In addition to the team members listed here, the Medicine Box Project is proud to acknowledge our Indigenous Elders, Plant Medicine Knowledge Keepers, and Indigenous community partners for their support.
Casey Caines is a Cree and Slavey mother of two from Fort Nelson First Nation currently residing in Sexsmith, Alberta. A recent alumnus of GPRC she will be heading to the University of Alberta in September 2020 to pursue a law degree. She intends to use her education to fight for restorative justice programs in northern Indigenous communities in order to revitalize traditional modes of justice and reduce recidivism rates amongst Indigenous peoples. Her passion lies with reducing inequalities from grassroots to international and from womb to tomb. Through her community work as the outgoing President of the Circle of Indigenous Students at GPRC, a board member for the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre, a panelist for the Iskwew+ Indigenous Women in Leadership Symposium, a writer and student editor for GPRC’s WISDOM Magazine’s “Indigenization” issue, and as a member of the IMPACT advisory committee she is thankful to work towards SDG #3 and #10 - the inspiration for the "Medicine Box Project".
Justine Vanderkaa is an ally born and raised in Grande Prairie Alberta. As a professional artist, she co-owns, manages and tattoos out of Black Dahlia Tattoo with her business partner Tara Lessoway. You may also recognize her work around the city as she often develops logos for local organizations, such as Seva Yoga, #Hugasister, and our very own Medicine Box Project. In addition to revamping the logo, Justine is a team member of #Hugasister, which is a local movement to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2S+ folks by creating social connection, taking mental health action, and raising awareness. Justine is passionate about utilizing social media to create community and connections, fostering lifestyles of sustainability and environmentalist attitudes, and raising awareness around the need for inter-sectional feminism and allyship. She is honored to be a part of the Medicine Box Project and excited to see it grow.
My name is Andrea Deleeuw. I am a Metis-Cree mom of two, residing just outside of Grande Prairie, AB in Treaty 8 Territory. I am originally from Fort Vermilion, AB and I have lived in the Grande Prairie area since 2005. Currently, I am a 4th year BSW student with the University of Calgary and finishing my practicum virtually as a research assistant within the UofC's Department of Social Work. While I appreciate everything that western education has taught me, I hold the cultural education my community has provided me in the highest regard, and I take my responsibility to these teachings very seriously. In December 2019, for a school project on anti-oppression theory, I created a website called T8GP.com. It is described as an "Indigenous-led online community intended to educate, promote local initiatives, and welcome people into the circle". This website is part of my ongoing commitment to amplify Indigenous perspectives in the Treaty 8 region. I am excited to be part of the Medicine Box Project and I look forward to teaching + learning alongside folx of all backgrounds through this initiative.
Jackie Benning was born and raised in Grande Prairie. She learned from her parents the importance of being active in your local community and giving back. She is a teacher with Peace Wapiti School Division and has worked as the Indigenous Liasion and School Counsellor at Clairmont Community School. She holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology from Athabasca University. Jackie is married to Joel LeFebvre and they have two young daughters. In 2014, Jackie cofounded Hugasister with Delaine Lambert-English. Hugasister began as a social media platform to spread awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls with the hope that awareness would lead to support and change. Hugasister encourages social connection and mental health action as a means of violence prevention. Jackie is honoured to be a part of the Medicine Box Project as it is an amazing opportunity for the community to, reclaim knowledge and grow together.
Brigitte Benning is a Metis woman born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta - traditional territory and homeland to the Cree, Beaver, Dene and Metis in Treaty 8. Currently, she is the Indigenous Education Coordinator for Peace Wapiti Public School Division. In this role, she is able to collaborate with folks across the division to create spaces where Indigenous students can thrive, all students can learn, and educators feel confident in their skills. She is also a team member with #Hugasister, which is a local movement to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2S+ folks by creating social connection, taking mental health action, and raising awareness. In 2018, Brigitte received her Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Victoria. For her Thesis, she was honored to return to Grande Prairie Regional College as a Visiting Scholar and work with the On-Campus Friendship Centre to research the role of Indigenous-based support in Post-Secondary Education. Brigitte is grateful to be a part of the Medicine Box Project and is looking forward to the revitalizing, reclaiming and growing to come!