Stephen Kwinter 

Executive Director

Christina Ruddy

Interim Director of Engagement, Operations and Policy

As a proud Algonquin woman of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, Christina has spent her career working to empower Indigenous youth through education, language and capacity-building. She has worked in grass roots movements such as Friendship Centres, in post-secondary institutions such as Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario and with Lakehead University in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Education. Since returning to the Ottawa Valley, she has become a passionate advocate for reconciliation in the National Capital Region.

Christina is a successful alumnus of the first graduating class of the Native Community and Social Development program from Georgian College and in 2012 received the Board of Governor’s award of Excellence – Distinguished Alumni for her work with Indigenous people.

Christina’s dedication to the celebration of Indigenous culture has resulted in many successful events and projects. Through empowering Indigenous youth to celebrate their identity, language and culture made visible in their daily lives, she embodies the tradition of passing on culture and the skills needed to preserve it to the younger generations.

Clay Melnike

Senior Manager of Programming

Clay completed his undergraduate and master’s early in his career and focused on sport and recreation development, marketing and business planning.  Clay is a planner, trainer, and leader who has worked for over 30 years in the two worlds about which he is most passionate: sport and youth development.  Clay is currently one of the senior managers responsible for planning and program development for the Aboriginal Sport & Wellness Council of Ontario.  Exciting Aboriginal events Clay has recently worked on include: 2017 North American Indigenous Games, 2017 National Aboriginal Physical Activity & Wellness Conference and the 2018 Masters Indigenous Games.

Abidah (Abby) Shirazi

Lead, Marketing & Communications

Abidah Shirazi is an award-winning strategic communications, brand management and marketing leader, with over a decade of experience, specializing in strategic visioning, brand development and positioning, media and public relations, issues and crisis management, and media coaching.

Abidah holds a Masters Degree in Communications from York University and served as the Director of Communications for the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games and 2018 Masters Indigenous Games. Her journey in working alongside and supporting Indigenous youth and communities through sport, has gifted her the opportunity to learn, acknowledge, share and act as an ally.

As a woman of colour, Abidah leads with the understanding of cultural, social and political contexts, and supports initiatives that have a strong community impact.

Mekwan Tulpin

High Performance Coordinator

Having participated in three North American Indigenous Games as an athlete, coach and sport manager, Mekwan sought additional leadership opportunities and certifications outside of multiple workplace settings within Aboriginal organizations. Mekwan is a proud Ontarian of Mushkegowuk Cree and Belgian descent as a member of Fort Albany First Nation. She hails mainly from Simcoe in Norfolk County, but currently resides on Six Nations territory.

Daniel Smith

Manager, Events & Office Operations

Growing up in Toronto, Daniel became enamoured with Sport at a very young age and pursued his passion by studying Sport Management at Brock University. After working in Sport Administration roles for the University of Toronto and the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, Daniel was appointed to the Host Organizing Committees for the 2016 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships and the Toronto 2017 North American Indigenous Games. In September 2018, Daniel joined the ISWO family full time as the Manager, Events & Office Operations, a role which he believes will allow him to continue sharing his passion and love of Sport & Recreation with Indigenous Youth across Ontario and the rest of Turtle Island.

Carlyn Johnston

Manager of Standing Bear and Regional Development

Carlyn Johnston is a member of Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. Carlyn is very passionate about sport and recreation, having grown up playing hockey and soccer, and participating and competing in swimming, snowboarding, cross country skiing, canoeing and kayaking. She studied Kinesiology at Western University, has competed as a part of Team Canada, and competed at the World Championships for Marathon Kayaking. As a youth, she’s competed as a swimmer at NAIG in Winnipeg and Denver, and since then has become a coach for the Team Ontario Canoe/Kayak Team for NAIG Regina and Toronto.

She has been able to gain experience and build relationships through her previous role as Southwest Regional Coordinator. Carlyn has witnessed the positive impact that ISWO programs and events have on Indigenous communities, and is happy to be a part of continuing this work for the next seven generations.

