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.
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.
Stephanie is a Proud Member of the Canim Lake Band which is a part of the Shuswap Nation.
Stephanie is wife to Trent and Mother to Stuart, Benoit, Jaiden, and Caralie.
Stephanie lives and resides on the unceded and unsurrendered lands of the Nlak’apmux and Syilx Nations in the Nicola Valley. She has made Merrit home for 18 years.
Stephanie works as the Community Resource and Support Worker for Children and Families. Stephanie graduated from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in 2017 with her Bachelor of Social Work Degree. Stephanie has a passion for Being in a Supportive role for Families and Children in care. Stephanie feels it takes a community to Raise a Child and is passionate in approaching any situation in a Culturally- safe Trauma-Informed Approach. She currently sets on the Board of Directors for the Merritt Youth and Family Resource Society
Stephanie dances the Women’s Fancy Shawl category in Powwows where she travels to events with her Family. She currently teaches her Children both the Secwepemc and Dakelh culture along with her Husband.
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).
After graduating from the University of Alberta with a law degree in 1996, Darrin became a member of the Law Society of Alberta in 1997, Saskatchewan in 2012 and B.C. in 2018. He completed the Program on Negotiation at Harvard University in 2015 and completed arbitrator training in 2018 in Vancouver BC.
Darrin has represented indigenous people in hundreds of litigation matters including residential and day school cases, criminal, child welfare and civil matters. Darrin is honored to have been Counsel on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in 2018. After successfully piloting a project for First Nations by Legal Aid Alberta, acting in house to two tribal governments through managing and operating his own First Nation law firm together with the privilege of listening to Elders, knowledge keepers from across western Canada and his own mother a Residential School Survivor, this has laid a foundation and continues to fuel his passion for Indigenous justice.
Darrin is honored to be helping with what the BCFNJC has been trusted to do. When not working, Darrin enjoys perfecting his mother’s bannock recipe or riding his mountain bike in the Okanagan.
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.
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.
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.
Stephanie is the Legal Assistant with the Prince George Community Legal Clinic, providing support to the PG CLC Lawyer and Advocate.
Stephanie was born and raised in the lower mainland (Maple Ridge) on the traditional ancestral and unceded territory of the Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations. Being both Ts’il Kaz Koh and Vechigen 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. She looks forward to assisting her community and all its residence and has recently added Advocate to her professional development.
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 staff lawyer with the Virtual Indigenous Justice Centre providing legal services in the practice areas of criminal law and child protection law remotely throughout British Columbia. She is also a resource to communities who are undertaking the important work of revitalizing Indigenous legal orders. Having a personal passion for legal technology, information management, and privacy issues, Kimberly welcomes opportunities to discuss the importance of First Nations data sovereignty and legally compliant recordkeeping.
Kimberly gratefully lives surrounded by rugged beauty in the traditional and unceded territory of the St’át’imc Nation in Lillooet, BC. She graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree from Thompson Rivers University in 2019. Her past experience includes working with Westbank First Nation (Kelowna, BC), ‘Namgis First Nation (Alert Bay, BC), and the Upper Skeena Counselling and Legal Assistance Society (Hazelton, BC).
A Gladue report writer from 2017-2022, Kimberly co-created healing plans alongside her Indigenous clients located throughout BC. Kimberly has seen firsthand the transformative results that Gladue reports can support in providing a holistic, culturally-relevant approach to justice that prioritizes accountability, healing, and relationship building over punishment.
The most rewarding work in Kimberly’s career has been, and continues to be, her work with and for Indigenous peoples. She is reminded regularly of the resiliency, humour, and strength of Indigenous peoples in her daily life.
Kimberly takes great pride in the opportunity to contribute to achieving better outcomes for Indigenous people in their interactions with the justice system and supporting Indigenous self-determination through the delivery of the BC First Nations Justice Strategy.
Brenna is a band member and elected councillor for the Gitxaala Nation. She joined the BC First Nations Justice Council as a Gladue report writer at the Prince Rupert Indigenous Justice Centre. In this role, she will be responsible for supporting Indigenous people in the criminal justice system by providing the courts with a report that outlines an individual’s life circumstances, Gladue factors and systemic barriers. Alternatives to incarceration will be identified that can assist with healing.
Brenna has an extensive work history in health and justice. She graduated from the University of the Fraser Valley with an Associate of Arts degree and a certificate in Indigenous Films, Maps, Rights and Land Claims. Brenna continues to take courses towards obtaining her Bachelor of Arts degree where she has declared a double extended minor in criminal justice and history. She takes great pride in building and maintaining healthy working relationships with people of all backgrounds.
Brenna enjoys the outdoors, taking in activities like kayaking, camping and hiking. She also enjoys participating in cultural activities such as traditional drumming and singing and is always eager to listen and learn of her nations traditional laws as well as the Gitxaala language Sm’algyax.
Jennifer is Dakelh (Carrier) and a member of Nak’azdli Whut’en (Fort St James, BC). She belongs to the Lusilyoo (Frog) Clan. Jennifer’s mother was the late Melinda Sam. Her grandmother is Rosie Sam, and her grandfather was the late David Sam Sr.
