Welcome and Opening Remarks
Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, O.B.C., Knowledge Holder
Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, O.B.C. is a true peace-builder whose life and work are examples of his personal commitment. A Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, Chief Joseph has dedicated his life to bridging the differences brought about by intolerance, lack of understanding and racism at home and abroad.
His insights into the destructive impacts these forces can have on peoples’ lives, families and cultures were shaped by his experience with the Canadian Indian Residential School system.
As one of the last few speakers of the Kwakwaka’wakw language, Chief Joseph is an eloquent and inspiring Ceremonial House Speaker. He shares his knowledge and wisdom in the Big House and as a Language Speaker with the University of British Columbia, an internationally recognized art curator and as co-author of “Down from the Shimmering Sky: Masks of the Northwest Coast”.
In 2003, Chief Joseph received an Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from the University of British Columbia for his distinguished achievements in serving BC and Canada. In 2012, he was presented The Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. In 2014, he received the Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue from Simon Fraser University and an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Vancouver School of Theology for his work in reconciliation and renewing relationships between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. In 2015, Chief Joseph was presented a Deputy Ministers’ Recognition Award for Collaboration and Partnerships and was appointed to the Order of British Columbia, the Province of British Columbia’s highest honour. In 2016, Chief Joseph received the Wallenberg-Sugihara Civil Courage Award and the Indspire Lifetime Achievement Award.
Chief Joseph is currently the Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada and a member of the National Assembly of First Nations Elders Council. He was formerly the Executive Director of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and is an honourary witness to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). As Chairman of the Native American Leadership Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation and Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation with the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IFWP), Chief Joseph has sat with the leaders of South Africa, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia and Washington, DC to learn from and share his understanding of faith, hope, healing and reconciliation.
Brian Assu Sr.
Brian Assu Sr. in an elected board member of the BC Assembly of First Nations and former Chief of the We Wai Kai Nation. During his time as Chief of the We Wai Kai Nation, the Nation has grown and has become fully integrated into regional economy and has progressively brought law making authority and governance home to the Nation’s membership.
Brian has served on numerous Boards and Commissions throughout his career including 23 years on the Fraser Panel, 5 of which he served as the appointed Canadian Commissioner on the Pacific Salmon Commission. He was appointed to BC Hydro’s Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program in 2002 and served as Chair for 15 years. He has Chaired the very progressive A-Tlegay Fisheries Society since 1999 and has been on the Laich-Kwil-Tach Treaty Society since 1996.
Brian is pleased to be involved with the BCAFN as a board member. He believes that strong Nations are created at home; however, there is an important role for organizations like the BCAFN to make sure the tide lifts all boats.
On a personal level, Brian is an active commercial fisher with his seine boat the Western Brave which has been an Area 13 contract test fishing vessel since 1995. He grew up in the Cape Mudge village on Quadra Island alongside his three brothers and now resides in Campbell River with his wife of 5 years, and is an actively involved loving father to their 3 young children.
Topic #1: Centre of Excellence for Economic Development
An overview of the concept of a BC Centre of Excellence for First Nations Economic Development to advance economic reconciliation between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population to close the socio-economic gap and increase First Nations self-determination.
Regional Chief Terry Teegee
Terry Teegee, is the elected Regional Chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations and proudly serving his second term in this position. Terry’s ancestry is Dakelh, Gitxsan and Sekani descent and is a member of Takla Nation. As a former Registered Professional Forester, responsible for looking after the forests, forest lands and forest resources, Terry is deeply involved in natural resources development . As Regional Chief, he was an instrumental voice in the development and historic passing of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
Terry’s strong leadership, both provincially and nationally, was vital on the following portfolios and issues:
- AFN Chair of Chiefs Committee include: Economic Development, Employment and Training, and Cannabis
- Co-Chair of the AFN National Fisheries Committee
- Co-Lead on the AFN Justice Portfolio
- Lead for Gaming Nationally and member of BC First Nation Gaming Commission
- Co-Chair of the Forestry Sub-Committee with Province of BC
- Co-Chair for the Champions Table with BC Business Council
- The Political Lead for First Nations Leadership Council for co-developed Environmental Assessment Act (Bill 51)
- Tripartite Working Group member to implement Bill C-92, Indigenous Child Welfare Jurisdiction Bill to implement the Commitment Document Provincially
- AFN Representative on the UN Convention of Biodiversity
Terry is known for his caring and collaborative leadership. He worked to unify and support people working together towards the recognition of our inherent rights.
Previous to become the Regional Chief, Terry was the elected Tribal Chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) from 2012-2017. Previous to his political aspirations, Terry held forestry and natural resources roles with the CSTC and Takla Nation. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural Resources Management (Forestry) and also a Natural Resources Technology Diploma.
Terry and his wife Rena Zatorski have been married for 20 years and have two children, Rylie and Rowan. They reside on Lheidli T’enneh Shelley Reserve, 22 kms up the Fraser River from Prince George.
Topic #2: Federal Procurement Opportunities
A conversation about tapping into federal procurement opportunities and economic stimulus projects. A discussion of the challenges and strategies for Indigenous businesses to achieve success in this sector as the federal “Build Back Better” plan involves heavy infrastructure development contrasted with the American Tribal experience in procurement.
