Michele Whaley


Michele Whaley was born in Bethel, Alaska. Early travels to visit grandparents in Europe gave her a love for languages. She has been teaching Russian for over 30 years, and now trains teachers to use Comprehensible Input methods for guiding student language acquisition. Whaley has garnered awards from her school district, from Alaska, and nationally for her work with students, teachers, and language advocacy groups. She is passionate about saving Native American languages and giving all students access to language instruction. She has presented for small groups of teachers in the Pacific Northwest and large conferences across the US, from Alaska to Boston and across the Atlantic in Russia and the Netherlands. Every time she meets teachers, she learns something new.

Janice Michel-billy

Immersion Teacher

Janice Michel-Billy will share her passion for all things immersion. Including teaching using TPR, TPR Storytelling and developing literacy in immersion classrooms.

Robert Matthew

Education Director, Adams Lake Band

Educator Robert Matthew will share his vast experience of working with Elders on the land and teaching in an immersion setting.

Lawrence Michel

Secwepemc Elder/Storyteller

Lawrence Michel has generously shared his knowledge of the land and the stories of the Secwepemc of the Cstelenec area to generations of Chief Atahm school students.

Meet Our Presenters

Dr. Bill Cohen

Okanagan Educator & Artisy

Dr. Bill Cohen is from the Okanagan Syilx people with extensive kinship ties throughout BC and Washington. He is an educator, artist, story-teller and author. He has illustrated several children's books. He has worked with and learned from Indigenous peoples' transforming schooling projects and educational leaders in North America, Aotearoa/NZ, China and Tibet. The focus of Bill’s continuing research is to identify, understand and theorize the transforming potential of Indigenous and Okanagan knowledge and pedagogy. He developed the Spider's Web pedagogical model. Dr. Cohen facilitates Indigenous Studies at Okanagan College.

Dr. Natalie Chambers

Instructor & Consultant

Dr. Natalie Chambers is from London, England. She has lived in Okanagan Syilx territory with her husband and children since 2001. Natalie worked closely with cultural knowledge keepers and leaders in culture and language renewal in the Okanagan Indian Band community to support community members to share their knowledge. Natalie works to as a sessional instructor in Indigenous Studies and Anthropology at UBCO and TRU.


N/K Immersion Teacher

Chief Atahm School's kindergarten teacher with a wealth of information to share on emergent literacy in immersion. She will present about "Reading Well in the Language"

Kathryn Michel

Curriculum Developer

Dr.Kathryn Michel has worked extensively in immersion program development including community language programming, language nests, immersion education and curriculum. She is the writer of the First Nations Language Essentials (FNSA/FNESC 2018)

Sekwaw Matthew/Sarah Michel

Language Nest Teachers

Sekwaw Matthew is a young, vibrant Secwepemc speaker who works in Chief Atahm’s language nest. She brings new life into the centre with her fresh ideas and ability to generate enthusiasm through social media.

Sarah is a former student in the immersion program at Chief Atahm School. She works in the language nest and is on her third year of the Mentor-Apprentice program. Sarah also works part-time in the curriculum department and is adept at all things digital.

Aliana Parker

First People's Cultural Council

Aliana Parker is the Language Programs Manager at First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC). She works closely with community partners to coordinate language programs, develop resources and tools, and deliver training workshops.

Suzanne Gessner

First People's Cultural Council

Suzanne Gessner is a language activist and instructor. As part of the language team at First Peoples’ Cultural Council she assists with community-driven language revitalization initiatives across British Columbia.

Contact Us

Find out more about us.