Eleanor Abbott (Paul)
Eleanor Abbott (Paul)
Qemachiye is Eleanor’s traditional name.
Eleanor was born and raised in Chilliwack and resides in her home community of Skwah First Nation. She has spent her career working for the Sto:lo communities, in various positions. Eleanor’s purpose was to mentor, encourage, support their own community members to take over positions that she was at one time in, every position was a success, and it made her heart full to see this.
She is passionate about helping Indigenous people move forward in a good way, especially the Elders and Youth as they are the past and the future – she wants to continue to introduce Youth back to their cultural and traditions. Eleanor loves to encourage and support Indigenous people, no matter where they are in life. As she had no one helping or supporting her growing up, she understands the feelings of isolation and loneliness that others who share this experience must be feeling.
Eleanor carries an abundance of patience for Indigenous people, supporting them to come to terms with what they are dealing with. She has always and will always be that listening person for them.
Cree lawyer, Lisa Abbott, gifted with the Indian name, Thunderbird Woman Who Travels Through Land. She is from the Treaty Six Territory and member of the Pelican Lake First Nation, and a very proud mother of two beautiful indigenous daughters. She feels privileged to be a visitor, who is working and living, in the lower mainland of British Columbia, in the traditional and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), QayQayt First Nation, Kwantlen, q̓íc̓əy̓ (Katzie), Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen First Nations, kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), and Stó:lō Nation.
Lisa earned her LL.B, Bachelor of Laws, from the University of Saskatchewan in 2005 and was called to the Ontario and Saskatchewan Bars in 2010. She has worked for the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) before starting her own law practice, in 2010. For over a decade, she has grounded her legal practice on a deep commitment and passion for access to justice and toward ameliorating the intergenerational impacts of colonization and assimilation.
As a staunch advocate for culturally relevant trauma-informed lawyering, she has assisted hundreds of former students through the Indian Residential and Federal Indian Day School claims processes and represented clients in both Criminal and Family/Child Protection legal systems. She has advocated for her clients at the Provincial Court, Queens Bench and Federal Court levels. Lisa’s legal career, to date, has uniquely prepared her to be a champion for the transformative change envisioned by the BC First Nation Justice Strategy and she is so pleased to join the team as a Staff Lawyer with the Virtual Indigenous Justice Centers.
On her free time, she is exploring local farmers markets, cooking for her adult daughters (who may never move out) or hiking one of the many vast trails in and around the lower mainland Vancouver with her dog, Chewie.
Rachel holds a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) from the School of Journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) as well as a Juris Doctor from the University of British Columbia.
Rachel has been a lawyer since 2014, following her articles at a national firm in Vancouver and her completion of a clerkship at the Alberta Court of Appeal. She has focused primarily on criminal justice law and policy, particularly involving claims of wrongful conviction. She is also experienced in research law and analysis in various areas of civil and commercial law. She has been named one of Canada’s 25 Most Influential Lawyers by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.
Through more than a decade of work on R. v. Tallio (the BC Court of Appeal case of Phillip Tallio, an Indigenous man who was convicted in the second-degree murder of his cousin in the Nuxalk community of Bella Coola, B.C. in 1983 and who continues to maintain his innocence), Rachel came to recognize the urgent need for reform in both the federal and provincial justice and correctional systems, particularly with regard to the overrepresentation of Indigenous individuals.
Rachel is grateful to live and work on the unceded territories of of the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation), as well as the Syilx Nation (Westbank First Nation).
In her spare time, Rachel enjoys oil painting, travelling with her partner, eating as much sushi and chocolate as possible, and spending time with family and friends (both human and canine).
Curtis is an experienced policy analyst and advisor who is committed to supporting First Nations in advancing transformative change within the Canadian justice system and the strengthening of Indigenous justice systems in BC.
Curtis has several years experience working directly with First Nations and First Nations organizations as a consultant and employee. Curtis holds a B.A. (Honours) in political science from Simon Fraser University, and a M.A. in public policy and public administration from Concordia University.
Curtis is honoured to work on the unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation), in addition to the Syilx Nation (Westbank First Nation).
Robin is a proud Metis woman who was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta.
She moved to the Okanagan in 2018 and is grateful to live on the ancestral and unceded traditional territory of the Sylix Nation.
Robin began her career in accounting before devoting much of her time to being a stay at home mom to her five boys. It wasn’t long before Robin discovered her strength and passion for advocation and began working as an Educational Assistant supporting high needs students within the school system. Shortly after moving to the Okanagan Robin pursued her other passion for law and moved into the legal field working as an assistant for a personal injury firm committed to achieving justice for injured victims.
Robin is honored to bring her knowledge and experience to the BCFNJC as we work to effect meaningful change for Indigenous people within the justice system.
Carlos Cabrera is a procurement and inventory management professional from the Dominican Republic (D.R.), who goes by he/him pronouns. Born and raised in the D.R., Carlos comes from a family with roots in Europe and Africa. He is the second eldest among seven siblings who now reside in different parts of the world, including Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.
Carlos his wife Mehgan and daughter Carlani have recently moved to the Syilx Nation, where Mehgan grew up with her family in West Kelowna. Prior to joining BCFNJC Carlos had been running his own business in Victoria which he sold to return to the Okanagan in support of being closer to Mehgan’s aging parents. Carlos is incredibly grateful to be living and working on the beautiful traditional and unceded territory of Syilx Okanagan Peoples.
Carlos is deeply committed to achieving excellence in all aspects of his life and wants to make a difference in the world, one conversation at a time. He brings a rich background in procurement and inventory management from multi-national companies to manufacturing companies, and he is excited about the opportunity to contribute his expertise to the BC First Nation Justice Council’s important work. In his free time, Carlos enjoys hosting friends and family in his home, riding bikes with his daughter, and exploring new interests, like his family’s recent passion for pickleball.
