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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Douglas S. White III, Q.C.
Douglas S. White III, Q.C.
Douglas S. White III, Q.C., is the chair of the BC First Nations Justice Council.
Douglas is a practicing lawyer and in addition to serving as First Nations Justice Council chair, he is co-chair of BC’s Provincial Advisory Committee for Indigenous and Specialized Courts and Related Initiatives.
His Coast Salish name is Kwulasultun, his Nuu-chah-nulth name is Tliishin and he is a member, former Chief, and current councillor and negotiator of the Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo, BC. After completing his B.A. in First Nations Studies (with distinction) from Malaspina University-College (now Vancouver Island University), he graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria and was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 2008. He has been granted distinguished alumni awards from both Vancouver Island University and the University of Victoria, has been a director of the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada and an associate lawyer at Mandell Pinder.
Douglas was also elected to lead the First Nations Summit as a member of the FNS Task Group. In that role, he was also a member of the BC First Nations Leadership Council working on common issues with BC First Nations and advocated on their behalf with the governments of British Columbia, Canada and internationally at the United Nations. He is the former director of the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation at Vancouver Island University and, today, along with his role as the BCFNJC chair, he also practices as a lawyer and negotiator across the country for First Nations governments.
Rosalie C.N. Yazzie, barrister and solicitor, Nesika Law
Rosalie Yazzie is Syilx from the Okanagan Indian Band with ancestral ties to the Secwepemc Nation. She is the vice-chair of the BC First Nations Justice Council and a 12-year member of the Bar Association. Rosalie holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University.
Ms. Yazzie owns and operates Nesika Law Corporation which specializes in Aboriginal law, title and rights and Nation rebuilding. She is a passionate champion for Nation building approaches based in traditional governance values, customs and First Nations legal traditions. Her firm supports First Nations clients to achieve their governance and institutional development goals through sound policy, strategic engagement and communication.
Ms. Yazzie applies a unique lens to her practice, earned through decades of professional experience in First Nations political advocacy, human rights and social development issues including – child welfare, health and education.
Ms. Yazzie currently serves general counsel to the Chiefs Executive Council of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and is a member of the Law Society of B.C.’s Truth and Reconciliation Advisory Committee.
Annita McPhee is Tahltan with ancestral ties to the Tlingit Nation. She is the former three-term president of the Tahltan Central Council (TCC) and holds a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria. Annita recently obtained a diploma in Human Rights and International Advocacy Skills with the United Nations Indigenous Women’s Global Leadership School in New York at Columbia University.
A passionate advocate for her Nation, Annita was instrumental in negotiating more than $2 billion worth of agreements on behalf of the Tahltan Nation for BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line and AltaGas’ run of river projects
Annita has been an active advisor and director on several provincial and national boards including the Legal Services Society, Vancouver Board of Trade’s Aboriginal Affairs Committee, BC Hydro’s Strategic Aboriginal Engagement Committee and the Minister of Aboriginal Relations Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women.
Today, Annita is the owner of Annita McPhee Strategies which provides facilitation, conference moderation, negotiations, communications and other professional services to First Nations, government and industry clients. She has developed and delivered curriculum on multiple topics including lateral violence in Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal engagement, business development, native youth and leadership training.
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.”
Kory, BSc., LL.B, is Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach. Both nations are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation. She is a mom and a member of the We Wai Kai Nation. She is currently the Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships at BCIT.
Kory is a member of the BC Law Society and she practiced criminal defense and family law. She has 20 years experience in post-secondary education. She has taught a wide variety of courses at various post-secondary institutions and they range from law, racism, Aboriginal and Canadian studies, community development and good governance.
Her passion and research focuses on and is inspired by ensuring success for Aboriginal learners and other multi-barrier learners. She has a deep commitment to education, both within the institutions and in the community, and she has dedicated her working life to ensuring that Aboriginal learners and other marginalized learners succeed.
Kory has been, and is, an active member on several boards including the Genome BC, Downie Wenjack Fund, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Laurier Institute, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, Museum of Vancouver, National Indigenous Education Committee of CICan, New Relationship Trust Education Foundation, Living Oceans Society, and Eagles of Tomorrow.