Ashley Safar, Executive Director
Ashley is Haudenosaunee, wolf clan and traditionally from Tyendinaga, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte on her mother’s side and Hungarian on her father’s side. Ashley moved to Peterborough six years ago and comes to the Friendship Centre from Fleming College. Ashley has experience working within a Friendship Centre setting and was a former staff, and board of director with the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre. She holds the Friendship Centre close to her heart, as it was the place where she had an opportunity to learn more about her own cultural identity.
Morghann Frost, Administrative Assistant
Hi! My name is Morghann Frost, and I am a member of Curve Lake First Nation and am of Irish descent on my mother’s side. I am a graduate of Fleming College where I took the Office Administration program. I have worked various jobs over the years but came to the Friendship Centre from a healthcare office where I worked as clerical support for a cardiologist. I am born and raised in Peterborough which has given me the passion to see our Urban Indigenous community prosper and flourish. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Nogo team and am looking forward to learning more about our indigenous culture and community.
Alexandria Maracle, Healthy Kids/ Digital Communications Assistant
Alexandria is Mohawk from the Tyendinaga territory. She spent three years at Mohawk College where she studied Journalism and participated in a 245-hour field placement for a nonprofit organization. Previously our Administrative/Digital Communications Assistant, Alexandria has gained extensive knowledge of Friendship Centre’s and our community. She has worked in numerous customer service positions and now resides in Peterborough. She is excited to work directly with community members with the knowledge and experience she has gained both educationally and professionally.
The Healthy Kids program is dedicated to providing families with access to healthy food and nutrition programs as well as sports and recreation programs that will benefit and provide children and youth with fun and positive activities that will enhance their lives in an active and healthy way.
Samantha Wakeling, Urban Indigenous HomewardBound Navigator
Samantha is a mom of two young girls who keep her on her toes. Passionate about the importance of Housing First, Harm Reduction, and ending stigma on marginalized communities, Samantha has worked at various locations in and around Nogojiwanong/Peterborough and Durham in the Housing sector. She is passionate about meeting a person where they are and working with them to guarantee success in their goals. After working as a Personal Support Worker providing home care for 5+ years, kindness, patience, and understanding are her key personality traits.
Samantha graduated from Fleming College in 2020 with her Social Service Worker, Mental Health and Addiction Worker, and Indigenous Perspectives Designation. She recognizes the importance of family and culture throughout an individual’s life journey and is excited to provide a trauma-informed approach to assisting moms at achieving their personal and professional goals while promoting culture, family, and personal healing.
Kimberly Lamothe, Cultural Resource Coordinator
Kim is of mixed blood, Anishinaabe/Metis, from northwestern Ontario, Longlac #58. She is a proud mother and grandmother. She grew up with her grandparents and being raised by her grandmother, a residential school survivor, much healing has taken place to understand and overcome the intergenerational impacts of residential school.
She has been educated, formally and informally, and holds an Honours BA from Trent University, B.Ed from Nipissing University along with many other diplomas and certificates. Kim brings over 40 years of experience working with and for First Nation communities. She looks forward to this new journey within the Nogojiwanong Friendship Center.
Diane Sheridan, Aboriginal Prenatal Nutrition Worker
Diane is an Anishnawbe Kwe, mother of two and Nookamis to two beautiful grandchildren. She is a member of Hiawatha First Nation. Diane has had several roles over the course of her career but most were spent working with First Nation students, special needs students and student success programs in the Simcoe County Board of Education. She has also worked in the Aboriginal community as an Aboriginal Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Worker, Duty to Consult Consultation Worker and Acting Assistant Manager. Diane brings to our Centre great resources, networking connections and ongoing enrichment of her culture and the traditions.
Helen Casmey, Aboriginal Family Support Worker
Helen graduated as a Child and Youth Worker from Humber College in 1979 and has dedicated her career to supporting the social, emotional and mental health needs of children and their families. She has worked for the past twenty-two years as Health Promotion Coordinator, Families First Worker and Preschool Consultant with Kinark Child and Family Services. This has provided her with a well-rounded understanding of needs and barriers to raising young children as well as a clear understanding of available community supports and resources. Helen is passionate about meeting the grassroots needs of families and firmly believes that “all children do well if they can”. She is excited about learning and incorporating spiritual and good life teachings into programs and workshops for young children and their families.
