John Henri Commanda
KBE Knowledge Keeper
John Henri Commanda is Ojibway and a member of the Eagle Clan. He is an inter-generational survivor of the Indian Residential School System, and a survivor of the 60’s Scoop.
While employed in the federal public service for almost 36 years, John Henri was active on a number of committees dedicated to enhancing Indigenous rights and creating equal opportunities under the Employment Equity Act. He was elected as the first Chairperson of the Aboriginal Employees Network within the Aboriginal Employees’ Circle of Employment & Social Development Canada (ESDC), which was launched in December 2010. During his tenure as Chair, he also served as Co-chair of the Champions & Chairs Circle for Aboriginal People, the national employment equity committee representing Aboriginal Employee Networks from 40 departments, agencies and organizations. Its mission was to identify areas where the federal public service could improve or enhance opportunities for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people through the creation of Aboriginal-specific programming, initiatives or activities throughout the public service.
John Henri has also been a union activist for more than 30 years. As a facilitator with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), and ESDC, John Henri led cultural awareness training courses, workshops and information sessions for a variety of audiences within the federal public service and the union movement. In 2015, he received the PSAC Community Race Relations award for his work in cross cultural awareness training and for advocating on behalf of designated groups under the Employment Equity Act in the National Capital Region (NCR).
John Henri is an active member of the Indigenous community in the NCR. As well as being on the Odawa Native Friendship Centre Board of Directors, he served as its President from 2012-2013. He was also President of the Sault Ste. Marie Indian Friendship Centre from 1995 – 2000.