Co-Chairs

Brenda Gaertner, Managing Partner, Mandell Pinder LLP, Vancouver, BC. Ms. Gaertner advises Indigenous governments on Aboriginal title and rights, modern (self) government, consultation and accommodation processes, natural resource governance and management, and economic development. She was called to the B.C. bar in 1984 and has been with Mandell Pinder almost since its inception. Ms. Gaertner is passionate in her work towards recognition and respect for Indigenous governance and management, especially in the areas of fish, aquatic resources and ecosystems. She was senior counsel for the First Nations Coalition in the Cohen Inquiry on Fraser River Sockeye and has appeared before various regulatory bodies, including the National Energy Board and Joint Federal and Provincial Review Panels. Brenda has been educated by many Indigenous peoples on the importance of fish, fish habitat and sustainable fisheries. She works with numerous First Nation organizations, at the Provincial and Regional scale, in their continued efforts to implement better governance and management. She is currently the Lead Negotiator for the Fraser Salmon Management Council, representing over 70 Nations along the migratory route. She is a Director of the Pacific Salmon Foundation, an organization committed to protecting and preserving wild salmon. Brenda has been recognized as a leading practitioner in the area of Aboriginal law by Canadian Legal L’expert since at least 2011 and has been nominated for The Best Lawyers in Canada for 2018. She is committed to the path of respect and reconciliation.

   

Geoff Plant, Q.C., Partner, Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP, Vancouver, BC. Geoff Plant provides public law and policy advice and representation, and also works as a mediator and arbitrator in public and private law disputes. He was the Attorney General of British Columbia and Minister Responsible for Treaty Negotiations from 2001 to 2005. As Attorney General, Mr. Plant was the Minister responsible for the negotiation of the New Relationship, the first-ever political accord between the Government of British Columbia and the Province’s three aboriginal political organizations. Prior to his election to the Legislature, Mr. Plant was counsel in a number of leading Aboriginal rights and title cases, including the landmark case of Delgamuukw v. British Columbia. He has lectured and written extensively on Aboriginal law, public law and law reform. Since re-entering law practice in 2005, Mr. Plant has been appointed senior advisor to the Government of BC in land and resource negotiations with the Council of Haida Nation and the First Nations Leadership Council, and has provided strategic advice to a number of BC businesses on establishing effective relations with First Nations. In 2012 he was appointed chief legal strategist for the BC Government in the proceedings of the Joint Review Panel considering the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Also in 2012, Mr. Plant was named one of Canada’s most influential lawyers by Canadian Lawyer Magazine, and has since been recognized as a leading practitioner in the area of Aboriginal law in the 2013 Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and in the 2013 to 2018 editions of The Best Lawyers in Canada.

   

Faculty

Nathalie Drouin, Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Canada, Government of Canada, Ottawa, ON. Nathalie G. Drouin was appointed Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Canada on June 23, 2017. Mrs. Drouin previously served as Senior Associate Deputy Minister of the Department of Justice of Canada since September 12, 2016. From 1991 to 1998, Mrs. Drouin has held various positions, such as Certification Manager and Counsel and Coordinator of Legal Services (1991-1996) and Director of Legal Affairs (1996-1998), at the Conseil des assurances de personnes. In 1999, she joined the Bureau des services financiers, which preceded the establishment of the Autorité des marchés financiers, as the Director of Legal Affairs. She held different positions within the Autorité between 2004 and 2012, first as the Director General of Market Supervision and Legal Affairs, and, starting in 2012, as the Superintendent of Solvency Supervision and Director General of Legal Affairs. Finally, from September 2012 to her current appointment, Mrs. Drouin was Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General for the Gouvernement du Québec. Mrs. Drouin was named Business Legal Advisor of the Year 2009 by the magazine Le monde juridique, and received the 2012 Lawyer Emeritus ("Ad. E.") distinction awarded by the Barreau du Québec (Quebec Bar). Nathalie G. Drouin holds a Bachelor’s degree in law and a post-graduate diploma in business administration, both from Université Laval. She has been a member of the Quebec Bar since 1992.

   

Reuben George, Director of Community Development, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Vancouver, BC. Reuben George is Director of Community Development for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and Manager of Sacred Trust, an initiative of the TWN mandated to stop the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project.

   

Chief Dr. Ronald Ignace, Chief of Skeetchestn Indian Band, Savona, BC. Chief Ronald E. Ignace PhD has been the elected Chief of the Skeetchestn Band for more than 28 years since the early 1980s, and also served as Chairman of the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and President of the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society during the late 1980s and 1990s. He was Chair of the National Chiefs Committee on Languages from 2002-2005 and 2016, representing B.C. Chiefs on Legislative formulation and recognition of Indigenous Languages by Canada. For many years he was the co-chair of the Aboriginal university partnership between the Secwepemc and Simon Fraser University in Kamloops, B. C., and occasionally continues to teach courses in Secwepemc Language and First Nations Studies through SFU. He holds B.A. and M.A. Degrees in Sociology from the University of British Columbia, and completed his PhD in Anthropology at Simon Fraser University in 2008 with a dissertation titled Our Oral Histories are Our Iron Posts: Secwepemc Stories and Historical Consciousness. He recently co-authored an award winning book titled Secwepmc People, Land and Laws. A look at the 10,000 year History of the Secwepemc.