Amanda Carling (she/her) is Métis from Red River, Treaty One. She is a grateful guest on the unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan peoples with her partner Jesse, son Sam (5) and daughter Joy (2).
Amanda’s undergraduate studies were in criminology at the University of Manitoba (BA, 2007). Thereafter she joined the JET Programme and spent two years teaching high school English in Tosu, Japan. Amanda attended law school at the University of Toronto (JD, 2012) and articled with Innocence Canada. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 2013. Amanda served as president of the board for Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto from 2014 until 2020. In 2014, Amanda launched Innocence Canada’s National Legal Education Program to forward the organization’s mandate to prevent wrongful convictions. The same year Amanda was appointed by the Attorney General for Ontario to the Debwewin Jury Implementation Committee. In 2016 she returned to the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law as Manager of the Indigenous Initiatives Office, and Adjunct Faculty, where she oversaw the institution’s efforts related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action and taught a course on wrongful convictions. Amanda’s work in legal education was recognized by Precedent Magazine in 2020. Amanda has served on the Canada Committee of Human Rights Watch since 2016.
Amanda was called to the Bar of British Columbia in May 2022. She first joined the BC First Nations Justice Council in 2022 as a Senior Policy Lawyer. Within a few months, as the capacity of the organization grew, Amanda accepted the role of Chief Executive Officer. She has since led the organization in a restructure, creating a 7-Bundle system to best tackle the 25 Strategies and 43 lines of action that the organization is responsible for.
What compels Amanda to do this work?
Amanda has been outraged with the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the colonial justice system for as long as she can remember; in high school, she thought that the best way to combat injustice was to become a lawyer. However, while studying Canadian law, Amanda came to realize that lawyers weren’t only complicit in the genocide against Indigenous people – they facilitated it.
It was clear that Canada’s approach to justice required transformation. On one hand, it’s about making the colonial legal system less racist, less painful, and more representative. But even then, the colonial system does not work for Indigenous people and no amount of legislative reform, training or policy will change that. That is why Amanda has dedicated this chapter of her life to the Justice Council’s two-track mandate: to ameliorate the colonial system as it currently stands and to restore self-determination and advance sovereignty over justice for BC’s First Nations.
Amanda is proud to be leading the organization that is blazing a new trail for all those who have and continue to be victimized by Canada’s racist laws and institutions.
Michael Conlin is a proud member of the Syilx Okanagan Nation registered at Okanagan Indian Band. He joined the BC First Nations Justice Council in February 2022 as the Gladue Training and Education Coordinator.
Christina J. Cook
Christina J. Cook
Christina J. Cook is a First Nations woman; specifically, she is Status Indian and a proud member of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (signatory to Treaty #1).
Christina is a senior policy lawyer with the First Nations Justice Council. Christina was called to the bar in 2010. During her legal practice she has worked as in-house counsel for a large national insurer; private practice in both British Columbia and Manitoba; and most recently as a senior policy lawyer. Christina past experience is broad, including work in the areas of civil litigation, regulatory matters, and policy. She has appeared at all levels of Court in Manitoba and has appeared in the BC Supreme Court and BC Provincial Court.
Active in the community Christina has extensive board experience, community service and volunteer experience including Founder and Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Lawyers Forum (CBABC), Current Bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia, Director of the Pacific Association of First Nations Women, Past Chair of the Canadian Defence Lawyers D&I Committee. She holds her Bachelor of Arts from University of Winnipeg and her Bachelor of Laws Degree from University of British Columbia.
Clara Renault Teixeira Da Costa
Clara Renault Teixeira Da Costa
Clara is a Brazilian lawyer who moved to Canada in 2021 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Policy and Global Affairs, in the University of British Columbia. After learning about the colonial impacts in the lives of Indigenous people in Canada, Clara became interested in learning more about First Nations history, culture, laws, and traditions. Having the opportunity to work as a policy analyst with BCFNJC is a great honor and an amazing learning experience for Clara.
Clara worked as an intern at the Prosecutor’s Office of Underaged Infractions, where she had the opportunity to get to know the socio-educational system. Worked as an Institutional Modernization Advisor at the Penitentiary Administration Secretariat of the State of Maranhão, one of the poorest states in Brazil, having followed the implementation of measures imposed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights within the prison units of that state, which have already been considered the most violent in Brazil. She also has experience as teacher for children and teenagers living in the Brazilian favelas. Clara’s main interests are human rights, children’s and teenager’s rights, and gender equality.
Clara feels honored to live, study and work on the traditional unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation), in addition to the Syilx Nation (Westbank First Nation).
Courtney was born and raised on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh). She is an ally, practicing lawyer, and strategic advisor with almost 20 years of experience working with and supporting First Nations across the country on legal, policy, governance, negotiation and political matters related to advancing self-determination and transformative change.
Prior to joining the BC First Nations Justice Council as the Provincial Director for Legal Aid in 2023, Courtney has held senior positions in the legal, political, consulting and social sectors, working for Indigenous peoples.
As the Director of Operations/Chief of Staff for five years at the BC Assembly of First Nations (2010-2015), and at the Assembly of First Nations – Yukon Region (2022-2023), Courtney had the opportunity to work with Indigenous communities in BC and the Yukon on strategic policy, governance and advocacy work – advancing First Nations’ positions in a number of areas including justice, governance, education, environment and climate change, Aboriginal rights and title, treaty rights, fisheries, child welfare and economic development.
As the Vice President, Governance and Policy, at Castlemain, Courtney led a large number of policy, program and governance review and development projects, as well as engagement projects with Indigenous communities and citizens over the course of six years (2016-2022).
Courtney has also practiced law at a boutique Aboriginal law firm where her work included Aboriginal rights and title litigation, modern-treaty negotiation, and leading community meetings with self-governing First Nations and incorporating that feedback to develop draft policies and procedures.
