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YMCA Leaders Corps in James Bay

and Traditional Cree Leadership

photos 6.tif

Intercultural Lessons in Leadership,

Well-being, Reciprocity & Reconciliation

Intercultural Lessons in Leadership,

Well-Being, Reciprocity & Reconciliation

Seeing, Cultivating and Sharing the Best in Ourselves and Others

A Collaborative Research & Education Project

Seeing, Cultivating & Sharing the Best in Ourselves & Others


A Collaborative Research & Education Project

Steering Committee

Christina Linklater (Co-Chair)

Doug Jeffries (Co-Chair)

Cecil Chabot (Project Coordinator)

Grace Delaney

Heather Moore

Florence and Art Morrison

Victor Linklater

Kayrene Kapashesit

Organizational Partners & Sponsors

Moose Factory Leaders Corps

Partnership Letter

John R. Delaney Youth Centre

Partnership Letter

Moose River Heritage and Hospitality Association

Partnership Letter

Moose Cree Education Authority

Letter of Support

Vision & Objectives

This project is a study of leadership in and among the James Bay Cree – especially Moose Cree and MoCreebec people but also other Omushkego and Eeyou people – and those who have become part of their communities. More importantly, it is a community and leadership development initiative that promises to bring intangible and tangible benefits for socio-economic, cultural, physical, mental, relational and spiritual wellbeing, not only in Moose Factory, Moose Cree territory, Omushkego Aski and Eeyou Istchee, but also in wider and more distant communities. Grounded in collaborative research, knowledge reciprocity, shared reflection and mutually transformative learning, it explores an intercultural encounter between Cree and non-Cree leadership principles, experiences and examples that can inspire leadership and foster reconciliation nationwide.


The first part of this research will examine the ongoing impact, on at least three generations of Cree youth, of a YMCA Leaders Corps program that has been run primarily in Moose Factory, but also in Eeyou Istchee. For over half a century, this program has served, and been served by youth from Moose Factory, Moosonee and elsewhere. The late John Delaney co-founded and ran this program with the help of many people, including his wife Grace; today, their daughter Christina runs the program. The name of MCFN’s John R. Delaney Youth Centre speaks to this program’s impact in and beyond Moose Cree territory.


The second part of this project is a study of traditional and contemporary Cree leadership principles, experiences and examples from both âtalôhkâna (legends) and tipâcimôwina (historical narratives). We believe that the YMCA Leaders Corps program has been successful because it resonates with traditional Cree leadership principles and values, and because the YMCA and traditional Cree leadership principles and examples speak powerfully far beyond their own particular cultural contexts. They speak to something fundamentally human and their story and history can be an inspiration and an example to people everywhere. It is hoped that the intercultural aspect of these leadership legacies and this research project can also help envision and inspire reconciliation both in James Bay communities and in other communities across the country.

Specific Outcomes Envisioned
  • ​A main report on the YMCA Leaders program and its connection with traditional Cree leadership teachings and principles;

  • Histories of the YMCA program and of Cree leadership using diverse media (documentary films, radio broadcasts, podcasts, a website, social media, “coffee table” books, etc.);

  • Policy papers; educational curriculum; health and youth services programming; with emphasis on land-based education and healing;

  • YMCA Leaders Corps reunion and celebration of community leaders in Moose Factory in July 2021 or 2022 (depending on COVID)

  • Other community events, activities and workshops, in collaboration with local and regional schools, youth and health centres and programs.

  • A conference and multi-authored publication, with a focus on leadership, community development, reciprocity and reconciliation.

  • A final community activity, celebration and sharing as part of “More than 350 in 2023” initiative led by the Moose River Heritage and Hospitality Association.

Project Background and Status

Some version of this project has been in discussion for more than a decade, since the passing of John Delaney, who ran the Moose Factory YMCA Leaders Corps for about four decades from 1967 onward. In 2017, I organized an exploratory meeting, held in June at the board room of the Moose Cree Education Authority, and hosted by MCEA Executive Director, Heather Moore (a former Leaders Corps member). We discussed the project goals and ideas for next steps, but it was clear that funding was needed in order to move the project forward. In fall 2019, after obtaining postdoctoral research funding to support my work on this project, I began work on next steps, including a planning session, held in January 2020 at the John R. Delaney Youth Centre, and hosted by its director Doug Jeffries (also a former Leaders Corps member). Although COVID-19 pandemic has slowed progress and prevented further community visits, we have nonetheless made progress in refining and advancing our development plan and applying for funding to support it, with priority emphasis on the YMCA Leaders Corps Reunion and Celebration of Community Leaders planned for July 2021.

My Role and SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Concordia University

I am developing this project with James Bay Cree leaders and educators, many of them fellow alumni in the Moose Factory YMCA Leaders Corps, where I was a member from 1988 to 1993, serving as President in my final year (1992-1993).


My role as project coordinator and researcher is currently supported by a postdoctoral fellowship, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and held at Concordia University's School of Community and Public Affairs, under the mentorship of Professor Daniel Salée. In order to secure this funding, I submitted a research plan and application to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. 


My SSHRC postdoctoral research plan can be downloaded here

"Envisioning a Reconciled Canada: Lessons in Leadership and Reciprocity from the James Bay Cree and Fifty Years of a Transformative YMCA Program among them."


This plan informs my participation as a post-doctoral research fellow in the larger project project, and it summarizes the perspective and vision I bring to it. However, the vision and objectives of the larger shared project are determined by the Steering Committee as a whole.

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