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).
Shelley Bevz is Smelqmix from Lower Similkameen Indian Band. She is Sylix Indian and Blackfoot Lakota Cree. Her community is located next to Nighthawk, USA and spans from Vernon, BC down to Colville, Washington.
She has been a CPA since 1992, graduating from the College of New Caledonia in Prince George with a diploma in accounting and finance, attending the School of Chartered Accountancy of BC and Atlantic Canada, including a Certificate in Sustainable Indigenous Communities from Harvard University. Shelley brings 30 years experience in Finance, accounting and taxation in First Nations Government and Economic Development Operations. International tax experience and corporate North America in multiple roles including natural resource, service, and non-profit sectors.
In 2013, her life changed when she lost her brother to suicide. Shelley felt the overwhelming urge to return home and work with her own people. A time of retrospect, healing, and reconnecting with community.
Says Shelley, “To me, home is any Indigenous person as we have that common bond and understand without speaking what it is to have suffered, survived, and thrived through our history. As a knowledge-keeper, it is time to pass this information to others and mentor the way our grandparents mentored us with sharing, showing, and passing knowledge down.”
Shelley has had the opportunity to work with many First Nations in BC and Manitoba. She has also been a facilitator for the CPA Western School of Business and AFOA/CPA Canada, among others, has set up Volunteer Tax Clinics for many non-profit entities and First Nations, and gives back as a financial literacy volunteer.
Says Shelley, “Indigenous people have always dealt with economics, the currency has just changed from currencies familiar to us such as fish, fur, meat, berries, shells, and ribbons – to the paper and cryptocurrencies of this new world. As Indigenous peoples, we now find the balance to walk in both worlds and take back our sovereignty as we develop our own traditional laws through the education of a colonial government so that we are equal with our brothers and sisters from other Nations.”
In closing, Shelley says, “I am excited to be working with BCFNJC, an organization that is truly recapturing our peoples’ spirit and restoring us to our place in the world”.
Amanda Carling (she/her) is Métis from Red River, Treaty One. 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 (formerly the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted or AIDWYC). 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 joined the BC First Nations Justice Council in March 2022 as Senior Policy Counsel. She was called to the Bar of British Columbia in May 2022. Amanda is grateful to live on the unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan peoples with her partner Jesse, son Sam (3.5 years), daughter Joy (10 months) and her first baby, Jake the dog (12 years!!). Amanda is currently the Acting Executive Director of BCFNJC.
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.
In Michael’s past professional experience, he has been able to build strong relationships with training and education institutions in addition to supporting Indigenous clients in accomplishing their professional endeavours.
He has played an important role bringing both institutions and Indigenous people together resulting in training and education milestones in the Interior of BC. Michael is also a certified Career Development Practitioner which has provided him with the skills and experience to assist those in pursuit of training and education and he is looking forward to putting this background to use in his role at the BC First Nations Justice Council.
When Michael isn’t actively assisting indigenous people achieve their professional goals, you can find him coaching kids basketball at Okanagan Indian Band, producing and writing music or spending good quality time with his 2 dogs exploring unceded Syilx Okanagan Territory.
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.
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
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.
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.