Courtney has a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Sociology and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), with a focus on Aboriginal law, both from the University of British Columbia. Courtney is a practicing member of the Law Society of British Columbia (called in 2005) and was the recipient of the 2020 YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the category of Reconciliation – Ally.
Cedar W. Dodd
Cedar W. Dodd
Cedar (he/him) is a lawyer with a strong background in litigation, project management and corporate matters. Cedar is a member of the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation from Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories. Cedar holds a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, a Diploma in Aboriginal Studies (with distinction) and Juris Doctor from the University of Victoria.
After graduating from BCIT Cedar worked in Vancouver’s hi-tech sector for companies such as Ballard Power Systems, SNC-Lavalin and Cummins-Westport. Cedar focused his engineering career on green technology and the development of emerging fuel systems. Upon graduation from UVIC Cedar formed Cedar W. Dodd Law Corporation, a boutique law firm with a focus on litigation. In his capacity as a lawyer Cedar has represented hundreds of clients in both the Provincial and Supreme Courts of British Columbia.
Cedar was born in Vernon, British Columbia and lived in Enderby until the age of 7 when his family moved to Vancouver Island. Cedar has three children, two daughters and one son. When not spending time with his family Cedar can be found either cooking, hunting, working on classic vehicles or exploring the outdoors.
Sam Ens was born in Prince George, BC, and continues to live, work and play in the traditional territories of the Lheidli T’enneh peoples. Sam enjoys winter and summer recreational activities and the easy access to mountain biking, skiing and abundance of lakes and outdoor activities in BC. He spent time growing up in both the Okanagan and Cariboo regions of BC and continues to have family in both regions.
Sam studied justice at Royal Roads University where his research focused on the over-representation of Indigenous people and systemic racism and prejudice in the justice system in Canada. He identifies as Metis and understands both Indigenous and settler worldviews. Sam has 30+ years experience working in the adult and youth justice systems, child welfare, homelessness, supportive recovery and supported housing focusing on services by and for Indigenous people. Sam is enthusiastic to be a part of the implementation of the First Nations Justice Strategy.
Lorna comes to the BCFNJC with a strong interest in criminal law and parent-side child protection, bringing with her an understanding of how colonialism continues to perpetuate violence on her clients. Prior to being a lawyer, Lorna was a forensic linguist, whose work examined how Indigenous clients experienced the criminal system, from arrest to conviction, through to incarceration.
She is the author of Communicating Effectively with Indigenous Clients, and Aboriginal Legal Services Publication. It is available at the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia.
Stephanie is the Legal Assistant with the Prince George Indigenous Justice Centre, providing support to the staff Lawyer. She has worked in a variety of different legal fields and is honored to bring her knowledge and experience to the BCFNJC to assist her community and its residents on implementing the Justice Strategy.
Being of both Ts’il Kaz Koh (Burns Lake) and Vechigen (Switzerland) decent, Stephanie enjoys learning and celebrating the similarities and differences of both her cultures. She brings this joy of exploration and discovery to her new life in Prince George on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Lheidli T’enneh peoples.
Ashkaughn was born in Montréal and grew up in Victoria BC. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria and earned his law degree in Australia in 2019. During his time in law school, Ashkaughn interned at a criminal law firm in Queensland and was Vice President of a non-profit organization on the Gold Coast assisting other non-profits and charitable organizations. Through his time in Australia and work in Canada as a legal professional, Ashkaughn witnessed the intergenerational impacts of colonialism on the Indigenous peoples of Canada as well as Australia.
Ashkaughn completed his articles with the BC First Nations Justice Council and was called to the Bar of British Columbia in December 2022. He joins the BCFNJC as a Staff Lawyer for the Virtual Indigenous Justice Centre. Ashkaughn is honoured for the privilege to actively participate in the vision of the BCFNJC to promote access to justice for Indigenous communities of BC and more effectively protect the rights of clients experiencing injustices that have spanned generations.
Outside of his legal career, Ashkaughn is an avid swimmer and has trained and competed at the international level alongside Canadian Olympic medallists. He also enjoys surfing and has surfed on Vancouver Island, California, Hawaii, and throughout the east coast of Australia.
Marie joined the BC First Nations Justice Council in August 2020, as a legal assistant for the Prince Rupert Indigenous Justice Centre. She supports the staff lawyer in the area of criminal defence and child protection matters. Marie is responsible for the efficient management of client files, office organization and the securing of good client service.
Marie is a trained paralegal experienced in real estate, personal injury, ICBC defence cases, corporate files as well as wills and estate administration. She obtained her diploma in paralegal at CDI College and is a member of the BC Paralegal Association. In 2007, she was awarded a caregiver certificate through the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Marie continues to upgrade her skills set by taking courses at CLEBC.
She enjoys cooking, learning and exploring new recipes from various ethnicities. She plays music regularly, watches stand-up comedy shows and believes in finding therapeutic ways to maintain a calm, tranquil yet high-spirited mindset.
Kimberly Gee is a practicing lawyer in BC and serves the BCFNJC in the role of Counsel, Information Management. Records and information are key assets for every organization that require management in accordance with industry standards.
Britt joined BCFNJC as a Clinical Legal Supervisor in 2023. Most recently, she was a supervising lawyer at the University of Victoria Law Centre Clinical Program where she provided representation to clients and supervision to temporary articled-students. During her time at the Law Centre, Britt implemented and led a culturally-safer legal clinic for Indigenous clients in partnership with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. She is committed to reducing harm and increasing safety for Indigenous clients interacting with the Canadian Legal System, and to the recognition of First Nations Justice systems, legal traditions and structures. She also practised as a family lawyer in the private bar for a couple of years. She sits as a board member for the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness.
