top of page

Keynote Speakers

Kunuk Inutiq.jpeg

Kunuk Inutiq

Kunuk (Sandra) Inutiq is newly self-employed. She previously served as the Director of self-government at Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), studying self-government for Nunavut. Before that, she was the Chief Negotiator for the Qikiqtani Inuit Association for the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area’s Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreement. She has also worked as a Senior Associate for Inuit Nunangat at the Tides Canada Foundation (now known as MakeWay).


Inutiq has lived in various communities in Nunavut. She spent her childhood in Kangiqtualuk outpost camp and in Clyde River. In her youth she moved to Iqaluit, where she now lives. After graduating high school, she attended Nunavut Sivuniksavut, an Ottawa-based college program that teaches Inuit history, then returned to Iqaluit and took on a paralegal training position with Justice Canada. She then worked for Corrections with the Government of Nunavut, serving youth, before returning to school for an undergraduate law program at Carleton University for two years.


Inutiq received her law degree from Akitsiraq Law School in 2005, and in 2006, she became the first Inuk woman in Nunavut to pass the bar exam. She has worked as legal counsel for the Government of Nunavut, as the Director of Policy for the Office of the Languages Commissioner, and also served as the Official Languages Commissioner for Nunavut.

Shari Fox

Shari Fox.jpeg

Shari Fox is of mixed settler decent, originally from Ontario, and has lived and worked most of her adult life in Nunavut. She is the Director of the Ittaq Heritage and Research Centre (Ittaq) in Clyde River, Nunavut and has worked with the community since 1999.  


Shari is a geographer and research scientist with a background in both physical and social sciences. For 25 years, she has been dedicated to working on projects that centre Inuit knowledge and support Inuit leadership in research. She was a co-founding member of Ittaq in 2005 and has worked with Inuit on many local to international-scale projects across the Arctic. She holds bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of Waterloo, a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, and completed a postdoc at Harvard University in Oceanography and the Kennedy School of Government. In addition to being the Director at Ittaq, Shari holds senior research appointments at Carleton University and the University of Colorado. A decade-long project she co-led with a team of Inuit, ‘The Meaning of Ice’, won the 2018 International Mohn Prize for “outstanding research related to the Arctic” and Shari was shortlisted for the 2022 Shackleton Medal for her work linking Indigenous and scientific knowledge systems. Shari loves being outdoors and on the land and is especially passionate about dog teaming, something she learned in Nunavut and has done for many years.


Anna Metaxas.jpg

Dr. Anna Metaxas

Department of Oceanography
Dalhousie University

Anna Metaxas grew up in Greece spending every free moment as a child in the Mediterranean Sea. As part of her BSc degree she took a field course in Marine Biology at the Huntsman Marine Science Center, where after talking to her TAs and prof discovered that she could make a career out of playing in the sea. After a MSc in Oceanography from the University of British Columbia, a PhD from Dalhousie University postdocs at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, she landed a job at Dalhousie where she is now a Professor in Oceanography. She studies marine benthic populations of ecological and economic importance, including invasive species. Her research group uses a combination of approaches, such as field sampling, laboratory experiments and mathematical modelling. She has worked in habitats from shallow rocky subtidal regions to the deep sea, including hydrothermal vents and deep-water corals, in temperate and tropical regions of the world. Her research has implications for marine conservation, such as the establishment and success of conservation areas. She is currently involved in many national and international initiatives that have as an ultimate goal the translation of scientific outcomes into information that is relevant to policy. She still seeks warm waters whenever she can and has spent time at the University of Western Australia in Perth and the University of Queensland in Brisbane. She is heading back in January on sabbatical leave.

Patricia Nash.heic

Patricia Nash

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas Manager
Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources
Eskasoni, NS

Patricia Nash is the Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas Program Manager at Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources based in Eskasoni, NS. She grew up in the territory of her Haudenosaunee ancestors in southern Ontario, and has an Honours BSc. in Zoology. Trish has worked with First Nation and Inuit Nations and organizations across Canada to strengthen their voices, identities, and self-determination. Currently she is working for the Mi'kmaq to establish Nova Scotia’s first IPCA that will include terrestrial, island and marine habitats.


