Maya Chacaby (Odehamik - meaning Heart of the Beaver) is Anishinaabe, Beaver Clan from Kaministiquia (Thunder Bay). Both her adoptive and biological family come from the Lake Nipigon region in Northwestern Ontario. As a means to fulfill her Clan responsibilities Maya works to change social environments as an independent workshop facilitator, researcher and consultant.
Maya holds an M.A. in Adult Education and Community Development from the University of Toronto and is completing her PhD in Social Justice Education. Her focus is on Anishinaabe hermeneutics of survivance for living beyond the fallout of indelible violence on Turtle Island. Her work will result in a Post-Apocalyptic Survivance Handbook.
In her spare time, Maya teaches linguistics and sociology at York University and is the provincial lead for the Indigenous initiatives to end Human Trafficking through the Ontario Native Women's Association as part of the province's Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy. She is also currently involved in designing service delivery models for a number of municipalities for Indigenous early years programs, culture-based healing programs and Ojibwe language acquisition.
Maya currently works with national, provincial and community advocacy bodies on trauma-informed reconciliation models, community-driven research and strategic planning. She delivers workshops and healing sessions across the province for District School Boards, Health Service providers, Legal Clinics, Law Enforcement, Children's Aid Societies, Municipal leadership, various Provincial Ministries and First Nations and Tribal Councils. To date, she has reached approximately 10,000 participants through her community-based education sessions.
Her research and publications include Aboriginal worldviews and pedagogies, Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe Language) revitalization and ending violence against Indigenous women. She has been featured in McLean's Magazine for her work on developing Anishinaabe pedagogies for Indigenous language acquisition, Toronto Star for her work on community-driven institutional ethnography to address police reporting of Indigenous women's experiences of sexual violence, CBC News for her work as a language activist, and the North Bay Nugget as the recipient of the 2008 President's Award for Most Outstanding Native Student at the University of Toronto. She is also the recipient of the Glendon College, York University Principal's Teaching Award.
In her volunteer capacity, Maya has sat on Provincial Ministry policy technical tables regarding homelessness as well as on issues of housing and municipal affairs to review policies pertaining to Indigenous women fleeing domestic violence and human trafficking. Her volunteer commitments also include hosting Ojibwe language sessions and traditional teachings with and for her community.
Previously, Maya has worked as the Senior Researcher, Cultural Competency Coordinator, and Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women Policy Analyst at the OFIFC. She embraces the contemporary term Two-Spirited to describe herself. She is also openly honest about her experiences living on the streets as a missing Indigenous woman. Maya is also open about being developmentally disabled, but considers the neurological atypicality of being Autistic a gift from her Clan and one that she is deeply grateful for. Maya is committed to fulfilling the vision put forward by the Elders to remember where we come from and to use our teachings and worldview to improve our quality of life for generations to come.
What I'm Working On:
My current academic work is focused on feeling my way through Anishinaabe survivance narrative techniques while still dancing with critical cultural studies and the in-humanities of the sociogeny of the damned. So far this has resulted in some strange writing about Post-Indian Cyborgs, and an intergalactic hermeneutics docking station on the big toe of the sleeping giant. Weasels, Bullrushes, a Chickadee, frogs, Patron Bob, and some ducks all get messily muddled with the humanities in sympoiesis. I think I might be close to building my Anishinaabe Hermeneutics canoe, but I am not sure if it will float yet.