In a spirit of deep thankfulness and continued dependence on our Creator and on each other, Indigenous Pathways is pleased to congratulate Shari Russell as she takes up the role as full Director of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community. 

Shari’s new responsibilities include the leadership of Faculty, Staff and Students of NAIITS, working together with the global Elder’s council, and participating as one of three members of the Leadership Team of Indigenous Pathways. 

Shari has been fully engaged with Indigenous Pathways since its inception, and with NAIITS for over 20 years. Shari has played key roles in NAIITS for over 15 years in addition to developing strong friendships with both the founding generation of the Learning Community and those who are coming up within the community now. Along the way, she has evidenced a wholehearted commitment and willingness to serve the mission of working toward the well-being of Indigenous community across the globe. 

Shari’s engagement with her own Indigenous identity grew out of her experience as a survivor of the “60’s scoop” which saw her removed from her family of origin and Saulteaux community and adopted into a Euro-Canadian one. Her personal journey of reclamation of identity and culture has given Shari the ability to intimately understand the journeys of many members of the NAIITS community and to lead with hope and faith as she fleshes it out amid what will inevitably be complex challenges. 

Shari is a PhD candidate in the NAIITS doctoral program, working toward the completion of her dissertation on implications of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for evangelical Christian traditions. 

Shari is a Salvation Army Officer with educational appointments in St. John’s, NFLD and Winnipeg, MB and congregational ministry in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Sudbury. In 2015, she was appointed fulltime as the Territorial Indigenous Ministries Consultant where, among other initiatives, she organized the annual Celebration of Culture Gathering and Pow Wow as a partnership with Indigenous Pathways. As this partnership has grown and as The Salvation Army continues the path of learning and its commitment to reconciliation, The Salvation Army fully supports Shari’s secondment to NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community, in a full-time capacity in a renewable two-year agreement. 

Shari is married to Robert and together they have three adult sons: Charles (CJ) living in Calgary and Gavin and Brannon who reside with them.   

Founding Director Terry LeBlanc and his wife Bev now move into the next season of their lives taking on positions as resident “elders” of Indigenous Pathways and Terry as Director Emeritus of NAIITS. Terry will also dedicate himself to writing, disseminating novel approaches to indigenizing and decolonizing theologies, and enjoying community with friends and relatives of Abegweit First Nation Mi’kmaw community where Terry and Bev are honoured to serve in a teaching capacity at the Healing Centre.