Jesse Thistle is Métis-Cree and an Assistant Professor at York University in Toronto. He is a PhD candidate in the History program at York where he is working on theories of intergenerational and historic trauma of the Métis people. Jesse has won the P.E. Trudeau and Vanier doctoral scholarships, and he is a governor general medalist. Jesse is the author of the Definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada published through the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, and his historical research has been published in numerous academic journals, book chapters, and featured on CBC Ideas, CBC Campus, and Unreserved.

His memoir, From the Ashes, is a #1 national bestseller, a CBC Canada Reads finalist, winner of the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Nonfiction, an Indigenous Voices Award winner, a finalist for the High Plains Book Award, and an Indigo Best Book of 2019.


Jesse Thistle speaks on many issues surrounding mental health and addiction, homelessness, Métis history, empowerment and personal transformation.

Courage: Your life expands in proportion to your courage.

Using three dramatic instances of courage—one that has an odd connection with Jagmeet Singh’s family—throughout his life, Jesse will show how courage can be found in such odd places and during terrible events only to rise out of it to have a more complete understanding that courage, ultimately, needs vulnerability and that your world will expand in proportion to your courage.

Connection: How we make Wahkootahwin (Relatives)

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety but human connection. Jesse will show how through re-establishing social, physical, emotional, and spiritual connection with positive role models, peers, institutions, and family and friends, one can truly get better from social dislocation, cultural separation, and bad choices, and achieve monumental things. Jesse knows the power of connection first-hand and how it can take someone from anactive addict-criminal to a world-renown author and professor, and happily placed husband and father.

Resiliency: A Tool to Heal Intergenerational Trauma and Mental Health

Years and years of historic trauma and the mental health challenges that have sprung from it plague Jesse’s maternal and paternal families. Jesse will walk the listeners through his family history and will draw out examples of his and his family’s resiliency in the face of Canadian colonization. He will also chart out a pathway to wellness using his own lived experiences in the nation’s health and social service institutions and show that valuing our resiliency takes us from a victimhood narrative to an empowered forward-looking survivor narrative critical to positive goal setting for the future.

Kindness: The Stars that Light Our Way

Many times, Jesse, if you’ve read the international bestseller From the Ashes, almost died while cycling through the justice and homeless institutions in our country. Most would think shelter, freedom, or food were the most pressing issues for survival then, but Jesse will show how it was actually kindness—both from people he knew and total strangers—that ultimately saved his life numerous times. A lesson he wants to bring audience members, especially as Covid has made many of our fuses shorter.

Agency: The Power of Choice

One of the most important lifelines to helping someone struggling with addictions and social dislocation is to allow them the space and knowledge that they hold the power of ultimate change. They hold the power of choice. Of course, as Jesse will show, you also need people to help you change, but, truthfully, it is secondary to someone making the decision to change—you need this first and foremost. Jesse will show in multiple ways how we all are the masters of our future.