Co-Chair Criminal Justice
Douglas White is a member, former Chief, and current Councillor of the Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo, BC. His Coast Salish name is Kwulasultun and his Nuu-chah-nulth name is Tliishin. Doug is Co-Chair of the BC Aboriginal Justice Council for Criminal Justice and is the representative for the First Nations Summit (FNS). He is serving as President of NCCABC.
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, the Vice-President of the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC and an associate lawyer at Mandell Pinder working as legal counsel to First Nations on a range of issues.
Douglas was the elected Chief of the Snuneymuxw First Nation from December 2009 to February 2014 where a major focus of his work was implementation of the Snuneymuxw Treaty of 1854.
From June of 2010 to June 2013, he was elected by the 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. Douglas advocated on their behalf with the governments of British Columbia, Canada and internationally at the United Nations.
He is currently the Director of the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation at Vancouver Island University where innovative writing and engagement on the Centre’s two themes are advanced. As part of its reconciliation mandate, the Centre is leading the development of a regional Aboriginal Justice Initiative in Nanaimo that will address both criminal and family justice service areas for Aboriginal families and peoples.
Douglas also practices as a lawyer and negotiator across the country for First Nations governments and political organizations on a wide range of matters. He lectures frequently at universities across the country on Indigenous legal issues.
Co-Chair Child and Family Justice
Nancy Sandy is a member of the Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc) of the Secwepemc Nation. She is the Co-Chair of the BCAJC for Children, Youth and Family Justice. She received her Bachelor of Law degree from the University of British Columbia Law in 1987 and was called to the bar in 1989. She served as in house counsel for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), and for the Nenqay Deni Yajelhtig Law Centre in Family and Administrative law as well as counsel on the Cariboo Chilcotin Justice Inquiry. From 1996-2002, Nancy served as the Chief of the Williams Lake Indian Band for three terms. She was the Chief Negotiator for the Williams Lake Indian Band in treaty negotiations as well as their in house counsel. In 2011, Nancy successfully completed the requirements for the Masters of Law degree at the University of Victoria.
Nancy has also been a sessional instructor in First Nation Studies at the College of New Caledonia, the University of Northern BC, and the University College of the Cariboo (now known as the Thompson River University). She operated her own consulting business, Sugar Cane Sandy’s Consulting Ltd. that provided policy development and research for First Nations Service Organizations and Band Governments from 2006 to 2014. Nancy was previously the Programs Manager at the Indigenous Perspectives Society (formerly the Caring for First Nations Children Society) that provides Aboriginal Social Work training for all the BC First Nations delegated child and family service agencies. Currently, she is the Executive Director of Denisiqi Services Society.
Kristy Bell is Scottish and Cree with ancestry from the Driftpile First Nation in Treaty 8 territory. My children are members of the Stz’uminus and Musgamagw Dzawada’enuw with maternal lineage to the K’omoks First Nation. Kristy is currently the representative of the NCCABC (Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC) on the BCAJC.
Kristy studied Criminology with a focus on Indigenous offenders. She is an advocate for offenders, families and children experiencing the pains of imprisonment. Kristy facilitates circle’s of support for families with loved ones who are incarcerated. In addition, Kristy is a Board Member and Chair of the Governance Committee of the NCCABC.
Within her community, Kristy is a passionate grassroots leader. She has organized community events that aim to raise awareness and to inspire conversations surrounding Indigenous suicide, violence, injustice, intergenerational trauma and the multiple effects of the Residential School system. She is also an advocate for women experiencing violence. Kristy has organized the Women’s Memorial March in the Comox Valley as well as the K’omoks Walking with our Sisters Art Installation in 2015.
Kristy also has experience as an Aboriginal Youth Navigator in both Campbell River and the Comox Valley. She has worked with Aboriginal Youth aged 12-26 who are in Provincial care, in the process of aging out or are involved with the justice system.
Halie (Kwanxwa’logwa) Bruce
Halie (Kwanxwa’logwa) Bruce is an Indigenous woman of Kwakwaka’wakw, Tlingit, and Scottish descent. She is a member of the ‘Namgis First Nation. Halie has 30 years of experience, beginning in the early 1980’s working on behalf of Indigenous fishers at the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia. Before receiving her Juris Doctorate from the University of British Columbia in 2007, Halie was the Administrator and Policy Coordinator for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC).
She has worked with Indigenous communities and governments from across B.C., Canada and internationally, to explore traditional dispute resolution mechanisms with respect to land, resources, social policy and internal community issues. Halie’s law practice includes acting as the legal Counsel for Indigenous parents and grandparents in Child Protection matters, as well as in the areas of Aboriginal Family Law, Indigenous Laws and Governance, Aboriginal Title & Rights, Fisheries, Aboriginal Business, and Policy Development.
