Rosalie C.N. Yazzie
Rosalie C.N. Yazzie
Rosalie C.N. Yazzie, barrister and solicitor, Nesika Law
Rosalie Yazzie is registered at the Okanagan Indian Band, a member community of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. She also has familial ties to the Secwepemc Nation.
Ms. Yazzie is a sole practitioner with a law practice located in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. She practices primarily in the area of aboriginal law with a focus on title and rights and Nation rebuilding. She has worked extensively assisting First Nations clients in their matters relating to governance and institutional development, policy development, strategic engagement, program development and international treaty negotiations. She has also worked with the Law Society of B.C. both as a program developer for its Indigenous mentoring initiative and as a past member of its Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee. She currently serves as general counsel to the Chiefs Executive Council of the Syilx Okanagan Nation.
Prior to her call to the bar, Ms. Yazzie’s professional experience included working with BC First Nations in social development issues – child welfare, health and education. In her role as a policy advisor, she assisted First Nations leadership at the regional, provincial and national levels to advocate on behalf of First Nations communities and the issues affecting them.
She earned her Juris Doctor in 2009 from the University of British Columbia and she was called to the bar in 2010. In addition to her legal education, Ms. Yazzie also holds a Master of Business Administration – Indigenous Business and Leadership from Simon Fraser University.
Ms. Yazzie was appointed to the BC First Nations Justice Council by the BC Assembly of First Nations where she is currently serving her second term as the Vice-Chair. She carries the Indigenous Courts portfolio and has been active in legal issues affecting Indigenous women, including chairing law conferences on Indigenous women and the law.
She also currently serves as the Implementation Team Chair for the Columbia River Salmon Restoration Initiative and has been committed to her family’s multi-generational commitment to see the return of salmon to her Syilx homelands.
Chief Lydia Hwitsum
Chief Lydia Hwitsum
Chief Lydia Hwitsum is currently serving a term as Chief of the Cowichan Nation located in Duncan on Vancouver Island where she previously served four two-year terms as the elected Chief of the Cowichan Tribes.
She has advocated for Indigenous and human rights locally, nationally and internationally. She has presented at the United Nations Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and at the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Ms. Hwitsum has more than 20 years of experience in leadership positions in Indigenous governance in British Columbia and throughout Canada. She previously served as a member of the Royal Roads University Board of Governors. She has previously held board positions on the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, the BC Land Title and Survey Authority, the BC Capacity Initiative Council and the Tele’ethw Aboriginal Capital Corporation. She is also former Chair of the First Nations Health Council and the former Chair of the First Nations Health Authority.
Ms. Hwitsum holds a Certificate of Administration of Aboriginal Governments and a Diploma in Public Sector Management from the University of Victoria, as well as dispute resolution training from the BC Justice Institute. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Victoria.
Ms. Hwitsum was elected in June 2019 to a second term on the First Nations Summit Political Executive, which is mandated to carry out specific tasks related to Aboriginal Title and Rights negotiations with British Columbia and Canada and other issues of common concern to First Nations in British Columbia. She previously served on the FNS Political Executive from 2002-2004.
Ms. Hwitsum has two grown children and four grandchildren.
Boyd Peters, director, Sts’ailes’ Rights and Title Department
Boyd (“Xoyet thet”) was born and raised in Sts’ailes and has been elected to Council for more than 20 years. He is responsible for looking after Sts’ailes’ Xa’xa Temexw—an expression that conveys the spiritual, physical, and cultural connections that the Sts’ailes people have with the land, water, and resources in their territory.
After Boyd carried out the 1998 community consultation for the Elbow Lake Aboriginal-focused facility in partnership with Correctional Service Canada (CSC), he was hired as the transition coordinator, became executive assistant to the Chief in 2002 and is now the Aboriginal Rights & Title director. Boyd has also been an active member of the Kwìkwèxwelhp Citizens Advisory Committee and was appointed chairperson in 2006.
Boyd is quoted in the document Kwìkwèxwelhp and Sts’ailes, A Historical Journey in Healing Aboriginal Offenders that “a common understanding of our people is that our strength is derived from our culture and spirituality. We are a prosperous First Nation that has developed many innovative made-in-Sts’ailes programs and services and are glad to provide these culturally appropriate services for the Kwikw’te’alex (Elbow Lake Brothers). We recognize that our brothers are vastly over-represented in the prison system and believe that our people have the capacity to help offenders in their healing path. We are open to sharing our cultural and traditional forms of healing for the reintegration of offenders into their home communities. The safety and well-being of all our communities benefit. It is a mutually-beneficial relationship that has gained national and international recognition.”
Dr. Judith Sayers
Dr. Judith Sayers
Cloy-e-iis, Dr. Judith Sayers is President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Chancellor of Vancouver Island. She is also an adjunct professor with the Gustavson School of Business and the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria.
Judith has been the Visiting National Aboriginal Economic Development Chair and an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Victoria and in that role facilitated economic development with indigenous peoples Judith practiced law for 18 years in both BC and Alberta.
Judith served fourteen years as Chief of the Hupacasath First Nation, located in Port Alberni, BC. As Chief of her First Nation, she focused on capacity building and sustainable development.
She is on the board of the BC Achievement Foundation and the BC First Nations Justice Council.
Judith has been inducted into Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame, has been the recipient of the Bora Laskin Fellowship on Human Rights, a Finalist for the Buffet award for indigenous leadership and twice awarded the Woman of Distinction from the Alberni Chamber of Commerce. She has received the Silver Award from the Canadian Environmental Association for Climate Change and is also a member of the Order of Canada.
Kory Wilson (Kwakwaka’wakw), BSc. JD, is the Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships for British Columbia Institute of Technology. Kory is a member of the BC Law Society and she practiced criminal defense and family law. She is Chair of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics Indigenous Affinity Group. Kory has over 20 years of experience in post-secondary education, community development, and legal profession. Good governance is a specialty and a passion. She serves on several boards from Pearson College, BC Women’s Foundation, Downie Wenjack Fund, Future Skills Canada, to the Genome BC.
A sought-after speaker and strategist on advancing and ‘truth-telling’ about the past and moving forward towards Reconciliation. With a deep commitment to education, both formal and informal, she knows innovative and creative solutions are a must to move Reconciliation into ReconciliACTION. Education and access to knowledge are key to move everyone forward. When people know better, they do better. Diversity is a reality, but inclusion is a choice. Inclusion requires bold and courageous conversations and confidence to ensure systemic change and outside the box solutions. We can and must do better – Canada can and must do better. Together we are stronger.