Maaxswxw Gibuu / Gitk’san and Carrier from Takla Lake First Nation
Carrier Sekani Family Services
Mary is Gitk’san and Carrier from Takla Lake First Nation, and is a proud member of the Luxgaboo Wolf Clan. She is the Executive Director of Child and Family Services at Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) where she oversees the provincially delegated programs, youth services, family preservation, maternal child health, and the Highway of Tears Initiative, as well as violence prevention programs.
Mary holds the Hereditary Chiefs name Maaxswxw Gibuu (White Wolf). She has been raised to live her culture, customs, laws and traditions. Mary has long espoused that in order for nations to be revitalized; nations have to heal from the atrocities that occurred through colonization. She maintains that all services, programs and initiatives developed to benefit First Nations have to be built on a cultural foundation.
Mary holds an Executive MBA, Indigenous Business and Leadership from Simon Fraser University and received the Dean’s Convocation Medal for being in top five percent in her class. Mary is Chair of the Directors Forum.
She is a relentless advocate for human, Indigenous, and women’s rights and has served on various provincial, national, and international committees. She represents BC on the Board of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and has acted as a Steering Committee member of the First Nation Early Childhood development Council. She has been a member of the Provincial Ministers Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women, and works tirelessly to inform people about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation
Secwepemc Child & Family Services
A proud Dene woman and member of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation Yvonne Hare is the Executive Director of Secwépemc Child & Family Services Agency (SCFSA) which delivers a full range of culturally safe child and family services for 7 Secwepemc communities. Yvonne formerly served as the Executive Director of Scw’exmx Child and Family Services in Merritt for nearly a decade.
Yvonne is completing her Master of Social Work Degree focused on Indigenous leadership in Social work. She envisions a future where all child and family services that are deeply rooted in the values and culture of First Nations people and guided by generations of Indigenous knowledge.
Reflecting on almost 20 years of frontline work Yvonne is grateful to each child and family she had the opportunity to support.
“There isn’t a single family that I worked with when I was on the front line that I didn’t learn from or gain some insight in terms of how I would practice or even live my own life in general.”
Gitxsan Child & Family Services Society
Cheryl Williams is Gitxan and serves as the Executive Director of Gitxsan Child & Family Services Society. Over the past 7 years as Executive Director Cheryl has grown the organization to assume a much larger role in design and delivery of culturally appropriate programs and services.
Cheryl holds both a Bachelor and Masters Degree in Social Work.
Yataltenat / Squamish Nation
Ayás Méńmen Child & Family Services
Kelly is a member of the Squamish Nation from the village of Eslha7n on the shores of North Vancouver, British Columbia in the traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples. She is the Granddaughter to the late Harry Newman and Florence (nee John). Her Mother is the late Yataltanault Carole Newman.
Kelley is the Director of Ayás Méńmen Child & Family Services Department where she leads over 70 staff to fulfil the mandate to provide proactive prevention and education strategies to Nation families; negotiate family service, voluntary care and special need agreements with families in need; provide guardianship services to children in care; and to represent Squamish interests.
As Director she is responsible not only for the Administration of programs, but also for the care and well-being of Squamish Nation children. Together with the staff and community, Ayás Méńmen works to exercise Squamish inherent right to take care of thier own and bring peace to children.
Kelley notes that recognizing the inherent strengths of our community regardless of the challenges we face means were are more able to meet the needs of our members in positive healthy ways. This means being grounded in our Squamish values, culture and traditions.
“Our people are guided by awareness that the ways of our ancestors created balance within home, family and community. The foundation of this way of life was having the ability to Guide, Protect and Provide.”
Surrounded By Cedar Child And Family Services
Jennifer Chukry has worked for Surrounded by Cedar Child & Family Services (SCCFS) since for nearly 20 years and currently serves as the Executive Director. Of Cree ancestry from Saskatchewan Jennifer has made her family in southern Salish territory.
At SCCFS provides service to urban Indigenous children, youth and families who belong to Nations throughout BC and across Turtle Island.
Jennifer is passionate about urban Indigenous people, communities and issues and works to create space for urban Indigenity. She celebrate the strong sense of community that has been created in urban centres which brings Indigenous people together, to gather, to meet, to hold each other up, to love each other.
Jennifer believes that many of our children, youth and families are working through disconnection from their ancestral territories, their cultural identities and their sense of belonging. SCCFS practice is firmly rooted in the belief that connection to spirit and identity through familial, hereditary and cultural linkages are the strongest protective factors in promoting safety and well-being amongst Indigenous people. We know that children are that most sacred gift given to our people by Creator and we work hard to honour their well-being with the highest regard.
I have great admiration for the brilliance of our people, our beliefs, our teachings, and our ceremonies, and wherever possible, I believe that we need to rely more on our own knowledge and less on westernized approaches. The kids we work with, their little spirits are so fragile. We need to plan for our children as if our lives depend on it … that’s how gentle and cautious and sacred our approach needs to be.
