with as many partners as possible to identify shared priorities and a broadly-owned vision for the future.

Rhett grew up in Treaty 6 territory (Tisdale, Saskatchewan) and is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan (B.A. Political Studies). He moved to Ottawa in 2000 to become a Foreign Service Officer and has spent the majority of his career working on issues of international conflict and peacebuilding. He spent three years posted as a diplomat in Turkey, led a successful effort to improve dialogue and cooperation between Afghan and Pakistani border officials, and coordinated Canadian international policy on mediation, peace processes and the effects of war on women and girls. Rhett accepted a Rotary Peace Fellowship in 2012 and graduated in 2014 with a Masters in International Development Policy from Duke University. His thesis focused on conflict prevention and reconciliation in Saskatchewan.

Rhett is married and has three young children.

Amy Seesequasis

Research Technician

Amy is a Willow Cree from the Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation, Treaty 6. She attended the First Nations University of Canada, Saskatoon Campus, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in 2011; majoring in Indigenous Studies and minoring in Indian Fine Art. She credits FNUniv for strengthening her cultural identity and pride.

Amy has a wide range of work experience that she brings to the OTC. Since completion of her degree she has worked for the Correctional Service of Canada, as well as for the Department of Native Studies at the University of Saskatchewan.

She is the mother of two children, Davian and Kalina, and is expecting a new addition to her family in November.  She credits her children for all that is good and positive in her life, as well as her life successes.

For the past 27 years she has been a member of, and the lead dancer for, the Creeland Square Dancers, who specialize in Metis dancing. Her interests are reading, writing, painting, beadwork, dancing, outdoor activities, history, Treaties (education, awareness, promotion, advocacy) and anything that assists in enriching her and her children’s identity as Nehiyawak.  

In her second year of university, Amy set a goal to one day work with Treaties and for the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. Today she is living that dream and is an example that goals can be reached through dedication and determination.

Bernice Hlady

Administrative Assistant

Bernice is from Ile a la Crosse and speaks the Cree language.  She was raised with a strong cultural background and has her Elders teachings as her foundation.

Bernice has worked extensively in First Nations politics.  She once travelled to Rome to meet the Pope and on one of her many trips to Ottawa met Queen Elizabeth II.  From her travelling experience, Bernice appreciates and understands the value of honour and respect amongst all Nations and countries.

Bernice also worked in a local Aboriginal law firm where she worked closely with residential school survivors.  Upon hearing their experiences, Bernice felt a strong will to continue to work in the field of helping, assisting and supporting the health of Aboriginal communities and individuals. 

There have been various events where Bernice has coordinated and volunteered her time but her favorite place to be is with family – having 5 grandsons whom she loves spending time with.  She has been working casually with the Office of the Treaty Commissioner since 2014 and has been full-time as of July 2016.