Meet the Elders & Knowledge Keepers

Elder Syexwaliya (Ann Whonnock), Skwxwú7mesh Uxwumixw (Squamish Nation)

As taught by her late grandparents, Syexwaliya supports families and shares cultural teachings and protocols within and outside of her community. Her passion is to see that Squamish culture, language and ceremonies continue to be the cornerstone of the Nation for future generations and the culture carried on by future generations and her snichim (language) to be used, not only by herself, but for all the families and future generations in their daily lives and ceremonies. Let's not let our Culture and Snichim die out!

Due to external commitments, Elder Syexwaliya currently has limited capacity to attend events.

Elder Marie Hooper, kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem First Nation)

Marie Hooper is an elder from Kwikwetlem First Nation. Recently she has moved onto the nations reserve, so she can connect better with her Indigenous culture. This has, and will keep her connected with her culture. She keeps her knowledge of the history of the nation and its families. This is passed down from her ancestors, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. 

Marie who was born in the UK, immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. in 1967. Her background is Coast Salish, English, Scottish and Portuguese. 

Marie has studied at B.C. Institute of Technology and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Her qualifications include Indigenous Environmental Archeology, Ecologic Engineering, and Guardian of the Indigenous lands and territories.  

Marie is a mother of four and grandmother of nine. Her passion is to bring residential awareness into the school system, or wherever she can bring up the subject asking individuals, ‘What do you know about residential schools?’. Only learning about residential schools five years ago, and bringing awareness, help Marie process the trauma her family and others have endured.

Elder Marie is available to be booked for SFU events via the Elders Request Form, or Indigenous students, staff and faculty are invited to drop-in during Tea Talks with Elder Marie bi-weekly on Monday's from 11am-1pm. For more details please refer to our Calendar of Events.

Auntie Patti Williams, Nlaka’pamux Nation

Ye tek sivqt (Good day). Nlha.kapuxkin (I am Nlaka’pamux)

Auntie Patti (Carey) Williams is an Elder from the Nlaka’pamux Nation, Skuppah Band.
Acquired her First Nations status in 2011 through the Gender Equity in the Indian Registration Act (Bill C-3) .

She is the mother of 2 and an Auntie to many, believing that “we all need more Aunties and Uncles in our circles”. Auntie Patti is now retired from S.D. No.42 Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District where she worked as an Indigenous Support Worker for 22 years.

Today she likes to be known as a Natural Fibres Artist, making jewelry and other art out of various natural materials including inner red cedar bark and pine needles.

K’uk’scemx (Thank you)

Auntie Patti is available for student support during her Smudging Breaks and Tea & Art sessions. These happen on Wednesday afternoons monthly in AQ 2002 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, please refer to the Calendar of Events for more details.

Unkie Pixie Wells, Métis Nation

Born and raised in British Columbia, Pixie has lived most of her life on the West Coast, living in a few places surrounding BC, residing in Abbotsford B.C.
Currently employed in HeartWork for our Nation, as well as the Fraser Valley Métis Association and other community groups within the city of Abbotsford BC.

Currently sit as FVMA’s President, also 2SLGBTGGIA+ rep, also holding the health/housing portfolios. While sitting on FVMA board for a few years.

Currently sits on other boards and committee’s within the city of Abbotsford BC.

Sat as a voice for 2SLGBTQQIA+ peoples for LFMO, working on the National Action Plan for MMIWGs and 2SLGBTQQIA+peoples.

Through many years of sitting on many boards, and committees working with others to achieve common objectives and initiatives.

Always fighting to put the voice that is missing at the table.

I very much look forward to using my voice to strengthen the Métis Nation.

Unkie Pixie is available for student support and will be in attendance at various ISC events, please reach out to to learn more. 

Elder Jackie Gonzales, Skwxwú7mesh & Musqueam Nations

Jackie Gonzales is a Skwxwú7mesh/Musqueam matriarch from the Village of Eslh7an who has spent over 45 years leading the way in cultural revitalization for her community, in particular with youth and families and in regards to ceremony and protocol.

Jackie leads from her lived experience of ceremonial, longhouse, and family connections, and is an integral part of Gathering Our Medicine.

Jackie is the mother of three with six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Elder Jackie is available to be booked for SFU events via the Elders Request Form. Indigenous students are also invited to join her for Coffee Chats which happen bi-weekly on Tuesdays from 11:00am to 1:00pm and visit with Elder Jackie, please look at the ISC Calendar of Events for more details.

Elder Russell Wallace, Stʼatʼimc & Lil'wat Nations

Russell Wallace is an award-winning composer, producer and traditional singer from the Stʼatʼimc and Lil’wat Nation. Wallace learned about traditional singing from his mom Flora Wallace from Xaxlip/Lil’wat. His music can be heard on soundtracks for film, television and theatre/dance productions across Canada and the U.S. Wallace is one of the founding members of the Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast and is an alumnus of the UBC Creative Writing program. Wallace has written poetry, short fiction, theatre, and music theatre.

Wallace also has a background in theatre as an alumnus of Spirit Song Native Theatre and Capilano University and has worked with Spider Woman Theatre in New York, Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto and locally with the Firehall Arts Centre, Arts Club Theatre, and many more. Additionally Wallace has worked in radio, print media, photography, and electronic music festivals.

As a senior artist, Wallace can facilitate workshops in creativity, singing, writing, and theatre and as the youngest of 11 children has “historical knowledge from lived experiences of myself, my siblings, and of my parents who were both residential school survivors.”

Russell is available for student support and will be offering a drop-in drumming series this summer monthly on Friday afternoons. Join us in AQ 3144 from 2:00pm - 4:00pm, and please reach out to to learn more.