Special Event: Incorporating Indigenous Perspectives into Strategic Planning

June 24, 2021
9:00 am - 10:30 am

The St. Louis Higher Education Sustainability Consortium is hosting a workshop on June 24 to begin the conversation around incorporating Indigenous perspectives into strategic planning for universities and colleges. Our speakers include Erika Bailey-Johnson from Bemidji State University and Devon Fernandes from Humber College. Both have worked to incorporate the voices of Indigenous people and other culture backgrounds into the process of strategic planning. Join them in a conversation on the process of meaningfully including multiple perspectives and voices into strategic planning. They will discuss ways they have worked to create a common vision of sustainability, include multiple cultural backgrounds, and authentically connect with all stakeholders in the university community.

Erika Bailey-Johnson started in her current role as the first Sustainability Director at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota, in 2008. She was also appointed the Coordinator of the People and the Environment academic program in 2016. She works in the Ganawendakamigaawigamig (Office of Earth-Caretaking or Sustainability Office). She completed her BA in Biology from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1998 and her Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from BSU in 2006.

Her background is in science teaching, and Erika and her husband taught for two years in Mexico and three years in Kuwait before returning home to Northern Minnesota. In 2014, Erika was named one of the top 40 under 40 business professionals in the region by Prairie Business Magazine, and in 2015 as one of the top 40 under 40 professionals in the Midwest working to accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy by Midwest Energy News. She speaks at regional and national conferences on BSU’s unique sustainability model which includes a wellness component and an emphasis on integrating Indigenous voices. She is a founding member of the City of Bemidji Sustainability Committee. In 2018, Erika became the Director of the Niizhoo-gwayakochigewin project to integrate an Indigenous lens into campus sustainability work and academic programs and the Co-PI of Endazhi-manidoowaadak to work on race relations in her community. Her first book project was recently published and is a bilingual Ojibwe/English children’s book to connect children to the Ojibwe language and Mother Earth. Erika is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe.

Devon Fernandes (he/him) is Sustainability Manager at Humber College in Toronto where he works to start and grow sustainability programs related to the waste we produce, the food we eat, the products Humber buys, and others. Devon also sits on the Humber’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force and advocates for intersectional sustainability as a consideration throughout the institution. Prior to Humber, Devon Co-Founded the Kitchener-Waterloo Library of Things – a space where community members borrow infrequently used items, such as tools and camping equipment, that also provides opportunities for individuals who face barriers to employment to earn a living wage while working in the library.

Devon has a Master’s in Community Psychology and was recognized for his work as one of Canada’s Top 30 under 30 Sustainability Leaders according to Corporate Knights.