Current Board Of Directors
As a non-profit and charitable organization, Wigwamen Incorporated is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The members of this Board are highly experienced and committed to providing decent, affordable housing for individuals and families of Aboriginal ancestry. Biographies for the current Board of Directors of Wigwamen are below.
Arnold May retired from Ontario Power Generation in 2002 as Senior Analyst of Aboriginal Relations. He has been on Wigwamen’s Board since 1996. Arnold is Ojibway and a member of Nipissing First Nation where he served as Councillor for 6 years. His career was devoted to working with First Nations in the Province of Ontario in resolving grievances that they had filed with the provincial electricity generation and transmission company. Upon retiring, Arnold set up a consulting business (Beedaubun Enterprise) and did consulting for various corporations by providing advice and guidance and acting as a facilitator for ongoing discussions related to various initiatives, projects and partnerships. Arnold is certified in Conflict Resolution; Training System Design, Development and Delivery; and, is a qualified Industrial Mechanic Millwright and Machinist. He has been a Director on various Provincial Boards in the past, and continues to sit as Director.
Julie Rice is Ojibway from Wasauksing First Nation, and she is a long-time resident of Toronto. Julie joined the Board of Directors in June 2009, and is looking forward to the commitment and challenge of being on the Board of Wigwamen Incorporated. She currently works for an Aboriginal organization in the city where she has had many opportunities to learn about non-profit board processes. Over the years, she has utilized many of Toronto’s Aboriginal services and wishes to give back to the Aboriginal community. She also wishes to inspire and encourage Aboriginal people to live up to their fullest potential and strive for what life has to offer. Julie has a knack for sports and is involved in volleyball and baseball.
A Certified Management Accountant with experience in the property management field, Valerie works as a Controller for a real estate investment company. She has been a member of Wigwamen’s Board of Directors since August 1996. In her spare time, she works toward her goal of becoming an accomplished roller-blader, and enjoys bird watching.
John Arciuch worked for a number of years in the area of Aboriginal relations at Ontario Power Generation, and prior to that, in the environmental and forestry services field. He joined Wigwamen’s Board in February 2000. John has worked with many groups in the Toronto area to develop co-housing project proposals and holds an MBA degree from York University.
Tabatha is Anishinaabe and a proud member of Nipissing First Nation near North Bay, Ontario. She is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business working with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal businesses to help strengthen a prosperous Indigenous economy and Canadian market. Prior to joining the CCAB, Tabatha, an electrical engineer from the University of Waterloo, led the First Nations and Métis Relations team at the IESO, Ontario’s electricity system operator. As a member of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce board, Tabatha is committed to working with members to improve business competitiveness across all industry sectors.
Supporting and advising Canada’s energy sector, academics and organizations to ensure a collaborative approach with Indigenous leaders, communities, heads of industry and government, Tabatha sits as a member on both the Positive Energy Advisory Council and the C.D. Howe Institute’s Energy Policy program.
As a testament to her passion to better the lives of Indigenous people and stay connected to her community, Tabatha serves as a director on the board of Wigwamen Incorporated; the oldest and largest urban Indigenous housing provider in Ontario.
Tabatha is also an active member on the board of Young Peoples Theatre in Toronto and the Canadian advisory group to UN Women “promoting women’s economic empowerment through responsible business in G7 countries”.
Tabatha is the proud mom to two boys and can often be found in a hockey arena or at the baseball diamond.
Glen Jennings has been a member of Wigwamen’s Board of Directors since 2006. In addition to his volunteer work with Wigwamen, Glen has served on the Board of Frontiers Foundation as Secretary-Treasurer. Glen is a solicitor practicing in Toronto in the area of criminal law, focusing on complex fraud and Charter litigation. His practice has included a wide variety of criminal matters at both trial and appellate levels, as well as regulatory and disciplinary matters. Glen was called to the Ontario Bar in 1994 after completing his articles at a leading Canadian criminal law firm. Glen is also involved with lecturing at various leading continuing education programs in the legal profession.
Kathleen Cieslak joined the Board of Directors of Wigwamen Incorporated in 2014. Kathleen holds an Honours BA from the University of Toronto and a Masters in Conflict Analysis and Management from Royal Roads University. She works for Ontario Power Generation and has held positions in the Real Estate division, Human Resources Talent and Change department, and currently is an Advisor in OPG’s First Nation and Métis Relations division. Kathleen has worked with non-profit companies in the past and is looking forward to being an active Wigwamen Board member. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, snowboarding, rock climbing and mountain biking.
