Mark S. Bonham Centre for
Sexual Diversity Studies

Maya Chacaby

Biography

Maya Chacaby is Anishinaabe, Beaver Clan from Kaministiquia (Thunder Bay). Both her adoptive and biological family come from the Lake Nipigon region (Opwaaganasiniing First Nation) As a means to fulfill her Clan responsibilities, she is an independent, trainer, researcher, and consultant. In her spare time, she teaches linguistics at York University.

Previously, Maya has worked as the Senior Researcher, Cultural Competency Coordinator, and Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women Policy Analyst at the OFIFC. Prior to that, she created and managed an Ojibwe language and cultural support program at the University of Toronto. Independently she has worked with national, provincial and community advocacy bodies on issues of Indigenous human trafficking, trauma-informed reconciliation models, community-driven research and strategic planning. In her volunteer capacity, Maya has sat on provincial ministry technical tables regarding homelessness as well as on issues of housing and municipal affairs. Her community volunteer commitments include hosting Ojibwe language sessions and traditional teachings.

Her publications include Indigenous worldviews and pedagogies, research methodologies, Human Trafficking, Anishinaabemowin revitalization and ending violence against Indigenous women. Maya has been delivering training sessions across the province for the last five years and has been teaching for over ten years. She has trained over 10,000 participants from District School Boards, Health Service Providers, Hospitals, Law Enforcement, Children’s Aid, Municipal leadership, Provincial Ministries and Tribal Councils.  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.

Maya 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. She describes her approach to teaching by saying, “I don’t just speak ‘fancy academic’, I work from a place where lived experience catalyzes a passionate commitment to making change—not from the ‘victim’ trope, or the ‘angry Indian’ one, but from the ‘no b.s. let’s get it done’ position. My responsibility is to carry forward the vision from the Elders and I will always work relentlessly in this regard”. Maya is also open about being  disabled, but considers the neurological atypicality of being Autistic a gift from her Clan and one that she is deeply grateful for. She lives with her life partner, her two children, two-step children, and (so far) two grandchildren. She is blessed to travel with her life partner, Stephanie Stephens (Bear Clan, Garden River FN), who supports her and shares in her commitment to the people.