Inherent Right to Indigenous Governance: New Faculty Announced!

Inherent Right to Indigenous Governance is one of Banff Centre’s oldest and foundational programs and is considered central to our suite of Indigenous Leadership courses.

For more than twenty years, the Inherent Right to Indigenous Governance program has benefited from the steady stewardship of Leroy Littlebear, Sakej Youngblood, and in more recent years, with the addition of Jean Teillet. Their guidance, wisdom and knowledge have helped shape the program into the transformational, experiential learning that Banff Centre is proud to offer today, and has inspired so many leaders from across the country to shed the colonial lens and build governance structures bases on Indigenous principles and values.

We acknowledge Leroy, Sakej, and Jean for their leadership and want to thank them for their years of dedication and service to the Indigenous Leadership program. The participants who have shared time with them and who have gained new knowledge and skills are most appreciative of their teachings. At the Centre, their work has influenced how we centre Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.  We are saddened by their decision to retire from the Indigenous Leadership faculty team this year, yet are so excited about the opportunities they are all carrying forward in the world. They have shared with us it is now time to make space for a new cohort of faculty. Moving forward, we will continue to honour their existing vision and shape the program into the future. The legacy of their leadership will be maintained as the new faculty continues to change the conversation and build from Indigenous cultural strengths.

As such we are delighted to announce the new Inherent Right to Indigenous Governance faculty team will be guided by Stoney Nakoda Elder Alice Kaquitts, Lindsay Borrows, Wanda Dalla Costa, and Gina Starblanket.


Alice Kaquitts

Alice Kaquitts is a proud member of the Stoney Nakoda Wesley First Nation. Alice is a respected elder and community leader in the Stoney Nakoda nation and is the daughter of Alice Kaquitts Sr. and Thomas Simeon, and great-granddaughter of renowned Chief Hector Crawler. Alice grew up in a traditional way of life where Nakoda language, culture and protocols were taught and followed. Alice’s formal education includes a diploma from Mount Royal College and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Calgary. Alice has been working within the Stoney Nakoda Nation in senior level positions for over 20 years.  Alice is the former Director and Co-Founder of Nakoda Solutions and the Founder of Okiyabi Consulting, where she has developed teaching models on Traditional Parenting, Community Reconciliation and Cultural Awareness training. Alice also works with the IAP process in translating Nakoda testimonies fort Nakoda Residential School survivors. Alice is a healthy, proud grandmother to 5 beautiful grandchildren and mother to two adult sons, and enjoys passing on her traditional knowledge and teachings to the future generations.

Lindsay Borrows

Lindsay Keegitah Borrows (Chippewas of Nawash First Nation) is a lawyer and researcher at the Indigenous Law Research Unit at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. Previously she was a lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law, where she worked on the RELAW (Revitalizing Indigenous Laws for Land, Air and Water) Project. She supports Indigenous communities to revitalize their traditional laws for application in a contemporary context. She has worked with many legal traditions including Anishinaabe, Haíɫzaqv, Māori, Mi’kmaq, nuučaan̓uł, St’át’imc, Denezhu, and Tsilhqot’in. She has also worked as a legal support team member for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and a researcher for the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Court in Arizona. Each fall Lindsay returns to her home community of Neyaashiinigmiing, Ontario for several weeks to co-teach land-based Anishinaabe law camps to law students, faculty and legal professionals. Being out on the land engaged in hands-on-activities allows participants to make different connections, and balances indoor classroom learning. She is an avid hiker and gardener, and a new hunter. Lindsay is also passionate about story-telling, writing and language revitalization. She recently published a book of creative non-fiction entitled, “Otter’s Journey through Indigenous Language and Law” (UBC Press, 2018). She is a graduate of the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Writing Program (2014), and the Writer’s Studio at SFU (Fiction, 2019). Lindsay received her J.D. from the University of Victoria, and her B.A. from Dartmouth College.

Wanda Dalla Costa

Wanda Dalla Costa, AIA, OAA, AAA, LEED A.P. is a member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, a mom, a practicing architect and a professor. Dalla Costa, was recently named one of the 2019 changemakers by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the YBCA 100, a list which celebrates people, organizations, and movements shifting culture through ideas, their art, and their activism. At Arizona State University, she is the director and founder of the Indigenous Design Collaborative, a community-driven design and construction program, which brings together tribal community members, industry and a multidisciplinary team of ASU students and faculty to co-design and co-develop solutions for tribal communities. Projects range from sustainable housing to urban Indigenous placekeeping. Her teaching and research is focused on Indigenous ways of knowing/being, co-design methodologies, sustainable design, and the resiliency of vernacular architectures. In terms of her practice, Dalla Costa was the first, First Nation women to become an architect in Canada. Her firm, Redquill Architecture ( is based in Phoenix, Arizona. Recent projects include the Indigenous embassy in Ottawa, an Indigenous urban early learning center in Saskatoon and a tribal college in Alberta. Dalla Costa was invited to the Venice Biennale 2018, the world festival in architecture, where she joined 18 Indigenous architects from across Turtle Island, Unceded, sharing an Indigenous vision of the future. Dalla Costa holds a Master of Design Research in City Design from SCI-Arc in Los Angeles, and a Master of Architecture from the University of Calgary.

Gina Starblanket

Gina Starblanket is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary and holds a PhD and MA from the University of Victoria. She is Cree and Saulteaux, was born and raised in Regina, and is a member of the Star Blanket Cree Nation in Treaty 4 territory. Her work focuses on Indigenous politics and Canadian politics and takes up issues surrounding racism and settler colonialism in the prairies, Treaty implementation, Indigenous-state relations, gendered oppression, questions of identity, decolonization, resurgence, and relationality. She has been the principal investigator on a SSHRC Connections grant and an Insight Development Grant, and is committed to undertaking collaborative research that is directed by and stands to benefit Indigenous people. Dr. Starblanket is co-editor of the 5th edition of Visions of the Heart: Issues Involving Indigenous Peoples in Canada (Oxford University Press) and is published in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal and the Canadian Journal of Political Science. She is currently working on two manuscripts: one involving the racialized narratives surrounding the trial of Gerald Stanley, and another on the contemporary politics of treaty implementation in Canada. She also has important work in the 2nd edition of Making Space for Indigenous Feminism (Fernwood Publishing, 2017) and in an edited collection entitled Resurgence and Reconciliation: Indigenous-Settler Relations and Earth Teachings (University of Toronto Press, 2018).