Elders in Residence

The Office of Indigenous Initiatives offers an Elders-in-Residence Program to Western staff and faculty members upon request. Indigenous Elders bring vitally missing Indigenous ways of knowing, languages, and cultural practices into the university learning and work context. This program enables Western staff and faculty members to request Indigenous Elders services on an as-needed basis. Elders are available to meet one-on-one, to offer cultural advice and consultation, sit on committees, and conduct openings/closings at conferences and events. The Office of Indigenous Initiatives will request cost recovery from faculties and units for Elders services when appropriate.

Myrna Kicknosway

Myrna KicknoswayBoozhoo, Aanii, Shekon, Greetings. My name is Myrna Kicknosway and I am from Walpole Island, Bkejwanong Territory. I have served as a Visiting Elder with Western University’s Indigenous Student Centre and Indigenous Postsecondary Education Council for more than 10 years. My life journey and personal healing offer me with an ever-expanding appreciation of Indigenous knowledges, traditions, and our capacity as human beings to grow and transform. I am available to meet one on one with individuals and work within groups to share Indigenous knowledge and teachings.


Dan Smoke

dan smoke and mary louDan Smoke is a member of the Seneca Nation. He is active in many areas of community life as a traditional knowledge carrier, community activist, and cultural teacher. Dan carries diverse teachings from many Indigenous Nations, which he shares to educate those who are willing to learn and listen.

Dan has also served as a Cultural Counsellor and Visiting Elder with a number of colleges, universities, and agencies throughout Ontario, and as an Adjunct Professor at Western.

He has supported the development of cultural competency and ceremonial protocols to staff and faculty members, and has worked with public school boards over the past 14 years in many different capacities most notably working with youth. It is through Dan’s generous spirit, that he inspires everyone to believe in an inclusive community where new knowledge and understanding leads to healing, harmony and peaceful co-existence. 

Mary Lou Smoke

Mary Lou Smoke is a member of the Ojibway Nation. She is a gifted writer, singer, guitarist and traditional drummer who generously shares her talents with her community. An exceptional individual, Mary Lou has worked tirelessly for many years in the City of London to bridge racial divides. She is committed to sharing Indigenous knowledge, histories, and culture to overcome barriers that lead to misunderstandings and cultural divides.

Mary Lou is a positive role model within both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and has served as a Cultural Counsellor and Visiting Elder for a number of colleges, universities, and organizational service providers. She has also served as an Elder for local public school boards and helped develop cultural competency and ceremonial protocols that foster awareness and understanding across students, staff and administration.