Our Team

Office of Indigenous Affairs

Catharyn Andersen
Vice-President Indigenous

Catharyn Andersen was appointed as Memorial’s first vice-president (Indigenous) on July 1 2021. The position focuses on continuing to build meaningful relationships with Indigenous Peoples and advancing Indigenization at Memorial University. Catharyn served as Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous affairs since 2015.

As the vice-president (Indigenous) Catharyn will uphold a university-wide mandate to support Indigenous education broadly across the university, encouraging respectful engagement and relationship building with Indigenous peoples and communities, and supporting the success of Indigenous students across Memorial University. Stemming from her passion for her culture, language and beginning with her work in language revitalization, Catharyn believes that universities must create inclusive and equitable spaces for Indigenous peoples, at all levels.

Catharyn led the development of the Strategic Framework for Indigenization, including conducting the most extensive Indigenous community consultations by Memorial University, visiting 26 Indigenous communities throughout the province, holding more than 50 university and community meetings, and working in ongoing dialogue with Indigenous Elders, communities, organizations, and governments. As vice-president (Indigenous) Catharyn is looking forward to furthering the strategic priorities identified in the framework’s 5 year timeframe from 2021 – 2026 in her continued mandate to strengthen and expand Indigenization and decolonization throughout Memorial University.

As an administrative leader, with diverse expertise in Indigenization and decolonization, Catharyn is also extensively involved in Memorial University and in the community at large, sitting on multiple councils and boards, including chairing the President’s Advisory Committee on Indigenous Affairs, sitting on the Inuit Co-Management Board for the Akami-Uapishku-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountain National Park Reserve, as well as the Board of Directors for the YWCA St. John’s and the Labrador Inuit Capital Strategy Trust.

Before coming to Memorial University, Catharyn worked with the Nunatsiavut Government, formerly the Labrador Inuit Association, in the roles of director and Inuktitut language program co-ordinator with the Torngâsok Cultural Centre in Nain, Labrador. She has also worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the Small Craft Harbours branch.

Catharyn is an Inuk from Nunatsiavut, born and raised in Labrador, with Inuit, Norwegian, English and Scottish ancestry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics, a Master of Arts in linguistics, and a Master of Business Administration from Memorial University, as well as an International Baccalaureate diploma from Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in Victoria, B.C. She is a 2020 member of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference. In her spare time, she likes to run and loves to return home to Labrador as much as she can.

Tel: 709-864-6260 | Email: vpindigenous@mun.ca

headshot of a smiling woman with grey hair, glasses, and a grey shirt

Kelly Anne Butler
Indigenous Education Specialist

Kelly Anne is the Indigenous Education Specialist with the Office of Indigenous Affairs, as well as an Adjunct Professor, School of Arts and Social Science (Grenfell Campus).

Tel: 709-864-3716 | Email: kelly.butler@mun.ca

Picture of April, a smiling woman with glasses and a blonde braid and green sweater

April Chaytor
Administrative Assistant, Office of Indigenous Affairs

April has worked with the Office of Indigenous Affairs since September 2018 and has been working at Memorial for 20 years in various administrative roles supporting students.

Tel: 709-864-6260 | Email: chaytora@mun.ca

Picture of Joanne, a smiling woman wearing a knit hat, scarf, and sweater is outside by a river and trees
Joanne Harris
Indigenous Resource Development Coordinator

Joanne is a first-generation urban Ktaqmkuk Mi’kmaw, with Mi'kmaw, French, Scottish, and English ancestry, and roots in the Codroy Valley as well as Trinity Bay. Joanne completed her Bachelor of Arts at Memorial University with a major in Archaeology and a minor in Aboriginal Studies. She also holds a Master of Philosophy in Humanities from Memorial University, which explored the role of power and narrative in the erasure of the Mi’kmaq in Newfoundland. Joanne is a drum carrier, doting dog-parent, and avid crafter and gardener.

As the Indigenous Resource Development Coordinator, Joanne works to build the Indigenous webpage, and supports the work of the Office of Indigenous Affairs and the Indigenous Student Resource Centre.

