Chief Executive Officer
At the intersection of Indigenous sovereignty, technological advancement and a rapidly expanding technology and innovation economy, in demand of new ideas and new skills, Denise has the privilege of working with Indigenous peoples, governments, academics, technology futurists and social changemakers to map the ecosystem that will result in fair and equitable access to the tools and education required for success in the digital age.
At the intersection of Indigenous sovereignty, technological advancement and a rapidly expanding technology and innovation economy, in demand of new ideas and new skills, Denise has the privilege of working with Indigenous peoples, governments, academics, technology futurists and social changemakers to map the ecosystem that will result in fair and equitable access to the tools and education required for success in the digital age. Denise leads a theory of change that will not only ensure Indigenous peoples are competitive in BC’s technology and innovation sector, but leading and growing local digital economies.
With a passion for contributing and volunteering in initiatives and organizations that influence real change and the advancement of truth and reconciliation, Denise proudly serves as the President of the Urban Native Youth Association, advisor on innovation to the Governor General of Canada, Status of Women Canada’s Indigenous Women’s Circle, on the board of the First Mile Connectivity Consortium, Vancouver Economic Commission and on the Simon Fraser University Board of Governors as Alumni-in-Order, where she earned her masters degree in business administration in 2015.
Chief Operating Officer
Known as a highly innovative and strategic thinker, Sasha Hobbs is excited to bring her extensive experience and talents to the new role of Chief Operating Officer. She brings over 20 years of direct leadership experience and is passionate about advancing indigenous sovereignty through technology, education, and leadership development. Sasha is a member of the Métis Nation, and is grateful for the opportunity to continue serving Indigenous peoples and communities.
Beginning her career as an Instructor at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, she has held progressively higher positions as Program Coordinator at Native Education College, and Associate Director and Director at Simon Fraser University. Sasha may be best known for launching and leading the Indigenous Youth Internship Program (IYIP, formerly known as AYIP) through its early years, a program created in partnership with the BC provincial government and First Nations leadership.
In her career with the provincial government, Sasha has held several leadership positions as Director of Performance Management, Director of Executive Development and Diversity, and most recently as Executive Director of Multiculturalism.Sasha brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in strategic and organizational development, partnerships, program development, employee engagement, leadership development, and best practices in business administration. She holds a BA and MA in Literature, and is the recipient of several academic and provincial awards for her work. She is also a screenwriter, musician, and an avid mountainbiker.
Director of Skills Development
As the Director of Skills Development, Lauren is tasked with planning, implementing and managing all aspects of the Technology Council’s skills development and capacity building programs. Lauren brings her years of experience at the Council to the launch of our cornerstone training program Foundations and Futures in Innovation and Technology. In the coming year, she will be connecting with communities, Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ISETS) holders, government agencies and partners across the province to further develop and strengthen the Indigenous technology ecosystem by ensuring the successful delivery of training to over 1000 participants by 2021.
Lauren received a Master’s degree in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria, where her studies focused on the role of a settler ally in the Indigenous rights movement. Through this program, she completed a Community Governance Project with Cheam First Nation focusing on imposed, abstract political identities and traditional governance revitalization. Outside of her work at the Council, Lauren continues to engage in critical discourse on ongoing settler colonialism and Canadian’s responsibility in reconciliation.
Lauren is honoured to be a part of the First Nations Technology Council as an aspiring ally and to participate in the Technology Council’s work to support Indigenous self-determination through digital technology solutions.
Sector Transformation Project Lead
Allison is a member of the Deh Gah Gotie Dene First Nation in the Northwest Territories. Her career and educational paths have taken her across Canada– having completed a Bachelor of Social Work at Dalhousie University (2001) and a Masters of Arts in Dispute Resolution at University of Victoria (2011).
Allison brings over 17 years of program, policy and human resources experience to this role. She has worked in both the federal and provincial governments in strategic policy and program coordination, including three years with the BC Public Service Agency Indigenous Youth Internship Program (IYIP) where she was responsible for intern support and development of training opportunities. For the past six years, she worked at the First Nations Health Authority, where she developed and implemented the student placement program, new employee orientation and employee wellness initiatives.
She is passionate about Indigenous wellness, governance and leadership development, and is excited about the potential of FiiT and the work of FNTC more broadly in transforming Indigenous participation in the technology sector in BC and beyond!
As the Office Manager of a fast-paced growing organization, Whitney is responsible for ensuring that all office and staff needs are met on a daily basis, in order for operations to be functionally supported. Whitney is the first point of contact for people calling in or visiting the office. She displays a genuine warmth when managing guests and team member inquiries. Her responsibilities include greeting guests, prioritizing support inquiries, and juggling multiple projects. She works with all departments to ensure smooth office operations, assists in company programs and events, and optimizes key operational processes to ensure a high level of integrity when handling data and confidential information.