Waylon Iserhoff is a member of Taykwa Tagamou Nation. Since March 2015, he has been employed as its Business Development Officer where he provides support to Chief & Council with their various business interests. Waylon has over 20 years of experience in a variety of finance and accounting roles with the Hudson Bay Company, Loblaw Companies Limited, Moody’s Investor Services and Deloitte. Waylon is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and has a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Toronto and a BA from the University of Western Ontario. He joined the Wigwamen Board in 2017.
Suzanne Brunelle is Métis with Menominee, French, and Irish roots. She earned her Bachelors’ degree at York University’s Glendon College, subsequently dedicating over forty years to federal public service, including 15 years in Real Property. She serves as the Senator of the Toronto & York Region Métis Council and is an active member of the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council, the City of Toronto Aboriginal Affairs Advisory Committee, and the Centennial Aboriginal Education Council. She is also the coordinator of the Community Ethics Network, a membership-funded collective of over 50 community health and support sector organizations that promote quality community healthcare and support services.
Suzanne joined the Board of Wigwamen Incorporated in July 2020 and looks forward to contributing to the goals of the organization as well as the learning she will gain along the way.
Former Wigwamen Director Biographies:
President Donna Niven served on the Wigwamen Incorporated Board of Directors from April 1976 to February 2021. She has given her volunteer time to the community in many ways, having served as a Director on the Board at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto for five years, served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the North American Indian Club for twelve years, and was once voted Native Big Sister of the year. Donna enjoys theatre, music and creating native crafts. She enjoys selling her crafts at community powwows, and meeting and talking with the people attending them. With years of volunteering in the community, Donna brings diverse experience to Wigwamen.
Bill joined the Board of Directors of Wigwamen Incorporated in 1977 and became President of the corporation in 1995. His other volunteer experience includes: a 25-year membership (including having served for some time as President) with the Toronto Indian Club; having been a Director of Habitat for Humanity; and involvement with various seniors and other charitable organizations. Bill spent most of his working life in the field of maintenance and construction and in October 2000 he retired as Supervisor of Operations at Trent University in Peterborough. Born in Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island, Bill spent much of his childhood at Garnier College Residential School.
Marie Rogers is originally from Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island but has been living and working in Toronto since the early 1970s. She is currently employed with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce as an Administrative Assistant in Retail and Small Business Credit. Marie has served as a Director for Wigwamen since 1996 and beyond her involvement with the corporation, she volunteers with the Native Peoples’ Parish. In the past she has assisted in a number of fundraising campaigns for groups such as the United Way and Toronto Sick Children’s Hospital. Her interests include figure skating and country music.
Wigwamen’s longest serving Director Eric Carlson joined the Board in September 1974. He is a retired employee of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, having worked there for 30 years. Prior to that, he taught French and Latin at a variety of Ontario high schools, and worked with the South Saskatchewan River Development Commission. An active volunteer in the City of Toronto, Eric is also a driver for Meals-on-Wheels and the Canadian Cancer Society, and is a Board member with Frontiers Foundation. For many, this kind of community involvement would leave little time for hobbies, but Eric also manages to squeeze in some international travel and hiking.
Another longtime Board member, Delma Cooper joined Wigwamen in April 1976. Now retired from the Victorian Order of Nurses, she volunteers at St. Michael’s Hospital, and is as a very active member of the Native Peoples’ Parish of Toronto. Past volunteer experience includes having served as the Executive Secretary for the Friendship Centre and as a Big Sister with Ahbinoojyak, a former Native children’s program in the city. Delma is originally from Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island, but has lived in Toronto since the 1960s. Her interests include theatre, critically-acclaimed movies and books, Scrabble and playing the keyboard.
Karen Wheeler joined the Board in July, 2009. She retired from the Ontario Public Service as a senior policy advisor in 2005 and currently does part-time consulting on public policy issues. She has been on the boards of several Toronto-based non-profit housing co-operatives and has held senior volunteer positions in OPSEU, AMAPCEO, and CUPE. Karen has a strong belief in the social and economic benefits of not-for-profit housing and has been involved in organizations devoted to supplying and managing such housing since 1968.
Diana (Dee) is Mi’kmaq and served on the Board from 1994-1997. She lived and worked in Toronto for 23 years but now lives in Nova Scotia where she works for the Union of Nova Scotia Indians Tribal Council. Having earned a Master of Resource and Environmental Management degree (2010) from Dalhousie University in Halifax, she has almost completed a PhD degree, focusing on environmental health, and is using her expertise to help a local First Nation impacted by industrial pollution from a pulp and paper mill. An avid runner, Dee tries to participate in 10k runs wherever her travels take her.