Valerie Cross is a proud citizen of the Tsawwassen First Nation who was raised by her grandparents, Isaac and Pearl Williams, until she was 10 years old. Her time with her grandparents provided her with strong roots to her heritage and a deep connection to the Tsawwassen lands, people, and culture. Valerie is extremely honoured to carry her great, great grandmother’s Squamish name, Chemkwaat, from her grandmother’s side. She has been involved with Indigenous governance with her nation and several Coast Salish nations on Vancouver Island and the mainland for the last 20 years. She is in her first term as an elected executive councillor and her second term as a Tsawwassen legislator in her community. Valerie places a high value on education, recently completing the Indigenous Business Leadership program to receive her MBA at Simon Fraser University, modelling the importance of higher education at any age. In her role at BCcampus as director of collaborative projects and Indigenous engagement, she is now directing her attention, focus, and advocacy to supporting the collective journey toward reconciliation, indigenization, and decolonization in academia.
Taylor Devine (they/she) is a student at the University of Victoria. They are the coordinator of the House of Indigenous Learning with the B.C. public service and held the position of Region 1 youth representative for Métis Youth BC. Taylor is living on the territory of the Lekwungen-speaking people now known as Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. They are Métis, Irish, and Swedish on their father’s side and mixed European on their mother’s side. They are an artist, student, and community member who continues to be involved in community and engaging other youth.
Marlene Erickson grew up in Nak’azdli (also known as Fort St. James). She is the executive director of Aboriginal Education at College of New Caledonia, where she has worked for over 25 years in various roles. She has served as director for the Yinka Dene Language Institute and as a director, advisor, and chairperson for the First Peoples’ Cultural Council. She is an executive board member of the First Nations Education Steering Committee, a policy and advocacy organization that represents and works on behalf of First Nations communities in B.C. Marlene also chairs the BC Aboriginal Coordinators Council. With her strong interest in oral history, Marlene has been a long-time advocate for language and cultural revitalization.
Michelle Glubke is an immigrant Canadian and American with Polish and Irish ancestry, raised in Minnesota by her parents and extended family to appreciate traditional food systems and the land. She is working as a senior project manager at BCcampus in collaborative projects and Indigenous engagement. Taking part in her first Indigenous learning circle in 1996 at the University of Minnesota, she was gifted a holistic view of learners and learning that remains central to her work today. At BCcampus, she leads the co-creation of open curriculum and training resources for the B.C. post-secondary education system. She is committed to rebuilding educational policy and practice to create safer and more inclusive learning environments. Michelle and her family have been welcomed to live on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territory of the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples on Vancouver Island, B.C.
Elder Barbara Hulme is honoured as a founding member of the Métis Nation Greater Victoria. Barb, as she is affectionately known, is a mentor, a Knowledge Keeper and now, a trusted Elder in the Métis community. Through teaching and mentorship at the University of Victoria, Barb supports Métis students at the First People’s House. Her mentorship is part of a much wider, more diverse effort, on Barb’s part, to support her Métis community. She has also volunteered in her local Métis office as an administrator, historian, citizenship coordinator, and genealogy advisor for more than 13 years. Everything Barb does is to support, strengthen, and nurture Victoria’s Métis community.
Gabrielle Lamontagne is the current coordinator of collaborative projects and Indigenization at BCcampus. She is a Métis woman originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her background is in library and information studies, Indigenous land claims, and archival research. Gabrielle enjoys doing artwork on the side and recently completed a Michif language children’s book. She currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta on Treaty 6/Métis Region 3 and spends her time in the River Valley area and travelling to the Rocky Mountains in the winter.
Elder Darlene McIntosh is an Elder of Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. She is Grouse clan, daughter of Mary Quaw of Lheidli T’enneh and Peter Zatorski of Prince George. She is the granddaughter of Elsie George from Saik’uz First Nation and Augusta Quaw of Lheidli T’enneh. Darlene is devoted to family; she has been married for over 40 years to Neil McIntosh, is mother to Blake (Laurie) and Kyle, and is a dedicated grandmother to Jake and Konnor. Darlene is the cultural advisor in the Aboriginal Resource Centre of the College of New Caledonia, where she supports students, advises faculty, and does spiritual work for the wider community. Darlene’s centre, especially within this role, is one of balance and harmony within the teachings of the Medicine Wheel. She is a natural teacher who brings a fresh perspective into the notion of indigenization and truth and reconciliation. Darlene represents Lheidli T’enneh Nation as an Elder and an ambassador, doing traditional welcomes and opening prayers. Darlene’s writing has been published, most recently, in an anthology called In Our Own Aboriginal Voice, A Collection of Aboriginal Writers and Artists in BC as well as in two publications on health: Front Lines—Portraits of Caregivers in Northern British Columbia and Introduction to Aboriginal Health and Healthcare in Canada. Darlene is an advocate for health, the arts, and education.
Carina Nilsson (she/her) is an illustrator and graphic recorder, living with gratitude on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation (Nanaimo), on Vancouver Island, B.C. She is the child of immigrants from Southern Italy and Jämtland in Sweden, and was raised in rural northern British Columbia. She has been a practising artist for over two decades, has a master’s degree in history (Simon Fraser University), and is the mother of two incredible children. Carina uses illustration as a tool of visual storytelling, to simplify complex ideas and support community connection. She is passionate about work that focuses on social justice initiatives, food and health equity, and community renewal.
Elder Amelia V. Washington is a traditional Nłeʔkepmx woman and a Knowledge Keeper, born to the late Minnie and Matthew Washington. She is a mother to five adult children and a grandmother to six grandchildren. Her Nłeʔkepmx traditional name is spe’?eci’, which translates to Little Bear. She is a Knowledge Keeper, who speaks her nɬeʔkepmxcín (Thompson language) and knows the cultural practices of the nlekepmx people. She is a well-known Elder who is highly recognized as a strong advocate for the protection of the sacred land and water. As an Elder at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology for over 18 years, she embodies the values of an Elder ambassador, teacher of good medicine, grandmother to students, and provider of support to staff. As a residential school and child-in-care survivor, her life experiences have given her the determination to be the safe person, to support and teach culture, language, and ceremony to all youth and their caregivers and to be a resource for them. Amelia is also the Elders’ representative for the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. Her knowledge and involvement have been invaluable to youth, Elders, and the community.