You are now in the main content area

Indigenous Role Model Session 2023

April 12, 2023
11:00 AM EDT - 4:30 PM EDT
Open To
Session 1 for Indigenous students only; Session 2 for all community members
TMU community members in conversation in the Aboriginal Student Centre at TMU

The Indigenous Role Model event led by TMU Aboriginal Student Services provides an opportunity for community members to learn from and engage with an Indigenous leader. The Role Model shares their story and insight into their lived experience, chosen field and professional journey. 

The 2023 Indigenous Role Model is Riley Yesno (she/her), a queer Anishinaabe writer, researcher, and public speaker. At the event, Riley will lead a discussion on Indigenous Futurism – How Indigenous Youth are Forging the Future. 

She will share more about her journey from growing up in Northern Ontario to now — including what she has learned from her successes, failures, and the bright future she sees for Indigenous youth.

Community members will have the opportunity to engage with Riley and gain insight into her lived experience and professional journey, providing participants with a space to strive for success to reach their own educational and career goals.

Session #1: Indigenous Role Model Talking Circle (Indigenous students only)

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

The first session is a closed circle for First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Canadian Indigenous students (or those who identify by nation or community) at TMU. 

If you do not identify as an Indigenous student, we invite you to join us at session #2 which is open to the entire TMU community.

Session #2: Open to all TMU students, faculty and staff

3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

In the second session, all TMU community members are welcome to learn from and engage with the Role Model.

Riley Yesno

Riley Yesno (she/her) is a queer Anishinaabe writer, researcher, and public speaker from Eabametoong First Nation. She grew up primarily in Thunder Bay, ON and currently calls Toronto, ON, and St. John’s, NL, home. 

Riley is highly sought after for her words and analysis. Called a 'rising powerhouse' by the Toronto Star, she has been a contributor and commentator for some of the largest media outlets in Canada and the world, including the New York Times, BBC World News, The Globe and Mail and CBC National News. 

She has also travelled the globe speaking at internationally renowned institutions and events, including the UN climate negotiations, the Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality, TEDx stages, and many others. 

Her major project right now is to finish her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, where she studies Indigenous/Canadian politics and is a Vanier Scholar.

From the rez to the United Nations, Riley Yesno has spent almost a decade in some of the most influential places across the globe learning and trying to make a mark in Indigenous advocacy. In her presentation, Riley will discuss her journey from growing up in Northern Ontario to now — including what she has learned from her successes, failures, and the bright future she sees for Indigenous youth.

About Aboriginal Student Services

Aboriginal Student Services provides a culturally supportive environment to promote academic excellence and serves as a place to balance academic learning with traditional teachings and culture.

Our role is to provide specialized services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples on campus and to develop a mutually productive relationship between TMU and the Indigenous community.

About the Indigenous Role Model Event

As far back as 2013, Aboriginal Student Services has hosted the Indigenous Role Model Event. The Role Model serves as an opportunity to speak with Indigenous Leaders in their respective fields, as well as provide insight into their chosen occupation. Previous Role Models include Dr. Kathy Absolon-King (2015); Dr. Pamela Palmater (2016); Artist Jackie Traverse (2017); Dr. Raven Sinclair (2017); Leanne Simpson (2018), Justice Leonard Mandamin (2019) and Dr. Janet Smylie (2021), all of whom have engaged with our students, faculty and staff to discuss their professional journey, as well as the obstacles they faced along the way, and how that factors in with their Indigeneity.


If you have any questions about the Indigenous Role Model event, please contact Brian Norton at