Email: joanne.harris@mun.ca

Indigenous Student Resource Centre

Valeri Pilgrim is standing beside a large sign that says Atelihai Nainimut, Nunatsiavut. Welcome to Nain, Nunatsiavut. The sign has a grey inukshuk in the middle on a white, green and blue background. The woman is outside, there is snow on the ground and the hills and the low plants are brown.

Valeri Pilgrim Manager, Indigenous Student Resource Centre

Valeri has been the Manager of the Indigenous Student Resource Centre since November 2018. Prior to this, she served in the capacity of International Student Advisor with the Internationalization Office from 2014 to 2018. Her first role at Memorial was as the Aboriginal Liaison Officer from 2011 to 2014. Valeri attended one semester at Memorial, however her Bachelor of Arts degree is from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. She also holds a Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Oslo in Norway where she lived with her young daughter for two and a half years. Valeri grew up in Nain, Nunatsiavut in northern Labrador and is of Inuit ancestry. She has two children.

Reporting to the Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs, the manager of the Indigenous Student Resource Centre (ISRC) oversees the development of programs, resources and supports to empower Indigenous students to thrive at Memorial University. This includes providing operational direction in the areas of Indigenous student success, Indigenous education, and cultural initiatives.

The ISRC manager leads and represents the student centre in its day-to-day operations, ensuring a student-centred approach to program planning and delivery. The manager is responsible for hiring, orienting, and supervising the staff in the ISRC. The manager will establish and maintain collaborations with other student supports and services units and beyond to lead, partner, or support activities that enhance Indigenous student success. The manager is also responsible for ensuring the ISRC’s budget is planned, prepared, and monitored in keeping with university policies and procedures.

Tel: 709-864-3495 | Email: vpilgrim@mun.ca

Inuk woman in jeans and tshirt sits in front of a fireplace with Inuit drums in front of her

Tama Fost Indigenous Student Success Coordinator

Tama is a first-generation urban Inuk, and mother of one. Her roots are from the Hopedale and Okak communities, as well as the Red Indian Lake area of Central Newfoundland. Tama completed a Bachelor of Arts at Memorial University with a major in English and two minors in Aboriginal Studies and Religious Studies. She has been throat singing and drum dancing locally, provincially, nationally, and internationally for over 13 years, and is honoured to host Inuit throat singing bi-weekly on alternating Fridays.

As the Indigenous Student Success Coordinator, Tama provides academic and social support to self-identified Indigenous students through: advocating for Indigenous students, assisting students with navigating university policies and procedures, pairing students with academic supports like tutoring, providing emotional and cultural support to students, and providing other supports to help retain and ensure the success of Indigenous students attending the St. John’s Campus, Marine Institute, as well as those studying via distance education.

Tel: 709-864-8278 | Email: tama@mun.ca

Brown haired woman in yellow shirt smiles in front of Pride flag

Katie Hayward Indigenous Wellness Navigator

Katie is no stranger to Memorial, having completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Behavioural Neuroscience with a minor in Biology here in 2016 and currently working towards a Master’s in Counselling Psychology. Previously working with Memorial as an Animal Care Technician II for almost three years post-graduation. However, her career path pivoted from animals to the community sector in 2019, as a Case Manager for marginalized individuals through a prominent non-profit organization in downtown St. John’s. Later, having the amazing opportunity to work in the Innu communities of Labrador. Entering this field has been the driving force of Katie’s passion for social justice, reform and education.

Born, raised and currently residing in St. John’s, with familial ties to the Bonavista and Newman’s Cove area, Katie has been recently exploring her newly discovered Indigenous ancestry. She is most content outdoors, whether it be camping, hiking or spending time at the cabin - or with a paintbrush in hand.

As the Indigenous Wellness Navigator, Katie empowers self-identified Indigenous students attending the St. John’s Campus, Marine Institute and those studying via distance education to thrive at Memorial. Doing so by offering an inclusive space, facilitating healing and wellness programs, cultural events and educational sessions. As well as, identifying and responding to individualized wellness needs of students in a variety of ways, including: navigating systems, referrals, cultural support, case management and connecting students to community-based resources to meet their holistic health needs.

Tel: 709-864-3716 | Email: kmhayward@mun.ca

Grenfell Campus

Student Affairs Officer - Indigenous Affairs