February 13 & 14, 2024

UCN Campus & TRCC, Thompson, Manitoba

Presented by:
University College of the North and Mining Association of Manitoba




Linkages: Honouring the Past, Building our Future is focused on initiating creative, critical thinking and collaborative conversations about the potential future of Northern Manitoba.

With a focus on innovation, people and partnership and language and culture, Linkages will discuss not only the challenges but opportunities and applications within each. Showcasing the strengths of Northern Manitoba and how we can thrive.

This Linkages Conference will begin to foster these conversations to create connections, relationships a opportunities with the intention of building and sustainable and long-lasting community.



Mike Holmes

Mike Holmes has been a trusted contractor to fans and viewers for over 20 years. Throughout his career, his no-nonsense approach and make-it-right attitude have struck a chord with television audiences and industry leaders worldwide. He has changed how people think about their homes and the building industry for good.

With over 15 record-breaking, award-winning series and specials under his belt, Mike Holmes continues to educate his viewers. Mike joins forces with the next generation of Holmes’, his contractor son Mike Jr. and daughter Sherry, in the hit series Holmes: Next Generation on DIY Network. In Holmes and Holmes and Holmes 911, the family affair continues as Mike returns to his roots, rescuing homeowners from shoddy contractor jobs or DIY projects.

Fan favourite episodes from his top-rated series Holmes Makes It Right,’ and Holmes and Holmes have been “retooled” in the series Holmes Makes it Right: Retooled and Holmes and Holmes: Retooled airing on DIY Network. Mike takes a deeper dive into construction issues, offering viewers more valuable information and never-before-seen footage.

Holmes Family Effect, on CTV and FOX, is inspired by people making a difference in their communities. The Holmes family surprises these deserving people and organizations in each episode.

Mike’s latest series, Holmes Family Rescue, is airing on HGTV US, Discovery+ and Max. The family affair continues as Mike returns to his roots, rescuing homeowners from shoddy contractor jobs or DIY projects. With the huge success of season one, season two is airing now on HGTV US, with more new episodes coming in 2024.

Mike is currently in production on the brand-new series for Blue Ant Media with his son, Michael Jr. and daughter, Sherry; Holmes on Homes: Building a Legacy will air on Cottage Life and the free streaming channel HomefulTV in 2024.

If that doesn’t keep Mike busy enough, he still finds time to educate homeowners through his social media channels, partnerships, National Post column, and Holmes on Homes podcast, and his total social media following has over 1 million followers!

Ken Coates

Ken Coates is a rare public commentator who brings deep understanding of past and present realities together with compelling ideas about Canada’s future. His passionate and highly engaging talks have captivated diverse audiences across the country, from college administrators and economic development officers to Aboriginal entrepreneurs and community activists.

Ken is Canada’s Research Chair in Regional Innovation and brings his experience in East Asia and around the Circumpolar world to bear on his understanding of Canada’s strengths and weaknesses. Ken combines irreverence, insight and a sense of humour in his conversations about the issues that matter most to Canadians.

JR LaRose

JR LaRose is a retired nine-year veteran of the CFL and a 2011 Grey Cup champion. A proud member of One Arrow First Nation, he is an accomplished speaker who has been recognized and awarded for contributions to his community.

JR’s path to success has been a long and hard fought journey that began in low income housing in Edmonton’s inner city. JR’s upbringing was significantly impacted by his Mother’s exposure to abuse suffered during her time at a residential school. JR overcame an environment of poverty, drugs, and abuse.

The sport of football was the opportunity that JR longed for. His passion for football as a youth would turn out to be his profession as a young man. Now retired from football, JR is a gifted speaker, whose story of redemption is universal, breaking down racial and generational walls, bringing forth a sense of hope and humanity.

The Honourable Renée Cable 

Renée Cable was elected as the MLA for Southdale in 2023. She is a proud Métis mom who is passionate about building stronger, healthier communities.

Prior to becoming an MLA, Cable’s background was in management, HR, advocacy and public policy including working in various staff roles in the Manitoba legislature. She has also served on several child-care, community centre and non-profit boards. Cable holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and diplomas in human resource management and management, all from the University of Winnipeg.

