top of page

Illustrations by Ocean Kiana

Dr. Melanie Goodchild, Anishinaabe (Ojibway), moose clan, is a design and innovation strategist with over 30 years’ experience working with First Nations communities.  Her practice has transitioned from applied sociology to Anishinaabe, decolonial and participatory approaches to better understand how to tackle complex systems challenges.  With a Ph.D. in Social and Ecological Sustainability from the University of Waterloo, she has worked on transformative systems initiatives with other practitioners and scholars around the world.  Melanie is a contributing faculty member with the Presencing Institute's u-school for Transformation at MIT and the Wolf Willow Institute for Systems Learning.  She is passionate about utilizing complexity-aware tools together with Anishinaabe gikendaasowin (our original ways of knowing) to support innovation at scale.  She is a Systems Changer in Residence with the Canadian Association of Science Centres (CASC); the Academic Director of Makwa Waakaa’igan at Algoma University; and a research associate at NORDIK Institute.  Melanie is a certified 3 Horizons facilitator and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Awareness-Based Systems Change.  She is currently an advisor to the Edge Finance Accelerator at Solvable; a member of the Measuring Systems Practice Development Group with the Social Impact Exchange in New York City; a Systems Coach with the Center for Care Innovations in California; and she serves as a member of Policy Horizons Canada’s Deputy Minister Steering Committee.  Melanie holds an MA and HBA in Sociology from Lakehead University and she was a university finalist for the Alumni Gold Medal at the doctoral level in the Faculty of Environment, 2023 recipient.  She is an alumna of the International Women’s Forum Leadership Foundation’s Fellows Program (2015/16) sponsored by Harvard Business School and INSEAD.  Dr. Goodchild is from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg, Aroland, Couchiching and Ketegaunseebee First Nations and she resides in Bawating with her family.    

About Me

Presenting niigani miinigowiziiwin

This beautiful gaa-gii-kwe-win (teaching) is the story of my walk in the woods with complexity.  Stories are mashkiki (medicine) and this spirit being has been brought to life through a collaboration with Greater Good Studio, Anishinaabe artist Ocean Kiana, and by yarning with my relatives Eleanor Skead and Bert Landon.  Miigwech (thank you) for being here, to share in the telling of this story.  You can view the digital flibook or click on the side arrows below to advance through the storybook.  You can also play the audio of me reading the story.

Screen Shot 2023-02-04 at 8.19.14 PM.png
Niigani Miinigowiziiwin StoryMelanie Goodchild
00:00 / 08:18

story info sheet

You can download a PDF handout about the Niigani Miinigowiziiwin story here.  Please feel free to share it with your communities of practice.  It features a QR code for easy access to this page.  We can walk together in the woods of complexity.


Illustrator Ocean Kiana's iPad recording, progress on the composition for Niigani Miinigowiziiwin (we give these gifts to the future)

Greater Good Studio

Screen Shot 2023-06-30 at 1.41.51 AM.png
Leaf Pattern Design

Turtle Island institute

With gratitude to the Waterloo Institute for social Innovation & Resilience (WISIr)

During my doctoral studies at the University of Waterloo I was offered protective space to establish a new entity, a think & do tank, called Turtle Island Institute (TII).  From 2016-2019 WISIR at UW incubated the initiative led by me and supported by Dr. Dan McCarthy, Dr. Frances Westley and my colleague Erin Alexiuk (PhD candidate at UW).  I would like to acknowledge the Elder's Circle who gifted us with so much wisdom and also the generosity of funders like the McConnell Foundation, the Mastercard Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Suncor Energy Foundation for supporting me and my work with this non-profit start-up.  The initiative now resides on the MakeWay shared platform and I left in 2021 to pursue other pathways to sharing knowledge.  While some online resources may mention the institute and me as the founder, I am no longer affiliated with TII. 

Systems & complexity consulting

A systems approach

I am a doctoral candidate in Social & Ecological Sustainability at the University of Waterloo, School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability in the Faculty of Environment, studying systems thinking, social innovation and complexity science, and I am a Research Fellow with the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation & Resilience.  To make real and lasting change we need to recognize that we are part of the systems we seek to change.  I facilitate collective wisdom journeys to uncover pathways to heal self, and heal systems.


My consulting company is Gaa-gitigewaad and it is located in Ketegaunseebee First Nation.  I help communities & teams engaged in systems transformation work get a solid grounding in systems principles and practices from a uniquely Anishinaabeg perspective. 

bottom of page