Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is an international speaker, artist and author who has addressed people on stages across North America, Asia, Europe and India. Michael cleverly combines his experience in indigenous politics and as an award-winning contemporary artist to deliver results-oriented presentations on social justice, community building, communication and change management. Each presentation is tailored to achieve specific outcomes and leave participants inspired to take new initiative and energized to engage.  

Michael offers exclusive insight into social justice, community building, communication and change management because from 1977 to 1998 he was an active member in the Council of the Haida Nation. During this time he was instrumental in building innovative alliances between Canadians and Haidas. Although the depth of his political work was vast, it was the area of alternative dispute resolution and negotiation with federal and provincial ministers that was the most rewarding. During Michael's term as Chief Councillor of Old Massett Village Council, and currently as a consultant (at an international level), he is celebrated for his ability to create and implement progressive structures and processes.  

Examples are:

  • The Christensen Fund, Trustee
    The Christensen Fund is a private foundation based in San Francisco, California that supports biocultural diversity and rights of Indigenous Peoples. The fund works in Central Asia, Africa, the South Pacific and Northern Mexico.
  • Gwaii Trust, Executive Member
    The Gwaii Trust Fund ($70+ million dollars) was established as a locally-controlled, interest-bearing fund to advance economic diversification and sustainable development. This fund was a ground-breaking solution to ensure indigenous development was controlled in ways that reflect their cultural and environmental uniqueness.
  • UNESCO, Consultant
    Michael consults on alternative structural and communication options to small island developing states.
  • 1985 Athlii Gwaii – First Nations successful blockade against BC logging, Organizer
    Michael and others successfully defended the blockading of industrial logging in Athlii Gwaii in South Moresby before the Supreme Court of British Columbia. This was the first time in decades that an Indigenous People successfully defended their land against Canadian interests. The Athlii Gwaii Blockade played a key historical role in influencing political, economic and legal landscapes across Canada.  Initially this included the innovative governance structures over the 1,495-square kilometre Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.
  • The Cedar Symposium, Moderator
    The Cedar Symposium brought together the Council of the Haida Nation, Provincial (BC) Ministry and forest industry stakeholders to discuss how to respond to the escalating tensions over the logging of cedar forests in Haida Gwaii. The Symposium further established credibility of Indigenous Peoples as informed and competent managers of human activity in the forested landscape.

After Michael's career in politics he transferred his learned experiences and created an art form that is celebrated by the international arts community for its ability to offer insight on how to merge disparate and opposing tendencies.
Michael believes in the power of art as a communication and team-building tool and is willing to facilitate a large-scale group mural at the end of the presentation. He recently did this at TEDxVancouver and the American Museum of Natural History and had over 1,000 people contribute to the mural at each.

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is an award-winning visual contemporary artist, author and professional speaker. His artwork has been seen in public spaces, museums, galleries and private collections across the globe. Institutional collections include the British Museum, Vancouver Art Gallery, Seattle Art Museum, Calgary's Glenbow Museum and Vancouver's Museum of Anthropology. His large sculptural works are part of the public art collection of the Vancouver International Airport, City of Vancouver, City of Kamloops and University of British Columbia. Yahgulanaas's publications include national bestsellers Flight of the Hummingbird and RED, a Haida Manga. When not writing or producing art, Yahgulanaas pulls from his 20 years of political experience and travels the world speaking to businesses, institutions and communities about conflict resolution, social change and leadership. His most recent talk was at TEDxVancouver 2015 to an audience of over 2500.

From 1981 to 1998, Yahgulanaas was an active member in the Council of the Haida Nation and was instrumental in building innovative alliances between Canadians and Haidas. Although the depth of his political work was vast, it was area of alternative dispute resolution and negotiation with federal and provincial ministers that fuelled his passion to use art and speaking opportunities as a third space for critical engagement.

In the late 1990s after an exposure to Chinese brush techniques, Yahgulanaas consciously began to merge Haida and Asian artistic influences into his self-taught practice, and innovated the art form called "Haida Manga." Haida Manga is committed to hybridity as a positive force and offers an empowering and playful way of viewing and engaging with social issues as it seeks participation, dialogue, reflection and action.

As a speaker, Yahgulanaas cleverly combines his experience in politics and as an artist to deliver powerful talks on conflict resolution, social change and leadership - talks that act as the catalyst for positive change.


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