First Peoples Group prides itself on providing consultant teams customized to match client needs. Starting with the firm's core team of consultants, we build the right team for each mandate by drawing on the large network of subject-matter experts that we have developed through our many years of successful collaborations. These experts include educators, sociologists, economists and health care professionals.
Core Team of Consultants
President and Senior Partner
Founding Partner and President of the First Peoples Group, Guy Freedman is an entrepreneurial leader and talented facilitator with diversified experience in the development, implementation, management and operation of projects, services and programs.
Guy is a fifth generation Michif (Métis) from Flin Flon, Manitoba. He is closely connected to the community and is dedicated to the revival, renaissance and resurgence of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures through the arts, media and business. In addition to his duties at FPG, he continues to run Nation Media & Design Ltd., an award winning full-service new media agency that he created in 2001. Nation’s portfolio includes the premiere web site that tells the story of the Indian Residential School legacy (www.wherearethechildren.ca
), creative designs for Library and Archives Canada, the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation and for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Guy is a former underground miner with R.F. Fry and Associates (Pacific) and Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. and was a provincial and federal public servant for almost 20 years. From 1982 to 1985 he was the Special Assistant to the Minister of Northern Affairs and Business Development in the Province of Manitoba. In Ottawa, Guy headed up the federal government’s Aboriginal Career Development Initiative and as the Senior Program Officer for Health Canada’s Aboriginal Head Start program, he was instrumental in designing and implementing this hallmark government early education initiative for Aboriginal children.
In 2006, Guy created a unique, innovative and comprehensive Aboriginal Awareness program designed to transfer the impressive and proud history of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. First Peoples Group’s sessions also focus on repairing and renewing the relationship between Canada and the First Peoples. (learn more
From 2011 to 2012, Guy served as the Senior Advisor (Reconciliation) for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. In his role at the TRC Guy assisted in developing the conversation around reconciliation with Canadians.
Guy is also a trainer, keynote speaker and writer. He focuses on such topics as identity, self-esteem, culture, wellness, career and using one’s gift to the best of their ability. His first book of poetry, Little Athapapuskow, A Métis Love Story, is soon to be published.
Vice-President & Senior Partner
FPG’s VP & Senior Partner, Fiona Blondin-Fiorini, has extensive experience in government and business management systems and organizations. A Dené from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Fiona served for two years as the Senior Political Advisor with the Department of Canadian Heritage in the Minister’s office in Ottawa. She was appointed Director of Public Relations in 2000 for an Aboriginal owned business situated on the Six Nations reserve; OI Employee Leasing had gross revenues of $30 million and employed over 1000 individuals nationally.
In 2002, Fiona founded and operates The Blondin Group, a consulting company whose area of expertise is in developing and implementing government and corporate strategies in relation to Aboriginal peoples. Under contract in 2004 for the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation as the Director of Corporate Development, Blondin oversaw a yearly $8 million dollars fundraising strategy for programs delivered by the organization.
Mrs. Blondin-Fiorini is presently on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Trillium Foundation and previously served on the Board of the Empire Club (Toronto), Anishnawbe Health (Toronto) and the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre.
Bob Watts – Vice President and Partner
(Government and Corporate Relations)
Robert (Bob) Watts is an independent consultant and trainer, expert in Aboriginal policy, negotiations and conflict resolution. He recently completed his duties as CEO of the Assembly of First Nations and before that as the Interim Executive Director of the Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which will examine and make recommendations regarding the Indian Residential School era and its legacy. Bob led the process, supported by an excellent team and many organizations from across Canada and internationally, to create the policies and processes in order to firmly establish the Commission. Bob also served as the Chief of Staff to the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine, where he was a member of the team that negotiated the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class action settlement in Canada’s history.
A former Assistant Deputy Minister for the Government of Canada, Bob is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Fellow at the Harvard Law School where he researched and lectured on the role culture plays in conflict. Bob has had the benefit of excellent Indigenous mentorship and western learning which allows him to work well in both worlds. Some of his Indigenous learning has focused on medicine plants, traditional songs, traditional environmental knowledge and leadership. Bob has led the negotiations of co-management agreements, helped build strong corporate partnerships and has lead processes focused on strategic plans and community development.
Bob is a senior associate with the Consensus Building Institute, Cambridge MA and has worked as a practitioner and trainer in both negotiations and conflict resolution. He is also a governor of the Ridgewood Foundation for Community Based Conflict Resolution, and is a Fellow at the European Institute for Community Based Conflict Resolution. He has taught, debated and lectured at a number of universities in Canada and the United States.
Bob is married, has three wonderful daughters and four grandsons. He is from the Mohawk and Ojibway Nations and resides at Six Nations Reserve, Ontario.
