A native of Matimekush-Lac John and member of the Uashat mak Mani-utenam community, Tina Vassiliou is Senior Adviser, First Nations Relations for Nemaska Lithium. In her position, she is committed to promoting the development of Indigenous communities in the areas of sustainable growth and the environment.  

Inquisitive and determined, she never shies away from opportunities to expand her skills, broaden her horizons, and discover new ways to engage her community. It is in this spirit that she recently pursued 2 programs at First Nations Executive Education (FNEE) where she learned a lot and met with some great people: Women and Leadershipand the Program for Managers. 

Concrete Learning Experiences Relevant to Indigenous Communities 

At FNEE, Tina increased her knowledge and skills and met inspiring people, allowing her to take full measure of what Indigenous leadership encompasses. For Tina, a tangible asset of the programs available at FNEE is that they provide concrete learning relevant to the realities of Indigenous people. Beyond the theory, the programs give learners the tools to apply new skills in the current context of First Nations.  

One thing that stood out for Tina was the wide diversity of participants. This plurality of backgrounds and experiences create a favourable climate to listening and applying skills. Tina explains that every leader, whether they are elected or appointed to a board, has a unique perspective on issues.  

Through the sharing of views and insights, all participants emerge from the program with a more refined and thorough understanding of Indigenous realities. This networking between participants leads to relationships built on trust that continue beyond the programs, including at subsequent events. 

A Source of Inspiration and Motivation 

A key moment for Tina was the Women and Leadership Program where she witnessed productive encounters full of support and mutual aid. It was an environment of mutual respect and sincere open-mindedness. In addition to offering simultaneous interpretation to overcome language barriers, instructors are carefully selected to meet the needs of all participants and thereby further reflect the program’s inclusive nature. 

Those exchanges, meetings, and learning experiences are a huge source of inspiration and motivation for Tina to this day. She stresses the particular relevance of structured time management, a crucial part of her role at Nemaska Lithium. Thanks to the activities carried out at FNEE, she developed concrete and tailored tools to transform abstracts concepts into resources applicable to her work. The ongoing sharing circle reinforced this experience-based approach, creating powerful images and facilitating the visualization of goals via group discussions.  

Tina managed to capitalize on the innovative teaching approach at FNEE to then apply it to her daily work and get tangible and lasting results in communities with which she collaborates. Her capacity of influence has also vastly improved thanks to a greater assertiveness.  

A space of sharing  

Because she believes in FNEE’s mission and subscribes to its values and teaching methods, Tina strongly recommends it to all First Nations. She also points out that in spite of apparent differences, Indigenous communities share more similarities than divergences. In that respect, FNEE creates a space to share knowledge and experience that fosters communication in a common language and the understanding of everyone’s challenges and issues.  

In conclusion, Tina Vassiliou’s experience in 2 programs at FNEE is a powerful example of how continuing education can play a crucial role in enhancing professional skills, nurturing leadership, and inspiring concrete projects for and by First Nations.