Ashley Albert

Senior Communications Officer

Ashley Albert is Bear Clan from Oneida Nation of the Thames and Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. Ashley and her two children live in Chippewas of the Thames First Nation with their three dogs. Ashley’s children play multiple sports and that keeps them busy all year round.

Ashley has a graduate certificate in public relations and corporate communications, a Bachelor of Arts degree with major in First Nation studies and a minor in political science, and a law clerk diploma.

Since graduating in 2017, Ashley has worked in several coordinator positions including as a communications coordinator for Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

Ashley is excited to combine her love for sports and wellness with her skills as a communications professional.

Regional Coordinators

Carmen Jones

South West Regional Coordinator

Carmen Jones is a member of Chippewas of the Nawash First Nation. Carmen is very passionate about sport and recreation, having grown up playing hockey, fastball, baseball, badminton, golf, and volleyball.  Carmen has competed in both the Junior and Masters divisions for the North American Indigenous games.   He has studied Police Foundations, Law and Security and Professional Golf Course Management.

Carmen has been able to gain experience and build relationships through his previous role as the Chippewas of Nawash Community Activator Program in Neyaashiinigmiing Ontario for the past 11 years. Carmen has witnessed the positive impact that recreation based programs like ISWO programs and events, have had on Indigenous communities.  He is happy to be a part of continuing this work to build healthy communities in the years to come.

Hannah Leaf

Southeast Regional Coordinator

Hannah is a proud Mohawk woman from Akwesasne, raising four daughters, and leading a healthy active life as a mom, coach and athlete. She is currently working towards completing her certification as a Competitive Box Lacrosse Coach, and coaches and plays lacrosse at many different levels. Hannah is also the Head Coach for the U19 Women’s Aboriginal Team Ontario for the upcoming NAIG. She looks forward to leading and promoting positive sport and recreation programs with Indigenous youth, families and communities within her region.

Hannah is a proud Mohawk woman from Akwesasne, raising four daughters, and leading a healthy active life as a mom, coach and athlete. She is currently working towards completing her certification as a Competitive Box Lacrosse Coach, and coaches and plays lacrosse at many different levels. Hannah is also the Head Coach for the U19 Women’s Aboriginal Team Ontario for the upcoming NAIG. She looks forward to leading and promoting positive sport and recreation programs with Indigenous youth, families and communities within her region.

Josh Carpenter

Central Regional Coordinator

Joshua Carpenter was born in Peterborough, Ontario. His mother is a Seneca women from Six Nations of the Grand River and his father is an Anishinabe man from Curve Lake. Joshua currently lives about an hour east of Sudbury, Ontario. Joshua has been involved in sports and mental wellness programming his entire life.

Joshua was a member of five high school city basketball championships and four NOSSA basketball championships at Lasalle Secondary in Sudbury, Ontario; he also played basketball at Acadia University, located in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Helping Indigenous youth improve their skills in basketball has been a passion of Joshua’s for the last 10 years.  He applies this same passion for sport and wellness in his position as the North East Regional Coordinator.

Justin Sackaney

Northeast Regional Coordinator

Justin’s lineage is mainly from 3 communities on the James Bay Coast, namely Attawapiskat, Kashechewan and Fort Albany.  He calls Fort Albany home.  Justin relocated to Fort Albany in 2006 after completing his first University degree in Psychology.  Upon experiencing a busy active life outside of school while growing up in Timmins, he noticed a gap in programming at Fort Albany’s gymnasium during the evenings. Justin developed a basketball program and spent numerous hours in the evenings playing sports with Fort Albany’s young people for 12 years. This experience helped him develop skills for fostering youth leadership, and saw first-hand the benefits of what sport can do for one’s development.

Justin has participated in numerous ISWO sporting events, first as a youth and then as an adult, playing basketball.  Recently he has been involved in sharing the joys of participating in sport events as a coach/mentor, with the community of Fort Albany.

Justin is excited to connect with other communities in the Northeast region who are looking for ways to engage youth.

