About Us

Our Mission Statement

Uniting Three Fires Against Violence is a statewide tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalition serving the Tribes located in Michigan. Our mission is to support Michigan Tribes in promoting the social change necessary to address the disproportionate rates of violence impacting our communities.

Our Staff

Rachel Carr

Executive Director

Rachel Carr is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Utilizing her experience working with and for tribal communities, she has presented on a variety of topics, including domestic violence and sexual assault in Indian Country, historical trauma, and improving the tribal systemic response to domestic violence and sexual assault (DV/SA). In addition to her professional experience, she recently completed her MSW to strengthen her ability to understand and broaden her perspective on complex social issues. Ms. Carr has also advocated for domestic violence legislation, including the Violence Against Women Act (2013), on the local, state and national level. Rachel currently serves as the Executive Director for Uniting Three Fires Against Violence (U.T.F.A.V). Prior to her current role, Ms. Carr served as the Policy Specialist for UTFAV and as a Victim Advocate for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians/Advocacy Resource Center.

Email: rcarr@utfav.org
Cell Phone: 906-440-4200

Hali McKelvie

Community Outreach Specialist

Hali McKelvie is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She has experience presenting to local tribal communities on various topics; discussing social change, domestic violence, and sexual assault in Indian Country; and improving the tribal response to DV/SA. Along with providing education for the Tribal membership and advocating for community members, she also advocated for the passing of the Violence Against Women Act (2013) at the national level. Hali has a strong background in substance abuse treatment and community reintegration. Hali has served as the Community Outreach Specialist for Uniting Three Fires Against Violence (U.T.F.A.V) since the fall of 2014. Prior to her employment with U.T.F.A.V., Hali served as their board treasurer and worked as a Community Educator for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians/Advocacy Resource Center.

Email: hmckelvie@utfav.org
Cell Phone: 906-259-2868

Vanessa Owaski-Patzwald

Training Coordinator

Vanessa Owaski-Patzwald is an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Vanessa has been the Training Coordinator at Uniting Three Fires Against Violence (U.T.F.A.V.) since January 2018. She previously worked for 12 years for her tribe, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, as a Court Reporter and then as Legal Secretary for the Advocacy Resource Center’s Legal Aid program. Vanessa is a graduate of Lake Superior State University with an associate degree in office administration. 


Email: vpatzwald@utfav.org 
Cell Phone: 906-440-9418

Heather Syrette

Division of Victim Services (DVS) Project Coordinator

Heather Syrette is an enrolled member of Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa in Harbor Springs, MI and Oneida First Nation of Ontario, Ca. She has a Bachelor Degree in Social Work with a minor in Psychology. Heather has experience working with Native families in Child Welfare, Domestic Violence, as well as Substance Abuse. She has additional experience working with Native people on and off the reservation. In her early years Heather worked in a Detroit Urban Native community helping low income Natives with employment. In more recent years Heather worked two years with the Department of Health and Human Services as an Indian Outreach Worker and Children’s Protective Services worker. Her experience being a front line worker leading individuals to seek help and assistance with programs through State and Federal funding has allowed her to understand the needs of Tribal communities. Advocating for Native rights has been part of her path. Heather is rooted into her culture and language and utilizes traditional teachings to guide her respectfully throughout Indian Country.

Email: hsyrette@utfav.org
Cell Phone: 906-203-5459

Our Board of Directors

Fred Jacko

Vice President

Christina Menard


Shanaviah Canales


Lori Jump

Board Member

Cleopatra Kleppert

Board Member

Elise McGowan-Cuellar

Board Member

Jami Moran

Board Member

Collin Church

Board Member

Elizabeth Cook

Board Member

Annie Thibert

Board Member

Organizational Goals

1. To ESTABLISH a network among advocates working in Indian County who are providing comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence.
2. To EMPOWER survivors of domestic violence.
3. To EDUCATE Tribal and non-Tribal communities in Michigan on issues of domestic violence.
4. To SUPPORT and PROMOTE quality services to native victims of crime.
5. To ENSURE native victims of domestic violence receive culturally appropriate services.
6. To EDUCATE service providers in Michigan working with native victims of crime about the complex issues that native victims and their families face.

Office Hours

Monday through Friday
8:00 am - 5:00 pm

StrongHearts Native Helpline
1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483)

Contact Us

2861 Ashmun St., Suite 4
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
Phone: (906) 253-9775 

 Fax (906) 253-9757


This project was funded by Grant No. 2017-IW-AX-0003 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice.  The opinions, findings, and recommendations expressed in this publication, program, exhibition are that of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

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