Britt was called to the bar in 2015. She has a BSW and also completed a thesis-based LLM which looked at relationality as a response to structural oppression. She recently sat on a Law Society Taskforce which resulted in bencher-approved recommendations to decolonize and indigenize legal services. She is compelled by the hope and promise of Indigenous Legal Orders and teachings to replace harmful colonial approaches to conflict and care.
Originally from Yellowknife, which is located on Chief Drygeese territory and is home to the North Slave Metis and Inuit, Britt has deep ties to the North. She returns to Denendeh several times a year. She has lived about half of her life on Coast Salish territory, and currently splits her time between Diitiida and the Salish Sea where she is moored to the lands of the lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples, namely Esquimalt Nation. In love with the ocean, Britt spends as much time as possible in, on or near the water.
Cassandra Gouschuk (She/Her) is the Provincial Manager for Women and Child Protection. Cassandra joined the BC First Nation’s Justice Council in January 2023. Cassandra is a White settler and grateful guest on the Syilx territory.
Cassandra holds a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of British Columbia Okanagan and a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Youth Care Counselling from Douglas College. Cassandra has worked alongside Indigenous youth and families impacted by the Child Welfare system for more than 15 years. Cassandra is honoured to be a part of BCFNJC and their work toward reform of current systems and restoration of First Nations systems.
Craig Gulka is a highly skilled and versatile professional with a diverse background in the fields of electrical engineering and information technology. With over three decades of experience as an electrician and service technician, Craig has honed his skills in troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining complex electrical systems. His expertise in these areas led him to pursue a career in IT, where he currently works as a desktop and network technician.
Craig holds a CompTIA A+ certification, which demonstrates his proficiency in a wide variety of IT areas, including installation, configuration, and maintenance of hardware and software. He has a wealth of experience in IT support, network administration, and computer repair, and he stays up to date with the latest advancements in technology.
Craig is also a strong advocate for Indigenous reconciliation, and he is proud to work at the British Columbia First Nations Justice Council. His dedication to this important cause is a testament to his strong moral compass and desire to effect positive change in his community.
In addition to his technical skills, Craig is also an accomplished musician who enjoys playing the guitar in his spare time and also enjoys hitting the open road and embarking on exciting road trips with his wife Leslie. Craig also cherishes spending time with his grandkids, nurturing their growth and development with his love and guidance.
Jennifer is a member of the Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation and is grateful to reside on the unceded traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. She holds a BSW of Social Work with an Indigenous Specialization from UNBC completed in 2021.
As an Indigenous woman, she embraces her life experiences which have provided the guidance to this important work. As a Gladue Report Writer, she is passionate about bringing justice to each person she is lucky enough to assist in writing and completing their Gladue reports. She advocates and strives to bring more awareness of the unique and systemic Indigenous experience that has continuously brought Indigenous individuals in front of the courts.
Jennifer is thankful to work with and for Indigenous people in British Columbia.
Lisa Joe is dedicated towards promoting and fostering the spirit of healing and well-being of all. Building strong, authentic partnerships has been a cornerstone of her career, and her approach to providing technical assistance is always one of respect, trust, and a shared vision for success.
Her traditional shared Coast Salish name is, “P’gaaltaanut” and she is a member of the Penelakut Tribe. Her mother was late Rosemary (Joe) married to Darrel Modeste and her late father was late Ramsey Alphonse Sr. of the Coast Salish people located on Southern Vancouver Island.
Lisa Joe served as a former elected leader of the Penelakut First Nation (2006-2010). She also served as the BC First Nations volunteer Assembly of First Nations Women’s Council Representative for one term. Lisa graduated with her Bachelor of Arts, from the University of Victoria, in 2015.
She brings over 15 years’ combined expertise in human resource development, organizational capacity development, governance, policy development.
Lisa is an avid outdoors person and bird photographer. She has three children and currently lives, works, and resides in the traditional territory of the Lekwungen and Wsanec Peoples of the Greater Victoria Region.
Cheryl has been a guest on the unceded territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation since 2000. She moved here from the Lax Kw’alaams, which is one of the seven communities of the Ts’msyen Nation. Prince Rupert is where she was born and raised.
Cheryl received her social service worker diploma and life skills coaching certificate from the College of New Caldonia in Prince George. For the past 10+ years, she has focused on expanding her work experience. She has experience supporting previous clients with the Ministry of Children and Families Development (MCFD), the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (income assistance), Persons with Multiple Barriers/Persons with Disabilities (PWD), the Native Courtworkers and Counselling Association of BC, school districts, obtaining and understanding mental health assessments, and housing support.
Cher works with TIP (trauma-informed practice) and a strength-based approach to better meet and understand where the client is at. Through this approach, she feels that she can better support her clients with their physical, mental, psychological, and spiritual needs.
Cher is very excited about being an Auntie with the BC First Nations Justice Council. Cher’s goal as an Auntie is to be safe, support, and advocate for Indigenous peoples.
On her down time, Cher can be found with her children or granddaughter or out with her animals, possibly harvesting traditional medicines and teas, chasing waterfalls, or simply puddle jumping.
Christianne has over 10 years of progressive leadership experience working for/with First Nations in BC, including the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the First Nations Health Authority, the Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice and Indigenous Services Canada in Ottawa. She completed her master’s in public policy and administration from Concordia University, focusing her research on a critical analysis of the “neutrality” of federal program evaluation of the child welfare system and the gross over-representation of Indigenous families within it.
Christianne brings her background in social justice to her work and is passionate about reconciliation and decolonization. She was born and raised in Blind River, in Northern Ontario, on the traditional homelands of the Anishinaabe. She is of French-Canadian and Scottish decent. Christianne is a multi-instrumentalist and in a former life was a touring musician. She gratefully lives with her husband and two small children in Oliver, in Syilx ancestral territory.
