Our Team

Matthew (Matt) Tapper - Chief Executive Officer

Matthew (Matt) Tapper is Mi'kmaw and a proud member of the Sipekne'katik First Nation in Nova Scotia. He has spent his entire career working in the field of Indigenous Business and Economic Development and has spent the past 9 years as the General Manager of an Aboriginal Financial Institution, where he has been responsible for the development and growth of new programming to respond to the needs of Indigenous Entrepreneurs.

As CEO of the Aboriginal Sport Circle, Matt looks to continue his respectful and transparent approach to management. He plans to apply his past experience working at regional and national tables to continue strengthening the ASC's position as national advocate for Indigenous sport, recreation and physical activity. He is also excited to bring his professional experience together with his passion for supporting youth and Communities involved in sport. Matt is a National Coaching Certification Program certified coach, has been involved in the Nova Scotia Indigenous Girls Hockey Program, acted as a member of the executive team for Team Mi'kmaw Nova Scotia attending NAIG 2023, and has attended the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships as part of the coaching staff for the female Team Atlantic.

Vanessa McGregor - Senior Manager, Governance, Communications and Human Resources

Vanessa is Ojibway from Whitefish River First Nation in Ontario. She grew up in her home community where her mother and father instilled strong values, principles and traditions. Vanessa graduated from Algonquin College with an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration - Human Resources. She has worked progressively in administrative roles for the past 6 years and has held positions within her home First Nation, the Assembly of First Nations, and the First Nations Education Administrators Association.

Chesare Cardinal, Senior Manager, Programs and Education

Chesare (Ches) Cardinal is Nêhiyawak, born and raised in Amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton), Alberta, with roots in Saddle Lake Cree Nation and Thunderchild First Nations. Ches has obtained her Master's in Educational Policy Studies with a specialization in Indigenous Peoples Education; her research focuses on the traditional inclusive systems within the Nêhiyaw culture. Her professional experience includes ten years working within the community of Maskwacîs as an educator, five of those years being in administration. In addition to her educational background, Ches looks forward to utilizing her experience in non-profit organizations and sports to further the success of the Aboriginal Sports Circle. She was a founding board member for the Alberta Indigenous Games and is completing her National Coaching Certificate (NCCP) for beach volleyball to share her passion with others. Working with the Aboriginal Sports Circle to Ches means "providing more opportunities and reducing barriers for all First Nations, Métis and Inuit athletes."

Erin Kohli - Program Assistant

Erin is a university student studying Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa and has focused her studies on the accessibility of sport, inequities in sport, sport administration and global health. She has a special interest in sport for community development and has also conducted research on sport for reconciliation and will continue this fall, when she returns to her studies. Erin strongly believes in the power of sport to provide justice; build peaceful, accountable, and inclusive societies; and develop strong communities. She is excited to be working this summer for the Aboriginal Sport Circle in support of its mission to enhance Indigenous health and well-being while providing a voice for Indigenous people in sport.

Krista Hodder - Senior Programs and Events Coordinator

Krista is Mi'kmaw and was born, raised and is raising her family in Membertou First Nation, Nova Scotia. She developed the first comprehensive physical activity strategy for a Mi'kmaw community in the province, has brought the strategy to life and supported its sustainability. Krista has built partnerships inside and outside of the community resulting in significant changes, including leadership development and policy changes. Krista was named to the 2016 CAAWS Most Influential Women List in the Builder category. Krista is also a National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) certified coach and has her certification from the Aboriginal Coaching Module (ACM).

Jacob Ruest - Aboriginal Coaching Program Coordinator

Jacob was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario. As a youth, Jacob took a strong interest in the game of lacrosse. This led to many opportunities, including playing and coaching "the Creator's Game" in Mohawk communities such as Akwesasne, where lacrosse is believed to be a gift to Indigenous people from the Creator. These experiences greatly enriched his respect for Indigenous culture and traditions and ultimately shaped Jacob's life; today he plays professional lacrosse with the Albany FireWolves in the National Lacrosse League and is a sought-after engagement speaker and coach with youth in First Nation communities in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Quebec. He also continues to coach. Jacob earned a Master's in Human Kinetics with a concentration in Sports Management from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Robert Morris University, where he also played Division 1 lacrosse. Jacob looks forward sharing his knowledge of the sport landscape and applying his experience in building positive coaching and support systems for Indigenous athletes while at the ASC.

Jaime Carpenter - Indigenous Long-Term Participant Development Coordinator

Jaime is Ojibway from Lac Seul First Nation in Ontario, although she grew up outside one of her mother's home community of Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick. Jaime graduated from University of Ottawa with her MA in Human Kinetics where she used her own experiences of playing elite hockey to examine the experiences of 10 male and 10 female Indigenous hockey players who left home to play hockey in the mainstream context and identified the sex and gender-based differences of their experiences. She also obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion from Plymouth State University where she played on the varsity women's hockey team for all four years. Today, Jaime has shifted from playing hockey to coaching hockey in and around her community. She looks forwards to sharing her knowledge and experience at the ASC.

Mélissa Simard - Office and Communications Coordinator

Mélissa (sher/her/elle) graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Feminist and Gender studies background. She is now completing a Master of Education in Sport degree at Laval University with a focus on community practices regarding the inclusion of women coaches within the Québec sport system. Mélissa's maternal language is French and feels a strong pride towards her Franco-Ontarien community. She brings valuable professional experience to the ASC, having worked with the Coaching Association of Canada and the Ontario Women's Hockey Association. Mélissa has been long involved in the sport sector as both a hockey coach and a Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) leader, where her goal is help young girls reach the Active for Life stage. Mélissa is an advocate for social issues; she is an active ally for the LGBTQ2IA+ community and is a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) sport inclusion task force. Mélissa deeply believes in values-based leadership and is excited to support the ASC's vision and mission with a group of likeminded colleagues.

Ben Jones - National Strategy Project Manager

Ben is a member of the Metis Nation of Alberta and is a big supporter of Indigenous owned businesses and the communities right to self governance to also include the protection on their own land, culture and language. Ben has many years experience in project management, integration, software implementation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling and has a deep understanding of the latest project management methodologies, tools and techniques including Agile project delivery.

Ben has volunteered with the Indigenous sports community in Manitoba to provide input on governance, templates and overall project management methodology including knowledge sharing within the athletic space to implement project plans and structure to the way athletes plan, track and monitor their athletic goals and progress. He encourages anyone that has interested in the project management space to reach out to him to be able mentor individuals or organizations. Ben is very excited to work with ASC to give Indigenous communities a say in how they want athletic programs and initiatives delivered for their specific communities.