Bailey Meawasige

North-central Regional Coordinator

Bailey Meawasige is a member of Fort William First Nation. She is a graduate of the Police Foundations Program at Sault College and did her first year at Confederation College. She achieved a GPA of 3.8 in both years of Police Foundations and has recently been accepted into Lakehead University where she would like to complete a Degree in Psychology. Bailey is a Team Ontario alumni who played in two National Aboriginal Hockey Championships and has been apart of the Team Ontario Coaching Staff for the last two seasons. Bailey’s career goals are to continue to work closely with communities and eventually work in the Police force.

Gary Lynch

North West Regional Coordinator

Gary Lynch is a teacher and guidance counselor with a wide range of experience both coaching and playing sports. A former CIS Academic All-Canadian with Lakehead University’s Men’s Varsity Wrestling team, Gary has transitioned to coaching wrestling at Beaver Brae Secondary School and was selected to coach Team Ontario at the 2020 North American Indigenous Games. Gary has explored many different sports including hockey, soccer, Muay Thai, mixed martial arts, and Olympic weightlifting among others. He loves introducing young people to new sports and realizes that it is in the exploration of different experiences whether through sport, art or culture that a young person has their identity revealed to themselves.

Standing Bear Team

Danielle Johnson

Standing Bear Youth Leadership Program Development Coordinator

Danielle Johnson is a proud Haudenosaunee woman, belonging to the Oneida Nation, Wolf Clan from Six Nations. Danielle is a graduate of Geographic Information Systems, with an Honour’s in Office Administration. Danielle has more than 15 years of experience working within the education system at the elementary and high school levels, both in the classroom and as an office administrator. She also spent years advocating for Indigenous clients with the Canadian Paraplegic Association, now Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, as the Peer Support Coordinator. 

Danielle has dedicated over 40 years to the Six Nations Skating Club as a skating member, and as a coach for figure skating and power skating. As a mother of six children, Danielle found herself volunteering for a variety of minor sports over the years. Recently, she developed an interest in health and wellness, and became passionate about supporting peers with their healthy lifestyle changes. 

Danielle combined her extensive skills, with her passion for Indigenous youth, and joined ISWO as the new Program Development Coordinator for the Standing Bear Indigenous Youth Leadership Program, where she will continue to devote her time to advocating for the health and wellness of our Indigenous youth.

Hillary McGregor

Standing Bear Youth Leadership Program Coordinator

Hillary McGregor is a Anishnaabe youth from Whitefish River First Nation. Hillary received an Advanced Diploma in Sport Management from Humber College in 2017 and has continued his studies in Anishnaabemowin and Program Development at Georgian College.

Hillary is a youth leadership coordinator for the Standing Bear Indigenous Youth Leadership Program at Indigenous Sport & Wellness Ontario. Through his work, Hillary was a youth lead in consulting just over 500 Indigenous youth from across North America on leadership, mental health, sport, and wellness.

Hillary is passionate about sport for development and the positive impact of sport and recreation on Indigenous youth. Further, Hillary prides himself on being an advocate for Indigenous youth in Ontario.

Blue Hill

Community Engagement Coordinator, Standing Bear Youth Leadership Program

Blue Hill is a proud Haudenosaunee man, belonging to the Tuscarora Nation, Beaver Clan, born in Lewiston New York. Blue was raised in both Niagara Falls and Fort Erie. Blue is a provider and family man to his wife and three children.

Blue has been involved with sports and working with Indigenous youth for over 10 years. His passion for sports stems from his childhood, being raised and involved with sports, specifically hockey and lacrosse.

As a youth, Blue competed at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in lacrosse, securing two gold medals. He continued to work toward a competitive lacrosse career and was part of the 2011 Men’s Iroquois National Team, earning a silver medal in Prague, Czech Republic.

Blue is currently living a healthy active lifestyle, while also working toward establishing his competitive coaching credentials.  He wants to further develop and apply his knowledge and skills in support of growing the game of lacrosse and working with youth.

Blue is thrilled to join the ISWO family and to apply his passion and commitment to empower youth through his position as the Standing Bear Engagement Coordinator.