Natasha (she/her) is passionate about addressing systemic justice and health inequities and is honoured to be a part of BCFNJC. She was previously a Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions where she supported the development of Indigenous-led crisis response teams and civilian-led (non-police) mental health crisis response services. Prior to that she was at UBC’s School of Nursing working as a Knowledge Translation Coordinator on a national research study that was implementing a strength-based model of outreach for women impacted by violence. Natasha was also a Policy Writer and Researcher at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) where she was honored to worked with a collaborative team of Chiefs, Elders, and community members on a range of intersectional Title and Rights issues. During her time at UBCIC, Natasha was passionate about addressing the MMIWG2S Crisis and advancing culturally safe and trauma-informed care for individuals impacted by gender-based violence.
Natasha was born in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Treaty 8 Territory, the ancestral and traditional territory of the Cree and Dene, as well as the Métis. She gratefully lives and works on the traditional and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh(Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh).
Natasha has a master’s degree in Literature and Modernity from the University of Edinburgh and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of British Columbia. Outside of work, Natasha is a freelance artist and enjoys designing tattoos and drawing in digital and traditional mediums
Adrienne Kovacs (she/her) joined the BC First Nations Justice Council as the first in-house Recruitment Specialist in April 2023. After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Performance at the University of Lethbridge in 2007, Adrienne moved to Vancouver and began her career in Human Resources in 2008 at the University of British Columbia. After realizing her passion for HR, she decided to return to school in 2010 and completed a post-graduate diploma in Human Resources Management at Camosun College in Victoria.
Over the course of eleven years, Adrienne worked for three different BC public healthcare employers: Island Health, Interior Health, and the Health Employers Association of BC. From 2012-2017, Adrienne worked in various areas of HR, such as: Disability Management, Attendance Management, and Compensation & Classification; but in 2017 she discovered her true vocational passion when she started her first role as a Recruiter at Interior Health. Since then, Adrienne has recruited nearly every role within the public healthcare system. From 2019 onward she specialized in physician and medical executive recruitment and gained invaluable experience leading BC Ministry of Health recruitment programs for international medical graduates and internationally educated nurses.
Adrienne has lived all over British Columbia. She currently lives in the Syilx territory with her husband, their two daughters, and their cat & dog. Although Adrienne has always known herself as a settler, over the past several years her family has begun rediscovering and reclaiming their Ojibwe roots – which had been hidden and denied since approximately the 1960’s.
Outside of work, Adrienne loves to sing, dance, practice pilates, snowboard, travel, and spend time being silly with her two daughters who are still young enough to think that she is both cool and funny.
Chantelle is one of the Regional Human Resources Managers for the BC First Nation’s Justice Council. She is grateful to work out of the head office in Westbank that is located on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Syilx Nation.
Having worked in Human Resources since 2012, she is honored to bring her experience to support the BCFNJC in a way that aligns with and supports the strategy, culture and values.
Chantelle earned her diploma in Human Resource Management from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, AB. She is a General Member of Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of BC & Yukon (CPHR) and an Associate Member of AFOA Canada.
Chantelle’s Indigenous background is on her father’s side. Her family belongs to Spô’zêm (Spuzzum) First Nation located in Nlaka’pamux territory. Her father has represented the Spuzzum community as Chief for over a decade. Growing up she has spent many hours with her family out on the land. In her spare time, she still enjoys spending as much time as possible outdoors and on the land with friends and family
Natalie Martin (she/her) is the Director of Communications for the BC First Nations Justice Council. Natalie is a strategic communications leader with almost two decades of experience building teams and engaging dynamic audiences across a variety of industries. An enthusiastic people-person that leads with empathy and humour, Natalie is known for collaborating with everyone in the room to move things forward. Natalie has worked agency-side as Vice President at Talk Shop Media, in-house as Director of Communications at Bench, and represented 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, and O2E Brands as a Public Relations Manager. Career highlights include building the PR strategy for the BC Cancer Foundation and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Vancouver. Most recently, Natalie supported strategic communications, event management and stakeholder relations with Snuneymuxw First Nation as they hosted the largest Junior All Native Tournament to date. Natalie is a White settler and grateful guest on the traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Natalie is honoured to explain to her two daughters (Zuzu and Mabel Drew) that they go to daycare during the week so that their mom can support the work of First Nations Leaders as they advance genuine, meaningful transformation of the criminal justice and child welfare systems in BC.
With a deep sense of respect, Brian McKague (He/Him) acknowledges he is guest on the ancestral and unceded territory of the hən̓ qəmin̓ əm̓ and Sḵwx̱ wú7mesh speaking peoples where he works and resides.
Brian embarked on his journey with the British Columbia First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC) as a Gladue Support Worker in August of 2023. Prior to joining the BCFNJC, he worked as a Probation Officer within Manitoba Justice for nine years in a specialized unit. During his time as a Probation Officer, he provided essential support and guidance to people facing multiple barriers within the justice system.
In addition to his professional experience, Brian holds an Applied Counselling Certificate from Red River College, underscoring his commitment to holistic support for individuals navigating complex situations. Brian is passionate about ensuring equitable justice is available to all people and he endeavors to maintain this in the fulfillment of his duties at BCFNJC.
Beyond his professional endeavors, Brian is an enthusiastic motorcyclist. Yet, his heart finds its solace in the company of his cherished wife and their loyal canine companion, Louie. Together, they spend most of their free time exploring the many natural wonders British Columbia offers.
Jaime joins the BCFNJC team as the Office Administrator in the Chilliwack Indigenous Justice Centre. She is from Stʼatʼimc/ Stl’atl’imx ˈʃt͡ɬʼæt͡ɬʼemx nation specifically, the Xaxli’p band.
With a diploma in social services, Jaime has spent her years out of college honing her abilities through work with Indigenous peoples so she can best assist in both a meaningful and respectful way. She is passionate about re-rooting herself in her language, and culture through dancing, singing, and language classes.