   

Paul Joffe, Lawyer, Saint-Lambert, QC. Paul Joffe specializes in human rights and other issues relating to Indigenous peoples at the international and domestic level. For several decades, he has been involved in international standard-setting processes, including those relating to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989. In the 2014 Tsilhqot’in Nation case, he was one of the lawyers representing Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) and Amnesty International at the Supreme Court of Canada, focusing on Indigenous peoples’ rights in international law. He is a member of the Québec and Ontario bars.

   

Eugene Kung, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law, Vancouver, BC. Eugene Kung is a staff lawyer with West Coast, working on Tar Sands, Pipelines and Tankers, as well as with the “Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air, and Water” project. Prior to joining West Coast, Eugene was a staff lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre where he had a social justice law practice in the areas of Constitutional, Human Rights, Administrative, Anti-Poverty, and Regulatory law. He has represented low and fixed-income ratepayers before the BC Utilities Commission; low-income tenants of slumlords; Treeplanters and Temporary Foreign Workers before the BC Human Rights Tribunal; and families of deceased farmworkers at a coroner’s inquest. In 2010, Eugene worked with the Legal Resources Centre in Durban, South Africa on Constitutional law cases involving access to housing, water, education and a healthy environment. In his spare time he is a mediocre musician, a so-so snowboarder and a horrible hockey player.

   

Stephen Mussell, Associate, Mandell Pinder LLP, Vancouver, BC. Stephen’s practice includes research, economic development, governance, negotiation, consultation, advocacy and strategic advice relating to Aboriginal rights. Stephen has a particular practice interest in Indigenous laws and having them taken seriously as law, equal in weight and force to those of the Crown. Stephen is Plains Cree-Métis. He is a citizen of the Métis Nation British Columbia and his family hails from the Eagle Hills and the historic Métis community located in the Red River Valley, Manitoba. Stephen was among the first UBC Law graduates to be granted a specialization in Aboriginal law. While pursuing his degree Stephen was actively involved in the Indigenous Law Students’ Association. He served in a number of capacities, including as president in his second year of study. During that time Stephen also had the pleasure of working under Judge Alexander Wolf as a clinician with the Indigenous Community Legal Clinic, working with low-income Indigenous clients in East Vancouver on a number of criminal and family law matters in the British Columbia Provincial Court.

   

Dr. Val Napoleon, Indigenous People’s Counsel, Law Foundation Chair of Aboriginal Justice and Governance; Director, Indigenous Law Research Unit; and Provost’s Engaged Community Scholar, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC. Dr. Napoleon’s current research focuses on Indigenous legal traditions, legal theories, feminisms, citizenship, self-determination, and governance. Several of her major initiatives include establishing and directing the Indigenous Law Research Unit, and developing and directing the JID (dual JD and indigenous law degree) program scheduled to begin in September 2018. She works with numerous Indigenous community partners across Canada on a range of Indigenous law research projects (e.g., Indigenous water law, harms and injuries, gender in Indigenous law, and lands and resources) and also with several national and international Indigenous law research initiatives. Some of the courses she teaches are Indigenous feminist legal studies, property, Indigenous legal theories, and Indigenous legal methodologies. She is from Saulteau First Nation (BC Treaty 8) and is an adopted member of the House of Luuxhon, Ganada, from Gitanyow (northern Gitksan).

   
 

Neil Rayner, Leader, Indigenous Affairs, Teck Resources Limited, Vancouver, BC. Neil Rayner is Leader, Indigenous Affairs at Teck Resources – Canada’s largest diversified resource company, based in Vancouver. He has over 15 years of experience in leadership roles within the public and private sectors focusing on Indigenous relations.  He has extensive experience representing the government of Canada in treaty negotiations under the British Columbia Treaty Process, leading federal teams in negotiations with Indigenous groups including the Te’mexw Treaty Association, Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, and K’òmoks First Nation.  With Teck Resources, Neil focusses on implementation of Teck’s Indigenous Peoples Policy, negotiation and implementation of agreements with Indigenous Peoples, external advocacy and government relations.  Neil holds a Bachelor degree in Communication from Simon Fraser University and lives in North Vancouver with his family.

 

   
 

Dr. Judith Sayers, President,Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Victoria, BC. Dr. Judith Sayers is a member of the Hupacasath First Nation, and was the elected Chief for 14 years and the Chief Negotiator for 15 years. In her role as Chief, she focused on capacity building, sustainable development and restoring and rehabilitating Hupacasath territory. Currently Judith remains involved in Energy issues through advising First Nations and corporations on clean energy projects. Judith speaks at many conferences, think tanks and strategic sessions concerning issues affecting energy including developing, transmitting and selling power, climate change, capacity needs, negotiating agreements, regulatory requirements and export of power. Judith’s educational background includes a business and law degree and an honourary Doctor of Laws from Queen’s University. She has an extensive background of practising law for 18 years in both Alberta and British Columbia, working in international forums, lobbying governments and other agencies for the promotion and protection of First Nations rights and title. In February 2009, the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business inducted Judith in the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame. Further accomplishments include being 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 been honoured by Atira Women’s Resource Society as an Inspirational Women. In 2017, Dr. Sayers was appointed to the Order of Canada.