Cynthia Gray, HR/Program Manager
Cynthia is an Anishnaabe Kwe from Hiawatha First Nation. Through her experience, both professional and educational, she has gained valuable knowledge and experience working with the Aboriginal Community in the delivery of programs and services that enhance the overall well-being of individuals and families. She has experience in assessing client needs, supporting the achievement of their goals, and providing programs that support and enhance the holistic well-being of individuals. During her career, she has gained skills in case management, supportive counseling, and care plan development and she completed an Aboriginal Community Development Certificate with OFIFC.
Sarah Edwards, Wasa-Nabin Program Worker
Sarah is an Anishinaabe Kwe from Hiawatha First Nation and a proud mother of two wonderful girls. In April 2017, she graduated from the Social Service Worker program at Fleming College and accepted a short-term contract with the Centre, assisting both the Akwe:go and Wasa-Nabin programs. In October 2017, she was appointed full-time to the Wasa-Nabin program. Sarah has a passion for working with youth, supporting them to (re)connect with their culture and gain a better sense of self and belonging. Through her work with the Wasa-Nabin program, she strives to enhance the inherent gifts that all youth have, to guide them towards better decision-making and living a healthier lifestyle.
Melinda Taylor, Life Long Care Worker
Melinda is an Anishnaabe Kwe from Curve Lake First Nation. She came to the Friendship Centre from Curve Lake First Nation where she enjoyed working as the Community Health Representative. She has more than 17 years’ experience and has obtained a Native Community Care Diploma offered by Mohawk College. She has a very keen passion for healthy living and has personally taken steps in her life to create healthy personal change. She enjoys sharing her knowledge through workshop presentation and skills training and her passion and dedication towards clients and community shine through in her work.
Nikki Ward, Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound Coordinator
Nikki was born and raised in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong and is passionate about working with vulnerable populations within the community. Nikki has worked in the social service field for almost 13 years working in the provincial jail system, the Violence Against Women sector, and more recently with homeless and at-risk youth. She has extensive experience with counseling, case management, advocacy, and referrals and brings a lot of knowledge of community resources.
Ron Zinck, Addictions and Mental Health Program Worker
Ron is a Life Style Counsellor and mental health professional with a resume that attests to long employment and volunteer career in the mental health field providing direct services to individuals and families. He is also experienced and passionate about addressing addictions and anti-poverty issues. He has worked across Canada, with diverse communities, including Aboriginal people and their communities. His certificate in Life Style Counseling and his thesis project was focused on Life Style Counseling as a treatment for those in recovery from addictions. Ron states that although he is not of Aboriginal ancestry, he has a deep respect for Aboriginal culture and has an understanding of the historical trauma that Aboriginal people have endured. He looks forward to working within our community and supporting our members to achieve their healthy lifestyle goals.
Nikita Corbiere, Mental Health and Well-Being Worker
Nikita Corbiere is a graduate of Fleming College in the dual pathway program of mental health and addictions as well as a social service worker. Her studies at Fleming educated her in the areas of addiction and trauma. She also obtained the Indigenous Perspective Designation Certificate. Nikita believes that addiction and trauma almost always go hand in hand, having an impact on an individual’s mental well-being. She has a strong passion for supporting individuals along their healing journey, walking beside them on their paths to recovery.
Nikita was raised by her Grandmother in M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island, in a combined traditional and Christian household. She was raised with strong family values, living off the land, and taught the importance of self-perseverance. These lessons have enabled her to be supportive as well as an understanding of people’s decisions and life choices. This ties into her firm belief and approach to working with people where they are at, and not dictating to them where they should be. She is excited to be a part of the Friendship Centre team.
Dawson Leblanc-Peltier, Healthy Living Worker
Photo coming soon…
Dawson is Anishinaabe from Sagamok and Wikwemikong first nations. He comes here with a background in Pre-health sciences and Fitness and health promotion. Previously Dawson was working with youth at a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation Centre creating indigenous programming. He is excited to bring his education and past work experience to the healthy living program along with many years of highly skilled sports experience. He enjoys biking, playing hockey, and any socially active activities
MaryJane Boyle, Indigenous Court Worker
My name is MaryJane, my Indigenous name is N’gaamaa Migizi Kwe (Singing Eagle Woman). I am from the Marten Clan with roots to the Bear Clan. My (Step)father was a member of Alderville FN. I am a MA of Sustainability candidate at Trent University where my research is centered around exploring the relationship between participating in Ceremony and criminalized behaviours among Indigenous youth aged 15-25 years, I have a degree in Criminology, Psychology, and Indigenous Environmental Sciences & Studies. I also earned a diploma in Police Foundations and have previously been a civilian volunteer for several police services. I understand that to know a community is to work within that community, I look forward to taking on the role of Indigenous Court Worker and working with Nogojiwanong and surrounding Indigenous community members.
Em Feltham Day, Gender Diverse Indigenous Mentor
Em is Two-Spirit, of mixed Anishinaabe and European ancestry. They are of the bear clan with ties to Serpent River First Nation. They grew up and lived in Toronto until relocating to Peterborough two years ago. Em has a background in the arts as well as customer service and peer support work. Em is passionate about supporting Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ youth through developing and sustaining safe and supportive spaces. They believe that connection to culture can (and should) be an affirming experience regardless of gender and/or sexuality. In their spare time Em likes to bead, paint, and take their dog on walks by the river.
Vacant, Early Years Cultural Resource Coordinator
Vacant, Indigenous Early Years Coordinator
Matthew Olsen, Apatisiwin Employment and Training Counsellor
My name is Matthew Olsen and I am of Polish, Irish and Norwegian descent. I have worked for the urban Indigenous community of Nogojiwanong since 2013 through positions held at our Friendship Centre and at Nijjkiwendidaa Anishnaabekwewag Services Circle. Both are wonderful organizations that strive to provide services for the community and opportunities for positive change, personal growth, and aim to enhance the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of individuals and families. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be a helper for the community and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to do so as the Apatisiwin Employment and Training Counsellor. I look forward to meeting you, working with you, and helping you to achieve your goals!
Wendell Froman, Kizhaay Anishnaabe Niin
Wendell Froman, born at Six Nations of Grand River is Oneida (Brown Bear Clan). Wendell danced, competed, and traveled throughout North America on the powwow trail as a Northern Traditional dancer, and with numerous cultural caravans and dance troupes showcasing Iroquois social dances, regalia, languages, history, and traditions.
A stone-carver, craftsman/artisan, woodsman, cook, herbalist, farmer, ritualist/ceremonialist- among other things, Wendell is a proud single father of two and now, Grandfather to five. He has a deep and well-rooted respect for women, the elderly, treaties, truth, and spirituality. He has been a member of the Nogojiwanong community for 25 years, is a former Native Studies Instructor at Trent U, and is also a Masters’ Degree Candidate in Environmental Studies (York U).
As the Kizhaay Anishnaabe Niin Program coordinator, Wendell works within the Nogojiwanong community to promote an end to violence within families by showing a better way through Indigenous knowledge, culture, and traditional teachings.
Cydney Habraken, Akwe:go
Hi, my name is Cydney Habraken. My family is originally from St. Georges Newfoundland, which is Mi’kmaq territory. I have lived all over Ontario, as I come from a military family. I started my educational career as a volunteer in elementary schools all through high school, this quickly turned into a passion for teaching and education. I completed my bachelor’s degree with Honors at Trent University in History and English with an emphasis in teaching. Then I went on to complete my Master of Education at Trent University as well. I have worked in schools, both English and French. I have also worked with kids with disabilities in schools and a daycare. My passion is education and learning. I am so grateful and excited to be working at the Friendship Centre. It gives me an opportunity to learn with the children and explore my culture on a deeper level. I have lots of exciting events and cultural activities planned for Akwego, and I am excited for the years ahead!
Janice McCue, Wiisinadaa
Janice is an Anishinaabe Kwe from Curve Lake First Nation and is a proud mother and Gran.
Janice holds a diploma in Diabetes Prevention, as well as a certified Community Food Educator, and has also catered many events. Her work experience includes Curve Lake First Nation as a Community Health Representative, Peterborough Public Health as a Community Worker, and at Nourish as the Community Engagement Facilitator.
Janice has many years teaching food skills to youth and adults of all ages and looks forward to cooking with the Nogojiwanong community as the Wiisinadaa Program Worker.
Amber Rose, Community Wellness
Amber graduated from the Protection, Security, and Investigation program at Durham College in 2017 but after graduation decided she wanted to change her career path. In 2018 she went back to school and completed the Mental Health and Addictions Program at Canadore College in 2020. She came to us from Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre giving her a large understanding and appreciation for the Indigenous culture.
