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.

Sandi Swanigan - Chief Operating Officer

Sandi brings over 25 years of international senior and executive management experience in the private, public and international major event sectors to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) position. Her work focus is to support the ASC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Board and Membership by keeping ASC operations running smoothly and positioning the organization for sustainable growth. Working closely with the ASC's national office team, Sandi looks to meet strategic and operational objectives through program introduction and innovation, general process improvement, sound financial management, funding diversification and resource capacity building. Sandi has served on numerous boards and government planning teams, and, at times in her career, has worked on traditional Indigenous lands and with Indigenous communities in the Southwestern United States and Coastal British Columbia.

Kelsey Dayler - Programs and Events Manager

Kelsey graduated from Lakehead University with an Honours Bachelor of Kinesiology Degree. She brings valuable professional experience as Director of Recreation in Hamlet of Tulita (NWT) and event coordination to her role at the ASC. Kelsey has a sports background; she competed as a high-performance wrestler throughout university and is now a wrestling coach. She also has experience working in the Athletic Department of Lakehead University.

Vanessa McGregor - Administrative and Information Services Manager

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.

Krista Hodder - Acting Indigenous Coach Education & Development Manager

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.

Heidi Lucas - Program Assistant

Heidi is an urban Inuk from Smiths Falls, Ontario. She is currently completing her bachelor's degree at Harvard College studying Government with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration and Rights. Heidi has worked with many student organizations such as the Natives at Harvard College and Varsity Rugby Team to create educational programs concerning civic engagement, cultural competency and public policy. She loves playing rugby and has participated in various varsity and club teams since high school. Sport has always played an important role in Heidi's life and has shaped her core values. Heidi is excited to be working with the Aboriginal Sport Circle because she believes in supporting the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities. She also strongly believes in the transformative power of sport within the lives of Indigenous youth.

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 to do so in Fall 2022, 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.

Derek Sagima - Financial Consultant

Derek is a Certified Aboriginal Financial Manager as well as a CPA, CA and CFE. With almost 30 years financial management and advisory experience and more than 20 years consulting and leading organizational initiatives, Derek brings perspective and established leadership, strategy, policy, and financial knowledge and experience to advisory engagements. Since 2006 Derek has focused his career on working with Indigenous communities and Indigenous not-for-profit organizations to achieve their planned outcomes, strengthen relationships and systems/capacities, and manage financial and human resources. Derek is a member of Wiikwemkoong First Nation.

Mélissa Simard - Office 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.