Fireside: On Seeking Wisdom

Sun 12 September 2pm // Virtual livestream

A panel consisting of elders, scholars, scientists, and Indigenous knowledge keepers, will consider and contemplate the elements and attributes required of leaders in society to arrive at wise decisions for securing a viable future for the Seventh Generation. Drawn from the Pathway to Canada Target 1 group consisting of the Indigenous Circle of Experts and other participating agencies and organizations, the panel will be curated and led by Tim Johnson, Celebration of Nations Artistic Producer Tim Johnson, and Plenty Canada Executive Director and Algonquin Elder Larry McDermott.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s at the Native American Center for the Living Arts in Niagara Falls, New York, just across the strait, a series of historic discussions involving scholars knowledgeable in Indigenous affairs was hosted, recorded, and published in the Turtle Quarterly magazine. These Fireside conversations centered on single conceptual themes (on Savagery and Civilization, for example) that were introduced into the circle for the participants to ponder, ruminate, deliberate, and discuss. The intent was to draw out the knowledge, perspectives, and wisdom of cultural and academic intellectuals who applied deep intelligence to their understanding of how things got to be the way they are. Now, some 30 years later, Celebration of Nations will be recreating this historic program and asking our esteemed participants to deliver this anchor Fireside program, ON SEEKING WISDOM.


Eli Enns is an internationally recognized expert in Indigenous-led conservation. From Tla-o-qui-aht Nation on his father’s side, and of Dutch Mennonite heritage on his mother’s side, Eli promotes holistic solutions for community and ecosystem health and well-being. With a background in political science, Eli is a ‘nation-builder’ with values and approaches rooted in Indigenous economic theory and practice.


Larry McDermott (Algonquin) is executive director of Plenty Canada, an Indigenous non-government organization devoted to the protection of Mother Earth, building healthy communities, and promoting cross-cultural awareness of the value of Indigenous ways of knowing to achieve a sustainable environment for future generations. A former three-time mayor and council member of Lanark Highlands and chair of the Rural Forum of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, he was a commissioner on the Ontario Human Rights Commission and a member of numerous organizations including the International Indigenous Forum for Biodiversity, the Ontario Species at Risk Public Advisory Committee, the Canadian Environmental Network, UNESCO, and the Ontario Recovery Strategy for the American Eel. Larry also has served as a comprehensive claim representative for Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, is a certified tree marker and butternut assessor, and holds other environmental certifications. He lives in a 170-year-old log home on 500 acres of biologically diverse Algonquin land along Ontario’s Mississippi River.


Melanie Goodchild is moose clan from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Ketegaunseebee First Nations in Northern Ontario. She is the founder and co-director of the Turtle Island Institute, a global Indigenous social innovation think & do tank. The Institute’s virtual teaching lodge Mikinaak Wigyaam (Turtle Lodge) introduces members to Relational Systems Thinking, a uniquely Indigenous approach to deep systems awareness. Melanie is a faculty member with the Academy for Systems Change, a team member of the Wolf Willow Institute for Systems Learning, and a member of the Editorial Board for the new Journal of Awareness-Based Systems Change from the Presencing Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Additionally, she is a PhD Candidate in Social and Ecological Sustainability at the University of Waterloo and a Research Fellow with the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience. Melanie is a proud member of the Iron Butt Association riding her Harley-Davidson motorcycle 1,000 miles in 24 hours.

Rob MacDonald

Rob MacDonald joined ASI in 1982 and now holds the position of managing partner. He earned his Honours BSc and MA degrees from Trent University and his PhD from McGill University, all in anthropology. Rob is accredited by the Register of Professional Archaeologists. His special areas of expertise include ecological archaeology, archaeological site potential modelling, geographical information system (GIS) applications in archaeology, Iroquoian archaeology, and lithic analysis. Throughout his career with ASI, he has served as project director and/or field director on hundreds of single- and multi-phased archaeological assessment and salvage excavation projects throughout southern and eastern Ontario. His recent management projects include the Highway 407 East project undertaken on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Rob has also played a key role in the development of pre-contact Indigenous site potential models for the archaeological management plans of numerous planning authorities.

Tim Johnson

Tim Johnson is director of Landscape of Nations 360° Indigenous Education Initiative, artistic director of The Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map, artistic producer of Celebration of Nations, creator and producer of the Indigenous Niagara Living Museum Tour, and executive producer of the multiple award-winning documentary RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World.  

As an experienced education, museum, and arts executive Tim was instrumental in the recent development of four masterworks of public art in the Niagara Region during the past six years. Two of these consist of public memorials of national significance that recognize and honour Indigenous peoples’ contributions to Canada. The first, Landscape of Nations: The Six Nations and Native Allies Commemorative Memorial, was unveiled in Queenston Heights Park in 2016. The second, First Nations Peace Monument, designed by world-renowned architect Douglas Cardinal, who Tim recruited to the project, was established in DeCew House Heritage Park in Thorold in 2017. Tim also served on the committee and sub-committee for design and construction for Voices of Freedom Park, a public art installation dedicated in 2018 in Niagara-on-the-Lake to African Canadians whose contributions to the Niagara Region and Canada have been significant, but largely underrepresented. In addition, he was instrumental in defining the criteria and guiding the curatorial selection of the contemporary art masterpiece by Lilly Otasevic entitled Curtain Call, newly installed in 2019 on the Carlisle Street side of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre as a legacy project of Celebration of Nations and the City of St. Catharines.

As the former Associate Director for Museum Programs at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, Tim managed the museum’s largest organizational group across its facilities in Washington and New York. A long list of critically acclaimed exhibits and programs were produced during his tenure, creating an era that significantly advanced the institution’s museology and reputation. Over the course of his work at the Smithsonian Tim edited, conceptualized, and strategically initiated several Smithsonian books showcasing Native arts and history. He also established the museum’s Indigenous Community Services department and was co-founder and publisher of the museum’s flagship quarterly membership magazine American Indian, now in its third decade of publication.

September 12 @ 14:00
2:00 pm — 3:30 pm

Eli Enns, Larry McDermott, Melanie Goodchild, Rob MacDonald, Tim Johnson

Watch Live – Sunday