   

Kris Statnyk, Associate, Mandell Pinder LLP, Vancouver, BC. In his practice Kris provides strategic advice, negotiation support and advocacy over a broad range of areas including land and resource management, development assessment, regulatory process, modern treaty and self-government implementation, law and policy development, fiscal relations and government-to-government engagement. Kris is Gwich’in and a citizen of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow, Yukon. While studying law, Kris worked as a researcher with the University of Victoria’s Indigenous Law Research Unit assisting community-based projects on the revitalization of Indigenous laws. Kris also completed an internship with West Coast Environmental Law working on public interest environmental law issues and spent time working at the Law Centre representing low income clients. Kris is called to the bars of BC (2014) and the Yukon (2016), and if a board member of West Coast Environmental Law.

   

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law; and Academic Director of the Indian Residential School Centre for History and Dialogue, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. Professor Turpel-Lafond or Aki-kwe is a member of the Indigenous bar as well as the Law Societies of British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. She was a Saskatchewan Provincial Court judge for 20 years (1998-2018) and served as B.C.’s first Representative for Children and Youth from 2006-2016, an independent Officer of the Legislative Assembly. During her time on the bench, Professor Turpel-Lafond was actively involved in projects relating to improve supports for Indigenous peoples, especially in addressing the unique circumstances and needs of children and youth involved in the justice system. Her work as Representative for Children and Youth included detailed and systemic examination of the child serving system and she advocated for the human rights of children, resulting in many needed improvements. Professor Turpel-Lafond holds a Doctorate in Law from Harvard Law School (SJD), a Masters in international law from Cambridge University (Gonville and Caius College), a JD from Osgoode Hall at York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton University. She also holds a Certificate in the International and Comparative Law of Human Rights from the University of Strasbourg. She was awarded the distinction of Indigenous Peoples' Counsel from the Indigenous Bar Association in 2006, and has been awarded honourary degrees from nine Canadian universities and schools of Law.

   
 

Councillor Douglas White III, B.A., J.D., Snuneymuxw First Nation, Nanaimo, BC. Doug White is a member and former Chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. His Coast Salish name is Kwul’a’sul’tun and his Nuu-chah-nulth name is Tlii’shin. After completing his B.A. in First Nations Studies (with distinction) from Malaspina University-College, he graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria in 2006. He was called to the Bar of British Columbia in January 2008. He has been a director of the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada and an associate lawyer at Mandell Pinder. He was the elected Chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation from December 2009 to February 2014 where a major focus of his work was in relation to the implementation of the Snuneymuxw Treaty of 1854. From June of 2010 to June 2013, he was elected by Chiefs of British Columbia to lead the First Nations Summit as a member of the FNS Task Group. In that capacity, he advocated for First Nations seeking resolution of outstanding issues with the Crown. In that role, he was also a member of the BC First Nations Leadership Council working on common issues with BC First Nations, particularly the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate, and advocated on their behalf with the governments of British Columbia, Canada and internationally at the United Nations. Doug was appointed to the BC Aboriginal Justice Council by the First Nations Summit in April, 2016. He is currently the Director of the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation at Vancouver Island University and practices as a lawyer and negotiator across the country for First Nations governments. He is an also legal counsel for First Nations across the country, and lectures frequently at universities on Indigenous legal issues.

   

Jessica Wood, Si Sityaawks, Assistant Deputy Minister, Reconciliation Transformation and Strategies Division, Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Victoria, BC. Known as Si Sityaawks – (Woman who creates change) Jessica is from the Gitxsan & Tsimshian First Nations with familiar roots among the Tahltan and Nisga’a Nations. An experienced community developer who portfolios have focused on issues related to residential school, sexual health, Indigenous women and gendered violence. She was the first Indigenous woman in Canada whose work as a social planner focused solely on the health and safety of sex workers and impacted communities, gendered and racialized violence, and the prevention of youth sexual exploitation at the municipal level. She has previously held positions working on the Residential School Settlement Agreement and the NFB documentary Finding Dawn, a film about missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Jessica is a long-time organizer with the Vancouver DTES Women’s Memorial March Committee. As ADM, Jessica is responsible for a new division that will develop the government’s reconciliation vision and lead the necessary transformation for B.C. to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, and learnings from relevant case law such as the Tsilhqot’in decision.

   
 

Garry Wouters, Consultant, Coastal First Nations, West Vancouver, BC.  Mr. Wouters has extensive experience providing advice and analysis to First Nations groups.  In 1999 he joined Turning Point, which became the Great Bear Initiative.  Prior to his work as a consultant, Mr. Wouters worked in various government positions including BC Jobs and Timber Advocate, Associate Deputy Minister at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and as Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Affairs , Deputy Minister of Skills and Training and Deputy Minister of Finance in British Columbia.