Mi'kmaw Conservation Group

MCG Staff

Don JulienDr. Donald M. Julien

Executive Director
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Dr. Donald M. Julien is the Executive Director of The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, a position he has held since 1994. Under his leadership, The CMM has grown its programs and services for its member bands through sound management and a meaningful vision for the future.

Dr. Julien’s dedication to the preservation of Mi’kmaw history is evident in everything he does–in his presentations, writings and his passion for the Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre Project. Recognition of his efforts and leadership has come in many ways, including the Order of Canada, 2002 Golden Jubilee Medal of Queen Elizabeth, his numerous Honorary Doctorates from Acadia and Mount Saint Vincent Universities as well as the Order of Nova Scotia in 2004.

For more information on Dr. Julien, visit: CMM’s website

Angie Gillis

Senior Director
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Angeline Gillis, B.A., LL.B., was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia and was raised in East Bay, N.S.  She is a member of the Eskasoni First Nation and is the granddaughter of the late Andrew J. Stevens, a former Keptin of the Sante’ Mawi’omi. Angeline currently resides in Beaverbank, NS, with her wife, Sonja and daughter, Ella Sophia.

Angeline earned her undergraduate degree from Dalhousie University in 2005 and her LL.B from the Schulich School of Law (formerly Dalhousie Law School) in 2009. After completing her articling with Boyne Clarke Barristers and Solicitors, she was called to the Bar in June 2010. She then went on to become a Senior Wills & Estates Planner with Scotia Private Client Group.

Angeline has continued as a practicing lawyer and has worked with The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq (CMM) since October 2011. In 2012, she became the Manager of the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group (MCG) and upon successfully growing the program became the Director of MCG and Mi’kmawey Forestry in 2013 – overseeing numerous Environment and Natural Resources files, projects and services offered to seven (7) Mi’kmaw communities in Mainland Nova Scotia.

Sana Kavanagh

Senior Fisheries Research Advisor
The Mi’kmaw Conservation Group
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Sana is from Cape Breton and has recently moved to the Truro area.  Sana has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology (2005).  She is currently enrolled in a Masters of Environmental Studies and her thesis is on Mi’kmaq traditional ecological knowledge of eels.

Sana’s past employment was as a research assistant for the Integrative Science Program at Cape Breton University involved in bringing together Aboriginal science and Western science.  She helped with research projects and educational activities related to health, environment, and science education.  Sana enjoys working with youth, and in the past co-organized a summer camp for Mi’kmaq youth with science and cultural activities involving Elders, community members and scientists.  Sana also has scientific research experience on local fish species, fresh-water mollusks and species at risk.

As The MCG Research and Education Officer, Sana initiates research activities in collaboration with First Nations, Government agencies, academia and the private sector.  She also develops and updates plans for capacity building within the First Nations targeting youth initiatives by connecting Elders and other resource people to enhance participation in collaborative management.  Sana is also developing proposals for youth initiatives at the community level and public school levels, and assists the Manager with the development and implementation of multi-year MCG initiatives. She is also doing extensive work with Species at Risk such as:  Atlantic Salmon, American Eel, and Striped Bass.

Kate Nelson

Mi’kmawey Green Communities, Project Manager 
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Kate is from Pictou County and after travelling and working for several years across Canada, she made her way home where she lives with her family, which includes a saucy puggle named Penny.

Kate has over 10 years’ experience in the non-profit sector and is happy to be part of the CMM family.

Kate started with CMM as the MCG Communications Officer and is now excited to be leading the Mi’kmawey Green Communities Program.

Mi’kmawey Green Communities Program is an exciting new initiative funded by INAC that serves to address solid waste management challenges in Mi’kmaw Communities. This program began in November of 2016. In the first phase, the team conducted needs assessments and awareness workshops.  The second phase (2017-2018) will see the team put into motion some of the great ideas that they heard from leadership and community members.

If you want more information about this program please get in touch with Kate at KNelson@mikmawconservation.ca or 1-902-895-6385.

Kathy McKennaKathryn McKenna

Office Data Entry Clerk
Mi’kmaw Conservation Group
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Kathryn was born and raised in the Truro area and still resides there with her husband and two children. She has a technical degree in Animal Science and a diploma in Office Administration. She has been hired as the MCG Office Data Entry Clerk.

As the Office Data Entry Clerk, Kathryn will be assisting the MCG Commercial Fisheries Liaison Coordinator with developing a successful commercial fishing gear tagging business. She will mainly act as a commercial fishing tag order administrator. She will also work with and compile a variety of commercial fishing data and perform other tasks such as marketing, invoicing and updating databases.

img_6362-copyAlanna Syliboy

DENR Community Liaison Officer
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Alanna is from the Sipekne’katik First Nation. She is the proud mother of two children, Mia , and Dominck. She is the daughter of Bernie Syliboy and the late Audrey Syliboy.  Alanna is an avid baseball player (center-field) and is a dedicated team player. She has attended the last four Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer Games with the Sipekne’katik team. In her free time Alanna loves to spend time with her family and friends. She also loves to be creative and does bead work. In the summer, you may find Alanna at one of the many pow wows around Mi’kma’ki.

Alanna is responsible for coordinating MCG community outreach and has organized  several successful events and activities including the very popular Fish Friends at the LSK school in Sipekne’katik. Alanna was also part of the Climate Change team and has been a versatile and valuable part of the MCG team, helping out when and where needed.  She will also be coordinating the communications for a Solid Waste Management Project. Alanna looks forward to many more events and activities as MCG continues its outreach, youth mentorship and education initiatives.

alyxAlyx MacDonald

Research and Education Officer 
Mi’kmaw Conservation Group
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Alyx MacDonald is from Fort Ellis, Nova Scotia. He attended Dalhousie University’s Agricultural Campus, where he received a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Applied Science with a specialization in Environmental Science. (2014). He has been working with the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group since October of 2014 as an assistant. In April of 2016 Alyx became a Research and Education Officer.

Alyx has worked on a variety of  projects since joining MCG. These projects have included: Digger log installation and stream restoration, tree planting, Atlantic salmon surveys, Species at Risk conservation, water quality monitoring, trail development, and many other environmental projects. He is currently working on several stream and river restoration projects as well as implementing community conservation plans.

dsc_0025Jillian Arany

Fisheries Biologist
Mi’kmaw Conservation Group
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Originally from Barrhaven, Ontario, Jillian earned her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Environmental Science and Certificate in Environmental Impact Assessment from Dalhousie University in 2013 and is currently in the process of completing her Masters of Biology at Acadia University. Her master’s thesis is focused on determining if fish are able to successfully pass through a culvert.

Jillian has a love for the outdoors and grew up travelling and camping every summer. These experiences at a young age are what fostered her love for marine life (especially marine mammals) and the natural environment. During the summers of 2011 and 2012, Jillian worked in St. John’s, Newfoundland with Environment Canada as a Marine Issues Biologist field assistant. She worked with marine sea birds including Atlantic Puffins, Murres, Gannets, Storm Petrels, Herring Gulls, and Greater Black-Backed Gulls. The work was focused on creating population estimates and new topographic maps. During the summer of 2013, Jillian worked in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with Environment Canada as a Species at Risk Biologist field assistant. Her work focused on Species at Risk birds in Nova Scotia, including Terns and Piping Plovers and their recovery plans. During the summers of 2014 and 2015, Jillian was focused on the field work related to her masters which involved the capture and pit tagging of various fish species in a stream located close to Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

When not focused on work and her master’s thesis, Jillian devotes lots of time towards her marathon training, her animals (2 cats named, Oscar and Burt and 1 dog named, GP), volunteering at the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, travelling, and any outdoor related activities such as camping, hiking, and exploring.

Jillian’s projects at MCG focus on fish passage (culvert remediation and assessments), marine mammal files, and fisheries files which require scientific information and background.

Alannah Hunt

MCG Project Manager
Mi’kmaw Conservation Group
Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Alannah was born and raised in Oakville, Ontario where she spent her summers exploring the backcountry of Algonquin Park and Northern Ontario. When deciding on a career path, Alannah wanted to choose something that would allow her to be an advocate for the environment. She spent six years in Corner Brook, Newfoundland where she attended Memorial University and completed a B.A in Environmental Studies with a focus on Environmental Education. Upon completion of her degree, Alannah went on to work in the field of Outdoor and Environmental Education as an Outdoor Education and Research Coordinator. Alannah then decided to pursue more hands on experience in the field of Environmental Science and Project Management; in 2013 Alannah graduated from Fleming College in Lindsay, Ontario with a post graduate diploma in Ecosystem Management Technology. Alannah moved to Nova Scotia in May of 2013 and now lives in Shubenacadie with her young family and two dogs.

Alannah started with the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group in 2014 as a Research and Education Officer where she planned and facilitated various environmental restoration projects and community outreach activities within the six (6) MCG member communities in Mainland Nova Scotia. Now, as the MCG Project Manager, she is responsible for overseeing the success of the Aboriginal Aquatics Resource and Oceans Management Program and its associated projects that are facilitated by MCG staff.

Alannah’s career goals are strongly rooted in her belief that knowledge is power; when you provide people with information about their natural environment and their role within in it, you provide them with the tools to drive positive change.

Michael Benson

Climate Action Program Coordinator
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Michael is from Quispamsis New Brunswick, and a proud graduate from St. Francis Xavier University where he received his double major bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Resource Management & Public Policy Social Research (2014).

Before joining the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group Michael has worked on water management projects in Central America, reforestation projects in New Brunswick and more recently at the head of a sustainability start-up firm in Halifax.

As the Climate Action Program Coordinator, Michael is enthusiastic about working with community stakeholders to help mitigate some of the many issues presented by our changing climate.

Joe Beland

Fisheries Biologist
Mi’kmaw Conservation Group
Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

From a young age growing up in Durham, New Hampshire, Joe Beland loved the great outdoors. Living on marshlands, Joe spent his youth in search of turtles, horseshoe crabs and clams.

He continued to follow his passion while earning his Marine Affairs degree from the University of Miami, FL. His undergrad took him from offshore New England, researching gillnet catch sizes, to the Galapagos, learning about community based conservation and the complex issues facing the region.

Joe then came to Canada, to attend Dalhousie University and earn his Masters of Marine Management degree. There he would meet his future wife, and they eventually settled down in Dartmouth. This is where in his spare time, Joe and his wife help run a dog rescue that works closely with Sipekne’katik First Nation.

Prior to working with CMM; Joe worked nearly 10 years as a Marine Mammal Biologist with LGL Ltd. He focused mainly on the offshore environment, supporting environmental assessments and monitoring work. HIs work with LGL took him to the US and Canadian Artic regions where he worked t0 help gather local indigenous knowledge. One of the highlights of his time at LGL was spending a month camping along the Chuitna River (Alaska) to investigate the effects of a potential pebble mine on the local salmon population.

He very much looks forward to working at CMM to advance conservation of fisheries work in his home province.

Jeff Reader

AFSAR Project Coordinator
Mi’kmaw Conservation Group
Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Jeff was born and raised near Peterborough, ON.  Growing up, when not kicking a soccer ball around, he could be found exploring the fields and streams that surrounded his home and his grandparents’ farm in Otonabee Township.  Still, it was the many enjoyable summers that he spent fishing with his father on Chemong Lake that spawned his keen interest in fish biology.  Like most avid anglers, conservation was a value instilled him by his parents and teachers, and to this day aquatic ecosystem protection is still a foremost passion for him.

Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science Honours degree (Biology) from Trent University and a Master of Science degree (Biology) from Acadia University.  His M.Sc. research, in cooperation with First Nations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec, focused on the ecology and management of Atlantic salmon and included the development of stock identification methods to foster analyses and inferences about their ocean migrations in the North Atlantic.

Jeff has ten years of professional experience in interdisciplinary water resources science, engineering, management, and law and policy.  He has worked in a variety of regions across Canada and the United States for both government and non-profit organizations including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, University of Idaho, and the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters.  A central theme throughout his career has been his involvement in the assessment and monitoring of stressors and threats to aquatic biodiversity such as habitat alteration, invasive species, climate change, and environmental degradation.

