May 10, 2021 — The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) is pleased to announce that, starting today, Gertie Mai Muise is the new, incoming Executive Director.

Ms. Muise is Mi’kmaq from St. George’s Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador. She has significant previous experience working with the OFIFC in a variety of roles. Throughout her career, Ms. Muise has maintained contact working with many Ontario Friendship Centres and advocates the vital importance of the Friendship Centre movement for Urban Indigenous people.

Dr. Sylvia Maracle will continue in her role over the next several months to help with onboarding and transition processes.

“We are delighted and honoured to welcome Gertie Mai back to the OFIFC and know that her experience as a staunch advocate of Urban Indigenous People is in total keeping of the work we do every day,” says Jennifer Dockstader, President, OFIFC.  “These energies, passion and experience will help us continue to build the Friendship Centre movement today and into the future.  Welcome back Gertie Mai.”

Ms. Muise has served in a variety of instrumental health leadership, transformation, and community building roles, with a focus on uprooting systemic Indigenous-specific racism.

“It is an honour and privilege to return to the OFIFC to serve in this leadership capacity during these challenging times,” says Gertie Mai Muise, incoming Executive Director, OFIFC. “I look forward to further championing all forms of Indigenous health and wellness, as well as anti-racist education, across the province of Ontario.”

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Gertie Mai Muise Bio:

Gertie Mai Muise is Mi’kmaq from St. George’s, NL, belonging to the Qalipu Mi’Kmaq First Nation. She is a traditional hand drummer, song carrier and proud Auntie. She worked for 30 years across Ontario and recently within the Atlantic region in Indigenous community health and wellness development and systems transformation.

Gertie Mai began her career at the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) where she served for 13 years in program development, policy, training, employment and project management roles. It was at the OFIFC that she became engaged in the Ontario Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy rollout. Ms. Muise advocated for and Co-Chaired the first non-political, Indigenous Primary Health Care-Ontario Ministry of Health Engagement Table. She chaired the Ontario Health Indigenous Leads Network and the National Committee for Indigenous Health Service Standards development with the Canadian Centre of Accreditation (CCA).

Gertie Mai was instrumental in bringing San’yas Indigenous specific anti-racist education to Ontario and was nationally recognized in 2017 and again in 2019 for this work with a National Community Champion Award. She is also the inaugural winner of the 2020 HMF Article of the Year Award from Sage Publishing and the Canadian College of Health Leaders.

Ms. Muise has expertise in Indigenous population, community-based research and has held senior leadership positions within FNIM governed health service organizations for over a decade. She holds a Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University.

Gertie Mai currently lives in her home territory in St. George’s, Newfoundland with her partner James Butler. They provide national consultancy services relating to FNIM health transformation, uprooting systemic Indigenous specific racism and community building.