Jaime strives to create a safe and welcoming environment to all those she meets.
Tina is a member of the Nisga’a Nation (maternal) and non-Indigenous (paternal) and has lived on Syilx territory also known as Kelowna and West Kelowna, B.C. for over 20 years.
She has a Bachelor of Business Administration (2016), has co-organized grassroots level annual MMIWG2S+ vigils in Kelowna (2014-2019) and has volunteered with the Patient Voices Network, BC Patient Safety Quality Council, and the Health Standards Organization of Canada (2017-2022).
Tina rejoined the BCFNJC in 2023 as Researcher focusing on the Indigenous Women’s Justice plan, she has worked as Administrative Coordinator, Gladue Coordinator and Training and Education Coordinator – Gladue Services (2019-2021) with BCFNJC. She has also worked as a residential support worker in homeless shelters, supportive housing, short-term interim housing, and rapid rehousing programs (2019-2022) working with adults struggling with a variety of issues including substance use and mental health. She also works part-time with the BC Society of Transition Houses as Research & Outreach Coordinator on the Cedar Blankets: Building Wraparound Supports & Reducing Barriers for Indigenous Women and Children to Transition Houses and Safe Homes which is a 5-year projected funded by WAGE (March 2022-current).
For over 20 years she has raised her four children as a single mother and is a Gigi to two grandsons. Being a mother and Gigi is one of her most important roles. Her children and grandchildren are her motivation and inspiration on breaking intergenerational cycles and healing, so much so, she got a tattoo that says, “Building children is easier than mending adults” on her left forearm as a permanent reminder to not give up on the inner work, for herself, her children, her grandchildren and future generations to come.
She is grateful and honored to be a part of the team at BCFNJC walking toward, “BC First Nations children and families thriving in peace and security, their dignity and well-being supported by a trusted and representative justice system.”
Tracy Mooney is a Métis Nation BC citizen, and her pronouns are she/her. Her ancestors are from the Red River Settlement in Manitoba and her Métis family names are Favell, Mackay, Linklater, and Clark. Tracy was born and raised in Merritt on Nlaka’pamux Territory, and currently lives with her family in West Kelowna on Syilx Territory. She is grateful to the keepers of the lands on which she lives, works, learns, and builds relationships.
Before joining the BCFNJC as a Regional HR Manager, Tracy worked in Human Resources for over twenty years in the health system and spent the last four years of her career advocating for employment equity and improved experiences for Indigenous employees in mainstream healthcare.
Tracy joined BCFNJC in January of 2023 and is excited to support staff through the rapid expansion and growth of the organization. She brings with her a passion for advancing Human Resources, specifically recruitment, retention, and pathways to improve experiences for Indigenous job seekers and employees. She recognizes that a culturally safe workplace, focused on employee wellness will result in improved outcomes for the clients that BCFNJC serves. She is a general member of Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of BC & Yukon (CPHR) and an associate member of AFOA Canada.
Tracy considers herself to be self-reflexive, humble, and a lifelong learner on a journey of personal and professional growth. Outside of work, Tracy values time with her family, time in nature, and reading.
Erin brings over 12 years of experience in Gladue to the BCFNJC. Originally from the Upper Similkameen Indian Band, she grew up in Houston and moved to Prince George when she was 11. Erin has attended the College of New Caledonia studying criminology and social work before moving on to the University of Northern British Columbia, focusing her studies on social work.
Erin has been involved with several organizations in the Prince George community with a focus on serving members of the Prince George Indigenous community. She brings her passion and dedication to this new role for the Indigenous Justice Centre. She spends her free time dedicated to her family, husband and two children. She enjoys camping, fishing, kayaking and spending time outdoors.
Ryanne P. Reece
Ryanne P. Reece
Ryanne Reece is an Eagle in the Hartley Bay – or Gitga’at with the meaning People of the Cane – First Nations community. She spent most of her life on Gitga’at territory and relocated to continue her education.
Ryanne completed her Social Work Certificate and Associate of Arts degree. She’s had a huge passion of supporting others with thanks to her idols growing up. She thoroughly enjoys reading, watching movies, art, and spending time with her children. Ryanne has experience with providing the essential life skills to young adults and providing resources in and around her communities to ensure her clients are ready and confident to live a more comfortable life.
Ryanne joined the BC First Nations Justice Council in June of 2023 as a Gladue Report Writer. She will advocate for clients struggling with the justice system and create more awareness regarding the relationship between the justice system and Indigenous communities.
Ryanne looks forward to being the support she is so thankful to have had and always expanding her knowledge with the neighbouring communities.
Stephanie is a certified Paralegal and the Regional IJC Manager for the Indigenous Justice Centres located in Merritt, Prince George, Prince Rupert, as well as the Virtual Centre.
Stephanie was born and raised in Kitimat, B.C. and is a member of the Haisla Nation. She moved to the Okanagan in 2003 and is thankful to live on the ancestral and unceded traditional territory of the Syilx Nation.
Stephanie has worked in the legal field since 2005 and obtained her Paralegal Certificate with Capilano University in 2011. She has worked in a variety of different legal fields and is excited to bring her knowledge and experience of the legal industry to the BCFNJC and to be part of the implementation of the First Nations Justice Strategy.
In Stephanie’s spare time, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, and enjoying the many outdoor activities the Okanagan has to offer. She has one daughter that keeps her busy with her own extracurricular activities and together they enjoy learning and exploring their culture and implementing these teachings into their daily lives.
Amery was born and raised in Matsqui (Abbotsford) on the traditional and unceded territory of the Sto:lo Nation. He grew up within one block of the Matsqui First Nation not understanding why many of his friends who were “Indians” lived on this land called a reserve. This was not something that was taught in conventional school curriculum. Even though Amery grew up within a 10-minute drive of the St. Mary’s Indian Residential School in Mission, BC, he did not come to understand the horrors that Indigenous children faced when attending until much later in life.
