Denise McLeod

Professor, Community Organizer, Artist
Indigenous Women in Community Leadership, 2019

As part of the last generation of the ‘Sixties Scoop’, Denise, who is originally from Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, was raised in the north-west of Toronto by a non-Indigenous family. Denise proudly defines herself as an urban Indigenous Indigi-Queer woman, and is interested in the reclamation of language, culture and ceremony as that has been a large part of her healing. 

Denise dedicates her time and efforts to her passion: preserving the cultures and traditions of Indigenous/Anishinaabe peoples. She is committed to creating positive spaces that break down stereotypes and barriers where Indigenous peoples can be proud to identify their Nationhood. This especially flows through her work as a professor of Indigenous content at the post-secondary level.

Denise is also a founding member of two collectives, both Toronto-based: an Indigenous Women’s comedy collective, Manifest Destiny’s Child, and Ode’Min Giizis Full Spectrum Doula Collective. She is proud to have recently created an art space for Indigenous women to reconnect with their bodies, reclaim their voice, and perform.

 What inspires you? 

 “My daughters inspire me. As a young Indigenous mother, I wanted to make sure that I was able to show them that we can be successful. Also, that success can look many different ways. I am also inspired by all the Indigenous women who have come before me. I thank and honour all that they have done to create paths for the generations that came after them.” 


“Create boundaries early in your career. It is important for your self-care.

No is a full sentence.”

Denise McLeod