Dr. Elder Shirley Ida Williams

Dr. Elder Shirley Ida WilliamsElder/ Indigenous Knowledge and Language advisor

Honours B.A., M.A. Honorary Ph.D
Senior Analyst / Cultural Advisor

Dr. Elder Shirley Ida Eliza Williams nee Pheasant (Neganigwane) is a member of the Bird Clan of the Ojibway and Odawa First Nations of Canada. She was born and raised at Wikwemikong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island. Dr. Elder Williams attended St. Joseph’s Residential School in Spanish, Ontario.  She holds several degrees, including a BA in Native Studies, a Native Language Instructors Program diploma, a Masters in Environmental Studies, and an honorary Ph.D. for her outstanding achievement in post-secondary education pedagogy, her advocacy of Indigenous language teaching, and her ongoing inspirational community leadership.

Identified by former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson as a Role Model for Survivors, Dr. Elder Williams is Professor Emerita at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, where she has taught and researched the Anishinaabe language since 1986. Shirley is a long-time teacher of and advocate for Anishinaabe language and culture. A survivor of Canada’s Residential School system, Dr. Elder Williams vowed to always make learning inspirational and fun for her students. She has published crucial Anishinaabemowin-language teaching resources on topics ranging from animals to hockey to treaties through her own publishing firm, Neganigwane Co.  She continues to design and deliver language and cultural knowledge courses.  She is one of the founding members of Anishinaabemowin Teg Inc., which promotes language revitalization, promotion, and protection. She is the only Indigenous person in Canada to achieve the rank of full Professor as a Dual Traditional Scholar, recognizing her Traditional Indigenous knowledge and outstanding research and publication record.  She has received an award for Excellence in the Indigenous Education for First Nations Communities by Wikwemikong Board of Education in 2009 and an Alumni Excellence award from Trent. In 2016, she received the Canadian Union of Public Employees Award for Excellence in Teaching, confirming the integral role Elders play in the learning environment of universities.

She contributes simultaneous translation services for various organizations including the Union of Ontario Indians Organization, Olympics torch run (Peterborough), Loon Story Scholastic Education Centre, Self-government (Curve Lake), Toronto Zoo for Endangered Species of Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Education, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Heritage Canada and the Union of Ontario Indians.

Now retired after 18 years teaching at Trent University and 18 summers for Lakehead University for NLIP, she serves as an Elder for numerous organizations, including Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming. She continues to teach part-time at Trent University and other educational institutions. She also advises the Chiefs of Ontario and Aboriginal Physicians of Canada on health programming. Her work has resulted in significant service delivery changes in Sudbury’s major regional healthcare centres and, most recently, Toronto General Hospital.

She has worked with Williams Consulting and Andrea J Williams since 1984.