Student Bios

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Lirio Arcila Visbal

Growing up in Colombia and witnessing a great deal of social injustice and inequality, I always felt attracted to Political Science as a way to understand the roots of the unstable governments of South America. Therefore, I am doing a major in Political Science and a minor in Law and Society. My goal is to acquire the knowledge and intellectual tools to participate in a project that converts idealistic thoughts into realities for South Americans. A project that other idealist such as Antanas Mockus and Enrique Penalosa has embarked on, proving that change can be really achieved and things can be better. A part of this project is to understand the indigenous struggle and to support them in their claims is of vital importance.

Umair Chaudhary

I am a second year undergrad student at Concordia University. My major is in Religion and I am also doing a minor in Law and Society. My background is in Law Society and Justice Studies. I took this Indian Act class because of my minor and I have learnt a lot about how the Indian Act does more harm than good for the Indigenous peoples of Canada. The group projects during the course of the term have helped individual thoughts to come together and form wonderful ideas and understanding of the wants and needs of the Native people of Canada.

Nazanin Keramudin

I am originally from Afghanistan but I was raised in Russia since things were not good in my hometown. We moved to Moscow, Russia in 1992 and 5 years later moved to Canada as my parents wanted to start a new life by giving us better opportunities. I am currently an undergraduate student with a Major in Political Science and Minor in Law and Society. My research interest is International Relations. I would also love to pursue my studies in design.

Emma Kreuger

I grew up in the small, northern community of Baker Lake, Nunavut and moved to Montréal to attend Concordia University. I am currently completing my second year of study at Concordia. I would like to finish with an undergraduate degree majoring in First Peoples Studies. Part of the program is this course regarding the Indian Act. Understanding the Indian Act is important to understanding the complex and unique situations that face First Peoples of Canada since the very beginnings of colonization up to the present. Through this course I am gaining a broader awareness and better comprehension of what it is, how it has changed and adapted over time and why it continues to exist today. Eventually, I would like to return to the territory of Nunavut and though the Indian Act does not have authority there, many of the issues are still quite relevant. Through the wiki assignment I had the opportunity to look closer at land claims agreements and how they relate to Indian Act legislation.

Yves-Albert Mutuyimana

I was born in a small country called Rwanda, on the East-Central Africa. My family and I moved to Canada 15 years ago, and it’s been an interesting life ever since. I’m currently finishing a B.A in Political Science, with a minor in Law and Society. I first studied Communication and Cinema, but was drawn more towards social and political issues around the world, mostly due to my own background, and the enormous challenges we are facing, especially where I come from.

Historically, First Nations and Africans share a horrific and injust past designed by imperialist ambitions of European states. We only differ from the fact that African nations regained full independence, while Aboriginal people are still struggling to define their status and claim to lands that once belonged to them. The social and psychological strain of the colonial era is still visible; for First Nations, it’s the aftermath of such detrimental institutions as residential schools among others; and in Africa, it’s evident through our political, social and economic hardship. Despite the past, I believe that progress is in reach, and change starts within. As a global community with progressive minds, we can definitely redirect the world for the better.

Liza Myers

I am a third year student at Concordia University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Honours Political Science, with a minor in Law and Society. I came to Montreal in 2009 to study from my home province of Nova Scotia. I wanted to increase my knowledge on the situation of Canadian Aboriginals as I feel it is crucial for anyone studying politics in Canada to have at least an understanding of the important legislation which relates to our countries First Peoples and their way of life. Canadians need to be aware of all of Canada’s founders, not just the ones that are glorified in history books.

Sehrish Nasser

My name is Sehrish Nasser. I am a Concordia University student doing a Major in Child Studies and I have a medical background. I was raised in Montréal my entire life but I found that as students we were never taught enough on Aboriginal and First Nations in schools. We always got the basic and minimal information and moved on. I was given the opportunity to take this course, and I am very pleased that I did so because it has improved my knowledge greatly.

Habibah Nazari

I am originally from Afghanistan but was raised in India. I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree with a Major in Political Science and a Minor in Law and Society. My general areas of interest are international relations and human rights. My greatest wish is to become a part of the United Nations and to continue pursuing great improvements in the domain of human rights. More specifically, I want to help people in third world countries.

Thomasina Iahontsi:io Phillips

Thomasina Iahontsi:io Phillips is an undergraduate honors student in the Political Science faculty at Concordia University in Montreal. She has a passion for creativity and is constantly beginning (and trying to find time to finish) various artistic projects. She also has a rich family life. As recent as October 2011, she and her husband had the honor of living with and caring for her late grandmother, Ruby, to whom she remains eternally grateful for teaching her about the importance of warmth and humor through hardship, and generosity toward others.