Bill Lomax, Vice President, (Gitxsan)
A senior wealth management leader dedicated to strengthening the financial sovereignty of Indigenous Nations through economic development and Tribal sovereign wealth funds. A citizen of the Gitxsan Nation in British Columbia, He uses his roles as an Adjunct Lecturer at Stanford University and as Head of the Native American effort at Goldman Sachs to educate First Nations leaders and future leaders about leveraging financial strategies to build sustainable communities.
Over the course of his career, Bill has built Indigenous-focused wealth management businesses at firms including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Smith Barney. He serves Native American Tribes across the US, and has been entrusted with over $2B in Tribal investment assets over his career.
Bill started his career in law as Treaty Analyst for the British Columbia Treaty Commission, and later as Legal Counsel for the Canadian Federal Department of Justice. Bill holds his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Columbia University and his LLB/JD degree from the University of British Columbia. Bill also has a Certificate in Tribal Administration from Claremont Graduate University as well as a Harvard Business School Executive Education Certificate from the Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities course, a program that he co-founded.
Chris Lewis, Ancestral Name: Syeta’xtn
In 2017, Syeta’xtn was elected to his third consecutive four-year term as a member of the Squamish Nation Chiefs and Council.
As one of two Spokespersons for the Nation, Councillor Lewis is currently focusing on the following areas: Rights and Title and Intergovernmental Affairs; Education; Economic Development; Governance; Planning and Capital Projects; Fisheries and access to our aquatic resources.
Syeta’xtn is also honored to be a member of the Board of the N’chakay Development Corporation, MST Employment and Training Society and the Coho Society of the North Shore. Previously, Chris was a founding Board member of the MST Development Corporation and just completed a six-year term as member of the Simon Fraser University Board of Governors. Chris also worked for many years at the national and provincial level for the BC Assembly of First Nations focusing on First Nations advocacy and policy. In November 2020, he was recognized by Vancouver Magazine when they included him on their “Power 50” list.
Raised by his grandparents, Chris was encouraged to learn the traditional ways of the land as well as further his academic education. Along with traditional teachings, Chris obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Planning, with a minor in First Nations Studies from Simon Fraser University.
Syeta’xtn has a passion and talent for sport, and was a key member of a National Lacrosse Championship team, North Shore Indians. Chris continues to enjoy competitive sport as well as many outdoor activities with his wife Jennifer, daughter Madison and son William.
Blair Bellerose, Interim CEO
Blair is Métis and Cree, and a member of the Fort McKay First Nation in northern Alberta. Blair joined LDM as a Development Manager in 2019. In 2017, Blair earned a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies from Simon Fraser University where his research focused on urban Indigenous organizations and the non-profit sector. Previously, Blair has more than twenty years’ experience in Urban Aboriginal programming where he developed expertise in areas such as employment and training, leadership, and service excellence. Most recently, he was the Regional Program Development Advisor for Urban Programming for Indigenous Peoples with Indigenous Services Canada. Prior to that he was the Director of Employment Services for Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS) for nearly 14 years. Other career highlights include working as a Special Needs Coordinator/Employment Counsellor for Aboriginal Counselling & Employment Services 2000 Society (a Métis Nation of Alberta affiliate) and Research Assistant for J.J. Barnicke Commercial Real Estate.
Topic #3: Indigenous Tourism
The pandemic has been challenging for many Indigenous businesses, particularly in the tourism industry. Speakers on this panel will provide information on resources available to businesses in the tourism industry and ideas will be shared on ways to pivot your business to a digital platform. Indigenous tourism practitioners will describe their businesses and their experiences operating during the pandemic.
Paula Amos, Chief Marketing and Development Officer
Indigenous Tourism BC
Paula Amos is of Hesquiaht and Squamish Nation descent, born and raised in the Nuu-chah-nulth territory on the west coast of Vancouver Island. She has worked in leadership roles in the tourism industry for 20+ years. Paula has worked for the Indigenous Tourism Association of BC for the past 19 years and has been a part of the industry growth and success by driving results in experience development, partnerships and implementing strategies for marketing for businesses and organizations. The overall Indigenous tourism industry has grown by over 80% since the launch of the Aboriginal Tourism Blueprint Strategy in 2007.
Paula sat on the steering committee for the groundbreaking Blueprint Strategy for Aboriginal tourism in British Columbia. The Blueprint was the catalyst for developing Aboriginal tourism in BC in 2006. She was also involved with the 2010 Aboriginal Tourism Working Group, in partnership with the 2010 Bid Corporation. Paula views the development of the Aboriginal cultural tourism industry as not only economic development and job potential but is also a driver for cultural pride, reconciliation and new generation of entrepreneurs.
Paula Amos is a leader for Indigenous tourism community development and works in the important areas of collaboration and partnerships. She is passionate about creating opportunities and mentorship for youth and reconciliation for Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Francine Douglas, Indigenous Tourism Specialist
Vancouver Coast & Mountains | Indigenous Tourism BC
Stó:lō from Sts’ailes and Tsimpshian from Metlakatla, Francine holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and was valedictorian of the UBC Sauder School of Business Aboriginal Business Management Program. She has more than a decade of business and tourism experience, including coordinating tourism, communications, and events in the Stó:lō territory. She is an Indigenous Tourism Specialist supporting destination development, partnerships and digital and content development with Vancouver, Coast & Mountains, and Indigenous Tourism BC.