Partner & Vice President, Western Canada
A non-status Indian of Saulteaux (Fairford Band, Manitoba) and African American descent, David is an independent consultant with a Diploma of Social Work (Honours) from Mount Royal College in Calgary. Formerly a contract manager for Health Canada's Aboriginal Head Start program, his experience includes initiatives in health, social services, management, policy development and community engagement. David has worked with both urban and First Nations social services programs.
David has 25 years experience facilitating complex government contracts and public relations/stakeholder relations with Aboriginal communities across Canada. His current consulting activities include meeting facilitation, team development, cross cultural understanding between northern First Nations and Métis Settlements and the oil and gas industry and as Research Coordinator for Aboriginal people’s health initiatives at the University of Calgary. He established the Aboriginal Homeless Outreach program in Calgary at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary. Largely due to David’s strong commitment to urban Aboriginal people, Calgary is the first city in Canada to develop a plan aimed at ending homelessness in 10 years.
For 6 years, David served as a Director on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) Board. The AHF was responsible for distributing funding to First Nations, Metis and Inuit Communities for Residential School Healing.
David is a longstanding board member with the Circle for Aboriginal Relations, an Alberta based networking society serving community and industry through building positive relationships for economic development.
Partner & Senior Education Consultant
Appointed as the Chair of Métis Research at the University of Ottawa in 2010, Brenda Macdougall has worked with a number of Metis communities documenting their cultural history through the stories of families. She began her academic career in the Department of Native Studies at the University of Saskatchewan in1999 while completing her doctorate. She has extensive research background in archival documents and has worked closely with Metis elders and teachers to learn about traditional historical knowledge. This dual approach to Metis history has informed her approach to teaching and so has worked to create courses that are based on a Metis perspective as informed by our worldview, history, experiences, and interpretation of the world around us.
Brenda grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and is a Scottish Half-breed (Metis) whose paternal family history stretches back to the founding of Fort Edmonton and eventually to the parishes of St. Clements and St. Charles in Red River. Deeply committed to the Metis community, she has approached her education and training as a platform to pursue scholarship that not only reflects our understanding of the world but also informs Canadians about Metis culture and society beyond the banks of the Red and Assinaboine Rivers.
She is the author of several articles and her first book, One of the Family: Metis Culture in Nineteenth-Century Northwestern Saskatchewan, was published in 2010 by the University of British Columbia Press. Recognized as one of the foremost scholars on the Metis, she is invited to speak at community, government, industry, and academic events, sits on a number of national and provincial committees, and oversees a number of significant research grants.
In her role at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Macdougall has been engaging in Ontario-based Metis historical and community research and is continuing previous research associated with Great Plains-based Metis societies.
Lynne Toupin is an experienced professional who has worked in the public, nonprofit and cooperative sectors in Canada. In the last twenty years, she has led and managed a number of national non-profit organizations, successfully engaging boards of directors, staff teams and other stakeholders to work strategically and collaboratively toward clearly defined results.
Lynne started her career as an educator in Manitoba, working as a school teacher, principal, curriculum consultant for the Department of Education and as Special Assistant to the Minister of Education.
She was Executive Director of the National Anti-Poverty Organization for five years, working with low income Canadians to bring changes to social and economic policies at the federal level. She went on to become CEO of the Canadian Co-operative Association, bringing together credit unions and co-operatives to raise awareness about the co-operative model and to support the development of new cooperatives both domestically and internationally.
For the last nine years, Lynne helped create and then became the founding Executive Director of the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector, bringing together key stakeholders such as educators, governments, employers and unions to work collaboratively to address human resource and labour force issues in the sector.
Between 1996 and 1998, she served on the Federal Government Task Force on the Future of Canadian Financial Services (MacKay Task Force) as well as acting as the Consultations Manager for the Panel on Governance and Accountability in the Voluntary Sector (Broadbent Panel). She also co-chaired the Accord Joint Table, which led to a written agreement for a new relationship between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector, as part of the Voluntary Sector Initiative in 2002.
She currently serves as a member of the Advisory Committee to Imagine Canada and as a member of the Advisory Committee to the Institute of Nonprofit Studies at Mount Royal University.
Lynne holds an M.Ed from l’Université de Montreal, a B.A. from the University of Winnipeg and a teaching certificate from the University of Manitoba. She is fluently bilingual in both official languages.
Lynne currently resides in Chelsea, Quebec.
Our Senior Advisors
First Peoples Group was fortunate to have two well-known advisors to call upon from time to time. Our writer emeritus and Senior Advisor from the Métis community is the renowned author and teacher, Maria Campbell
and until his passing on May 17, 2013 our First Nations Senior Advisor was Elijah Harper
Elijah will be deeply missed by those who had the chance to spend time with him. He was truly loved by all and First Peoples Group is crushed by this great loss.
