Gaelene was raised in the Okanagan and lived for many years in different parts of Canada. She learned about residential schools and the impacts of those on Indigenous people while studying in Winnipeg, changing her whole understanding of colonialism and the history of our country. Using her Human Resources background, she has taken on Executive Director roles in a number of social justice organizations and joined the BC First Nations Justice Council in October 2019. Happy to be back in Syilx territory, she is excited to be a part of this transformative work to implement the First Nations Justice Strategy.
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).
Renzo is a member of the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation. He was called to the BC Bar in 1996 and the Alberta Bar in 2002. Prior to law, Renzo studied social work and worked as a financial assistance worker with the Province of BC.
His background includes senior positions with Indigenous organizations at the Band and Tribal Council levels and with the Assembly of First Nations’ national office and Alberta regional office. As VP of a new division of Legal Aid BC, Renzo was responsible for Indigenous services and initiatives including the successful expansion of seven new Parents Legal Centres in BC.
As staff lawyer at the Prince George Indigenous Justice Centre, Liam provides direct legal representation to Indigenous persons in criminal and family justice matters. He is a dual-citizen of Canada and the USA.
Liam started his own practice shortly after receiving his licence to practice law in 2015. He defended clients in various communities around the North until 2020 when he assumed his current role with the BC First Nations Justice Council. Before becoming a lawyer, Liam worked as an educator and as a community-organizer. He is a founding director of the Association of Legal Aid Lawyers.
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.
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.
James is a lawyer and advocate with a background in criminal law. Prior to joining the Prince Rupert Indigenous Justice Centre, he was with a criminal law firm in Vancouver representing accused persons across the province. His work has also focused on providing legal services and access to justice for under-served populations, namely as a legal advocate with the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic. James received his law degree from the University of British Columbia.
As the Gladue coordinator, Tina supports the Gladue services department, to implement Strategy #6 of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy. Tina volunteers with the Health Standards Organization (HSO) of Canada for the Improving Integrated Care for Youth (IICY) initiative. She has also been a community co-organizer for the annual MMIWG vigil, rallies, teach-ins and discussion panels in Kelowna. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration, focusing on marketing and communications from Okanagan College. She is from the Nisga’a Nation, Village of Laxgalts’ap, House Wilp High Maas and is Ganada (Frog).
Debbie was raised and spent the majority of her life in Terrace where all four of her children were born and raised. She was active in hockey, soccer and basketball as a community coach and avid player. Being immersed in the beauty of northwestern BC gave Debbie a deep appreciation of the natural environment – the wind, mountains, rivers and ocean is where she finds solace.
In Debbie’s 30+ years of work, she has always been drawn to work with those marginalized by society and those who have or are experiencing trauma. She is passionate about this work and draws upon both lived experience and professional studies in her efforts towards more fair and just communities.
One of Debbie’s favourite sayings is “some of us will make small ripples, some will make large – the point is to make ripples” borrowed from Canadian icon, June Callwood.
Pamela is the legal assistant with the Prince George Indigenous Justice Centre, providing administrative support to the Prince George IJC staff lawyer and community outreach coordinator.
Pamela was born and spent her childhood years in South Africa before immigrating to Canada with her family in 1994. Pamela moved to Northern BC in 2005 and lives in Prince George with her husband and son. Pamela has 10 years of experience as a legal assistant, with several of those years being focused on the residential school class action lawsuit.
Pamela has completed three years of post-secondary education with Douglas College in the criminology program.
Cliff has been practicing law for more than 30 years with a focus on Indigenous legal issues, criminal law and the challenges of poverty. Cliff was a founding member of the Nicola Valley Family Justice Services Society, the Nicola Valley Affordable Housing Society, the Nicola Valley Shelter and Support Society and the Merritt Youth Soccer Association.
Cliff lives in the Nicola Valley with his wife of 47 years. Together, he and Sherry have three adult children, and enjoy international travel (when it can be done safely!).
As Director of Gladue Services, Mitch is responsible for the implementation of Strategy #6 of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.
Mitch holds a Master’s Degree (with Distinction) in criminology from Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland and a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology and criminal justice from the University of Victoria.
Mitch has worked in various roles in the criminal justice system for the past 15 years, with a consistent focus on restorative justice and capacity building in Indigenous communities.
On a part time basis, he teaches criminology at Okanagan College in Penticton, B.C. with a specialization in criminological theory and restorative justice.
Natasha Reimer-Okemow ᐃᓂᓂᐤᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ
Natasha Reimer-Okemow ᐃᓂᓂᐤᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ
Natasha is nēhinaw (Cree) and a member of the Bunibonibee Cree First Nation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Studies from the University of Winnipeg.
Natasha supports the Gladue Services Department to implement Strategy #6 of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy. In her current role, Natasha has developed interdisciplinary technical knowledge skills, focusing on Indigenous justice issues within the scope of Gladue and the over-representation of Indigenous people and systemic racism in the Canadian justice system.
Natasha grew up in Winnipeg, located in Treaty 1 territory, before moving to the Okanagan. She is grateful to be residing and working on the unceded territories of the Syilx (Okanagan) Peoples.
Natasha volunteers as a Director for Manitoba with Youth in Care Canada (YICC) where she advocates for transformative change for youth across Canada living in the foster care system. She enjoys spending time with friends/family, learning nēhinawēwin (Cree language), snowboarding, travelling and being outdoors.