Layton Indigenous Award Celebration

The Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation and the Institute for Change Leaders (ICL) are honoured to announce the recipient of the inaugural Jack Layton Indigenous Leadership Award: 

Ellen Blais, Director of Indigenous Midwifery at the Association of Ontario Midwives!

Ellen and her team work with communities for reproductive justice, and envision a future with an Indigenous midwife for every Indigenous community.

The ICL, in partnership with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, is thrilled to host a public, in-person celebration of Ellen’s inspiring leadership for change on May 11th, 2022, 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET.

In-person: Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, 16 Spadina Road, Toronto, ON

Via Zoom (register here for the Zoom link)

“I truly believe that midwifery in Indigenous communities is fundamental to healing community and is ‘spirit work’ as an elder once said many years ago,” Ellen says. “I will receive this award on the land of my people, the Haudenosaunee, with the community of midwives standing beside me.”

Will you join us to celebrate Ellen’s incredible work and hear her share her story?


Jack Layton was inspired by Indigenous activists like Ellen. The Layton Indigenous Leadership Award, part of the Layton Legacy project, carries on Jack’s important work by recognizing and supporting Indigenous activists who are powerful changemakers. This $5,000 award includes the opportunity to receive leadership training at the ICL

The recipient of the Layton Indigenous Leadership Award was determined by a distinguished panel of Indigenous judges, Sarah Cunningham, Mike Perry, and Robert Chamberlin, who highlighted Ellen’s passion, self-giving, important work, and commitment to her community.

The award comes at a time when Indigenous midwives have been working for over 20 years as community governed midwives. As of July 1st, Indigenous midwives finally received OHIP billing numbers enabling them to practice equitably with other registered midwives. 

The timing of the Layton Indigenous Leadership award aligns with this historic advance. Indigenous women and pregnant people and their newborns have the highest health outcomes challenges in Canada, making the work to restore Indigenous midwifery vital and urgent.

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