About Us

Keepers of the Circle is operated by the Temiskaming Native Women’s Support Group (TNWSG), a non-profit organization incorporated in 1997 to fill a services gap for Indigenous women and their families. The organization is governed by our board of directors whose members are Indigenous women from our communities.

Our organization is guided by a Council of Wisdom Keepers that is composed of elder members of First Nations within our geographic territory.


Who we are

We're a family focused and community-oriented organization that values respectful and judgement free relationships. Our organization honours the unique circumstances of each individual and the power of the collective to enact positive change.

Core Values

Our core values are rooted in the interconnectedness and balance of the Medicine Wheel and the Seven Grandfather Teachings. We incorporate Anishinaabe teachings into our programming, and honour the unique circumstances of each individual and the power of the collective to enact positive change.

Holistic Approach

We take a holistic approach to enhancing and fostering the social, economic, and cultural well-being of Indigenous women and their families by incorporating traditional knowledge and on-the-land learning.


The Medicine Wheel underlines the need for balance and encompasses all aspects of life — past, present, and future.

It is a reminder of the interconnectedness of creation and our roles and responsibilities to creation and to ourselves. It provides the foundation of why the organization exists, to help Indigenous families achieve this balance within their own circles and live Mino-Bimaadiziwin (the Good Life).


The Seven Grandfather Teachings are the guiding principles upon which decision-making and actions are based.

Our organization follows these teachings to action our vision and responsibilities. These principles can be applied broadly to many groups and we honour this Anishinaabe set of principles because they are inherently valuable and honour the Council of Three Fires and the geographical location of our centres being on traditional Ojibwe and Algonquin territory.



To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom.


To know love is to know peace.


To honour all of Creation is to have respect.


Is to face problems with integrity.


In facing a situation is to be brave.


Is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation.


Is to know all of these things.


Board of Directors

For more information about our board function, meetings or if you’d like to join please contact Alexandra Bridges, at a.bridges@keepersofthecircle.com

Bertha Cormier

Executive Director

Bertha Cormier is the Executive Director (ED) of the Temiskaming Native Women's

Support Group (operating name: Keepers of the Circle) and prior to her role as ED, she was a volunteer Board member of the Temiskaming Native Women’s Support Group for six years. Bertha is a respected Indigenous woman leader and member of Matachewan First Nation who resides in her community where she stays connected to her culture, Elders and ways of knowing and being. She also has significant experience in government, having worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) for two decades, first as a Resource Liaison Specialist and then as the Indigenous Relations Advisor.

Darlene Bowen


Darlene Bowen is a home-grown Northerner with deep ties to the agricultural community. She has enjoyed a life-long involvement in community service through her volunteer participation with many local boards and projects. Darlene joined the board in 2023 after a long career as a beef farmer, agricultural advocate, and assistant to members of Provincial Parliament.

Darlene has served as chairman for several organizations including the New Liskeard Agricultural Society, Northdale Manor, Harris Township 100th Anniversary Committee and the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association. She has served on nonprofit boards at the local, provincial, and National level. As a family, Darlene, Claude and their sons Mitchell and Morgan volunteered with the Temiskaming Family and Children Services as a foster parent family for more than a decade.

Darlene retired from her position in the office of the local MPP in 2022 but remains active in our community. Currently, she enjoys her role as President of Keepers of the Circle, her part time position with Victim Services, volunteering with on-going community projects, exploring her indigenous roots and enjoying the company of her family and friends.

Rollie Allaire


Rollie Allaire, also known as Geegado Megwan Kwe (means Talking Feather Woman) is a proud Métis woman. Her journey of rediscovering and learning her heritage is driven by a profound commitment to pass this invaluable knowledge to future generations, starting with her grandchildren. Her belief in the power of knowledge, coupled with her strong focus on family and community is a continuation of her personal mission to understand and share the richness of her culture. She hopes to contribute to a future where indigenous heritage is not only remembered but also celebrated and integrated into the lives of the younger generations symbolized as a bridge between the past, present, and future, embodying the spirit of resilience and cultural continuity.

Toni Plante


Meet Toni. Toni is native to the area and is of Mohawk descendance. She has one daughter and two grandchildren who are her pride and joy. Toni was employed at Wabi Iron & Steel Corp from 1987-2012. In the winter you can find her out on the lake, slaying walleye if not she’s most likely spending some time in the Caribbean. She enjoys riding her motorcycle, and spending time outdoors in the summer.

Lorie L


Lorie L - Wah-beh Manitoba Mukwa Kwe is a proud Algonquin (Mattawa) who is passionate about representing, supporting, and encouraging others. She has a background in Psychology. She is determined, passionate for upholding other people’s voices and has sincere love for her community and family above all things.

Brianna Toulouse


Brianna is currently studying Community & Justice Services at Algonquin College and hopes to continue her studies in Indigenous Studies at Carleton University. As a queer Indigenous woman, she understands the specific issues and challenges Indigenous communities face, particularly Indigenous women, youth, and those who are a part of the LGBTQlA+ community. Brianna is committed to empowering Indigenous women and advocating for their rights and well being. Her firsthand experience and understanding of these issues as a young women will allow her to provide a unique perspective and contribute to discussions surrounding our organization’s initiatives.

Lorette McKnight


My name is Lorette McKnight. I was born and raised in Haileybury, On. I am married and have three adult children. I live on the shores of Lake Temiskaming in Lorraine Township just on the outskirts of Temiskaming Shores part of the Abitibi Inland Historic Metis Community. My career was spent in Office Administration. I am Metis on my father’s side. I am supposedly retired but spending my time volunteering for the Temiskaming Métis Community Council as President. Albeit demanding, I have enjoyed this role as it has provided me with many opportunities to meet people throughout our District of Temiskaming and to help our citizens. I personally enjoy fishing and spending time walking around our beautiful environment.

I enjoy volunteering and have sat on numerous committees throughout my career. I believe that it is very important that as a Metis, I bring my voice and all Metis voices to the table.

In 2023 during the MNO's AGA, I was named Volunteer Women of the Year by my peers. Sharing my knowledge and culture is of utmost importance. My vision is to share my Metis culture in the spirit of respect, transparency, and inclusion and in the principle of dignity.


Council of Wisdom Keepers

The Council of Wisdom Keepers was established in 2013 by the Temiskaming Native Women’s Support Group. The Council, with members from every First Nation in Timiskaming District and the Temiskaming Métis Community Council, came together to guide Keepers of the Circle in its implementation of the District of Temiskaming Indigenous Cultural-Linguistic Cultural Competency Framework.

Language and cultural reclamation and the re-establishment of traditional Elder roles has transformed how Keepers of the Circle and our partner agencies make program decisions. In keeping with traditional practices the Elders Council relies on the accumulated knowledge of the group as a whole, makes joint decisions, and conveys their conclusions through their spokespersons. The Elders Council stresses the importance of engaging local Elders and cultural teachers in service delivery because they alone understand the history, customs and tribal relationships in the territory. The Elders Council will refer individuals and agencies seeking traditional knowledge, cultural practices and healing supports to the appropriate person.

Liliane Ethier

Marcia Martel-Brown

Tom Wabie

Mario Batisse

Marilyn Chevrier-Wills

For more information about the Council of Wisdom Keepers or opportunities to meet and learn from our members please contact Debbie McMullen, Wisdom Keepers Liaison by email at d.mcmullen@keepersofthecircle.com