New President and Vice-President Appointed to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO

June 6, 2022

Ottawa, June 6, 2022—The Canada Council for the Arts is delighted to announce the appointments of Richard Kistabish as President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO), and of Sarah Gamble as Vice-President. They will assume these roles in June and September 2022, respectively.

Since its creation in 1957, CCUNESCO has been operating under the authority of the Canada Council for the Arts. An Executive Committee composed of representatives from civil society and government stakeholders oversees CCUNESCO’s activities and provides strategic guidance.

About Richard Kistabish

  • Richard Kistabish is an Anishinaabe (Algonquin) from the First Nation community of Abitibiwinni, Quebec. Mr. Kistabish has been an elected Chief of the Abitibiwinni First Nation community and Grand Chief of the Algonquin Council of Western Quebec for two terms. An active member of civil society, he represents many of the values and leadership that are important to CCUNESCO, such as safeguarding cultural heritage and advancing efforts to decolonize knowledge and uphold Indigenous knowledge systems.
  • Kistabish is currently the president of Minwashin, an Anishinaabe cultural and arts development organization. Through this role, he has been very involved with UNESCO and CCUNESCO during the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019. This led to his position of North American representative on UNESCO’s Global Task Force for the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032).
  • Kistabish has received the YMCA Peace Medal for his work for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including his efforts recording testimonials of the abuses committed in residential schools.

About Sarah Gamble

  • Sarah Gamble developed the consultancy of Moose & Muskwa Consulting Inc. as a founding partner, built on five years of heritage and non-profit management experience, with a background of 17 years of experience working as a consulting archaeologist and traditional use specialist. She is also the president of the Canadian Geoparks Network, member of the Global Geoparks Network Advisory Council, member of the board of directors of Northern British Columbia Tourism and a professional member of the British Columbia Association of Professional Archaeologists.
  • Gamble’s archaeological work includes a wide range of studies in Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, as well as in the states of Idaho, Oregon, North Dakota, Minnesota and California. Within BC, she has worked on numerous Impact Assessments and has in depth understanding of the BC Provincial Heritage framework and the Heritage Conservation Act.
  • As the founding executive director of Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark in British Columbia, Ms. Gamble understands the development of projects, building a team, raising operating funds for non-profits, and engaging a network to support an idea.

“I am thrilled by this news and feel confident that my congratulations to Richard Kistabish, and to Sarah Gamble, will be echoed by many in the Indigenous community. With this combination of thoughtful leadership and the CCUNESCO's focus on the important intersection between culture, land and language, the voices of the ancestors, will carry into the future (and around the globe) for generations. ”

—Jesse Wente, Chair of the Board of the Canada Council for the Arts

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Richard Kistabish and Sarah Gamble to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. In the role of CCUNESCO President, Richard Kistabish’s expertise as a facilitator, organizer and community leader will be indispensable. His guidance will be especially meaningful over the course of the International Decade for Indigenous Languages, as the Commission advances on its priorities related to Indigenous languages and cultures in support of the Truth and Reconciliation process. Similarly, in the role of CCUNESCO Vice-President, Sarah’s background in archaeology and expertise in cultural heritage, are great assets. Their combined dedication represents the spirit of CCUNESCO, an organization focused on building a society of peace, equity and shared knowledge. We wish them every success in these new roles.”

—Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts

‘’The presidency of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO is a form of recognition for Indigenous peoples, an opportunity to bang the drum and show that we are still alive. By helping to open the door to sectors and institutions to which we do not yet have access, the Commission is an important ally that will allow us to reclaim the space that was taken away from us or denied to us.’’

—Richard Kistabish, President of the CCUNESCO

“I am very honoured to have been nominated Vice-President of the CCUNESCO. Over the past several years, through my role with the Canadian Geoparks Network, I have been closely involved with the work of CCUNESCO, and look forward to helping guide the Commission’s work as it relates to UNESCO designated sites, and its linkages between natural and cultural heritage. I am very excited to be working with Richard Kistabish as President and support the advancement of truth and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.”

—Sarah Gamble, Vice-President of the CCUNESCO

About the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada's public arts funder, with a mandate to "foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts." The Council’s grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments contribute to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene and support its presence across Canada and abroad. The Council’s investments foster greater engagement in the arts among Canadians and international audiences.

About the Canadian Commission for UNESCO

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) serves as a bridge between Canadians and the vital work of UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Through its networks and partners, the Commission promotes UNESCO’s values, priorities and programs in Canada and brings the voices of Canadian experts to the international stage. CCUNESCO operates under the authority of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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