Board of Advisors

We are honoured to be guided by a Board of Advisors comprised of First Nation leaders representing diverse perspectives, experiences, and knowledge, rooted in communities across Canada.

Emily Riddle Board Member

Emily Riddle
Graduate Student, Political Science, University of British Columbia
Policy Analyst, First Nations Education Steering Committee
@emilyjaneriddle

Emily Riddle is nehiyaw iskwew (Plains Cree woman) from Treaty Six, and a member of the Alexander First Nation (kipohtakaw). She lives in Vancouver on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. She has a BA in Political Science and Native Studies from the University of Alberta and is currently completing a MA in Political Science at the University of British Columbia, with a thesis on treaty, gender, and migration on the prairies. She works in post-secondary education policy for the First Nations Education Steering Committee, a non-profit society that provides research, communications, and advocacy for 116 + First Nations in British Columbia. She has worked with First Nations and Métis communities on diverse policy development, governance projects, and communications campaigns. She feels honoured to have worked with communities with very different traditional governance structures and relationships to the Crown. She is passionate about working with Indigenous and queer/trans/two-spirit youth, who can teach us all a lot about governance and community building, and looks to a future where they are our leaders.

Janice Makokis Board Member

Janice Makokis
Indigenous Education Advisor/Instructor, Faculty of Extension,
Yellowhead Tribal College
@bearclannation

Janice Makokis is a nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman) and mother to son Atayoh Kan Asiniy (Spirit Rock) Makokis from Onihcikiskwapiwin (Saddle Lake Cree Nation) of Treaty No. 6 Territory (now knows as Alberta). Her roles at the University of Alberta includes working to develop curriculum/programming within the Faculty’s Indigenous programs. She is also involved in International Indigenous advocacy work through various International bodies and United Nations mechanisms to advance the discourse on Indigenous People’s rights.  She holds a B.A. in Native Studies (minor Political Science) from the University of Alberta, an M.A. in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria and an L.L.B. (Bachelor of Laws) from the University of Ottawa. Janice is thankful to her family for teaching her how to live as a nehiyaw, to her Nation, to Indigenous knowledge holders who hold sacred teachings in trust for those who wish to learn the ways of her People so future generations will have something left for them.

Judith Sayers Board Member

Dr. Judith Sayers
President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council
Adjunct Professor, School of Business and Environmental Studies,
University of Victoria
@kekinusuqs

Judith practiced law for 18 years and served fourteen years as Chief of the Hupacasath First Nation. As Chief of her First Nation, she focused on capacity building and sustainable development. Judith was instrumental in several sustainable development projects and put in place mechanisms to help protect the territory. She is on the Clean Energy BC Board and the Chair of the New Relationship Trust Foundation, Co-Chair of the Island Corridor Foundation, Co-Chair of the Joint Working Group on First Nations Heritage Conservation and is on the board of the BC Achievement Foundation. Judith has been recognized many times, including being awarded Clean Energy BC’s Lifetime Achievement Award, inducted into Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame and receiving the Silver Award from the Canadian Environmental Association for Climate Change. She was recently admitted as a member of the Order of Canada.

Kris Statnyk Board Member

Kris Statnyk
Associate Lawyer, Mandell Pinder LLP
@GwitchinKris

Kris is Gwich’in and a citizen of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow, Yukon. Kris practices Aboriginal law in Vancouver, British Columbia at Mandell Pinder LLP. In his practice, Kris provides strategic advice, negotiation support and advocacy to exclusively Indigenous clients over a broad range of areas including land and resource management, development assessment, regulatory process, modern treaty and self-government implementation, law and policy development, fiscal relations and government-to-government engagement.

naiomi metallic board member

Naiomi W. Metallic
Assistant Professor, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University;
Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy
@NaiomiMetallic

Naiomi is from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in Gespe’gewa’gi. She holds a BA (Dalhousie), an LLB (Dalhousie), an LLL (Ottawa) and an LLM (Osgoode). She was also a law clerk to the Hon. Michel Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2006-2007. Naiomi still continues to practice law with Burchells LLP in Halifax (where she practiced for nearly a decade before joining the law school, primarily in the firm’s Aboriginal law group). She has been named to the Best Lawyer in Canada® list in Aboriginal law since 2015. As a legal scholar, she is most interested in writing about how the law can be harnessed to promote the well-being and self-determination of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Pete Di Gangi Board Member

Peter Di Gangi
Director of Policy and Research, Algonquin Nation Secretariat

Based in Ottawa, Ontario, Peter Di Gangi has been working with indigenous communities across Canada for over 35 years, focussing on historical, legal and cultural research. This has included work with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Assembly of First Nations, and a variety of associations, tribal councils and communities in the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and B.C. It has also involved dealing with various institutions regarding the release and repatriation of information on behalf of First Nations. Peter has worked extensively with Anishnaabe communities on the North Shore of Lake Huron and Manitoulin Island, and with the Algonquin communities of the Ottawa Valley.

Russ Diabo, Board Member

Russell Diabo
Policy Analyst
@RussDiabo

Joseph Russell Diabo is a son of a Kahnawake Mohawk Iron Worker, and is a member of the Mohawk Nation at Kanawake. Russ has been active in Indigenous politics from a young age. After being injured in the Wounded Knee standoff on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, Russell pursued Native Studies, receiving a BA from Laurentian University, and an MA in American Indian Policy Studies from the University of Arizona. He went on to hold positions with the National Indian Brotherhood and the Assembly of First Nations and was a founding executive member of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission of the Liberal Party of Canada. Russell is also the founder and author of an online newsletter called the First Nations Strategic Bulletin and was instrumental in founding the Defenders of the Land Network in 2008 with the late Arthur Manuel. He has over 40 years of policy analysis, community planning, and advocacy experience around Aboriginal Title and Treaty Rights. Married for 30 years to Joanna Anaquod (Mother Cree/Saulteaux, Father (Delaware/Saulteaux) Treaty #4, Sask.) Russell and Joanna have 5 children between them and are the proud grandparents of six grandchildren, ages 4 to 16.

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