Dr. Joanna Smith

Director, Ocean Planning and Mapping

The Nature Conservancy

Nature United, Canada

Dr. Joanna Smith is the Director, Ocean Planning and Mapping with The Nature Conservancy (TNC; Nature United in Canada).  Joanna leads a global team for marine spatial planning (MSP), ecosystem services science, and conservation in support of TNC’s oceans programs worldwide. Joanna’s experience spans 20 years in science and resource management including seabird and fisheries research, ocean planning, government policy, governance frameworks and stakeholder engagement. She uses an ecosystem-based, multi-disciplinary and rights-based approach to develop marine spatial plans with governmens and stakeholders, and has supported more than 10 active MSP processes globally including the Marine Plan Partnership in Canada and the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan Initiative. Joanna received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle, is a member of the IOC-UNESCO and EU DG Mare MSPglobal expert group, member of the High Level Panel Ocean Action 2030 coalition, and is an Adjunct Research Scientist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Fun fact is that Joanna sailed with friends on a 13 meter sailboat from the Galápagos Islands to Victoria BC in 1999, a voyage that took 47 days. She published a paper in Marine Ornithology on the seabird communities in relation to oceanographic features for this unusual 9,000 km transect!

Max(ine) Westhead, M.Sc.

Section Head, Marine Planning
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maritimes Region
Bedford Institute of Oceanography

Maxine Westhead.png

Max Westhead holds a B.Sc in Marine Biology from the University of Guelph and a Master of Science in Marine Biology from Acadia University. Her graduate degree focused on the ecological impacts of clam and baitworm harvesting on the mudflats of the Minas Basin.


She has worked for the Marine Planning and Conservation Program with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) since 1998, mostly at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. Max was Section Head of DFO’s Marine Protected Areas Program for the Maritimes Region from 2007 to 2018, and her team was responsible for a broad range of MPA activities – MPA network planning, identifying and designing new sites, consultation requirements, and ongoing management and monitoring of existing MPAs. From 2018-2019 she wasNational Manager of the Marine Spatial Planning Program in Ottawa, and she is currentlySection Head of the Marine Planning team back in the Maritimes Region. Max is also the first Professional in Residence, and an Instructor with the Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie University where she teaches the graduate level Marine Protected Areas course.


Max is a fitness enthusiast and is a CanFitPro certified fitness instructor and personal trainer, as well as a Level II CrossFit coach. When she is not at work you will most likely find her at the gym, either coaching CrossFit or working out.

Raven Stephens Elwell

Panel Moderator

Raven Stevens Elwell.heic

Raven Stephens Elwell is from Millbrook First Nation and is a former undergraduate student from Mount Allison University where she completed her Bachelor of Science degree. She is now currently a master's student studying Marine Management and is working as an intern for Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in the Marine Planning and Conservation sector. 

Raven is passionate about marine conservation and restoration and her research paper focuses on deep-sea coral and sponge conservation with a particular interest in climate change integration. She hopes to identify the gaps within science and management and look internationally to attempt to fill in those gaps to aid in the development of a climate change monitoring and management strategy for deep-sea coral and sponges. 


Raven also previously published her first book called Painting our Legacy which aims to celebrate the beauty and creativity of her Mi’kmaq culture through the artistic medium of makeup. Her book highlights Indigenous teachings and information on cultural heritage, sacred meanings, symbols, designs and more. Raven is also a member of the exec team for the marine affairs student society as a co-vice president, is co-lead of the fundraising committee and a part of the logistics committee. She also spends her free time volunteering with the Sculpt Shore project which aims to raise awareness for the endangered right whales by promoting and hosting local ocean clean ups.

bottom of page