In 2005, Amery moved with his young family to Merritt on the traditional and unceded territory of the Nlaka’pamux People. After tragedy struck his family with the death of their son Matthew, Amery sought out a career change and entered the social work degree program at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. It was in this time that Amery learned the true history of Indigenous Peoples in this land and the atrocities perpetuated against them, including ongoing systemic racism in criminal justice, child welfare, healthcare and so on.
Amery and his family identify as Metis and try to immerse themselves in local Metis and First Nations activities as much as possible. Amery approaches this work with two-eyed seeing, drawing on his lived experience as the descendant of white settlers and his extensive experience working with and living within Indigenous communities. Amery has spent the past decade working within poverty law advocacy, child welfare, homelessness, youth addictions and supportive recovery focusing on services by and for Indigenous people.
Amery is proud to be part of the dynamic BCFNJC team that is poised to affect a major paradigm shift in justice services for Indigenous Peoples in this country.
Amandeep K. Sehmbi
Amandeep K. Sehmbi
Amandeep K. Sehmbi is the Internal Legal Reviewer with BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC). She has been working with the BCFNJC since 2021 in different capacities, first as a legal reviewer and later also as a Gladue Report Writer. She opened her own criminal law firm in 2021 and continues to practice criminal defence largely for marginalized clients. In her current role with BCFNJC, she will be working to help expand the Gladue Department and to ensure that all Indigenous peoples are able to receive quality and timely Gladue Reports, as is their right.
Amandeep completed her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics at UBC in 2012, her Bachelor of Laws (Senior Status) from the University of Leicester, U.K in 2015 and her Master of Laws (Common Law) from Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC in 2016. She was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 2018 and has practiced exclusively in criminal defence and administrative driving offences. She takes pride in ensuring the best resolutions for her clients, which includes comprehensive probation plans and treatment and counselling options. It is her view that the systemic issues within the criminal justice system can be addressed, and that the disproportionate incarceration of Indigenous peoples can be reduced by a strong understanding and use of Gladue Reports.
Jeff Shidei’s parents immigrated to Toronto from Japan. Jeff attended York University in Toronto to obtain his undergraduate degree before earning his Bachelor of Laws at the University of Saskatchewan. Jeff has practiced in the areas of civil litigation, property law disputes, municipal law, human rights violations, family law, and child protection during his 13 years in private practice within the city of Kamloops, located on the unceded territory of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc.
Now, living and working on the traditional territory of Lheidli T’enneh, and focusing on providing legal and non-legal services to members of the Indigenous communities within and surrounding Prince George, Jeff is grateful for the opportunity to advance the goals of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy and provide practical assistance and better outcomes for those members dealing with the criminal justice or child protection systems.
After earning her undergraduate degree from UNBC in Prince George, Rachel obtained her law degree from the University of Manitoba’s Robson Hall in Winnipeg. Rachel then returned to Prince George where she completed her articles. Called to the bar in BC in 2007, she commenced private practice the following year in Winnipeg, representing clients for many years primarily in the field of criminal defence. In 2015 Rachel opened a law office in the northern city of Thompson Manitoba. As part of that practice Rachel represented people charged with criminal offences in numerous First Nations communities in the surrounding area. Her work in the north exposed her to the harsh reality of life in Canada for the people in the communities she served and gave her a passion for true justice.
Rachel is excited to do her part to help increase access to justice for Indigenous people with the BC First Nations Justice Council, and to get involved in her new home community of Merritt where she will be the staff lawyer at the Merritt Indigenous Justice Centre.
Sandra Staats has enjoyed a varied legal career. Spanning more than 27 years, she has practiced in the areas of criminal, family, child protection, poverty, general civil litigation and Aboriginal law. She has represented clients in both the Provincial and Supreme Court of BC as well as the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Between 2003 and 2017, Sandra practiced primarily in the area of Indian Residential School litigation. She assisted with the negotiation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, represented claimants with their claims for abuse suffered at Indian Residential School and assisted as co-counsel for Independent Counsel, appearing in the Ontario Superior Court, Ontario Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada in an action to ensure that the confidentiality of residential school claimants was protected and that the release of records in residential school claims could only be done with the claimant’s consent.
Taking her role as a legal counsel seriously, she takes the time to listen and communicate with her clients as much as possible to ensure that they understand the legal process and that she provides effective legal representation.
Angie is originally from Whitefish River First Nation, she now resides as a guest on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Ktunaxa people (Fernie, BC).
Angie’s Anishnaabe heritage comes from their paternal side with the majority of their family coming from M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. As an avid snowboarder, mountain biker and outdoor enthusiast, Angie is extremely grateful to now call BC home. She cares deeply about Indigenous peoples and is looking forward to working with the BC First Nations Justice Council to invoke real change within the justice system.
E. Condesa Strain is from the lands and waters of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Syilx (Okanagan) and Secwepemc peoples. She grew up in the territory of her q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie) and qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓ (Kwantlen) relatives. She is a proud mother of two children.
Condesa earned her Bachelor of Arts in Applied Criminology with Honours from Douglas College in 2018 and earned her Juris Doctor Degree from the Peter Allard School of Law in 2021. During her education she became passionate about the effects of colonialism on indigenous people and their contact with the criminal justice system. In 2020 Condesa worked as a student clinician at the Indigenous Community Legal clinic. And in 2022 she completed her articles with the Provincial Crown.
She cares deeply about making the process more relatable for clients. She is committed to bringing Respect, Reciprocity, and Humility into her practice.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family in nature and playing rugby in Vancouver with her club the Scribes.
