BC Aboriginal Justice Council


Memorandum of Understanding: Download MOU

The BC Aboriginal Justice Council is a leadership initiative consisting of:

  • First Nations Summit
  • Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
  • British Columbia Assembly of First Nations
  • Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of BC

The BC Aboriginal Justice Council convenes regularly to prioritize and undertake actions using some of the following documentation:

  • “Better Outcomes for Aboriginal People and the Justice System: A Strategy Framework to Reduce the Over Representation of Aboriginal Children, Youth and Adults in the Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems in BC” – Download PDF
  • “BC First Nations Justice Plan” – Download PDF
  • NCCABC “Social Justice Policy Platform and Strategic Plan” Download PDF
  • “Strategic Plan for the Justice and Safety Sector” – Download PDF


The BC Aboriginal Justice Council aims to provide a collective approach to address key issues and concerns that Aboriginal people face with the justice system in British Columbia by challenging approaches that contribute to:

  • the growing overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and youth in the care of government; and,
  • Aboriginal men and women who are incarcerated; and,
  • Productively engage with the government to advance effective strategies that can achieve better outcomes for our people in the justice system.


BC Aboriginal Justice Council
Term July 15, 2015 – July 15, 2018

  • Douglas White, J.D. – First Nations Summit
  • Nancy Sandy, LLB, LLM – Member at Large
  • Halie (Kwanxwa’logwa) Bruce, LLB, LLM – Member at Large
  • Colleen Spier – Member at Large
  • Estella White – BCAFN
  • Chief Aaron Sumexheltza – UBCIC
  • Kristy Bell – NCCABC
  • Donna Tennant – NCCABC
  • Darlene Shackelly – NCCABC


The Justice Council will be composed of seven (7) individuals:

One (1) representative appointed by each of the respective political organizations of the First Nations Summit (FNS), Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), and British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN), according to their own protocol and accord of appointments, for a total of three (3) representatives;

One (1) representative appointed from the Board of Directors of the Native Courtworkers and Counselling Association of British Columbia (NCCABC); and,

Three (3) representatives with expertise in Aboriginal Justice in BC, on or off reserve, to be jointly appointed by the respective organizations of the NCCABC, BCAFN, FNS, and UBCIC.

Decision Making

The Justice Council will elect a chairperson by consensus to be responsible for chairing meetings and work with NCCABC staff to arrange meetings, prepare agendas, and report on progress.


  • To build upon resolutions of the BCAFN, UBCIC, FNS and NCCABC, the goals and priorities of the BCAJC including:
  • Identifying the policy and program changes and resource realignments required to address the magnitude of issues contributing to the disproportionate patterns of children and youth in care.

Justice Council Biographies

  • These candidates fulfill the criteria required for this position.
  • Aboriginal ancestry and currently a resident of BC
  • Expertise in aboriginal justice on or off reserve
  • Knowledge of aboriginal and government issues in BC
  • Experience in the intersection between aboriginal justice and aboriginal health issues
  • Experience in the intersection between aboriginal justice and aboriginal child and family issues
  • Experience in the intersection between aboriginal justice and aboriginal education issues in BC
  • Leadership experience and proven capacity to work collaboratively

Kristy Bell

Kristy Bell


Kristy Bell is of Scottish and Cree ancestry from the Driftpile First Nation in Treaty 8 territory. Her partner is a member of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuw with maternal lineage to the K’omoks First Nation.

  • Kristy Bell is the representative of the NCCABC on the BC Aboriginal Justice Council.
  • Kristy is a board member and chair of the Governance Committee of the Native Courtworker and Counselling Association of British Columbia.
  • Kristy studied Criminology with a focus on Indigenous offenders. She is an advocate for offenders, families and children experiencing the pains of imprisonment.She facilitates a circle of support for families with loved ones incarcerated.
  • Kristy is a passionate grassroots leader within her community. She organizes community events that aim to raise awareness and inspire conversations surrounding Indigenous suicide, violence, injustice, inter-generational trauma and the multiple effects of the Residential School system.
  • Kristy is an advocate for women experiencing violence. She is the organizer for the Women’s Memorial March in the Comox Valley. She was also an organizer for the K’omoks Walking with our Sisters art installation in 2015.
  • Kristy was an Aboriginal Youth Navigator in Campbell River and the Comox Valley. She worked with Aboriginal youth aged 12-26 who were in government care, aging out of care or 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 Bachelor of Laws degree from UBC in 2007, Halie was the Administrator and Policy Coordinator for the Union of B.C Indian Chiefs.

