Minister Miller builds his Crown-Indigenous relations team, with Kettler promoted to deputy chief of staff

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller now has much of his ministerial office in place, promoting a number of staff to fill senior roles, including Kathy Kettler, who now wears the title of deputy chief of staff.

Kettler comes from Miller’s old Indigenous services team, where she’d been director of operations since August 2020. She first joined that office as a senior adviser for Northern regional affairs under then-minister Jane Philpott in 2017—her first job with the federal government.

Kettler arrived on the Hill fresh from a year-and-a-half long run as a senior policy adviser for mental wellness with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK).

Kathy Kettler is now Miller’s deputy chief of staff. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

After earning a bachelor’s degree in geography at the University of Western Ontario in the late ‘90s, Kettler went on to spend roughly 13 years as a records management co-ordinator with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, a non-profit corporation created by the federal government in 1998 to address the impacts of the residential school system in response to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, funding for which ceased in 2014. Kettler next spent four-and-a-half years, between 2012 and 2016, as a policy analyst with the Assembly of First Nations’ residential schools unit, after which she joined the ITK. 

Kettler, an Inuk from Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, also performs as part of a throat-singing duo, Nukariik, with her sister, Karin.

Griffin Marsh, who similarly comes from Miller’s old Indigenous services offices, has been promoted to director of policy to the Crown-Indigenous relations minister.

Griffin Marsh is in charge of Miller’s policy shop. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Marsh first joined the Indigenous services office in 2018 as a special assistant for B.C. regional affairs and operations under then-minister Philpott, fresh from a summer internship with the Liberal research bureau. He became a regional adviser for B.C. and Ontario in 2019, and in 2020, added “senior” to his title. Earlier this year, Marsh stepped in as acting director of policy to Miller. 

A graduate of McMaster University, Marsh spent the 2019 election as campaign manager to then-Liberal candidate Nikki Macdonald in Victoria, B.C., who ultimately came third in the race won by NDP MP Laurel Collins. During this year’s election, Marsh ran Liberal MP Patrick Weiler’s ultimately successful re-election campaign in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, B.C., which saw the MP weather a challenge from former Conservative MP John Weston and return to the House for a second term with roughly 33.9 per cent of the vote. 

Working under him is another Griffin, Griffin Kelly, who’s been confirmed as a policy and legislative assistant to Miller. Kelly comes from the minister’s old Indigenous services office, which she joined as a legislative assistant and assistant to the parliamentary secretary in October 2020. 

Kelly has a bachelor’s degree in peace, conflict, and justice studies and Canadian studies from the University of Toronto, after which, she moved to Edmonton to study for a master’s degree in sociology at the University of Alberta. While there, she worked as a research assistant to multiple professors, working on projects on reproductive rights and on mobile work and mental health in the Albertan oil sands. 

Sherry Smith, pictured with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. PMO photograph courtesy of Facebook

During her graduate studies, she volunteered in Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault’s constituency office in Edmonton-Centre, Alta., and later spent the summer of 2019 as an intern in his Hill office through the Liberal Summer Leadership Program. She’s also a former volunteer with the Elizabeth Fry Society and has blogged for the Fraser Riverkeeper, amongst other past experience. 

Senior adviser Sherry Smith has also moved over from Indigenous services, where she’d been since 2017, starting as a senior special assistant for the Western region under then-minister Philpott. Smith is a former operations manager with the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. In a Nov. 19 Facebook post noting her upcoming move to the Crown-Indigenous relations office, Smith wrote that she’s “so proud of the work accomplished over the last [four] years” and is “looking forward to the next chapter.” 

Diane Gauthier is also on board as a senior adviser to Miller. A former federal public servant, she’s previously been the Indigenous language lead with the Translation Bureau under Public Services and Procurement Canada and spent time as Natural Resources Canada’s national Indigenous organizations outreach lead.

Julia Carbone is Miller’s senior legal affairs adviser. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Julia Carbone has been named a senior legal affairs adviser to Miller. Her time working with Miller dates back to at least 2014, when she joined his burgeoning campaign team ahead of the 2015 election, which ultimately saw Miller elected to represent Ville-Marie-Le_Sud-Ouest-Îles-des-Soeurs, Que., in the House for the first time. Carbone, who has a background in law, continued as a legal counsel with Futurion Inc. post-election and was a course lecturer on intellectual and industrial property with McGill University’s Faculty of Law for the 2016 and 2017 winter terms.

In 2017, Carbone joined Miller’s constituency office team as an assistant, and roughly three-and-a-half years later became a policy and legal affairs adviser in his office as Indigenous services minister. 