Cable grew up in Brandon and now lives in Windsor Park in the Southdale constituency with her family.

Ron Castel

Ron Castel is a community focused workforce development specialist. He has over 20 years of experience working in Indigenous career development, with a focus on skilled trades training. Ron supported Manitoba Building Trades for over 5 years as an Indigenous Labour Relations officer at major northern projects. He is currently MBT’s Director of Indigenous Relations, where he manages the organizations Indigenous workforce development programs and facilitates knowledge sharing between First Nation communities and Building Trade unions.

Gord Dumas

Gord Dumas is a member of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN), in unceded Treaty 5 Territory in Northern Manitoba, and is currently Executive Director for the NCN Lands, Environment and Resources Department, responsible for management and supervision for all NCN Lands & Resource related based programs with a primary focus in the development and implementation of Land Use and Resource management Planning for the NCN Resource Management Area, including Land Code implementation for IR170.

Gord retired from Manitoba Hydro in January 2018 as a Senior Field Supervisor for the Waterways Management Program, Indigenous Relations Division based out of Thompson Manitoba, previous to that, Gord was a Conservation Officer with Province of MB for 20 plus years, with various posting throughout MB.

Gord is interested in bridging traditional knowledge and western science in the protection and management of the LAND and RESOURCES for future generations.

Jamie Dumont

Jamie Dumont is Owner and Principal Consultant with Chadwick Consulting Ltd, with over 13 years of
senior central government experience with the Province of Manitoba, specializing in Indigenous and
northern economic development. Growing up in the historic Métis community of St. Laurent, Manitoba,
and a proud member of the Red River Métis Nation, she is experienced in the development of policy and
legislation, and the negotiation of a variety of agreements. Jamie is also a skilled workshop designer and facilitator, with experience in strategic planning, community engagement, Diversity & Inclusion and Accessibility Strategies, and Indigenous community and employee engagement processes. Jamie sits on
the board of directors of the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce and served as Chair of the Board of
Directors of the Indigenous Chamber of Commerce. In 2022, Jamie was re-elected as Trustee for Ward 1
of the Winnipeg School Division.

Don Duval

Don has spent more than two decades leading, growing, and transforming organizations and businesses, working with multinational companies, tech start-ups, academic/research institutions, governments and clients around the world. As CEO of NORCAT, he has transformed the organization to become a global, multi-faceted enterprise focused on providing programs, services and resources to prepare current and future workers and tech entrepreneurs with the right skills, competencies, and confidence to succeed. In addition, Don is also the founder and co-managing partner of the Sudbury Catalyst Fund, a unique $5M co-investment seed capital venture fund based in Sudbury, Ontario.

Previously, Don served as VP of Strategy/Operations for the MaRS Discovery District, an Investment Director with MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, and as Senior Manager within Deloitte Consulting. He’s an active angel investor and holds a variety of Board positions. 

Laura Finaly

Laura Finlay is the Manager of Partnerships and Economic Development for the Thompson Regional Airport. Laura is a community development officer by trade and has worked her entire 25 plus year career in northern Manitoba managing programs in many sectors such including tourism, environment, housing, daycare development, sport and recreation.

Laura’s heart is in the north as she sees the true beauty and uniqueness is nestled in this region and understand how the north plays a crucial role in advancing and strengthening our province.

Jamie Grant

Jamie joined UCN in April 2022. She previously held Administrative leadership roles in both the Projects and Operations areas of Mining for over 7 years and had the privilege of being part of the project team that was responsible for the construction of the Lalor Mine in Snow Lake. She was also the Executive Director of the Northern Manitoba Sector Council for 3 years focusing on training and workforce development projects for the Mining, Energy and Forestry Sectors.

Born and raised in Flin Flon, MB, Jamie is personally and professionally passionate about the opportunities for the North and the focus on “growing our own” workforce. “Incorporating innovations, technology and creative models of training will provide the opportunity to Northern people to enter and progress into the workforce at all levels”.

Stacy Kennedy

As the first female president in MAMI’s history, Stacy Kennedy is proud to be a part of a positive shift in the mining industry, where there is now a growing commitment to diversity, inclusion and respect for Indigenous communities.