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, resource, social policy and internal community issues.

Halie’s law practice includes acting as 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.

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.

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.

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, Indigenous Business & Dispute Resolution mechanisms.

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” (currently being updated).

She is currently an Advisory Committee member of the Society for Children and Youth BC’s Children’s Lawyer initiative.

Since 2010, Halie has devoted part of her practice to Indigenous restorative justice initiatives, including writing Gladue Reports for Aboriginal people at bail, sentencing and appeal courts in BC.

Estella Charleson

Estella Charleson 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’.

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.

  • Estella has served as an elected councillor for the Hesquiaht First Nation where she held the treaty, justice and youth/recreation portfolios.
  • Estella was part of a research team for the national Accessing Justice and Reconciliation Project, which focused on revitalizing indigenous laws.
  • Estella focused on identifying and articulating how Coast Salish legal principles were used to effectively deal with harm and conflict.
  • Estella is 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.
  • Estella has more than 1000 hours of volunteer experience for international and local projects focused on biodiversity conservation.
  • Estella spent part of her time at law school at the University of Victoria working at the Law Centre providing free legal services to low income clients in the following areas of law: criminal, civil, human rights, family, employment, and prison.
  • 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.
  • Estella is the BC Aboriginal Justice Council representative of
    British Columbia Assembly of First Nations.

Chief Aaron Sam

Representative of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs

  • Aaron Sam is currently the elected Chief for Lower Nicola Indian band, outside of Merritt, BC. Chief Sam is also a practicing lawyer at Fulton & Company in Kamloops.
  • The first four years of his law practice, Chief Sam 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 B.C. Court of Appeal.
  • Chief Sam’s law practice has been assisting Residential School survivors seeking compensation for abuse when they attended Indian Residential School.
  • Chief Sam 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.
  • He 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.
  • Aaron has also been a member of the Canadian Bar Association, and the Trial Lawyers of British Columbia.

Nancy Sandy

Ms. Sandy is a member of the Williams Lake Indian Band (T’exelc) of the Secwepemc Nation. She has successfully completed the requirements for the Masters of Law degree in 2011 at the University of Victoria.

  • 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, and for the Nenqay Deni Yajelhtig Law Centre in family and administrative law as well as counsel on the Cariboo Chilcotin Justice Inquiry.
  • Ms. Sandy served as the Chief of the Williams Lake Indian Band for three terms from 1996 to 2002.
  • Nancy was the Chief Negotiator for the Williams Lake Indian Band in treaty negotiations as well as their in house counsel. Ms. Sandy 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.
  • She 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.
  • She is currently the Executive Director of Denisiqi Services Society
  • Nancy is Co-Chair of the BC Aboriginal Justice Council for Children,
    Youth and Family Justice.


Colleen Spier

Colleen Spier is a Métis woman, wife and mother of two children, and 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
  • Colleen 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 people, and is constantly striving to learn more about Aboriginal culture and cultural practices.
  • Colleen was appointed to the Child Protection Mediation Roster as an Aboriginal Child Protection Mediator. In addition to her mediation practice, is employed as the Executive Director of Island Métis Family & Community Services Society in Victoria, B.C., which provides child and family development support to families currently involved with MCFD, or at risk of becoming involved with MCFD.
  • Colleen always promotes sensitivity to all cultures by drawing on her extensive experience with Aboriginal people, and is constantly striving to learn more about Aboriginal culture and cultural practices.

Doug White

Douglas White III

Kwulasultun Tliishin

DOUGLAS S. WHITE, B.A., J.D., 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.

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 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 and advocated on their behalf with the governments of British Columbia, Canada and internationally at the United Nations.

Douglas 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.

He 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.

Doug is Co-Chair of the BC Aboriginal Justice Council for Criminal Justice and is the representative for First Nations Summit. He is serving as President of NCCABC.