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Our People

We believe that our success is the product of the diverse ideas, experiences, and personalities that our employees bring to IO. Learn more about some of our employees, their roles, and the career paths that led them to IO.

Natalie Budzinsky (Shawanaga First Nation, Turtle Clan), Indigenous Relations Specialist

Natalie Budzinsky with her dog

What does your role entail? As an Indigenous Relations Specialist for the southwest, my role includes being the main point of contact for Indigenous communities and organizations within the region, carrying out the procedural aspects of the Duty to Consult on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure, and identifying opportunities for Indigenous engagement and inclusion.

What is your career background? I have a diploma in Business Management from Humber College which led to a placement as an Administrative Assistant for a biomedical company. However, once I welcomed my daughter to the world, I set out on my journey to reclaim our Indigenous teachings, protocols, ceremonies, traditions, culture, and art for our family. This led me to the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) where I took on Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant, and Interim Senior Executive Assistant roles. I am grateful for my time there as it allowed me to support various workgroups and directors from training, research, policy, and program areas, and the board of directors. This allowed me to develop an in-depth understanding of the needs and diversity of urban Indigenous communities across the province, insight into government and academic nuances, and an awareness of other Indigenous non-profits. After six years with the OFIFC, my spirit felt compelled to continue my learning journey and saw IO as an opportunity to connect with First Nations and Indigenous communities in a more impactful way.

Can you share your biggest accomplishment at IO? The Indigenous Initiatives team was formed in the fall of 2021 and I was hired on as the second team member at the end of summer 2022. Understandably, there were a lot of foundational systems, tools, and resources that needed to be developed and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in those developments. However, my heart will always feel the fullest when engaging with Indigenous communities.

What would your advice be to a new employee? When I think of giving advice, I think of my Elders and teachers and so what I share is what I’ve learned from them. When I share this, I think specifically of the next generation of Indigenous employees that will come after me. The work of Indigenous initiatives, relations, rights, economic inclusion, truth and reconciliation… it is hard work, but it is good work, it is important work. To be resilient means we must pause from time to time and ensure that our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects are balanced. Sometimes we must pause to tend to ourselves as individuals, before we can take on the obligations to the family, clan, or nation; or team, business line, or organization. Build that relationship with your spirit to know how to recognize this and give yourself the grace to take space. We come to IO with our Indigenous identities and when we honour that then great things can happen. Above all else, we are not alone. We have our ancestors, our communities, and our relations supporting us on this journey.

Is there someone at IO who inspires you, motivates you, or mentors you? Every day I give thanks to the growing community of Indigenous employees at IO. I believe you can learn from everyone, and I’ve been fortunate to welcome eight new employees from across Turtle Island into the circle since I started. I’m also grateful to our allies in our Indigenous Employee Resource Group and my Environmental, Social, and Governance teammates.

Who has inspired you professionally? I’m especially grateful for the Aunties and Uncles that I’ve met in Indigenous communities across Ontario through this work. I carry their advice, stories, skills, and compassion with care.