Circle Series

Shoes in grass

The workshops that make up the Circle Series are intended for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who identify as First Nations, Metis, or Inuit. They are hosted in partnership with Supporting Aboriginal Graduate Enhancement (SAGE) and the Indigenous Graduate Student Association (IGSA) and are facilitated by an Indigenous Elder. Through these workshops, participants will be introduced to aspects of Indigenous knowledge and land-based learning in the hopes of building deeper connections to the land, tradition and spiritual selves. This will be an opportunity to ask questions, listen to experiences, share knowledge and build community.

Circle Series: Sacred Balance

(1.5 Hours PD credit) | May 13, 2024 | 1:00 - 3:00 pm MST | Pond area south of the Humanities Centre (weather permitting) | Alternate Indoor
location TBD


Wellness. Balance. Wholeness. In keeping with the theme of the Circle series, this session will explore the connection to land, community, and self. How do people find balance by interweaving traditional knowledge with an academic life? How can the pressures of the workplace be diffused for a healthier space?

The Circle Series is a great opportunity for First Nations, Metis, Inuit, and all Indigenous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to connect, learn, discover, and share in a safe space.


Karen MacKenzie, MBA, BSc. is a proud Cree-Métis woman. She is the Co-Founder and President of MacKintosh Canada, an Indigenous owned, international consulting company and PeopleBest Canada, an artificial intelligence company that is a revolutionary, simple, and powerful way to look at what makes success happen inside people, teams, and organizations by providing the data, analytics and metrics. Business ownership along with academic leadership and senior management positions has led Karen to this important crossroads in our collective societies where co-creation of the future is both important and enabling. Authentic co-creation reflects true diversity and inclusion where all voices have space to be heard in an open, respectful manner. This changing world requires transformational leadership that creates sustainability values and benefits that are shared by all.

Karen brings her traditional knowledge of Indigenous ways into the contemporary workplace as this wisdom and way of being reflect "wise practices of purpose driven individuals, communities and organizations". She is committed to the "Calls to Action" from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is an advocate for the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This approach supports the co-creation of a healthy and safe workplace that is inclusive, engaging, and respectful of the land, culture, and aspirations of all but particularly Indigenous peoples. Karen was recently appointed as an "Expert Panel" member for the Canadian Centre for the Purpose of the Corporation ( and as a Senior Advisor to Navigator (

Karen is honoured to be part of the Elder in Residence Program for Indigenous Services Canada. She sits with the Circle of Elders for Edmonton Catholic Schools, heralded as a wise practice across Canada enabling greater success rates for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis learners. In addition, Karen sits with the Circle of Matriarchs for the City of Edmonton. She is a former member of the Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force for the City of Edmonton and is also a past member of the Edmonton Police Commission. She is a past board member of "Honouring Indigenous Peoples" a national Rotary initiative. Karen is a Senior Advisor and mentor to the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership, Coady Institute, St. Francis Xavier University and was recently appointed as one of two members for Alberta to the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments. Most recently, she was recognized as an Albertan SHEInnovates leader under the Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC). The GICC is a dynamic partnership between United Nations Women and key representatives from the private sector, academia and nonprofit institutions focused on developing the innovation market to work better for women and to accelerate the achievement of gender equality and women's empowerment.

Past Circle Series Workshops

Circle Series: Purpose
(1.5 Hours PD credit) | March 25, 2024 | 1:00 - 3:00 pm MST | DSC 2-20B2 (Digital Scholarship Centre, 2nd Floor Cameron Library)

This workshop is for Indigenous, Inuit, Metis and First Nations students only

Many of us wrestle with knowing our purpose or having an expectation of finding our purpose. In this circle, guided generously by Elder Karen MacKenzie, we will seek to gain knowledge from ourselves, our community, and the land.

Circle Series: Empowerment
(1 Hour PD credit) | January 29, 2024 | 1:00 - 3:00 pm MST | Triffo Hall 1-16

This workshop is for Indigenous, Inuit, Metis and First Nations students only

Empowerment is more than finding strength and authority in oneself. It can come from the land, its inhabitants, the community and the wisdom of those who have come before us. First Nation, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous students are invited to join Elder Karen Mackenzie for a discussion of empowerment from an Indigenous perspective.

Circle Series: Embracing the guiding principles of the Medicine Wheel
(1 hour PD credit) | October 10, 2023 | 2:00 - 3:00pm MDT | 1-16 Triffo Hall

The teaching of the Medicine Wheel offers a holistic approach to life and your journey.  How can Indigenous Knowledge apply to you, in making life and career decisions?  Elder Karen MacKenzie will guide this conversation for First Nation, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous students who want to explore and connect with their land, knowledge, and community.

Circle Series: Welcome to Ceremony (1 hour PD credit)
March 28, 2023 | 1:00 - 2:00pm MDT | 1-16 Triffo Hall

We begin our journey in ceremony. When we enter ceremony, we open our spirits to recognize who we are as Indigenous people and the gifts we have been given. The sacred circle welcomes everyone to build relationships with ourselves, each other, the land, and our communities. It is a safe, welcoming space. Elder Karen MacKenzie will lead a welcome ceremony and begin the conversation about how to get connected and present so that you can be supported in your exploration of life outcomes.