After studying for a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and Italian studies at McGill, Carbone earned a bachelor of laws from the school and went on to earn a master of laws and PhD, both in intellectual property law, at Duke University. While in school, she worked as a researcher with McGill’s Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and later with the Duke Center for Genome, Ethics, Law & Policy, and between her master’s degree and PhD, she was a law clerk with the Federal Court of Appeal. 

Vanessa Adams is director of parliamentary affairs and issues management to Miller. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Vanessa Adams continues as director of parliamentary affairs and issues management to Miller, a role she first took on in his office as Indigenous services minister this past spring.

Adams has been a staffer on the Hill since 2017, starting out as an assistant in Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s office as the MP for Compton-Stanstead, Que. That fall, Adams joined the political staff ranks, becoming a special assistant for planning and operations to then-environment minister Catherine McKenna, through which she provided Quebec and Atlantic advice to the minister.

She moved over to then-natural resources minister Amarjeet Sohi’s office as press secretary and Quebec regional affairs adviser almost a year later. After the 2019 federal election—which she’s spent running communications for now-Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s re-election campaign in Laurier-Sainte-Marie, Que.—she joined Miller’s Indigenous services office as a senior communications adviser and press secretary. During this year’s election, Adams lent a hand as a communications co-ordinator for the Liberal campaign. 

Bryan Rourke has been promoted to director of operations in Miller’s new office. Rourke joined Miller’s old Indigenous services team as an executive assistant at the beginning of 2020, after roughly four years as a constituency assistant to Miller in Montreal. Within the year, Rourke had added the title of Quebec regional affairs adviser to his cap. 

Andrea Yellow Horn is a senior regional adviser for the Prairies. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Andrea Yellow Horn continues as a senior regional adviser for the Prairies to Miller, a job she first took on in November 2020 when he was minister of Indigenous services. Before then, Yellow Horn, who’s a member of the Piikani Nation in Alberta, had been a justice co-ordinator and office administrator with the Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council. 

From 2016 to 2019, Yellow Horn worked for the Alberta NDP, starting as an administrative officer supporting the government caucus. She later became a ministerial assistant, tackling policy, political advice, and stakeholder relations for then-Indigenous relations minister Richard Feehan, and in the fall of 2018 joined then-premier Rachel Notley’s office as a stakeholder relations manager. 

Alina Dewani is tackling regional advice for B.C. and the Territories. She, too, comes from Miller’s old Indigenous services team, where she’d been executive assistant to the minister’s chief of staff Mike Burton—who, as previously reported, has followed Miller to his new post—since the beginning of 2020. 

Zoyer ClaydenTabobondung, who—you guessed it—comes from Miller’s old Indigenous services office, has added a new responsibility to his cap. First hired as a regional assistant for Ontario to Miller in September 2020, he’s now a regional assistant for both Ontario and the Atlantic. ClaydenTabobondung graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law from Carleton University in 2019 and before joining Miller’s team was a legal research intern with the First Nations law firm Nahwegahbow, Corbiere. 

Victor Kandasamy is a new Quebec regional assistant and issues adviser to Miller. Photograph courtesy of LinkedIn

Victor Kandasamy is a new addition, taking on the role of Quebec regional assistant and issues adviser. Before joining Miller’s team, he was a parliamentary assistant to Quebec Liberal MP Soraya Martinez Ferrada, and worked on her successful 2021 re-election campaign in Hochelaga, Que. This past February, Kandasamy became director of operations for the Hochelaga Liberal riding association. Kandasamy is also a former aide to Jean-Yves Duclos, having spent almost half a year in his office as families minister and just under a year in his office as Treasury Board president after the 2019 election, which he’d spent as part of Duclos’ campaign team in Quebec, Que., as noted on his LinkedIn profile. 

Renelle Arsenault has joined Miller’s office as director of communications. A former federal public servant, she was most recently a senior adviser to Indigenous Services Canada’s departmental liaison. Before moving to the capital in 2017, Arsenault was a communications officer in the Atlantic regional office of the since-renamed department of Indigenous and northern affairs. She then became a senior communications adviser to the department’s director general in Ottawa and team lead for the ministerial liaison unit. 

Aïssa Diop is a special assistant for communications in the office. She joined Miller’s old Indigenous services team as a communications assistant this past summer and is currently in the midst of finishing a master’s degree in political science.

Finally, rounding out Miller’s near-complete team so far, is ministerial driver Jean Paul Dubois. 

In 2020-21, under then-Crown-Indigenous relations minister Carolyn Bennett, the office spent $1,242,569—all but roughly $10,000 of which was spent on personnel, according to the 2021 Public Accounts tabled on Dec. 14. 


The Hill Times

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