Marissa (Kenaytco) McIntyre is a mixed settler and First Nations woman of the Nlaka'pamux Nation born and raised in Surrey, BC. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in First Nations Studies from Simon Fraser University. Marissa previously worked for the Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association from 2018-2021 as an Indigenous At-Risk Youth Worker and Culture Night Coordinator before starting her current role with the Fraser Health Authority as an Indigenous Cultural Safety Educator.
Marissa has worked hard to reconnect with her culture over the last ten years and is constantly learning. She is so grateful for the opportunities she has been given to work alongside so many talented and knowledgeable Indigenous people, as well as the opportunity to serve her people by striving for system changes and widespread education.
As an Associate Consultant with LPC, Marissa provides training on Indigenous Cultural Safety & Humility, Indigenous Trauma & Equity Informed Practice, Appropriation vs. Appreciation, Decolonizing Substance Use, and Transformative Territory Acknowledgements. Here is everything about Marissa:
How did you meet Len?
Len was one of the people who interviewed me for my position with Fraser Health. I was offered the job and Len and I started working together and he helped me navigate the corporate world as an Indigenous person.
What has it been like working at LPC so far?
It has been so incredible. It allows me to have the ability in my professional life to show up and be -as Len puts it- unapologetically Indigenous. It’s been very balancing, humbling, and validating at the same time.
What was the first job you have ever had?
This answer is sort of a two-parter. I worked for two of the most kind and generous people in 70 Mile House, BC. I lived there every summer and I started my first year babysitting their first child when she was about 12 or 18 months old. They owned the local store there so in the following years I worked at the 70 Mile General Store, mostly in the deli, where time flew by. Shelly, who I worked with in deli, Krista, and Miguel got me through some of the hardest days of my life, though I don’t think they know it and I can’t thank them enough for how much they supported me.
What did you study in university and why did you choose that field?
My post secondary education experience was a rollercoaster of decisions. I started at Simon Fraser University in 2012 with the intention of doing a double major in First Nations Studies and Psychology and a minor in Criminology. I was flipping back and forth between the three for 3 years when I decided I wouldn’t continue Criminology to the upper levels and focused on the double major. I am not the best student when it comes to readings and testing and I found that format of grading to be very discouraging so in my fifth year I decided I would only do a Bachelor of Arts in First Nations Studies and an extended minor in Psychology. Unfortunately, I was given incorrect information from an advisor and when I went to finalize my graduation application there was an issue where I couldn’t graduate with the minor. Not wanting to withdraw my application and after already studying for 6 years, I decided to go ahead with attaining the BA in First Nations Studies. I originally wanted to go into First Nations Studies as a way to further my reconnection with culture. Most of the reconnection I have done has been after the degree helped me get into related fields of work.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Marissa and her cat, Pants
Is reconciliation for Indigenous people too?
Absolutely. However, our reconciliation journey looks very different than that of a non-indigenous person.
What advice would you give to young Indigenous facilitators, teachers, or leaders?
People appreciate your personal story more than you think they do. Don’t let imposter syndrome win.
Marissa and Allen McNabb
Do you have a mentor?
I have the privilege of having two mentors. The first is Allen McNabb who I met almost 13 years ago. He has been around for some very difficult times in my life and I am so grateful for him even if I don’t let him know that as much as I should. The second is Len himself. He has supported me through this very difficult work and taught me almost everything I know in this field. I can’t thank Len enough for everything he has done and the opportunities he has given me.
Thank you Marissa for all that you do for our clients and community at LPC!