Olivia is a proud member of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation on her mother’s side and embraces her Métis heritage through her father’s lineage. Her traditional Dakota name is Šinákamina Ská Wiŋ, which translates to “White Shawl Shell Woman.” Gratefully, she resides, works, and enjoys her time on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw people. With a deep-rooted passion for writing that has been ingrained within her since childhood, Olivia pursued her education in Indigenous Studies and Creative Writing at Vancouver Island University.
As an Indigenous woman, Olivia intimately understands the hardships endured by her community, as her mother was a victim of the oppressive residential school system. This shared history binds her to the experiences of other Indigenous individuals across Canada, fostering empathy and connection. Olivia’s acute awareness of the systemic discrimination faced by Indigenous peoples fuels her unwavering commitment to restorative justice and addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous individuals in the criminal justice system.
Olivia revels in the joy of motherhood, nurturing and teaching her six children. She dedicates herself to preserving and revitalizing her ancestral language, imparting its wisdom to both her children and her. Olivia finds solace and inspiration in astrology, the wonders of the natural world, and her profound connection with all children and any animals, great and small.
Anisa White is the current Provincial Director of the Gladue Services Department at the BC First Nations Justice Council. Anisa was previously a Gladue Writer with the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC) Roster, as well as the Legal Aid BC Roster. Over the past eight years, Anisa has prepared Gladue Reports for the BC Supreme Court, the BC Court of Appeals, Indigenous Courts, Parole Board of Canada, Military Court and the Nunavut Court of Justice. Anisa produced the first Gladue Reports relied on by the Nunavut Court of Justice for a Sentencing and a Dangerous Offender designation hearing (2021/2022).
Anisa holds a BCom at the University of Western Australia (2004), a J.D. from Murdoch University (2009), and has completed a one year exchange program at the Faculty of Law, University of Victoria (BC) (2005-6). Anisa is an LLM candidate. She was accepted to the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program, University of Arizona, in 2022, (currently deferred).
For the last 3.5 years, Anisa was the Technical Justice Lead for Lake Babine First Nation (LBN), the third largest First Nation in BC. Anisa oversaw the implementation of LBN’s Foundation Agreement, a tri-partite agreement. She co-developed a Nation-led justice model for the Lake Babine people, with the direction from leadership and LBN’s four clans. Anisa’s research interest is on Indigenous legal orders, the implementation of rights and title, and the application of a UN human rights framework to protect hunting and fishing practices, rooted in the LBN Batlats system of governance.
Anisa is Cree-Métis and Persian. Her maternal family name is Shirazi. Her paternal family names are Todd, Laframboise, Daniels, Cardinal and Desjarlais. Anisa’s family are members of Métis Nation Alberta. Anisa’s grandfather and great grandparents spoke Plains Cree, French and English. Anisa’s father is from Edmonton, Alberta. Her grandfather was born at St. Paul des Métis Settlement and her great grandmother was born at Goodfish Lake Reserve (northeastern Alberta), while her great grandfather was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, during the Riel Resistance. Her great, great uncle, Francois Desjarlais, known as Chief Piyesis of Piyesis First Nation/Lac la Biche Band, (Lac la Biche, Northeastern Alberta), was a signatory to Treaty 6, in 1876. Anisa currently resides on Vancouver Island. Anisa is learning to speak basic conversational nêhiyawêwin (Cree), attends sweatlodge ceremonies, pow wows with her twin sons, and is a Métis jigger and an initiated Jingle dress dancer.
Kerri was born and raised in the West Kootenay area and is a grateful settler on the unceded Traditional Territory of the Syilx people. She actively continues her education on the impacts of colonization on Indigenous individuals, families and communities, continued systemic injustices, and strategies to achieve better outcomes for Indigenous people involved in the justice system and proudly supports the pursuit of self-determination, sovereignty and justice for Indigenous peoples.
Kerri’s work and volunteer experience has been in the private, public and non-profit sectors in the legal field and with non-profit organizations in mental health advocacy, crisis support and outreach roles. She is a life-long learner and has found a welcome career shift from working as a paralegal to developing a thoughtful approach to staff training and wellness. Through her experiences working in the legal field and passion for holistic wellness, mindfulness, healing and resilience, she recognizes how meaningful training, cultural teachings, stories and approaches to achieving balance in our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual wellness can lead to positive transformation in workplace environments. Continued education in trauma-informed and equity informed leadership practices, cultivating safety, vicarious trauma and strategies to support resilience, all support her to carry out this role in a good way. Kerri is also guided and supported by the core values of the BCFNJC, culture, safety, respect, empowerment, trust, results, and by listening to and observing cultural teachings led by Indigenous Educators, Elders and Knowledge Keepers, when invited to do so.
In her spare time, Kerri can be found enjoying time with her spouse and son, reading, and studying. She is passionate about yoga, mindfulness and the mind-body connection and spends much of her spare time appreciating the roots of these practices as they relate to social justice.
Delaine Zwiek is a Treaty 8 woman from Métis and German families who was born and raised as an uninvited guest on the traditional territory of the Dane-zaa in northeastern British Columbia. Delaine’s Métis family name is Boucher, and they are from St. Louis, Saskatchewan near the historic Métis site of Batoche. The Boucher family is originally from France and has been traced back to 1634 when Marin Boucher arrived in what is now known as Quebec City. Many generations later, the Boucher family was part of the Red River settlement and rebellion before moving west to establish their own community called St. Louis around 1880.
Delaine graduated in 2015 from the University of British Columbia with a Juris Doctor degree. Over the last decade, she has worked with organizations such as the UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, BC Assembly of First Nations, BC Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General – Policing and Security Branch, Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, and Alderhill Planning.
As the Provincial Director for Policing, Oversight and Accountability, Delaine is honoured to work for First Nations on community safety and police transformation. Delaine acknowledges with respect the ləkʷəŋən̓ and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples and their traditional territories where she lives with her wonderful husband. Outside of the office, Delaine can be found out on the land recharging and exploring the territories.