Stacy first came to Manitoba to work as a Professional Geologist, mainly focused on finding metals as opposed to understanding the extraction of them. Once she became a part of the mining industry about 16 years ago, she realized there was no going back.

She continued to progress through numerous Geology positions, including Chief Mine Geologist of Birchtree and T1 mines. At Vale Manitoba Operations, which she joined in 2007, she has served as Operations Superintendent, Mine Manager and Interim General Manager, Manager of Health, Safety and Operational Risk and her current role as Head of Manitoba Operations.

She remains involved with Engineers and Geoscientists Manitoba and serves on the Community Wellness & Public Safety Advisory Council for the City of Thompson and the Diversity and Inclusion Council for Vale.

Pam Marsden

Pam is a member of the Navajo Nation (Dine’) of New Mexico and Swan Lake First Nation, MB Treaty 1, her clans are Bit’ah’nii (Folded Arms People), born for Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water).
Currently, Pam holds the position of Indigenous Liaison Officer with Hudbay Minerals; where she engages with First Nations and Métis communities by sharing information on employment, culture, and economic development opportunities within the mining sector. Pam also is involved with several Mining Boards and Committees where she shares her mineral sector expertise.

In 2022, Hudbay Minerals achieved Silver Level status under the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business (CCAB) Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) program for engagement and relationship building with communities of interest.

David McCutcheon

David serves as the Executive Director of Apprenticeship Manitoba and Vice Chair of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship. David has a long history of skilled trades advocacy as a former Chair of Construction Trades and a trades instructor for many years. David is passionate about apprenticeship and is always looking for opportunities to promote and discuss skilled trades and apprenticeship with all who are interested. David will be speaking on some of the challenges facing the apprenticeship system as a whole, some recent statistics related to apprenticeship and opportunities for the future.

The Honourable Jamie Moses

Jamie Moses was first elected as the MLA for St. Vital in 2019. He served as the official opposition critic for advanced education and training. As an MLA, he passed legislation to recognize Emancipation Day in Manitoba and to establish anti-racism training for provincial employees.

Moses is a tireless advocate for safer sports and is passionate about helping young people reach their full potential. Moses and his wife are long-time residents of St. Vital and are raising their two children in the neighbourhood they love.

Dr. Ramona Neckoway

Dr. Ramona Neckoway serves as the Associate Vice-President, Indigenous Initiatives & Reconciliation at University College of the North and is based out of the Thompson Campus. Prior to her new role, Ramona served was an Associate Professor and served as the Chair of the Aboriginal and Northern Studies program. She is a member of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and has been involved with a number of community-based research projects including language and language revitalization research.

Tanya Palson

Tanya Palson is the Executive Director of Manitoba Building Trades, the provincial council representing 13 affiliated skilled trade unions. Formerly the Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Workforce Development at Manitoba Building Trades, she believes in promoting community development through union labour, and is committed to the organizations’ focus on increasing diverse representation in the skilled construction trades. Tanya brings with her a background in Public Policy, Indigenous Community Development, and Business Communcations.

Donelda Parenteau

A proud Métis woman born in The Pas and raised in Thompson to a Métis dad and a Scottish/English mom. Growing up and working in the north provides us northerns with the chance to participate in more opportunities than we might if we lived in a more urban centre. My career has provided me an opportunity to work in education, health and now in the mining industry with Vale. Each opportunity has provided me with benefits to learn and grow and appreciate the unique challenges of living in the north. I have had several roles at Vale with my current role being Indigenous and Community Relations specialist.

Michael Raess

Michael Raess is a professional biologist with 16 years of relevant experience as a biologist, an environmental specialist and environmental manager. Currently, Michael Raess, is the Environmental and Community Relations Manager for Alamos Gold Inc. in Lynn Lake, Manitoba. Responsible for fostering connections with 13 Indigenous Nations, including Marcel Colomb First Nation, his role centers on navigating the complexities of the Lynn Lake Gold Project (LLGP). As a Professional Biologist, Michael ensures environmental integrity and compliance across LLGP’s exploration, development, and pre-construction phases. Michael acquired his diverse experience in part through his consulting background, previously working as a biologist in various infrastructure, mining, and oil and gas projects throughout Canada.

