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 served as 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, along with a 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.

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 is the Referrals Manager for the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council. She has a Master of Applied Science in Resource and Environmental Management, and 25 years of experience working for First Nations governments. She has expertise in policy analysis and development, and consultation and accommodation in relation to Aboriginal rights and title. 

Over the 2021-2023 period she has facilitated establishment of a W̱SÁNEĆ Referrals Program and an Archaeology Program. Under the Referrals umbrella we allocate time to projects that WLC member First Nations delegate to WLC. Projects include: 1) Highway 1 Goldstream Park Median Barrier and Road Work Project; 2) Joint Utility Board Sewage Treatment Plant Outfall Relocation Project; 3) CRD Parks Strategic Plan 2022-2032 Update; 4) Providing input on the CRD Mount Work Regional Park Management Plan. We draw on a Referrals Committee and the W̱SÁNEĆ Technical Advisory Committee for these projects, and make an effort to get the word out to W̱SÁNEĆ people to explain projects and to listen and integrate input into recommendations to decision-makers.

For the Archaeology Program we established an Archaeology Committee and implement agreements including the Land Altering Works Protocol Agreement that WLC negotiated with the CRD, the WLC/District of Saanich ÁTOL,NEUEL (“Respecting One Another”) Memorandum of Understanding, and monitoring in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. We have been working on policies and procedures, and bring recommendations to the WLC Board in response to cultural heritage-related activities proposed for W̱SÁNEĆ territory. The Archaeology Committee initiated a Protocol Agreement to guide a Canada Food Inspection Agency development, training and capacity building programs for cultural workers / archaeological monitors, and a fee for service program.

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.

Dan Baker, SRKW Data Analyst

Dan Baker is currently working as the SRKW data analyst for the QENTOL, YEN / W̱SÁNEĆ Marine Guardians. He was born in Comox, British Columbia, and has been living in Victoria on the lək̓ʷəŋən territory for the past decade. Dan brings a wealth of marine experience to his position, having worked in the tourism industry on the water for several operations along the coast, including Alaska. He’s also worked with marine education and research societies and other science-based research organizations, analyzing citation data and vessel data.

In his current position, Dan is responsible for analyzing data on killer whale interactions with vessel traffic in the Salish Sea. Specifically, he is working on monitoring the habitat areas and vessel proximity to orcas in the traditional territory, as well as the potential for noise disturbance from tanker traffic.

Dan joined the QENTOL, YEN / W̱SÁNEĆ Marine Guardians because of his passion for marine conservation and his desire to take action to hold industry and government accountable for their impact on the orca whale population. Outside of work, Dan enjoys spending time outdoors, rock climbing, sailing, and being in nature.