Our Staff consists of
John R. Syliboy - Executive Director
Kehisha Wilmot - Community Engagement Coordinator (NS & PEI)
Gage Perley - Community Engagement Coordinator (NB)
Even Butler - Community Engagement Coordinator (NL)
Naomi Bird - Policy Analyst
Suzanne Barry-Kroening - Gender Based Policy
My name is Kehisha, and my pronouns are they/them. I am a non-binary, Two-Spirit, multi-racial, multi-personality individual. I am the Nova Scotia Community Engagement Coordinator. I have had the wonderful pleasure of working with people, from around the globe, as part of my University experience, where I completed my BA in Psychology. Through working with grass-root movements, and national movements, I have been given the opportunity to see the world in so many, amazing ways.
Gage Perley (He/Him) is a Wolastoquey & Mi’kmaq from Tobique First Nation, NB. Gage holds a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Native Studies and Criminology from St. Thomas University and is a National Ambassador of Hope with We Matter. He has many years of experience working with indigenous youth in all age groups and is an advocate for Mental Health, Wellness and Indigenous youth, often wanting to create opportunities to help youth create a successful future for themselves. In his spare time, he is an artist that practices various mediums such as photography, graphic arts and beading.
William Evan Butler is a Two-Spirit of mixed European and L’nu (Mi’kmaq) descent from Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland). A graduate of Memorial University and NSCAD University, Evan is a multidisciplinary artist that has worked in illustration, graphic & web design, photography, and video. Currently, he teaches in Digital Animation and Digital Film at the College of the North Atlantic. Evan is also actively involved in the Mi’kmaw cultural revitalization movement in his home region, most often creating documentary videos of local activities. He is also involved with his local Pride committee, having designed their promotional materials over the last several years.
Naomi Bird (they/them) is a Two-Spirit Nehiyaw person from Treaty Six Territory. They lived in Kjipuktuk while going to school at Dalhousie, and are now back in their territory working on a masters in land-based education. Naomi's research foucuses include Two-Spiritness health and identity along with Indigenous trauma and resilience in post-secondary spaces. In their personal life, Naomi likes to bead, and can be found at the local climbing gym, advocating for Indigneous frontline resistances, or watching Netflix.
Suzanne is the Gender-Based Policy Coordinator with W2SA. She lives in St. George’s, a small town on the west coast of Newfoundland. Suzanne identifies as a Mi’kmaq Two-Spirit person and is a mother and grandmother. She is currently completing her Master of Social Work while raising her two grandchildren.
John R. is L’nu (Mi’kmaq) from the Millbrook First Nation in Nova Scotia. John works in social and cultural development, health and education policy, and research and community development for Atlantic Indigenous communities, especially for Two-Spirits and Indigenous LGBTQ+.
Initiatives and Projects: John collaborates on regional and national projects in research, community development and youth leadership development in the Atlantic region and Canada. He is a researcher on the Aboriginal Children’s Hurt and Healing Initiative at the IWK Health Centre in Nova Scotia. He promotes Indigenous perspectives in health and research. He is also a Co-Principal Investigator with the Wabanaki-Labrador Health Research Network through the Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR).
Capacity Development and Consultancy: John is a consultant in First Nations educational governance, Two-Eyed Seeing approach in education and research, post-secondary education needs, and areas that impact the health and well-being and educational outcomes of the Mi’kmaq, Indigenous Peoples, and Two-Spirits. He has led initiatives for curriculum development and cultural safety training in post-secondary at Mount Saint Vincent, Dalhousie University and McGill University.
Two-Spirit and LGBTQIA+ Advocacy: John is a co-founder of the Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance (W2SA), which helps to build support and awareness on Two-Spirits in Mi’kma’ki and Canada.
In 1998, John attended his first “gathering” in San Jose, Costa Rica and realized the power of LGBTQ advocacy. However, it wasn’t until 2009 when his childhood community lost ten people to suicide, including 4 Two-Spirits that brought him into his new role as an advocate for Two-Spirits. He was working for a regional tribal organization in health promotions and policy. His experience in community engagement, social development and networking provided skills to lobby for funding to host a local gathering of Atlantic Two-Spirits in 2011.
He collaborated with his good friend and mentor, Tuma Young, to act. They founded the Wabanaki Two-Spirit Alliance and held The Liscombe Lodge Gathering to consolidate the Alliance. So, the Alliance was born, and so was John’s interest in Two-Spirit research and knowledge sharing.
Education and Two-Spirit Research: John participated in the Canada World Youth program in Costa Rica in 1990-91. The experience directly influenced him into community development and grass-roots engagement. He decided to go back to Costa Rica to do his Bach. in International Relations in 1994-1998.
In 2000, John moved to Washington, D.C., to work only to return to Costa Rica to work in education. He accepted a job in a publication company as the International Director of Service in 2002-2007. He developed leadership and capacity training for language instructors in Central America and Colombia until 2007.
John returned to Canada and back to Mi’kma’ki after 20 years of living outside the region. Eventually, he returned to school to do a master’s in education at Mount Saint Vincent University. His thesis was to conceptualize the concept of Two-Spirit using Mi’kmaw knowledge. He is currently in his doctoral studies at McGill University. He will research about gender, sexuality and sex, and the terms 2SLGBTQIA+ to build positive cultural identity through language revitalization to reflect the diversity of gender identities and sexualities of Mi’kmaq youth in a contemporary context.