Since 2008, Halie has worked with the Legal Services Society of BC as a legal reviewer for various Aboriginal Public Education materials, including Aboriginal Hunting and Fishing Rights, Cross-Border Issues, and Gladue Reports and Oral Submission materials. In 2010, Halie began devoting part of her practice to Indigenous restorative justice initiatives, including writing Gladue Reports for Aboriginal people at bail, sentencing and appeal courts in BC. In 2014, Halie co-founded the law firm Cedar & Sage Law where she is a practicing Lawyer and Mediator. The firm focuses on Alternative and Traditional Indigenous Dispute Resolution mechanisms with respect for Indigenous laws and peacemaking protocols.
Halie has presented at various conferences, community engagement, and information sessions on a variety of topics throughout BC, including Indigenous Children and Access to Justice, Aboriginal Child Protection, and Indigenous Business & Dispute Resolution mechanisms. In addition, Halie has taught, coached and facilitated courses on Gladue Principles and Reports, and Indigenous Child Welfare. In 2015, Halie assisted in the research and editing of “Wrapping Our Ways Around Them: Aboriginal Communities and the CFCSA Guidebook”, which is in the process of being updated.
She is currently an Advisory Committee member of the Society for Children and Youth BC’s Children’s Lawyer initiative.
Estella White is a member of the Hesquiaht First Nation and belongs to the House of Kinquashtacumlth. Her traditional name is Hee Naih Cha Chist which means ‘water that glimmers’. She is currently the BCAJC representative of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN).
Estella is a practicing lawyer at JFK Law Corporation, a boutique Aboriginal law firm based in Victoria and Vancouver. Estella’s work strives to advance the inherent and constitutionally protected rights of Indigenous peoples. Her efforts are rooted in an understanding and respect for the intimate relationships we have with the land and the rich Indigenous legal traditions that continue to help guide those relationships.
Prior to law school, Estella received a Bachelor of Arts in First Nations Studies. Part of her undergraduate studies involved time spent in New Mexico and Mexico studying the impacts of tourism on Indigenous cultures. During law school at the University of British Columbia, she spent part of her time working at the Law Centre providing free legal services to low income clients.
Estella has served as an elected Councillor for the Hesquiaht First Nation where she held the Treaty, Justice, and Youth/Recreation portfolios. She was also part of a research team for the national Accessing Justice and Reconciliation Project, which focused on revitalizing Indigenous laws. In her work, Estella has focused on identifying and articulating how Coast Salish legal principles were used to effectively deal with harm and conflict. She is also a Board of Director and long time staff member at Hooksum Outdoor School, where she has more than ten years of experience leading outdoor education activities and programming in her traditional territory.
Estella has also played rugby at the provincial and university level, including experience playing in England, Wales and Scotland. She believes that sports, recreation and outdoor education are important for First Nations youth. Lastly, Estella has more than 1000 hours of volunteer experience for international and local projects focused on biodiversity conservation.
Chief Aaron Sumexheltza
Aaron Sumexheltza is the BCAJC representative of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC). Aaron Sumexheltza is currently the elected Chief for Lower Nicola Indian band, outside of Merritt, BC.
During the first four years of his law practice, Chief Sumexheltza practiced exclusively in the area of criminal defence. He represented many First Nations clients in B.C. Provincial Court, Supreme Court of British Columbia, and the BC Court of Appeal. Chief Sumexheltza’s law practice has been assisting Residential School survivors in seeking compensation for the abuses they experienced while attending Indian Residential School. He has also worked for the West Coast Prisoner Legal Services Society, and acted as a lawyer for inmates at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre in disciplinary hearings.
In addition, Chief Sumexheltza has been a Board of Director for the Nicola Valley Community Justice Services Society. The purpose of the Society is to provide local justice services in the Merritt area. He has also been a member of the Canadian Bar Association, and the Trial Lawyers of British Columbia.
Colleen Spier is a Métis woman, wife and mother of two children. Colleen’s husband and children are registered members of the Lake St. Martin Band in Manitoba. Colleen is a practicing Lawyer and Mediator and was called to the Bar in 2008, after graduating from the University of British Columbia in 2007. She opened her own law firm, Spier & Company Law, in February of 2010.
Colleen always promotes sensitivity to all cultures by drawing on her extensive experience with Aboriginal peoples, and is constantly striving to learn more about Aboriginal culture and cultural practices. She was appointed to the Child Protection Mediation Roster as an Aboriginal Child Protection Mediator. In addition to her mediation practice, Colleen is employed as the Executive Director of Island Métis Family & Community Services Society in Victoria, BC, which provides support to families currently involved or are at risk of becoming involved with the Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD).