May 22, 2021

One of the highest honours for our people – Grand Chief

May 22, 2021

ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is offering congratulations to all recipients of this year’s Indspire Awards, in particular to members of SCO communities, including Nahanni Fontaine and Rosa Walker.

“The Indspire Awards are among the most prestigious and important acknowledgements we have for First Nation people,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “I am so proud to see Nahanni and Rosa being acknowledged for decades of important accomplishments, leadership, and for the impacts they continue to make on behalf of our communities and people.”

Nahanni Fontaine is from the Sagkeeng Anishinaabe First Nation. She spearheaded SCO’s Restorative Justice Program for a number of years and was instrumental in organizing Canada’s second National Roundtable on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit (MMIWG2S). Now, she devotes herself to public service as representative for St John’s in Manitoba’s Legislative Assembly. She is also the first Indigenous woman to be House Leader of any Legislature or Parliament in Canadian history.

Nahanni is the winner of a 2021 Indspire award in the category of Public Service.

“I’m honoured to be recognized as this year’s Indspire 2021 Public Service recipient,” said Ms. Fontaine. “This year’s recipients represent, as each year previously, Indigenous excellence across our Territories. Our Peoples are so talented, beautiful, and generous. I’m humbled to be among such exceptional human beings, particularly in a year like no other, when we need stories of goodness and inspiration more than ever.”

Rosa Walker is a member of Peguis First Nation and has mentored and inspired many to become leaders themselves over her impressive thirty-year career. She is the Founder, President, and CEO of the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, Inc. and as the Executive Director of Taking Charge! Inc., was responsible for initiating a Federal and Provincial program for single parents to transition into the workforce.

Rosa is the winner of a 2021 Indspire award in the category of Business and Commerce.

SCO also wants to acknowledge 2021 Indspire Award Winner Dr. Catherine Cook in the Health category. Dr. Cook is one of the first Indigenous physicians trained in Manitoba and is a prominent and deeply-respected Indigenous health leader in both academic and health care circles. Most recently, she became the inaugural Vice-President (Indigenous) at the University of Manitoba, one of the highest and most senior academic positions to be held by an Indigenous person.  She also sits on SCO’s Health Transformation Advisory Circle, which is working to improve health and wellbeing for all southern First Nations.

“The contributions of Indigenous leaders such as Dr. Cook, cannot be overstated,” added Grand Chief Daniels. “Her commitment to education and healthcare serves to inspire future Indigenous leaders in all professional fields.”

Finally SCO would also like make special mention of Adeline Bird, from Rolling River First Nation, who will be one of the presenters at this year’s awards ceremony on June 22, 2021. Adeline is well known in broadcasting as host, producer, writer, director, and actor. She is also the producer of the Soul Unexpected podcast.

“I am so incredibly proud of these accomplished women and of all the recipients,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “With established and emerging leadership such as this, we can all continue the vital work of empowering our people, rebuilding our Nations, and righting the wrongs of colonization.”


The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 80,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

For Media Inquiries:

Vic Savino, Communications Officer, Southern Chiefs’ Organization
(204) 881-4512 | Email: