Leah Fontaine

Indigenous Initiatives Educator
Room 310, 65 Dafoe Road


Reporting to the Development and Consultation team lead, Leah is responsible for assisting graduate students and faculty in incorporating Indigenous perspectives within their existing programs and curriculum.


Leah describes herself as tri-cultural – Dakota/Anishinaabe/Metis – with ancestry that is connected to the Sagkeeng and Long Plains First Nations, both located in Manitoba. Leah’s Spirit name is “nagweyaab ikwe, nindizhinikaaz”. Translated from Anishinaabe, it means “Rainbow woman”. These cultural roots have contributed to the philosophical base that assists her with her artistic and educational praxis in teaching and learning. Leah believes that teacher and learner can create an intersection of Indigenous and Western education that encourages respect, relationship building and reconciliation.

As the Indigenous Initiatives Educator, Leah believes that this position plays an integral role in the development of cultural resources and programming for instructors and graduate students around Indigenous education. This leadership role is an important one for it involves the Indigenous knowledges and understandings (epistemologies) of practices and methods to support learning that assist in the full development of a learner’s potential.

Leah’s teaching experiences include being a sessional instructor in the School of Art at the U of M as well as having worked as a community-based art teacher at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Indigenous and non-Indigenous community-based organizations and various educational institutions provincially and nationally. Leah’s skills and abilities have also been valuable at diverse Indigenous educational events across Canada. She is one of the founders of the Urban Shaman Contemporary Art Gallery located in Winnipeg and has been a lecturer in the Wendy Wersch Memorial Lecture Series (2016), sponsored by Mentoring Artist and Women Artist (MAWA), as well as a presenter at the Women’s World 2011 Global Feminist Conference held in Ottawa. Her lecture and presentation were both based on her thesis “Spirit Menders: the expression of trauma in art practice by Manitoba Aboriginal women artists” (2010). Leah has also appeared in various art publications as author and artist and has been recognized as a co-author on the Faculty of Engineering’s research-into-practice paper entitled “Engineering Education Re-interpreted Using the Indigenous Sacred Hoop Framework” (2019).


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