Gordon Elliott, Director of Operations, Co-Founder

Gord comes to the WLC with many facets of management experience and training. Gord worked as the Operations Manager at the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board for the past 30 years, and he also has Project and Construction Management experience and certifications. Prior to its incorporation, Gord worked as the WLC’s Coordinator. Once the WLC incorporated, Gord was appointed the Director of Operations. He has been an active elected Councilor for Tsartlip First Nation for the past twelve years.

“I am the master of nothing, but I am an expert of getting the right people together to discuss and solve issues” – GE

Eric Pelkey, Community Engagement Coordinator

Eric Pelkey brings 25 years experience working in First Nations administration. During his career, he has held the roles of Band Manager, Chief Executive Officer, Director of Operations as well as Lands Manager.

Additionally, Eric was Coordinator for the SENĆOŦEN Alliance, representing Tsawout, Tsartlip, Pauquachin and Semiahmoo Nations on common Aboriginal and Douglas Treaty Rights and Title issues, a position he held for four years.

In addition to his administrative roles, he holds certification from AANDC for First Nations Lands Manager, a lifetime appointment for Commissioner of Oaths and Affidavits for First Nations, and a Degree in Indigenous Language Revitalization from the University of Victoria.

Joni Olsen, Policy/Negotiations Manager

Joni Olsen is a Policy/Negotiations Manager for the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council. She strongly believes in the principles and values of the W̱SÁNEĆ culture, in Indigenous Rights and Title, their Treaties and working towards implementation and structural change.

Joni has been an elected Councillor for the Tsartlip First Nation for 14 years and has a Major from the University of Victoria in Political Science and a double Minor in Indigenous and Environmental Studies. She is currently half way through her Master’s degree in Public Administration. Her goal is to create structural change in government, organizations, communities and society. She is working on creating policies and building relationships that are guided by W̱SÁNEĆ values, that educate, create opportunity and remove barriers, and that fundamentally change the system in which we live. Joni’s favourite part of her work is listening to the words of the W̱SÁNEĆ people and taking it to create new policy and design new opportunities. Although this is followed by difficult, slow negotiations, this challenge is her other favourite aspect.

Joni is a mother to three teenagers and loves learning, cooking, hiking, playing soccer, knitting, teaching, talking with people and dreaming big.

Shauna Johnson,  Marine Use Planner

Shauna Johnson is Coast Salish from the Tsawout First Nation on her mother’s side and Tsimshian from Laxkwala’ams on her father’s side. She has a Master of Science degree in Indigenous Community Planning (ICP) and has specialized expertise in providing planning support for indigenous communities to revitalize and promote indigenous community planning research, methods and practices grounded firmly within indigenous laws, legal traditions and ways of knowing and being. She is currently working towards becoming a Registered Professional Planner (MIP, RPP). She has experience working with indigenous communities on housing strategies, comprehensive community plans (CPP), strategic, land use (reserve based, and watershed level based), environmental management, marine spatial/use plans (MSP/MUP), economic development plans and indigenous food systems projects. She is also an adjunct professor at University of British Columbia (UBC) in the School of Community of Regional Planning (SCARP) Indigenous Community Planning (ICP) program, mentoring, supervising and co-teaching ICP practicum students.

Dave Paul Jr., CRD Liaison

Dave Paul Jr., a member of Tsartlip First Nation, has lived in Tsartlip for almost his entire life. He recalls summers growing up spending a lot of time down Moodyville going fishing at the ferry dock or walking down to the beach to get pile worms or little crabs for bait. The entire summer was spent with his brothers and cousins. He would spend hours every day down on the docks fishing, swimming and hanging out.

Dave attended Simon Fraser university and obtained a degree in criminology. While enjoying academic pursuits he realized there was a lot of systemic racism rooted in those institutions and the people there. “Back then there weren’t very many of us going to university and even fewer went to SFU.” People would often ask why Indigenous people were there and how our families could afford to send us there. There were no First Nations student groups. After graduating, Dave spent 30 years in federal corrections as a parole officer. Another institution rife with systemic racism. While he enjoyed a fairly long career, he has always wanted to return back to our community to work with the people.

David Dick, SRKW Monitoring Program Senior Manager

David, also know by his traditional name as SUMÉ,t, is from the Songhees Nation. He has deep roots throughout the W̱SÁNEĆ communities and the west coast of Vancouver Island (through Klahoose and Ditidaht First Nation) along with his family roots in Switzerland and Norway.

David’s education background is a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in First Nations Studies from Vancouver Island University, a Certificate in Indigenous Governance and Leadership along with a diploma in Cultural Resource Management from the University of Victoria

David comes with extensive federal government experience. He worked for 12 years with Parks Canada as the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Cultural Program Assistant and First Nations Liaison. Additionally, David has immeasurable managerial skills through the potential development of a culture centre and work through Pauquachin First Nation as the Manager of the Marine Department.

David believes in his role as the SRKW Senior Manager: “It’s better to have our Guardians out there whose intentions on the waters are based on Indigenous caretaker values and supported by science, versus financial interests”.

Laurie Whitehead, Referrals Manager

Laurie comes to the WLC with over twenty years experience with First Nations in lands and resources management and governance. Her expertise includes understanding forest, marine, and heritage conservation legislation, policy analysis and development, and consultation and accommodation in relation to Aboriginal rights and title. 

She has a sound understanding of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge research and of how to apply data in map overlays for land and marine planning and policy initiatives at local to international scales. In collaboration with others, Laurie has designed research projects and analyzed a diverse array of natural resource management issues. She has developed training and capacity-building programs for cultural heritage surveyors and archaeological monitors and has framed and overseen fee for service programs.

Before joining W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, she worked as a Manager for Lands, Policy, and Heritage and Natural Resource Departments for the Heiltsuk Nation and the Council of the Haida Nation. Prior to that, she worked on diverse projects independently and with Cortex Consultants. She completed the Master of Resource and Environmental Management Program at Simon Fraser University in 2002, and, while a graduate student, coordinated Kla-soms-Kwuth-Tooqen, a project of the Sliammon First Nation and Ecotrust Canada. This project provides tools to assist First Nations in responding to referrals for proposed developments in their territories.

Marla Sampson, Office Manager

Marla has many years of experience supporting programs and people in a variety of private and public roles, most recently as a Program Assistant at UVIC. Along with her in-depth knowledge and experience in Indigenous protocols and culture, Marla also brings strong financial, process, and people-oriented skills to the WLC. Marla is a lifelong learner, having obtained numerous courses and certificates, including her Aboriginal Health Care Administrators Program.

Marla is currently working on completing her Diploma in Business Administration.

Eryn Rogers, Policy and Negotiation Analyst

Eryn Rogers is a Policy and Negotiation Analyst for the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council. She moved to Canada from Aotearoa/New Zealand in mid-2022 and is looking forward to working for W̱SÁNEĆ peoples at these important Tables.

For the past six years, Eryn has worked in Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations in Aotearoa. Most recently, she acted as the Negotiation and Settlement Manager for the Ngāti Maru Negotiations and the Taranaki Maunga negotiations. Before that, she studied Law and Pacific Studies at the University of Otago.

As a Policy and Negotiation Analyst for the Leadership Council, Eryn wants to help establish durable partnerships with neighboring First Nations, the Crown and other local stakeholders in a way that will benefit W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, restore respect for W̱SÁNEĆ knowledge and traditions, and provide flexibility for growth over time.