Originating from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, her interest in Canadian/Indigenous relations was piqued by several events involving the people of her community. She feels a personal responsibility to become educated on her community history and the policies that have affected it. She hopes to contribute to the ongoing nation-building efforts underway throughout Indian country. Before beginning full-time studies, she gained knowledge of local and national indigenous issues through working as a broadcaster and talk show host at CKRK Radio in Kahnawake (103.7FM), interviewing indigenous figures such as Phil Fontaine and Ward Churchill. Prior to that, she took advantage of internship opportunities within the education system on reserve. By acting as a role model advocating higher education and commitment to family and community, she hopes to help in restoring balance and peace within her community. Most recently, her interest in the political processes has led her to an internship within the political services department of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, which has expanded her knowledge on the governance structures within Kahnawake.

Ariane Remy Quevedo

I am majoring in History and minoring in Law and Society and am currently finishing my second year of University. My objectives for this class were to gain knowledge at first and throughout the course I have come to realize that, as a student minoring in law, the defence of aboriginal rights is a field that is interesting more than ever as there are still many changes needed at the level of government. On another note, I have also observed that the legal field pertaining to Indian affairs has not been explored and studied into depth, creating in these manner tremendous opportunities for any legal student desiring to broaden their professional avenues. The topic of my choosing for the wiki blog landed on the “Land claim agreements” topic because I believe that territorial claims represent still to this day, one of the most important debates in the discussions of the Indian Act critics. It is my wish to see in the near future the aboriginal community regaining its well deserved titles and to grow into becoming a distinct self-governing entity separate from the rest of the Canadian population.

Marco Raimondo

I’ve had the privilege to live in several different areas of North America, including Ontario, British Colombia, and Indiana between 2005 and 2010. Living through different experiences and being exposed to several cultures has helped me construct a fairly diverse opinion of our past, present and future. This past year I’ve landed a job with Infosite Technologies in the Sales & Marketing department. I’m mainly exposed to transportation, HVAC, plumbing and electrical companies all over North America and soon South America. My English Literature background has prepared me with the ability to read and evaluate the prospective companies or competition proficiently.

Sean Ryer

I major in Political science with a minor in Law and Society. The primary areas of research that interest me are civil law and human rights. After I graduate I plan continuing on to law school with a focus on criminal law. In the long run I would like to use my knowledge of the law and my passion for debate to defend racial minorities and minority groups on the provincial and federal level.

I registered for this class in an effort to better understand the aboriginal lifestyle and the hardships faced by the native culture and the historical management of their land. By examining the RCAP, the Oka crisis and land management act I plan on familiarizing myself with how aboriginal land has been divided and what protects it. Furthermore, by researching events such as the Oka Crisis I will be able to better understand the injustices faced by native peoples in regards to their land management.

Lily Tandel

I have a bachelor degree in Women Studies at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University. I am currently doing a second bachelor’s degree at Concordia University in First Peoples Studies at the School of Community and Public Affairs. At the same time, I am doing a Masters degree at Université de Sherbrooke in Les médiations interculturelles. I am greatly involved in the issues pertaining to First Peoples in Canada, especially in regards to Native women. I would love to do research that would combine my studies in anti-colonial feminism and Native feminism with research pertaining to Native women’s health. I find that looking at the Indian Act allows me to more completely understand the interlocking factors of Canadian law and the low health rates of Native women.

Amanda Testani

I am currently a third year student at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. I am majoring in Community, Public Affairs, and Policy Studies (SCPA), and I am also completing a minor in Law and Society. I am very interested in human rights, law, culture, and history. I have a very strong connection with my Italian culture and I am very interested in people’s connection with their roots and culture. I am currently considering the option of attending law school in order to become an immigration lawyer or a human rights lawyer.

Maria Zaplatina

Only ten years ago I knew little about native people, but as time went by I was lucky to meet a few great Mohawk people who kindly allowed me the opportunity to learn about their culture by welcoming me into their families and homes. The more I knew about their traditional ways, the more attracted I became to their way of viewing the world around us where spirituality and understanding of the universe and person’s connection to it are key. So, in a way, my journey to knowing about indigenous peoples started from “within the core”. I even had a chance to attend a number of incredible ceremonies and sweat lodges. Naturally, the more I learnt about native people, the more I wanted to know about their historical background. Luckily the opportunity of combining my personal interest with the academic one presented itself in the form of FPST 301, and I did not fail to take advantage of it; it allowed me to place my existing knowledge in a cultural context and get some understanding of the politics surrounding the “white-vs.-native” relationship in Canada.

Victoria Watson

I am a third year student at Concordia University. I am currently working on a BA in Community, Public Affairs, and Policy Studies with a minor in First Peoples Studies. My research interests include: aboriginal rights and self- governance, and the political mitigation of minority rights in Canada. I look forward to learning more about how Aboriginal lands are managed both by the government and the variety of Aboriginal communities that exist today. Ideally, I hope a time will come in the political context of Canada when the management of Aboriginal lands can be mitigated peacefully with an element of self-governance.

After I finish my degree I am planning to pursue law, where my goal is to apply my understanding of the Indian Act and the legacy of aboriginal-non-aboriginal relations, as well as my degree in policy studies, in efforts to spark a change in how governmental policies are made and aboriginal rights law is practiced in Canada.