Chair

 

Christopher Devlin, Director, DGW Law Corporation, Victoria, BC. Christopher’s practice focuses on Aboriginal and Treaty law on behalf of First Nations, tribal councils, Métis groups and other Indigenous organizations. Christopher works with Indigenous peoples throughout Western Canada, as a litigator, negotiator, and strategic advisor. He has appeared as counsel at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as before administrative tribunals and regulatory panels. He has negotiated multi-party agreements on behalf of Indigenous clients, including specific claim settlements, consultation process agreements and Impact Benefit Agreements. Christopher is regulalrly recognized as a leading lawyer in the area of Aboriginal Law in the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, and was recognized by Best Lawyers as the 2020 Aboriginal Law “Lawyer of the Year” for Vancouver Island.

   

Faculty

Judith Hoffman, General Counsel, Department of Justice, Vancouver, BC. Ms. Hoffman is counsel in trials and appeals involving Aboriginal title and rights as well as treaty interpretation and judicial reviews engaging the duty to consult in several contexts including large controversial resource projects such as Site C and Pacific Northwest LNG.  She is also experienced inquiry counsel, having been a member of the teams representing Canada in the BC Missing Women Inquiry, the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls and the Cullen Commission into Money Laundering in BC. From 2001 to 2005, Ms. Hoffman was the legal officer to the late Chief Justice Brenner.  Before serving the Court, Ms. Hoffman practised in the areas of insurance defence, commercial litigation, civil sexual assault, administrative and Aboriginal law.  

   

VIrginia Mathers, Associate, Mandell Pinder LLP, Vancouver, BC. Virginia’s practice includes advocacy, negotiations, and strategic advice with respect to Aboriginal and treaty rights, natural resource management, and Crown consultation and accommodation. She has been counsel to First Nations in regulatory reviews conducted by the National Energy Board, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, and the Alberta Energy Regulator. Her approach in regulatory reviews includes developing strategies for integrating Indigenous knowledge and values into environmental assessments, working with experts to conduct technical reviews of projects, and negotiating with government and industry representatives on matters relating to consultation and accommodation. Her regulatory practice covers a wide range of industries including oil and gas, mining, marine terminals and shipping, forestry, and hydroelectric projects. Virginia’s litigation practice includes appeals and judicial reviews of regulatory permits and authorizations as well as general civil litigation matters. She has also been involved in negotiating and drafting consultation and accommodation agreements with governments and industry.

   

Karenna Williams, Lawyer, Huberman Law Group, Vancouver, BC. Karenna is Turtle Clan Kanyenke:háka (Mohawk) from Six Nations, Grand River Territory, Ontario. She carries on her grandmother’s teaching that a career must be of service to Indigenous peoples. She is primarily a litigator advocating for Indigenous peoples’ rights, title, cultures, languages and ways of life. Her litigation is strategic and bettered by the relationships she maintains with her clients. She remains grateful for their teachings. She provides effective, passionate and creative advocacy for clients. Although she acts within the Canadian legal system as a lawyer, Karenna does her best to live under the Kayanerenkó:wa, or Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee. Her commitment to her own ways of being permeates her work. A proud Onkwehonwe (original, or Indigenous, person), she believes that Indigenous peoples and laws are powerful and deserve respect. She has appeared at all levels of court in British Columbia, at the Federal Court, and the Supreme Court of Canada as well as the Manitoba Queen’s Bench, the Ontario Superior Court and Court of Appeal.

   

Chief Rolan Willson, West Moberly First Nations, Moberly Lake, BC. Roland Willson was first elected as Chief of the West Moberly First Nations in August 2000, and has continued to serve in that position for the past 20 years. Chief Willson sits on several boards and councils, including the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council, the BC First Nations Gaming Committee, the Pacific Trails Pipeline First Nations Limited Partnership and the Northeast Aboriginal Business and Wellness Centre. Chief Willson is a prolific presenter. In recent years, he has made numerous presentations at various forums and seminars concerning issues important to First Nations, including the duty to consult, Aboriginal land and resource management, and the impacts of the oil and gas and shale gas industries on First Nations in northeastern BC. He has also appeared twice before the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, once with respect to the federal Specific Claims policy and once on the topic of Aboriginal economic development. Chief Willson is an active enthusiast of Land and Treaty preservation.

   

Paul Yearwood, Supervisor, Natural Resources, Transportation and Indigenous Legal Group, Ministry of Attorney General, Victoria, BC. Paul Yearwood was called to the BC Bar in 1993 and has practised exclusively for the Province of British Columbia in the area of Aboriginal litigation since 2000. He is currently the Supervisor of the Aboriginal Law and Litigation group in the Ministry of the Attorney General. Paul has been fortunate to be counsel on a number of the leading Supreme Court of Canada decisions on Aboriginal law as well as a number of lower court decisions.