Dana Rudy

Dana Rudy is the Deputy Minister of Manitoba Economic Development, Investment, Trade and Natural Resources. The department is responsible for developing a skilled and diverse workforce, driving economic growth, as well as protecting and maintaining Manitoba’s natural resources.

Dana previously served as Deputy Minister, Education and Early Childhood Learning since 2020. Since joining the public service in 2005, Dana has held several senior leadership roles across the Government of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. Before that, she worked at the University of Manitoba.

Dana holds a Masters of Social Work (Policy, Evaluation and Administration stream), and a Masters Certificate in Project Management. Dana is committed to delivering high quality services, supporting the development and well-being of communities, and advancing diversity, inclusion, and Reconciliation.

Ajmal Sataar

As Founder & CEO of Small Economy Works & The Inspire Program, Ajmal has spent the past 8 years working on education and economic development initiatives in Nunavut, NWT, Yukon and Nunavik. Ajmal currently sits on the federal Social Innovation Advisory Council and was also the former co-Chair of Canada’s Social Innovation & Social Finance task force, which lead to the $755M Social Finance Fund. He has been involved with starting social enterprises that have supported arctic food in-security, at-risk youth, marginalized immigrant women, individuals with mental illness, high school students, homeless people and the recycling of cigarette butts.

Mayor Colleen Smook

A resident of Thompson for over 50 years, Mayor Colleen Smook is in her second term as Mayor of Thompson after winning re-election in 2022. Her election in 2018 made her Thompson’s first female mayor, and prior to that she served as a City of Thompson councillor for four years.
Mayor Smook and her husband Nick have seven children, four of whom still live in Thompson, and more than double that many grandchildren.

In addition to serving as Mayor of Thompson, Colleen Smook is also a member of the Communities Economic Development Fund board and was recently named to Premier Wab Kinew’s Business and Jobs Council, which held its inaugural meeting in the first week of February.
She and her husband own McCreedy Campground in Thompson and Mayor Smook was previously involved in the construction industry and also owned apartment buildings in the city in the 1990s.

Dana Tizya-Tramm

After devoting six and a half years of service to the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and Gwich’in Nation, with four of those years as Chief, Dana has now chosen to pursue change outside of political office. His work has been transformative, leading to significant advancements in land protections and sustainable development from a self-governing First Nations perspective. His efforts have not only benefited Northern communities but have also set a precedent for other nations to follow. His leadership skills were recognized on an international level when he was named a TIME 100 Next rising leader and Clean 50 Emerging Leader.

Leaving office has now afforded Dana to pursue specific files and projects he is passionate about. As a consultant, Indigenous Partnerships & Strategy Lead with Small Economy Works and Chair of the First Nation School Board, Dana can focus his energy, now informed by an international perspective in a time where all people must work together for all future generations, as is our elders’ teachings since time immemorial.

Richard Marc Trudeau

Richard has worked in the mining field for 40 years. He was hired by Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting Company and began his career in underground engineering department in Snow Lake. Richard worked his way up from front line supervisor to Manager of Mines in the Snow Lake and Flin Flon area. During that time he was part of an exciting project that reopened an abandoned mine under a ‘team concept”. This project was hugely successful that led to further involvement in similar development projects in the Flin Flon area and projects in both South Africa and Chile.

Richard is currently Director of Health and Safety, Human Resources and Indigenous & External Affairs for Hudbay Minerals which he has held since 2017. During this time Richard guided the Hudbay team through transitioning the Flin Flon operations to Snow Lake as well as a number of successful union negotiations. 



Tuesday, February 13, 2024

9:00AM – 10:00AM

Registration & Coffee 

10:00AM – 10:30AM

Conference Opening
Emcee – Bruce Krentz
Red Cree Singers – Drum Song
Elder Prayer
Stacy Kennedy – President, Mining Association of Manitoba
Minister Julyda Lagimodiere – Justice, Manitoba Métis Federation
Honourable Renée Cable – Minister Advanced Education and Training,
Province of Manitoba
Mayor Colleen Smook – City of Thompson
Dr. Ramona Neckoway – Associate VP, Indigenous Initiatives &
Reconciliation, University College of the North

10:30AM – 11:00AM

Manitoba Building Trades
Tanya Palson – Executive Director, Manitoba Building Trades
Ron Castel – Director of Indigenous Relations, Manitoba Building Trade

11:00AM – 11:30AM

Mining Association of Manitoba – Opening Presentation
Stacy Kennedy – President, Mining Association of Manitoba
Director of Manitoba Operations, Vale
Richard Trudeau – Vice President, Mining Association of Manitoba
Director of Human Resources, Indigenous & External Affairs,
Hudbay Minerals Inc.

11:30AM – 12:00PM

Minister of Advanced Education and Training & Minister of Economic Development, Investment, Trade and Natural Resources
Honourable Renée Cable – Province of Manitoba
Honourable Jamie Moses – Province of Manitoba

12:00PM – 1:00PM


1:00PM – 1:15PM

NCN Thompson Bus
Jimmy Pelk – Cofounder,
NCN Thompson Bus

1:15PM – 1:45PM

Thompson Regional Airport + Area 55 | Advanced Cold Research Facility
Laura Finlay – Manager of Partnerships & Economic Development, Thompson Regional Airport

1:45PM – 2:45PM

Mining Communities Panel: Community Relations, Challenges and Successes
Moderator: Jamie Grant – Associate VP of Community & Industry
Solutions, UCN

Dana Rudy – Deputy Minister of Manitoba Economic Development,
Investment, Trade and Natural Resources, Province of Manitoba
Pam Marsden – Indigenous Liaison, HudBay
Michael Raess – Environmental & Community Relations Manager,
Alamos Gold
Donelda Parenteau – Indigenous and Community Relations, Vale
Gord Dumas – ED of Lands, Environment & Research Dept, NCN
Mayor Colleen Smook – City of Thompson

2:45PM – 3:15PM


3:15PM – 3:45PM

Empowering Entrepreneurial Leaders in the North: The Inspire Program
Ajmal Sataar – Founder & CEO, Small Economy Works
Dana Tizya-Tramm – Indigenous Partnerships & Strategy Lead, Small Economy Works

3:45PM – 4:15PM

NORCAT in Northern Manitoba
Don Duval – Chief Executive Officer, Norcat

4:15PM – 5:15PM

Rise Above Adversity
JR LaRose – 2011 Grey Cup Champion, Member of One Arrow First Nation

5:15PM – 5:30PM

Daily Closing

5:30PM – 6:30PM

Wine and Cheese

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

8:00AM – 8:45AM

Networking & Breakfast

8:45AM – 9:00AM

Daily Opening
Elder Prayer
Chief Simon Denechezhe – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak

9:00AM – 9:30AM

Apprenticeship Manitoba
Daavid McCutcheon – Executive Director, Apprenticeship Manitoba

9:30AM – 10:00AM

Northern Manitoba and Reconciliation
Dr. Ramona Neckoway – Associate VP of Indigenous Initiatives &
Reconciliation, UCN

10:00AM – 10:30AM


10:30AM – 11:15AM

Creating A 21st Century Economy in Northern Manitoba: How Innovation, Reconciliation and Commitment Can Generate Real Prosperity?
Ken Coates – Chair of Indigenous Governance Program,
Yukon University

11:15AM – 11:45AM

Creating Pipelines to Employment
Jamie Dumont – Owner and Principal Consultant, Chadwick Consulting

11:45AM – 12:45PM

Virtual Keynote:
Making It Right! with Mike Holmes

12:45PM – 1:00PM

Daily Closing

1:00PM – 2:00PM



Best Western Thompson Hotel & Suites
205 Mystery Lake Road
Thompson, MB R8N 1Z8
Phone: 1-204-778-8887

Reservation Deadline:
Friday, January 19, 2024

Group ID:



Registration is now closed.

For information on registration, please contact Kelly Watters at [email protected].


Kelly Watters
Kelly Forgala Events
[email protected]
204 391 4419

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