Visiting Indigenous Leaders Program

Visiting Indigenous leaders ensure that the research and education programs of the NCIED address relevant Indigenous business issues and trends and maximize conditions for Indigenous economic strength and resilience.

By meeting with students, faculty and staff of the University of Victoria, the visiting leaders contribute to the development of the next generation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders. They participate in the NCIED on a temporary, rotational basis throughout the year.

Criteria for selecting visiting Indigenous leaders include the depth and breadth of their experience and their ability to contribute to the NCIED’s vision and goals by strengthening partnerships with Indigenous communities, business and industry.

Past visiting Indigenous leaders include:

Ovide Mercredi

Ovide Mercredi dedicated his life to advocating on behalf of First Nations. Before being elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in 1991, and serving two terms until 1997, he was the Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Manitoba. From 2005 to 2011, he served his community of Misipawistik Cree Nation as Chief, and was a Councillor for three years after his term as Chief.

Whether as Chief of his community or the National Chief of the AFN, which includes 900,000 people living in 634 communities, cities and towns across Canada, Mr. Mercredi’s guiding principles include the inherent right of Indigenous citizens to self-determination and education, and advancing the economic and social well‑being of all Indigenous nations. 

Mr. Mercredi, a Cree born in the northern community of Grand Rapids, Manitoba, served as a lawyer, advisor, negotiator, politician and lecturer in Native studies. In addition to receiving several honorary degrees, Mr. Mercredi received the Order of Manitoba in 2005, the province’s highest honour. 

The Peace and Justice Studies Association presented their Social Courage award to Mr. Mercredi in 2010 "for exemplifying courage and honour in building and promoting a culture of peace and nonviolence in the face of political pressure and social struggle." He was also nominated for the Gandhi Peace Prize.


Guujaaw, which means 'drum,' received his name at a potlatch at Kiusta, a Haida northern village. He is a Haida icon, visionary, environmentalist, activist, leader, negotiator, artist and drummer who fought for protection of the land, economic sustainability, and Haida rights and title over Haida territory.  In 1974 Guujaaw helped establish the Council of the Haida Nation that united 33 Haida clans, and from 2000-2012 he served as president.

During his tenure, the British Columbia provincial government legally recognized the Queen Charlotte Islands as Haida Gwaii, the area’s traditional name. In 2006, Guujaaw was awarded the Buffet Award for Indigenous Leadership, for his longstanding dedication to the political, cultural and environmental advancement of the Haida Nation.

Guujaaw participated in the blockade in the 1980s that stopped commercial logging on Lyell Island.  Subsequently, he was instrumental in establishing Gwaii Hanaas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, which are jointly protected by a government-to-government and management relationship by the Haida and the Canadian federal government.

Guujaaw oversaw the return of forestry to the Haida Nation and helped to end the black bear hunt on the Misty Isles. He has been a member of the Archipelago Management Board and helped to establish the Gwaii Trust.

Guujaaw is also an internationally known artist and talented carver whose work can be found in museums and galleries all over the world. He created totem poles and worked with Bill Reid on several projects, including The Raven and The First Men.

Arthur Mercer

Arthur Mercer, a hereditary Nisga'a chief, has 25 years' experience in business development and leadership in the areas of economic development, governance and Indigenous entrepreneurship. As CEO for the Nisga’a Commercial Group of Companies, Mr. Mercer restructured the organization and improved revenue-generating capacity in the areas of forestry, fishing, and internet, as sub-contracting services, resulting in the company's profitable turnaround.

Mr. Mercer was also the Economic Development Coordinator for the Nisga'a Lisims government. He worked with First Nations economic development practitioners to explore and implement innovative and practical solutions to increase entrepreneurial development. 

Mr. Mercer is a former board member of Northern Native Broadcasting Corporation, the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board of Canada and the Native Economic Advisory board of British Columbia. Currently he is the owner of Tseax Development Group Ltd. and is on the board of Small Business BC.