Considerations for Meaningful Collaboration: A Conversation with Indigenous Elders

Presented by: Elder Norma Jacobs, Elder Naulaq LeDrew, and Elder Gloria Thomson.

This Special Event invited individuals and organizations to learn from Indigenous Elders on building meaningful collaboration in a respectful and culturally-informed manner to support efforts to end gender-based violence.  

First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Elders provided guidance on their roles relevant to their communities including their responsibilities to share and protect Indigenous ways of knowing.  

Participants were encouraged to engage in their own critical reflection in terms of their intentions and purposes when including Elders in their work. Consider asking: 

  • Why are we inviting an Indigenous Elder?
  • How are we honouring and respecting the knowledge and wisdom of Indigenous Elders in our work?
  • How can we create ongoing relationships built on reciprocity within future Elder engagements?



Related Backgrounder

web-mockup.pngConsiderations for Meaningful Collaboration: Highlights from A Conversation with Indigenous Elders

This resource shares information on who Elders are and their roles, as well as how to meaningfully engage with an Elder from the invitation to post-collaboration and sustaining the relationship.


  Related Resources

Learning Objectives

From participating in this Special Event, participants are better able to: 

  • Recognize the role of Indigenous Elders  
  • Understand Indigenous Elder engagement processes  
  • Acknowledge the need for truth and reconciliation  


Norma-Jacobs.pngElder Norma Jacobs

Gae Ho Hwako Norma Jacobs is of the Wolf clan in the Cayuga Nation of the Great Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Gae Ho Hwako is her Ongwehowe name. It means ancestral females holding the canoe before me, and it positions her in an ancestral line of great women of the Wolf clan. She has been given the responsibilities in the canoe of empowering herself, family, community, Nation and Confederacy. Her mother told her that it was important to know their cultural ways so she would be able to help explain them to people, and it is these experiences and responsibilities that she holds as Longhouse Faith-keeper; advisor to the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; and Elder who has taught in universities, colleges and other institutions.

Naulaq-LeDrew.pngElder Naulaq LeDrew

Born & raised in Apex Hill, Nunavut, Naulaq LeDrew is Inuk and was brought up with 8 siblings and many cousins. During her formative years in Apex Hill, Naulaq learned from her family how to live traditionally, developing a deep respect for the land and all that it provides that is grounded in Inuit knowledge and understandings. Naulaq has supported the Urban Inuit community in Toronto for many years and has been elected to be an Inuit community knowledge keeper.

As part of her responsibilities in community, Naulaq has presented at universities and symposiums on the topic of Inuit well being, has provided ceremonial openings for organizations and has served lightening qulliq (oil lamp) for Ontario's Ministers.

Naulaq has collaborated with a Dance Choreographer Avatara Ayuso from London England, which they had performed with room filled audiences about Colonization in Dresden Germany and London England. They continue to make plans to do more performances in Canada & Europe.

Naulaq is also a co-founder of Head Start program for children in Toronto, she is a member of several committees and councils of Universities & Organizations. Naulaq works for University of Toronto and part time with McMaster University. Naulaq was an Inuk Guest for TVO Kids tv show, talking about the Landmark Inukshuk, how an Inukshuk is a big part of Inuit Culture.              

Her favorite pastime is sewing seal skin and creating art & crafts that celebrate her Inuk heritage. Naulaq is happily married to Randall LeDrew, and between them they have 7 children and 12 grandchildren.

Gloria-Thomson.pngElder Gloria Thomson

A proud Metis woman with roots in the Northwest Manitoba region, Gloria was not aware of her Metis roots until well into adulthood, a product of the shame and secrecy of generations of her people. She is the mother of two grown daughters and one grandchild.

Gloria is a Kairos-trained Facilitator. Prior to the pandemic, she was involved in facilitating many Kairos Blanket Exercise workshops. In 2019, Gloria became a Senator for the Metis Nation of Ontario (MNO), local council, where she served a 4-yr term. She has attended workshops and Annual General Assemblies at the MNO, enlarging her scope of knowledge about the Metis. She is presently engaged by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at University of Western Ontario, as Elder for Metis students.