Métis Family Services
Yoachim, William (Bill)
Snuneymuxw First Nation
Kw’umut Lelum Child & Family Services
William Yoachim – Sqwulutsutun – is the son of the late Ivy Wyse, and grandson to Eva and Alfred Wyse. Bill completed his BSW at the University of Victoria and has worked in Indigenous Child and Family Services since 1998. A proud member of Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo, he has served as Executive Director of Kw’umut Lelum since 2008.
His early career in youth outreach and social work, along with the snuw’uy’ulh imparted on him by his family and community, gave Bill the foundation to lead the agency through expanded levels of delegation, to provide the full range of services mandated by the Child, Family and Community Service Act to all of its nine Member Nations.
Bill is exceedingly proud of the culturally-informed and compassionate services offered by Kw’umut Lelum’s 85+ staff. Coast Salish teachings and values guide every aspect of practice, but the guiding principle of the organization is nutsumaat shqwaluwun – together with one heart and one mind.
Under Bill’s leadership, the agency’s unique approach has resulted in significant decreases in the number of children coming into care, and their focus on family unity means that many of their children and youth remain within their family systems and tied to their community and culture.
Directors at Large
Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society
Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem Child & Family Services
Denise Orpen is the Executive Director of Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem (Cowichan) Child and Family Services. She has served 18 years in Indigenous Child and Family Service work, including many years on the frontline. She was humbled and honoured to accept the position of Executive Director at Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem Agency 7 years ago.
K’wak’walat’si (‘Namgis) Child & Family Services
Vancouver Aboriginal Child And Family Services Society
Bernadette Spence is currently the chief executive officer for the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society. Previously, she was a social worker for a self-employed constant company. Ms. Spence has also worked as a child protection officer for the Ministry of Children and Families, a social development operations specialist for the Department of Indian and Northern Development BC Region, a child welfare transfer coordinator for the Cowichan Band, and a training program coordinator for the University of Manitoba.
Active in her community, she serves as a member for the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Council and the Delegated Aboriginal Agency Directors Forum. She is also a director for the Community Social Services Employers Association. Ms. Spence holds her Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Manitoba and her Master of Social Work degree from the University of British Columbia.
Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council Usma Family & Child Services Society
Kelly Edgar is the Director of Usma Nuu-chah-nulth Family & Child Services which offers programs for Nuu-chah-nulth children, youth, and their families that help strengthen abilities and expand community and family supports. Kelly has over 20 years experience in the child and family services field included 2 years as USMA’s director.
Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation – Canoe Creek Indian Band
Lisa Post is the Executive Director of Scw’exmx Child & Family Services Society. From Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, Lisa brings 8 years of frontline experience in Indigenous Child and Family Services. She holds a Bachelors of Social Work Degree and is on the journey to finishing her Masters Degree in Leadership.
Northwest Inter-Nation Family & Community Services Society
Kathleen Bennett brings 22 years’ experience in indigenous child and family services to her role as Executive Director of
Northwest Inter-Nation Family and Community Services Society (NIFCS). Over the last 12 years Kathleen has been honoured to serve as NIFCS executive director and enjoys working alongside Tsimshian and Haisla governments and families to provide culturally safe services to their members.
Kathleen holds a Master of Social Work with a thesis focused on cultural permanence for Indigenous children and youth in care.
Kathleen was born in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and her very first career in Canada landed her in Prince Rupert where she was fortunate to work primarily with the First Nations peoples and administrations in Prince Rupert and Terrace.
Lytton First Nation
Nlha’7kpmx Child & Family Services Society
Yee A tek Shee TLK_t (Good day), my name is Chrissy Thomas and I am the Executive Director of Nlha’7kapmx Child and Family Services Society in Lytton, BC. I have worked with the agency for over 20 years and have been in the role of Executive Director since 2018. I am a member of the Lytton First Nation and have had the honour of living and working on the traditional territory to the Nlha7kapmx people. I have a background in Business Administration and Accounting and I am currently pursuing my education in Indigenous Human Services, with the hopes of continuing on to complete my Bachelor’s of Social Work.
Hlgu Wilksihlguun Ganaaw / Nisga’a and Haisla Nation
Nisga’a Child & Family Services
Loretta Stewart is the Director of Practice for Nisga’a Child and Family service. Loretta’s Nisga’a Name is Hlgu Wilksihlguun Ganaaw. Hailing from both Nisga’a and Haisla Nation’s she resides on Nisga’a lands where she has served Nisga’a Child and Family Services for the last 12 Years. Loretta holds a Bachelor in Psychology and is currently completing her Masters in Counselling from UNBC.
NIL TU,O Child and Family Services Society
Katherine Stocker is Haida and was born and raised on Haida territory in Haida Gwaii. She is from the Raven Clan in matriarchal Haida society. Katherine serves as the Executive Director of NIȽ TU,O Child and Family Services Society, a position she has held for 11 years. Katherine is a graduate of the University of Victoria Administration of Aboriginal Governments Program.
Fort St. James, Prince George BC
Nezul Be Hunuyeh Child & Family Services
I grew up in the beautiful Peace country of Northern BC and have four children who are proud members of the Metis Nation of BC. I was one of the first graduates of the Bachelor of Social Work Program at UNBC in Prince George. I started my career with Carrier Sekani Family Services as a Family Support Worker in 1997 and then transitioned to a Delegated Service Team as the worker for Sai’kuz First Nation.