As the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group (MCG) Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk (AFSAR) Project Coordinator, Jeff is responsible for overseeing and coordinating all activities under MCG’s “Inner Bay Of Fundy Atlantic Salmon Monitoring and Species-at-Risk Stewardship with Mainland Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Communities” project.  The recovery of species at risk in Canada depends upon significant collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and organizations for the development and implementation of the Species at Risk Act. To this end, Jeff is excited for the opportunity to work with The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq and the MCG to proactively promote and assist Mi’kmaw communities in strengthening capacity to meaningfully participate in stewardship practices that preserve, restore, and enhance species at risk and the habitats critical for their resilience.

Jordyn Gehue

Mi’kmawey Green Communities Research Education Officer
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Jordyn was raised in the Mi’kmaq community of
Sipekne’katik, Nova Scotia. Growing up, she spent
a great deal of time with her grandparents, as her older
brother was born with a terminal illness. This
environment has instilled a deep respect for Elders
within Jordyn, and one of her life goals is to be
able to provide services that will positively affect
Mi’kmaq communities in the region, especially the Elders within those communities. One of her favorite things to do is simply to sit with an Elder, having tea while listening to the stories that only
they can tell. Always finding solace in a book, especially after the death of her brother, Jordyn became very
passionate towards continuous education and learning. After graduation, she spent some time in Newfoundland studying Biology and Chemistry, along with Russian. Eventually she found her way to NSCC where she studies Business Administration, now having two credits slated for completion this coming semester. After the birth of her son, Jordyn completed the bulk of her education through online learning whilst working within the financial industry. Most of her employment over the years has found her working continuously with the public, and her foremost personal strength can be found in her ability to always find a silver lining. Although her education and training over the years have all led to an accumulation of skills that have proven beneficial along her journey, its her passion and drive to proactively contribute to her Mi’kmaq communities in ways that will help provide a brighter future while never forgetting the generations that have come before us, that has provided her with a sense of purpose in life. It is for this reason that she has always aspired to become part of CMM, and being given the opportunity to fulfill one of her largest goals through commencing work with the Mi’kmawey Green Communities program is an absolute blessing.

Shravan Joshi

Mi’kmawey Green Communities
Research & Education Officer
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Shravan Joshi is from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.  He was born in England, and moved to Canada at a young age. An interest in science led to the completion of a Bachelor of Science from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, with a Major in Biology and Minor in Chemistry. Conservation Biology, Ecology, and Physiology were major components of his degree.

Shravan has recently completed a technical diploma in Environmental Engineering Technology from Nova Scotia Community College in 2017. This program had a strong emphasis on water resources, including water and wastewater treatment, and surface water and groundwater hydro-geologic principles. Throughout his education and experience, Shravan has developed a wealth of field and laboratory techniques for assessment of soil and water quality samples.

Shravan is very excited about joining the Mi’kmawey Green Communities program, and helping to address the waste management challenges in Mi’Kmaw Communities. He is looking forward to starting a career in the environmental field with the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group and the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaw.

Rylan Palmer-Dixon

Mi’kmawey Green Communities
Research & Education Officer 
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Rylan was born in Calgary, AB where he spent the first ten years of his life (Go Flames Go!), before moving to Bedford, Nova Scotia, just outside of Halifax. He graduated from Dalhousie University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Community Design, and Honour’s in Urban Design. During his time at Dalhousie he was a member of the Men’s Varsity Soccer Team and worked for the university’s athletic department and recreation center. Rylan continues his passion for soccer and enjoys playing and watching it in his spare time.

After graduating, Rylan moved to Lac La Biche, Alberta, to work for the municipality as a community Planner for two years.

Rylan joins the Mi’kmawey Green Communities Program here at the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group (MCG), working as a Research and Education Officer. He is excited to address the challenges involved with solid waste management throughout Mi’kmaw communities, across Nova Scotia. He also looks forward to being part of a team that will be introducing pilot projects at the community level, with the hope that they will develop into permanent practice.

Amber MacLean-Hawes

Climate Action Emergency Management Officer
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Amber grew up in Upper Stewiacke, and later moved to Truro. Growing up you could mostly find her outside exploring the woods, fields and brooks with her pets as sidekicks; given the chance she still does that today. She has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (2014) and a Bachelor of Science Health Promotion Honours (2017) both from Dalhousie University. The combination of the two provides a wide variation in research experience as well as understanding the importance of environmental health and how it affects community health and wellness.