Jennifer grew up as the second oldest in a sibling group of six. Jennifer and her siblings spent much of their childhood years in foster care. Jennifer has always been a fierce and protective big sister and has come to recognize what a powerful impact that an effective and supportive advocate can have. This ultimately led Jennifer to a career in social work and she is currently working towards the completion of a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Northern British Columbia. As a mom to a busy five-year-old boy, Jennifer has come to embrace her Dakelh culture and is raising her son with a strong sense of his identity, extended family and community.
Jennifer is passionate about northern and remote issues and particularly about complex challenges experienced by Indigenous peoples in rural British Columbia. While undertaking her Bachelor of Social Work, Jennifer has come to recognize the significant scope and impacts of colonization, residential schools, and inter-generational trauma.
Jennifer has recognized these impacts both personally and professionally within her own family and community and this has driven her to become a Gladue worker to support those experiencing these impacts and subsequent over-representation in the criminal justice system of Canada.
Anna is a member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation with Scots Métis roots in Saskatchewan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in First Nations and Indigenous Studies from the University of British Columbia. Anna recently completed her first year in the joint common law and Indigenous legal orders program at the University of Victoria. She has a background as a youth worker supporting Indigenous youth as they age out of B.C’s child welfare system, and in journalism where she covers Indigenous child welfare issues. Anna is the mother of three Indigenous children, and gratefully resides on the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.
Charlene was born and raised in Prince Rupert in the unceded Territory of Tsimshian (Ts’msyen) Nation. Charlene is a member of the Metlakatla Band, which is one of the seven communities in the Ts’msyen Nation. She is married to a wonderful husband, and they are blessed with three beautiful children.
Charlene holds a lot of respect for elders and values their knowledge and wisdom that they carry and willingly share. Whether they are from her own community or from another Indigenous community, their presence orders her attention and respect. She also believes that the Indigenous youth are important to the vitalization of Indigenous culture, language, values and beliefs.
Charlene believes the knowledge and wisdom each Indigenous community holds, comes from their lived experiences, along with acquiring knowledge through the educational or professional institutes. Each individual community is unique to their culture, language and their individual stories. She has always had a passion to serve Indigenous people and has worked in the capacity to support people that are vulnerable and marginalized by institutions and society.
Charlene joined the BCFNJC in July, 2021, as a Gladue worker, at the Prince Rupert Indigenous Justice Centre. Her role as a Gladue worker is in the capacity to help facilitate Indigenous people at various criminal justice system stages. She also helps to facilitate tangible individual client healing plans to address their specific needs. Charlene works towards the individual’s strengths and builds on their positive characteristics, to promote their own supports for their health, safety, self-identity and resilience.
Charlene looks forward to serving the Indigenous people and being part of the BCFNJC in reforming justice for Indigenous people as a Gladue worker.
Kitty (Mazaku) Mueller
Kitty (Mazaku) Mueller
Kitty started working at the age of 14 in the local hotels and, during this time, she learned many valuable life lessons that she carries with her today.
Kitty has also worked in the healthcare field for 25 years, as a certified care aide, and spent the last ten years at Prince George Hospice House.
Always an advocate for those that need it, Kitty also worked at St. Vincent de Paul drop-in center and the Fire Pit Cultural drop-in center, feeding our homeless brothers and sisters and giving hugs when needed.
Jeanette Newman was born and raised in Penticton, BC, the traditional territory of the Syilx Nation. After spending several years travelling and adventuring she started her journey to become a CPA in 2010 by going back to school at the Okanagan College to obtain her degree. She articled with BDO while in the CPA program and finally became a CPA in 2016.
Jeanette has been with the BCFNJC from the very beginning and is so proud to be a part of all of hard work that has gone into the amazing growth that we have seen. She is excited for the future work that will be done and the impact that the BCFNJC will have throughout BC.
Erin is a Gladue report writer with the Prince George Indigenous Justice Centre, with 12 years of experience writing Gladue reports. Erin is 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.
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.
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.
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.
Pamela is a visual artist, practicing lawyer, representing parents, and grandparents in child welfare matters in British Columbia. Pamela is also a member of the Kainai tribe (Blood band), one of three nations that comprise the Blackfoot confederacy in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana and is an Indian Residential School survivor.
Pamela has lectured at the University of California at Davis on Northern Native American studies and developed a Native American survey course based on contemporary Indigenous arts, culture, including visual art, dance, film, and current events to engage and challenge assumptions and stereo-types. Pamela encouraged students to engage with each other as well as the local indigenous nations to expand their understanding of not just the legacy of colonialism and oppression, but survival strategies in a post-colonial world.
As the managing lawyer for the Merritt Indigenous Justice Centre, Pamela is working to decolonize the justice system to initiate better outcomes for Indigenous men, women and children.
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.
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.
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.
Kerri was born and raised in the West Kootenays and has lived in the Okanagan since 2004. She is grateful to live on the ancestral and unceded traditional territory of the Syilx Nation.
Kerri is a paralegal with the Virtual Indigenous Justice Centre and works from the head office in Westbank navigating incoming calls to the VIJC and providing legal support. She loves exploring innovative ways to provide accessible, client-centered and trauma-informed approaches to legal services.
Kerri has worked in the legal field since 1998 and completed paralegal training with Capilano University in 2005. She enjoys spending time with family, reading, learning and studies trauma-informed yoga through the lens of incarceration with The Prison Yoga Project, and trauma-informed yoga psychology with Canmore Counselling.