The Toronto Indigenous Youth Collective was formed in 2015 to solve health inadequacies for urban Indigenous youth. Our projects are centered around making traditional knowledge and health resources accessible to Indigenous people living in Toronto. TIYC consists of eight young leaders from diverse Indigenous backgrounds who bring unique individual strengths and interests to this work. Our partnership with the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle provides us with mentorship and support from local organizations such as the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, Toronto Birth Centre and Anishnawbe Health Toronto. Most importantly, we are guided by Indigenous community leaders, elders and engagement with our peers.
Kaitlyn is Anishinaabe from Couchiching First Nation (Treaty 3.) Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, her interests in business and design led her to study Fashion Communication at Fanshawe College and soon after, Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. Today she works for the Native Canadian Centre as a Language Resource Developer and as the Youth Council Coordinator for the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle. She also sits on the Toronto Drug Strategy as a committee member as well as an advisor for the Toronto Indigenous Overdose Strategy.
Alyssa Luttenberger (Lakna’ Hatalposhik) is of mixed heritage, Chickasha Nation and Austrian. She is Turtle Clan and her spirit name, Lakna’ Halaposhik (Yellow Butterfly), speaks to her role as as a bringer of change, a listener and a mediator. She is an 28 year old youth with strong experience working in Toronto’s community. Alyssa is currently the Mino Maadziwin Program Coordinator in the ENAGB Youth Program at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. She is a strong advocate for the reclamation of our traditions, governance and cultures, in particular for urban Indigenous youth. She also advocates for the amplification of youth voices and supports youth-led and driven initiatives that provide Indigenous youth the space to make decisions about their own holistic wellness. Alyssa is a member of the LGBTQ2S community and has employment and leadership experience with a variety of agencies and services throughout the GTA.
Justine Keeshig is Anishinaabe from Chippewas of Nawash First Nation also known as Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker). She’s been residing in Toronto for almost 8 years and recently graduated from the Fitness and Health Promotion Program at Humber College. Her educational journey is just beginning. This summer she studied in New Zealand at Otago Polytechnic and with this opportunity of a lifetime it allowed her to expand her field of study to include sustainability in nature and a bi-cultural perspective. Justine began working in the Aboriginal Resource Centre at Humber in the summer of 2016 as the Special Events Assistant. Her two years of working in the Aboriginal Resources Centre allowed her to grow and fulfill the position as the Fit-Nish Coordinator.
Justine is always looking for new opportunities to advance the Aboriginal Resource Centre for future generations. Her commitment to education, wellness and overall improvement makes her a positive role model within the Indigenous Community, both in her home of Neyaashiinigmiing and within the Greater Toronto Area.
She has now moved on to further her education at York University. Justine’s goal is to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Studies and be an active participant with the Aboriginal Students
Association at York. Upon graduation, she hopes to complete a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia.
Art and community is how I celebrate life. My lineage is in Manitou Rapids, in Treaty 3 Territory as well as Europe. I am marten clan and jingle dress dancer. Born and raised in Toronto, I have a deep love for the great lakes, its people and the land. Since 2011, I have been committed to working within community as a helper and advocate for Indigenous health equity, healing and wellness. I am a youth council member for the Toronto Indigenous Health Advisory Circle, Toronto Drug Strategy committee member as well as an advisor for the Toronto Indigenous Overdose Strategy.
Ashley Kagige (Naabowiyaa Wiigwaasyag) is an Anishinaabe mother and Registered Practical Nurse from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Indian Territory. She has resided in Toronto for her entire life. The birth of her only daughter inspired her to pursue a career in nursing with an emphasis on maternal/newborn health and wellbeing. She has many years of experience serving Toronto’s Indigenous community, most recently as the Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children Coordinator at the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto. Her passion for health equity and community wellness allowed her this opportunity to learn and build with the Toronto Indigenous Youth Collective.
Tasunke Pejuta Sugar is a Lakota and Cree from Pine Ridge, South Dakota and Paipots, Saskatchewan, and has been living in Toronto for over ten years. Tasunke’s name is translated to Medicine Horse in the Lakota language. He is a father, a brother and an uncle who is committed to the wellbeing of his family, community, and nation. Tasunke is employed as a Youth Wellness Navigator working towards the wellbeing of youth aged 18-29. He is also the Kizhaay Anishnaane Niin (I am a Kind Man) Program Facilitator where he works with young men towards ending violence against women and children at the Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre located in downtown Toronto. Tasunke is from a large family and grew up living back and forth from Pine Ridge and Regina switching homes from his father and his mother. Tasunke’s life revolved around his cultural practices, learning many traditions of the Lakota, Cree, and Anishnaabe people. He carry’s his cultural knowledge with him and is always keen on sharing it with others.
Daniella Robinson is a Bigstone Cree & Italian kwe who holds an M.Ed in Social Justice Education & Sexual Diversity Studies and is currently a PhD in Human Sexuality student at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Using expertise gained in this program, Daniella will be simultaneously pursing her lifelong dream of becoming a sex therapist and developing a series of sexual-wellness related tools for Indigenous women who have experienced sexual trauma. Daniella is passionate about all things sexuality and hopes to start new conversations during her time with the Toronto Indigenous Youth Collective.