Our MAWG team

Modernized Annuity Working Group

   Based on the principles of reconciliation, inclusiveness, respectful dialogue, compassion and an understanding of diverse viewpoints, the Modernized Annuity Working Group (MAWG) is a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and women.

   Modernizing treaty annuities is a revolutionary but practical idea with the potential for far-reaching effects on Canadian society, and particularly on vulnerable First Nations people. Our team models the importance of Settlers and First People working together to make a difference.

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Sheilla Jones

MAWG, Co-Chair

(Winnipeg) Sheilla Jones is the author of Let the People Speak: Oppression in a Time of Reconciliation. She is an award-winning Canadian journalist, former CBC news editor, and author of several books on popular science. She served as the facilitator and researcher for the Treaty Annuity Working Group, and advanced research on modern annuities as a Senior Fellow of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (2018-20). Sheilla’s roots in Canada run deep: her French, English, Welsh and Scottish ancestors have been settling Canada for nearly 400 years.

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Wayne Helgason

MAWG, Co-Chair

(Vancouver Island) Wayne Helgason is Band Manager, Tsawout First Nation, BC. He recently served as a special adviser to the Minister, Employment and Social Development Canada (2016-18). Wayne is the former chief executive director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, retiring in 2011. He was a three-term president of the National Association of Friendship Centres, and was co-chair of the Treaty Annuity Working Group. In 1989, when Wayne was running Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, the largest non-profit, Indigenous-led child welfare agency in Manitoba, he championed taking over the abandoned but magnificent CP railway station in Winnipeg. It has been turned into the Neeganin Centre for Indigenous social services, education and business. Wayne grew up near his Ojibway home reserve, Sandy Bay FN in central Manitoba, and lives in Saanich, BC on Vancouver Island.

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Gregory Mason

MAWG, Economics Advisor

Greg Mason is an associate professor of Economics at the University of Manitoba with research interests in urban reserves and economic development options for First Nations communities, as well as health economics and income security policies. He currently teaches courses in economic evaluation and research methods at the undergraduate and graduate level. For 25 years he was managing partner at PRA (Prairie Research Associates (Inc.) where he continues as a senior consultant. Greg is a new settler, relocating with his family to Canada from England when he was a child.

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The Rt. Hon. Ed Schreyer,

PC CC CMM OM CD

MAWG, Policy Advisor

Ed Schreyer is a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and has served, on behalf of the Queen, as Governor General of Canada and Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces (1979-84), Canadian High Commissioner to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Ambassador to Vanuatu (1984-88). Ed was the first NDP premier of Manitoba (1969-77). More recently, he served as Chancellor for Brandon University, Manitoba (2004-10) and as a guest professor at four universities in Canada and four in Europe. Ed is chairman of the Canadian Shield Foundation, and an avid supporter of environmental causes. He was the first Canadian of Ukrainian descent to be appointed Governor General, and is a 3rd-generation settler.

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Leona Freed

MAWG, Community Impact Advisor

(Portage la Prairie) Leona Freed, a Saulteaux-Ojibway activist, was the first to bring the idea of modernized treaty annuities into a public forum in her presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in 1999. She did so at the behest of TAWG co-chair Jean Allard. Leona had become the national voice for the First Nations Accountability Coalition, representing some 300 bands, and her fearless condemnation of FN political leaders at that time drew international media coverage. However, her message on modernized annuities was lost in the outcry over her criticism of FN leaders. She received a standing ovation in the House of Commons in 2000, just before the bill she championed for a National Aboriginal Ombudsman failed on third reading. Leona is the daughter of Chief Rufus Prince of the Long Plains FN in southern Manitoba. Prince was a founding director of the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood and fronted one of the first successful Supreme Court of Canada (Prince and Myron v The Queen, 1964) cases on Indigenous hunting rights. Leona was a participant in the TAWG National Workshop in 2003.

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Micheal McCandless

MAWG, Legal Advisor

Michael McCandless has worked for many years on organizational and governance structures in Canada and around the world. He played a key role in advancing the 2002 Misquadis v Canada case arguing that federal Indigenous policy discriminated against off-reserve and urban Indigenous people.

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Bill Shead

MAWG, Community Impact Advisor

Bill Shead is a member of Peguis First Nation, chair of the Neeganin Centre in Winnipeg, a director of Indspire, and a 36-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy. Bill was one of 15 Indigenous sailors aboard HMCS Kootenay who escorted the Hosaqami totem pole, created by famed Kwakwaka'wakw carver Mungo Martin, from Canada to Portsmouth, England in 1960 as a gift from the Canadian navy to the Royal Navy. Bill was on-hand for the raising of the replica Hosaqami totem in the BC Government House gardens in 2012.

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Paul Walsh

MAWG, Community Impact Advisor

Paul Walsh is Chair of the Board of Basic Income Manitoba. He’s had a lengthy career in law, which included a weekly commentary on CBC radio and CTV. Paul has invested a great deal of time and energy into the Winnipeg cultural community, serving as president of a number of community cultural boards, including The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. He has also served on the boards of the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the United Way. Presently, he is on the Board of Prairie Fire magazine. Paul was born in Canada and refers to himself as Canadian; his parents were born in Canada; his grandparents were born in Ukraine.

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Guy Savoie

MAWG, Community Impact Advisor

Guy Savoie is a Métis elder, a past president of lʼUnion Nationale Métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba, a member of the Treaty Annuity Group, past president of Le Festival du Voyageur, a founding member of La Brigade de la rivière Rouge and a past member of Winnipeg City council serving as the Executive Chair Person 1986-89.

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Noah Fournier

MAWG, Youth Representative

(Winnipeg, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation) Noah Fournier is a recent graduate of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba, and a casual hockey player. He is providing a youth perspective to the MAWG team, along with his social media chops. Noah considers himself an in-betweener: between his Cree culture and the settler culture, without attaching his identity to either.

MAWG is working with coalition partner,

the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg,

to explore the implications of a modern annuity.

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