My career then led me to the Prince George Native Friendship Center where I worked as a Family Worker for two years. Nezul Be Hunuyeh Child and Family Services was established in 2002 to serve Tl’azt’en Nation and Nak’azdli Whu’ten. I was recruited as a Team Leader in 2004 and accepted the Executive Director position in 2006. I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve the Carrier Nation for the past 23 years.
Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family & Community Services
Colleen Lucier is a citizen of the Métis Nation and serves as Executive Director of Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services. She has over 25 years’ experience in the Indigenous Child and Family service sector including 16 years combined experience as an executive director. She holds a Bachelor of Sociology and partial completion of a Master of Arts Degree in Sociology.
ki'su'k kyukyit, hu qakǂik
Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Child & Family Services
Jackie started her Social Worker journey with Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services (KKCFS) in 2002 supporting children youth and families, as the Agency was preparing to receive it’s C4-Guardianship Delegation Agreement and as the first Guardianship Social Worker, was responsible for transferring 36 Ktunaxa Children In Care from MCFD to the care of KKCFS. In 2005 the agency moved forward to provide all child protection services to Ktunaxa, First Nations, Inuit and Metis within their territory.
During her time with the agency, Jackie has held many different roles and since 2016 has been the Director of Practice, responsible for guiding implementing and supporting all leadership in delivering a full range of culturally appropriate services. One of Jackie’s key focuses, has been bringing the voice of the children and families forward to inform the agency on how to improve practice and reflect on service delivery through a decolonized lens.
She has been instrumental in planning and implementing the Agency’s strategic pillars of Decolonizing Client Experiences, Social Work Practice and Empowering People in an Engaged Community and has played a significant role in KKCFS receiving their Practice Exemption (2018) for the continued use of Signs of Safety as their participatory risk assessment and safety planning process.
Jackie has had the honor and privilege of working, living and playing in the ‘amak’is Ktunaxa most of her life and appreciates and values all of the teachings she has learned from the Ktunaxa peoples. She is proud of her Metis/French ancestry and has traced her lineage back to Swampy Cree Nation in the 1700’s and has many ties in Fort Qu’Appelle/Regina area.
“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes” – Brené Brown.
Knucwentwecw Williams Lake
My name is Arlene Adie. I grew up in Nlaka’pamux territory (Ashcroft), where my parents, Ron and Carylon Elliott still reside. I have enjoyed the privilege or raising my four children in Secwe’pemc’ulucw (Kamloops and Williams Lake). My seven grandchildren are growing up in Secwe’pemc’ulucw as well ( Salmon Arm and Williams Lake).
I graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from Thompson Rivers University in 1999 and have had the honor of serving Indigenous Children and Families in the Williams Lake area since. I have been the Executive Director of Knucwentwecw Society since May of 2007. I am grateful every single day for the teachings I receive from the children, youth, families, elders, community leaders, and colleagues whom I live, work and play.
Hbukvs Kvsls / Bella Bella/Heiltsuk Nation
Heiltsuk Kaxla Society
Hbukvs Kvsls, Carrie Eastbrook is from the Heiltsuk Nation and the community of Bella Bella. She has served 18 years in child and family service sector including three years as the Executive Director of the Heiltsuk Káxḷá Society. Carrie believes strongly in the Heiltsuk right to be well and that the solutions are already in community connected to land, resources, culture and community.
Nang Kuuyas / HlGaagilda Skidegate
Haida Child and Family Services Society
Jennifer currently lives in HlGaagilda Skidegate on traditional Haida lands and grew up on the East Coast in New Brunswick on traditional Mi’kmaq territory. ). She was adopted into the K’aadas Ga KiiGawaay Raven Wolf Clan of T’aanuu by Ildagwaay Bea Harley and given the name Nang Kuuyas.
Jennifer was appointed Executive Director of Haida Child And Family Services Society in 2020 and recently completed C3 Delegation training. She is currently developing her C3 field guide and hold extensive training in collaborative conflict resolution and organizational behaviour.
Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society
Penny Trites is Indigenous Métis with roots in the Cumberland House Cree Nation in Northern Saskatchewan. She brings 20 years’ experience in child and family services to her role as Executive Director for Xyólheméylh (Fraser Valley Aboriginal Child and Family Services).
Following decades of frontline and team lead work with MCFD Penny transitioned to Xyólheméylh in 2020.
Her motto is to do the best child centered, family focused, and culturally and community minded work each and every day and to live up to the potential that the Creator set for her.
Penny holds a Bachelor of Social Work and is a distinguished team leader and recipient of the 2015 Emerging Leader Premier Award.
Denisiqi Family Services
Christa Smith is the Executive Director of Denisiqi Family Services which delivers community-based, culturally appropriate child and family programs to the ʔEsdilagh, Xeni Gwet’in, Tsideldel, Yunesit’in, Tl’esqox and Ulkatchot’en. She has worked in the child and family service sector for five years and served in an executive capacity for two years.
Christa holds a Bachelor of Social Work and Masters of Business Administration.