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 Vice-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

Woman with short hair and glasses smiling indoors

Kelly Anne Butler
Interim Director, Indigenous Engagement and Reconciliation

Kelly was appointed Interim Director, Indigenous Engagement and Reconciliation, effective May 9, 2022.  Working closely with the Vice President (Indigenous), Catharyn Andersen, a key focus of this position is to lead the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Indigenization.  Prior to taking on this role, Kelly worked in Indigenous Affairs at the Grenfell Campus from 2015-2021, and then moved to the St. John’s campus in February 2021 as Indigenous Education Specialist.

Her academic background is in comparative Indigenous studies, and her current research interests are focused on Indigenization, critical Indigenous studies, and the application of Indigenous lenses on Newfoundland and Labrador history.  She engages in open public dissemination of her work through film, craftwork, community gatherings, podcasts, and other community engagement platforms.  She is a writer and co-producer of the 2018 documentary, The Country, and co-creator/co-presenter of the Maw-lukutinej (Let’s Work Together) podcast series.  Most of her work is collaborative.

At Memorial, Kelly has engaged in extensive committee work, including serving two years as the chair of the Committee on Ethics in Research Impacting Indigenous Groups (CERIIG), to which she remains a member, and was a co-writer, along with two others, of Memorial’s Research Impacting Indigenous Groups (RIIG) policy.  She also sits on the Vice-President’s Advisory Committee on Indigenous Affairs (VPACIA) and was part of the VPACIA working group that undertook the extensive consultation processes that ultimately led to the Strategic Framework for Indigenization (SFI), 2021-2026. 

Kelly also holds an adjunct appointment to the School of Arts and Social Science at the Grenfell Campus and has taught regularly in primarily Indigenous topics and themes across several disciplines including Historical Studies, Humanities, Environmental Policy, Political Science, and Archaeology, and creating several courses, one of which was featured by the National Centre for Collaboration in Indigenous Education.  Previously, she taught in the History Department at the University of Saskatchewan.      

Although living in St. John’s, Kelly’s Mi’kmaw community is St. George’s, on the west coast of the island.  An active member of the Bay St. George Mi’kmaw community, Kelly spent four years as chair of the committee that plans and executes the powwow in Flat Bay each July.  She is currently still a member of the Bay St. George Mi’kmaq Cultural Revival Committee as well as the powwow committee.

Tel: 709-864-8195 | Email: kelly.butler@mun.ca

A smiling brown haired man with beard and orange shirt

Ivan J White
Indigenous Education Specialist

Hailing from the Mi'kmaw Community of Flat Bay, on the island's west coast, at heart Ivan J White is an emissary for his culture, heritage, and people. He continually practices Etuaptmumk (two-eyed seeing) as a connector of Mi’kmaw Community and various non-Indigenous organizations. Formally educated in the field of Marketing and practiced in the areas of Media and Communications, Ivan J has been exploring and communicating the intersections of Business, Arts, and Mi'kmaw Identity since his teenage years.

Ivan’s passion for, and dedication towards, his community has inspired him to document and create original, authentic Indigenous stories. Ivan has acted as creator, videographer, audio engineer, editor, performer, music composer, and producer of stories working with: Theatre Newfoundland & Labrador; Ravenhead Productions; Bay St. George Mi’kmaq Cultural Revival Committee; Stephenville Theatre Festival; Captive Expressions; Grenfell Office Of Indigenous Affairs; Western Health, Indigenous Culture and Media Innovations; Cranberry Productions; and the CBC.

Ivan J enjoys practicing art where his interests in storytelling take shape though writing, filmmaking, and song. He currently lives in Shallop Cove with his wife Crystal and their two lovely children; Isabella (13) and Ivan Jr. (10).

Email: ijwhite@grenfell.mun.ca

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

April White
Administrative Secretary

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: awhite@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.

Tel: 709-864-8053 | 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 Director, Indigenous Engagement and Reconciliation, 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 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 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 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