Margaret George, Gertie Guerin Visionary Award
Elder Margaret Rose George is a member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (Burrard Band) in North Vancouver. She has five
children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. She holds a few educational credits including a BA from University
of British Columbia in Anthropology and English, and a Certificate of Achievement from the Justice Institute of BC. In the past, Margaret Rose participated in the development of the Native Education Centre (NEC) as a founding member.
She also participated in a number of Boards including the Allied Indian Metis Society, Vancouver Friendship Centre, Vancouver Police/Native Liaison, and Women’s Information Shelter: Home (W.I.S.H.). She also worked in the Downtown eastside for over 20 years as a “community service worker”. She has been an elder at SFU for 17 years and NVIT for 8 years. In May 2016, she received her Diploma in the Chemical Addictions Program at NVIT.
Darla Pratt, Wanda Bolton Community Service Award
Darla Pratt is a traditional Cree-Ojibway woman from Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan. Since graduating from the Family and Community Counselling program in 2007, Darla commits her time to helping marginalized Indigenous women and youth overcome personal obstacles and teaches them about colonization, culture, and ceremony. She worked as a Trauma Counsellor with the Women Against Violence Against Women and the Aboriginal Policing Center in downtown eastside (DTES) in Vancouver, and organized the DTES Smudge Ceremony and the Aboriginal Women’s Working Group.
Darla also increases awareness amongst non-Indigenous people by speaking at the national and international events including the 2011 Status of Women Committee in the House of Commons - advocating for a national inquiry on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and the 2011 Women’s World Gathering – speaking on using the Anti-Oppression Framework.
Currently, Darla works at the Maximum Security of a Federal Institution and is dedicated to helping incarcerated Indigenous women begin their healing journey.
Michelle Geurin, George Manuel Educational Excellence Award
Michele Guerin has over 30 years’ experience working with BC First Nation communities in Aboriginal governance, capacity building, treaty negotiations, research, and policy development. A lawyer by training, she was called to the Bar of BC in 2007 and for seven years she worked as a partner at Guerin, Tetreault & Associates practicing
Former Director of Research for the National Centre for First Nations Governance, Michele was responsible to conduct and commission legal, academic, and community-based research focused on Indigenous nation-building. Her work included being part of the Tsawwassen First Nation’s Legislative Review Committee to develop a Governance Best Practices Report and she collaborated with the Native Nations Institute to research and publish a case study on the assertion and enactment of the Listuguj Mi’gMaq Fisheries Law.
Michele also worked with the First Nations Summit, the Federal Treaty Negotiation Office of the BC’s Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, tasked to educate local BC governments and business audiences on Aboriginal rights and the BC treaty process. Currently, Michele is a Freelance Writer for her own company, Michele Guerin Inc. and she is a proud member of Musqueam First Nation.
Kelly L'Hirondelle, Chief Joe Mathias Leadership Award
Kelly L’Hirondelle is of Métis-Cree decent born in Edmonton, AB and raised in Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. He is a dedicated grassroots community advocate working within the Aboriginal community for the past 20 years.
As a strong advocate for the right to selfdetermination of Aboriginal Peoples, Kelly worked with organizations to ensure there is Aboriginal representation and involvement in the decision-making processes with public policy at the provincial, national and international levels. His experience includes speaking at the United Nations in Africa and New York where he advocated that Aboriginal youth leaders had a right to self-determination and needed to become more involved at the international
Other work and volunteer experience includes being the founder and former Executive Director of Knowledgeable Aboriginal Youth Association (KAYA), Vice President of the United Native Nations, National Representative for the BC Association of Friendships Centres, and Vice President for the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre. He also served as a Board Member for the Native Education College, where he was instrumental in helping keep the doors open by organizing community meetings to advocate the government for more support. Currently, Kelly is the Executive Director for the Métis Community Services Society of BC and resides in Kelowna, BC with his wife Nadine and their three children.
Jason Watt, 2016 Academic Achievement Award
Jason Watt is Salish from the Skatin Nation in BC. He is currently studying Criminology at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. Upon completion of his degree, he plans to work with the Native Courtworkers and Counselling Association of BC serving the community by helping Aboriginal people overcome the barriers faced in the Justice System.
Josephine O'Brien, 2016 Academic Achievement Award
Josephine O’Brien is a descendent of the Athabaskan people originating from the Kaska Dena, Tutchone, and Han people of
the Yukon Territory, where she was born and raised in Whitehorse.
In 2016, she completed the Aboriginal Justice Studies Certificate Program and plans to continue her studies toward a Social Work degree in the fall. Josephine is currently working as the as an Aboriginal Criminal Court Worker with the Council of Yukon First Nations.