Sometimes, the answer to the generic “what do you do?” question is nice and simple: “I’m a lawyer, I’m a nurse, I’m an accountant”, for example. Other times, like when the question is posed to Kiana Alexander, a simple one-word answer won’t suffice.
Kiana is the Chief Operating Officer at the Raven Institute, which is an organization that supports communities, individuals and organizations in leadership development, rooted in Indigenous world view, a graduate researcher at Royal Roads University, a director at Iskwew Air, the first Indigenous woman owned airline, and a consultant and strategic planner for Minerva BC. And though Kiana is involved with a multitude of organizations, there is one theme that underpins everything she does: leadership.
After working in the hospitality industry for several years, Kiana found herself in a place where she was ready for a change. And thanks to time spent in hospitality, it was clear for her where she wanted to focus her efforts.
“I was in a place of understanding my own journey around my identity and what it meant to be a young Indigenous woman,” said Kiana. “I began to understand how that identity played out in the things I was really passionate about, which was leadership and development of people,” she added.
This passion has led her to believe in the potential each individual has to lead. Moreover, Kiana, a young urban Métis woman, believes now is the time for young Indigenous leaders to make their presence felt in their communities.
“We’re post the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We’ve nationally acknowledged missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” said Kiana. “Now, I believe what’s most important is acknowledging the incredible resilience, wisdom and innovation that we can all benefit from by supporting and amplifying the voices of Indigenous leaders and young Indigenous women.”
Through her various associations, Kiana is in a position where she can indeed create the conditions for amplifying indigenous leaders’ voices. She’s speaking at both the 2019 WeForShe Vancouver Conference next week and the Indegenous Women’s Leadership Conference next month.
What’s more, on top of the work Kiana does at the Raven Institute, which includes understanding leadership through an Indigenous worldview, she has been closely involved with Minerva BC’s programming for Indigenous women and girls throughout the province.
The Relationship she’s built with Minerva, which she calls a natural alignment, has allowed her to see first-hand the value of both Indigenous and non-indigenous programming done by the organization.
“The work [Minerva does] in supporting young women and young Indigenous women in leadership is hugely important,” explained Kiana. “There is a genuine commitment to this work and doing it in a good way. I’ve seen the profound impact it has had on Indigenous participants and we definitely need more.”
The value of Indigenous worldviews being incorporated into leadership and development programming is of the utmost importance for Kiana. Understanding Canada’s shared history and the reality Indigenous peoples face on a daily basis plays a central role in moving forward into a new era where young Indigenous leaders shape the Canada of tomorrow.