Traditional Knowledge Keepers in Residence program

Project: Traditional Knowledge Keepers in Residence program

Type of opportunity:  Participation - Students, staff or faculty

Project Start and end date: Ongoing

Program description: The Traditional Knowledge Keeper (TKK) in Residence program provides students, faculty and staff with the opportunity to engage with Elders through teachings, workshops, gatherings and ceremonies. All activities are held at the campus Indigenous Hub – a welcoming and supportive space co-designed with input from the Elders.

The goal of the program is to build relationships and provide support through Indigenous knowledge exchange. The work of Elders in the TKK program is meant to enhance existing indigenous programs at the CSM and offer students insight, historical context and an understanding of traditional knowledge. Elders are able to support Indigenous students and are also able to provide guidance to students who are not of Indigenous ancestry.


To learn more about this program and to get involved contact Renee Huntley, Coordinator, Indigenous Health Program, 403-210-5409, abhealth@ucalgary.ca.

Meet the elders

Bettyann Little Wolf is a Blackfoot member of the Piikani First Nation, Brocket, Alberta. She is married to Morris Little Wolf and together they have 11 children. They work very closely together and support one another on various Boards.

Bettyann was employed for over 21 years as a Native Liaison Counselor at F.P. Walshe High School in Fort Macleod, AB. In this role, she organized and facilitated Family Group Conferencing Sessions and “Healing the Child Within” weekly sessions for grades 10-12 students.  

As a Native Liaison Counselor, Bettyann strongly believed in positive role modeling and building positive relationships with the students, staff, and parents. She worked alongside and supported the students, parents, teachers, and other staff members. She gave great respect and dedication to her position, as she continued to keep up with techniques in counseling, exploring strategies to promote personal growth and examine the challenges faced by First Nations families. She practices her customs, traditions, beliefs, and spiritual values and respects all, as she believes Blackfoot Culture is key in fostering a connection to identity. 

Today, Bettyann sits alongside 8 Grandmothers for Alberta’s Minister of Children’s Services and provides cultural support to Lethbridge College. She and Morris also sit on the Assembly of First Nations Elders Council.

Doreen Spence was born in the Cree Nation of Saddle Lake in Northern Alberta. She was one of the first Indigenous women to obtain a Practical Nursing Certificate, leading her to a nursing career that spanned over 40 years. She received an honorary Bachelor of Nursing degree from MRU in 2018. Doreen is now an internationally respected traditional Cree Elder whose teachings have led her around the world. She is a strong advocate for human rights and was invited to sit as a committee member on the working group that developed the draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Today, Doreen has her own traditional healing practice and works with Nursing and Social Work students at MRU and St. Mary’s University where she facilitates talking circles on healthcare from an Indigenous lens.

Edmee is the youngest of 17 children from one of the most important historical families of the Red River Settlement. Her great grandfather was John Bruce (Jean-Baptiste Bruce), the first president of the Métis Provisional Government at the Red River Colony. Louis Riel was his secretary. 

Edmee considers herself blessed to be raised in a traditional Métis family with a strong work ethic and sense of community, spirituality, and belonging. In the early 1900’s, while others were hiding their culture, her father taught them to be proud of their heritage. This is a legacy she carries on today through her generous sharing of her cultural teachings, Michif language and history through various educational outreach programs for youth and families. 

Edmee’s calm, reflective and welcoming spirit urges everyone to forgive and march on, to not hurt anyone and to always help others. Wearing her Métis sash with great pride, she is now a well respected elder and a beloved representative of the Bruce clan of the Red River Colony.

In 2012, Edmee was the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in the community.

Evelyn Good Striker is a Lakota Dakota from Standing Buffalo First Nation in Saskatchewan and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. She grew up experiencing shifting education policies of the federal government; attending Day School, Residential School, and eventually integrating into a public school at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan where she attained a grade 12 education. Evelyn earned a Bachelor of Education Degree and a Master of Education Degree from the University of Lethbridge. She has been in the education profession for many years as a classroom teacher and administrator. Evelyn has enjoyed her long career as an educator and cultural advisor. She loves working with students, parents, educators, and anyone who wants to engage in the excitement of learning.

Morris Little Wolf is a Blackfoot member of the Piikani First Nation that entered into Treaty with the British Crown in 1877. He is married to Bettyann and together they have 11 children. 

Morris is an active member with the Piikani Elders and belongs to the Black Horse and Brave Dog societies. Morris has first-hand witnessed the destruction of Indigenous traditional ways and the challenges that Indigenous youth encounter as a result, both on and off reserve. His workshops on Identity have helped his people identify and express their feelings, while working on strengthening their sense of pride and dignity. 

In 1993, he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s First Nations Policing Program. He was the only First Nation Elder representative in Canada. Morris integrated his Indigenous beliefs into his day-to-day duties. He is still involved in RCMP cross-cultural camps that include sweat lodges and ceremony. He has also been involved in the Alternative Measures Program since 1995. 

Morris has a strong belief in the ongoing work of Elders who promote the traditions, customs, and values of their peoples. Morris is currently one of the RCMP Commanding Officer’s Aboriginal Advisors for the K Division in Alberta. In addition, Morris is a member of the Elders’ Indigenous Bar Advisory Panel with the Federal Court on the rules of procedures related to Elder’s testimony. In addition, Morris sits as a councillor for the Piikani First Nation. He and Bettyann also sit on the Assembly of First Nations Elders Council.