Maria Campbell is a writer, playwright, and teacher. She started her career in 1973 when she published her first book, Half-breed. That book has become a literary classic and continues to be one of the most widely taught texts in Canadian literature. Professor Campbell has also written four children's books. Her most recent book, Stories of The Road Allowance People, translates oral stories into print and is being re-published.
Maria Campbell's first professional play, Flight, was the first all-Aboriginal theatre production in Canada. Flight brought modern dance, storytelling, and drama together with traditional Aboriginal practices. Professor Campbell went on to write and direct other plays, some of which toured Canada and abroad. In 1984, she co-founded a film and video production company with her brother and daughter. With this company, Campbell produced and directed seven documentaries and produced with CTV Canada’s first weekly Aboriginal television series entitled 'My Partners, My People.'
Professor Campbell has received numerous awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Gabriel Dumont Order of Merit, the Chalmers Award for best new play, and a national Dora Mavore Award for playwriting. She has been inducted into the Saskatchewan Theatre Hall of Fame and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.
Maria Campbell has recently retired from the University of Saskatchewan where she taught native studies, creative writing and drama. She is currently the Elder in Residence at the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research, Athabasca University. She holds four honorary doctorate degrees and has served as writer and playwright in residence at numerous universities, public libraries, and theatres. On October 2, 2012, Maria Campbell was named as the Trudeau Foundation Visiting Fellow for 2012–2013 by the University of Ottawa.
She has worked as a volunteer with women and children in crisis for over forty years and is co-founder of a halfway house for women in Edmonton as well as an emergency crisis centre for women and children Until recently, Maria Campbell's home was a safe house for youth. She is a mom, grandma and great-grandma.
Elijah Harper was born on March 3, 1949 at Red Sucker Lake in northeastern Manitoba, the son of Allan B. and Ethel Harper. He passed away in Ottawa on May 17, 2013 at the age of 64 from complications with diabetes. Elijah was educated at residential schools in Norway House, Brandon and Birtle, Manitoba. He attended secondary school at Garden Hill and Winnipeg; in 1971 and 1972, he studied at the University of Manitoba. Later, he worked as a community development worker, supervisor for the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood, and program analyst for the Manitoba Department of Northern Affairs.
In 1978, at the age of 29, he was elected chief of the Red Sucker Lake Indian Band (now Red Sucker Lake First Nation). In 1981, he was elected as Member of Legislative Assembly for the Rupertsland constituency, a position he held for the next 11 years. In 1986, he was appointed to cabinet as Minister Without Portfolio Responsible for Native Affairs, and in 1987, as Minister of Northern Affairs.
In 1990 while sitting as opposition member in the Manitoba Legislature, he blocked the Canadian constitutional amendment known as the Meech Lake Accord. He cited the lack of adequate participation and recognition of Aboriginal people in that process. Later that year, he won the Stanley Knowles Humanitarian Award – the same presented to Nelson Mandela of South Africa. The Canadian Press also voted him as the Newsmaker of the Year in Canada for 1990.
Also in 1990, the Red Sucker Lake First Nation bestowed him the title of Honourary Chief for Life. In the same year, he received the commemorative medal of Canada from the Governor General as a result of his dedication and work in public service.
He resigned from the Legislative Assembly (Manitoba) in 1992, and in 1993, was elected as Member of Parliament for the Churchill constituency in northern Manitoba, one of the largest electoral districts in Canada.
His international work has taken him to Great Britain, the International Court of Justice at The Hague, the European Parliament in France, South Africa, South America (Brazil and Chile), and numerous places in the United States. In 1992, he attended meetings on Reconciliation in both Australia and New Zealand. He continues to be a strong advocate for indigenous and human rights.
In December 1995, Mr. Harper called for a Sacred Assembly for promoting Aboriginal justice through spiritual reconciliation and healing between non- and Aboriginal peoples. As a result of the Sacred Assembly, the Canadian government, through the Governor General, declared June 21st as National Aboriginal Day to recognize Aboriginal people in Canada.
He was awarded the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 1996, and the Order of Merit from St. Paul’s University in May 1998 (Canadian Institute of Conflict Resolution). Other awards include the Order of the Sash from the Manitoba Metis Federation, and the Gold Eagle Award, an outstanding citizen recognition from the Indigenous Women’s Collective in Manitoba.
He is now an activist, promoting human and Aboriginal rights, a registered lobbyist/consultant/advisor to Aboriginal organizations, a public speaker, and involved in charitable work with World Vision in Tanzania, Kenya and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Our Resource Network
Sometimes we realize that we can’t do it all. When we can’t, we reach out to our extensive network of friends and professionals who can help us meet any mandate we are given.
FPG has unprecedented access to nation-wide networks of experts in our three business lines. Our strong connection to our communities allows us to maximize our resources by building on our relationships to meet specific client needs and mandate requirements.