Christopher Tam, Housing Case Coordinator
Christopher moved to Peterborough four years ago and is a recent graduate of the Social Service Worker & Mental Health and addictions worker program at Fleming College. During his time at Fleming, he spent his free time volunteering in the Indigenous student services department and was part of the peer mentorship program. He was elected by the students to serve on the Student administrative council from 2021-2022. During the start of the covid-19 pandemic, he spent time volunteering at One Roof community center, where he learned about the support systems for community members. Chris is dedicated to working with the Indigenous population here in Peterborough to provide support to those looking for housing supports.
Jeremy Brink, Housing Assistant
Jeremy Brink brings multiple years of experience working with individuals and groups from marginalized communities stretching across Ontario. Jeremy is a graduate with honors, of the Social Service Worker Program with an Indigenous Perspective from Fleming College in 2018. Jeremy has called Peterborough home, for the last 19yrs, helping raise a teenage daughter, and a teenage son. Social Justice is very important to Jeremy, so in 2020, he spent time as the co-chair of the Community Race Relations of Peterborough (CRRC).
In Jeremy’s free time, he volunteers as an assistant coach for the Peterborough Wolverines Football Program and has spent over a decade singing baritone for the Peterborough Singers. Jeremy brings passion and lived experience to his new role, and is looking forward to the journey ahead.
Adrienne Robertson, Youth Cultural Resource Coordinator
Aaniin, Adrienne n’dishnicaas, Wshkiigaamong n’donjiba. Wabizeshii n’dodem. Anishinaabe kwe n’dow. Greetings, my name is Adrienne, and I am a proud Anishnaabe kwe and a member of Curve Lake First Nation. I am from the Marten Clan. I was raised in my community and was taught early in my life the importance of family, community, and the traditional/cultural ways of being and doing. Culture and the traditional ways of my people have always been an important aspect of my life. I was taught that there are many teachings and there is no wrong or right way in those teachings. I taught that we are waking up those ways of being by relearning and incorporating it in all aspects of my life. My teachings come from listening to the stories of the Elder Knowledge Keepers from my community and our responsibilities of looking after each other. A teaching that I received is that learning is not a one-time journey, and we are always on that path of learning. I have three diplomas in Art and Design, Personal Support Worker, and Mental Health and Addictions with Indigenous Perspectives Designation. My learning journey will also encompass learning from you as well which to this I look forward to.
Meghan Nash, Alternative Secondary School Program- Waawiye Kinoomaagzijig (Circle of Learning)
Meghan Nash (nee Pickard) was born and raised in the Peterborough area. Working with children has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember- even when she was a child herself. Meghan completed her Honors Bachelor of Child and Youth Care at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in 2016. After graduating, she began working for the Peel District School Board. In 2021 she and her husband and moved back to the Peterborough area where she opened a private practice, counseling children, youth & families. While doing that part-time, she is also currently completing her Masters of Science in Child and Youth Care through the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.
She has over 10 years of experience working with children, youth, and their families and is a certified member of the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care and a passionate Indigenous ally.
Kanda Rodgers, Gladue Aftercare Worker
She:kon sewakwe:kon, Kanda yonkyats. I am Wolf Clan, a Kanyenkehaka member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. I have mixed Mohawk and European ancestry. I am a sister and aunty. I grew up on the reserve and was raised by my grandmother who continues to gift me teachings.
I have a degree in Political Science from York University and a Social Service Worker diploma from Fleming College. In the past, I have worked with Indigenous healing lodges, and shelters and even completed a placement through Indigenous Peoples Court. I hope to continue to use the gifts that were gifted to me through my lived experience to support the community.
Kay Bergeron, BookKeeper
Kay graduated from the Law Clerk program at Fleming College in 2011 but decided she wanted a different career path. In 2015 she went back to school and graduated with a diploma in Accounting from Fleming College in 2018. She comes to the Friendship Centre from Business Management Services where she was a bookkeeper.
Sarah MacLeod-Beaver, Indigenous Languages Revitalization Program Coordinator
Sarah is Anishinaabe and a member of Alderville First Nation. Currently, she resides in Lakefield with her partner and their two children. Sarah grew up learning Anishinaabemowin in school as a second language.
She continued her learning as an adult by participating in language immersion programs, mentorship with fluent speakers, and countless hours of independent study. Sarah is a certified teacher and has taught the Native as a Second Language program in various elementary and secondary schools. She also facilitates community-based language programs in urban settings as well as First Nation communities. Sarah is looking forward to the opportunity to help others learn to speak an indigenous language and contribute to a growing community of speakers.