As the Climate Action Emergency Management Officer, Amber will be playing a large role in the Emergency Preparedness in Mi’kmaw Communities in Nova Scotia project. The main focus of the project is to develop a needs assessment in order to identify strengths, weaknesses and gaps of the individual communities’ emergency preparedness. The project will also consist of supporting the communities with their emergency management plans and providing resources. Additionally the project may examine the health impacts of climate change throughout the communities.

Amber encourages holistic and capacity building methods to create a sustainable environment while increasing health and wellness among communities. She is keen to incorporate MCG’s values as well as offering her areas of strength and knowledge to the position. Amber recognizes that working with MCG is a promising opportunity that creates diverse and meaningful experiences. Amber is excited to be back with the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group  as she has been a summer student with MCG for the past 3 years.

Melanie Lowe

DENR Communications Officer
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Melanie was born and raised in the small town of Aylesford, Nova Scotia. She spent a lot of her youth at the Oakalawn Farm Zoo, biking, or exploring neighbouring farmer’s fields and the swampy woods behind her childhood home. She also spent a lot of time gardening, fishing and hiking with her Father, her biggest mentor, who ensured from a young age she respected and appreciated the earth, its bounty and all of the inhabitants.

Always having been passionate about the environment – she competed in the Canon Envirothon competition at the high school level and traveled to Asheville, North Carolina. There she competed with a small team of Nova Scotians on the subjects of soil, forestry, aquatics, wildlife, and biodiversity.

From 2009 – 2013 she attended Mount Saint Vincent University to earn her bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management with a concentration in Development and worked as a research assistant for the development of Rural and Sustainable tourism.

After spending the last 7 years throughout and after university working for Delta Hotels, Melanie knew it was time to step out of her comfort zone to attain new skills and continue to develop others. When the position with CMM’s department of Environment and Natural Resources presented itself, Melanie knew she had to take this perfect opportunity.

Melanie is very excited to be a part of the CMM team and to work closely with Mi’kmaw communities.

Alyssa Palmer-Dixon

Research and Education Officer
Mi’kmaw Conservation Group
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

Born in Calgary, Alberta but raised in Bedford N.S., Alyssa is a graduate of Dalhousie University’s Bachelor of Science program, with a double major in Biology and Neuroscience, and a certificate in Animal Behavior. As a science student, Alyssa was involved in conservation research, data analysis, bio-logging techniques, behavioral and habitat ecology, and marine biology. Alyssa was also a two-time varsity athlete with Women’s Hockey and Rowing, and continues her athletic passions, playing both hockey and soccer in N.S. women’s leagues. In addition Alyssa is a registered swim coach, instructor and life guard and currently coaches youth on weekends.

Alyssa recently completed a term employment with South Canoe Wind farms, using conservation canines to research the effects of turbines on nearby wildlife. Having spent summers living and exploring the shores of the Minus Basin, she has an immense appreciation of this land and its surrounding waterways.  Alyssa is thrilled to be a part of MCG and looks forward to working within the concept of Netukulimk. She joins the Mi’kmaw Conservation Group H2O team, working on the Two-Eyed Seeing Monitoring & Management Plan project, as a Research and Education Officer.

RJ Lawrence

DENR GIS Specialist
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq

RJ was born and raised in the North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia.  He spent all of his childhood playing competitive sports such as hockey, lacrosse, and soccer.  He was always an active youth who spent most of his time outdoors.  His passion for sports and environmental science lead him to a scholarship at Bishop’s University (Lennoxville, Quebec) for Men’s Field Lacrosse, while taking and undergraduate degree in the science field from 2008 to 2012.  After a few years of university he decided to focus on environmental and geographical aspects of science changing his major from science to Environmental Studies and Geography with a minor in Biology.  During his university sports career he won the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association’s National Championship and was named a defensive player of the year.

Following his university studies, RJ traveled and worked far and wide including teaching at a private English school located in Seoul, South Korea.  After spending a year and a half in South East Asia he decided it was time to move back to Canada and return to his studies.  He attended the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia and completed an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Upon completion he again left the country to work for Apple in Sunnyvale, California.

RJ is excited to have the opportunity to work for the first time back in his home province of Nova Scotia, joining CMM’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources team as GIS Specialist. He is excited to continue to learn, improve, and expand his skill set to assist projects within the CMM community.

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