Whitney is a member of the Squamish Nation, with matrilineal ties to Lilwat Nation, who is also part Irish, Italian, and Hawaiian. She is married to a member of the Kluane First Nation, has one daughter and three dogs. She enjoys spending time learning new things, being outdoors, and sharing her knowledge in Coast Salish Weaving of wool and cedar, beading, sewing, and food preservation.
Whitney completed her certificate in Business Fundamentals from Capilano University in 2012. She brings with her 10 years of Administrative Services and Management knowledge, 8 years of working alongside or within First Nations organizations, 16 years of Customer Service Experience, and 15 years of leadership and instructional cultural experience.
Manager of Community Engagement
Maggie is tasked with Managing the day to day activities of the Technology Council; in the area of Program & Project Management, Organizational Operations & Development, Human Resource Management, Financial Management oversight and establishing a sound system of procedures to contribute to optimal Organizational Performance; including the design and delivery of Community and Sector Engagement and Funder Reporting.
Maggie is from the Nisga’a Nation, she belongs to the House of Ksim Xsaan. Her Indigenous name is Ant’aam Lax Gaa’askw Gaak “Raven looking over the rest of them”. She has three adult children, four grandchildren with Gary. Maggie has a depth and breadth of management experience in Operations, Project management, and Human Resources.
Maggie Is currently enrolled to continue her Masters Leadership Studies at Royal Roads University in December 2018. Maggie’s previous training and experiences are in the areas of Labour Relations, Strategic Management, Board Governance, Human Resource Management, and Organizational Development and Design. Maggie Is honoured to be a part of the First Nations Technology Council’s team to participate in the growth and development of a fast-paced and evolving organization.
Manager of Indigenous Education
As an Indigenous academic from the Cree Nation, with Master’s research in revisiting successful relationship building between Indigenous peoples and new comers, Shawna’s passion in developing culturally safe systems, programs, and curriculum is evident.
Presently she uses her cultural safety skill set to inform the development of the Technology Council’s online and in-person curriculum development along with the expansion of the student administration, and support mapping. With research analysis positions in Indigenous education and thirty years in curriculum development /teaching she develops curriculum that braids together Indigenized content alongside Indigenous methodologies and Indigenous pedagogies to fully engage, and enrich the experience of Indigenous students.
Before coming to FNTC Shawna was at Vancouver Coastal Health as the Aboriginal Health Lead for Indigenous Cultural Safety. Prior employment experience in academia includes the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of the Fraser Valley. For fun Shawna loves to train in jiu-jitsu, canoe, create graphic recordings and make art.
Manager of Curriculum
obyn is known for her wealth of experience developing and delivering Indigenous curriculum across BC. She is grateful for her many years as an instructor with Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), delivering courses both on campus and in community education. Robyn’s education philosophy is of traditional grass roots learning, which is a belief in two-way learning where the teacher and the learner are both a teacher and learner. Robyn believes that planting a seed of knowledge in one mind can create generational change, and that planting seeds of knowledge in many minds can have a global impact.
Along with extensive experience in Indigenous education, Robyn is a successful entrepreneur with many years experience as a communications specialist. She is also a dreamer and a writer, currently co-writing a TV series and a creative coaching guide for change. Along with writing, Robyn loves fresh air, biking, kayaking and being a Mom (not in that order).
Robyn earned an MA in Professional Communications from Royal Roads University in 2018, where her research focused on relationship building in digital communications. Through a self-study of five of her business clients, Robyn’s research draws conclusion that traditional communication of face to face (F2F) and voice to voice (V2V), are required elements of building communication efficacy in the digital era. From this research she designed a communication framework.
While Robyn is proud of her achievements at university, she is most grateful for the teachings of Felix, Pearl, Margaret, and Bernice – the Elder’s Council who guided and shaped her work in Indigenous education.
Foundations in Innovation and Technology
Fabian is Cree/Saulteaux from Cowessess First Nation -Treaty Four- located in Saskatchewan. He currently resides in Prince George, BC with the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation. Fabian received his Bachelors of Commerce – Marketing from University of Northern BC (UNBC) and a Graduate Certificate – Online Learning and Teaching from Thompson Rivers University (TRU).
Manager of Futures in Innovation and Technology
As Programs Coordinator, Jasmin is supporting the planning and implementation of the Technology Council’s initiatives, including Foundations and Futures in Innovation and Technology and the Labour Market Project.
Jasmin was born in Vancouver and raised by a Chinese mother and European father. She received her undergraduate degree in International Development Studies at McGill University and spent the summer months working on early literacy support programs with James Bay Cree communities. Jasmin went on to complete the Masters in Development Practice program at the University of Winnipeg, where she focused her research on reorienting discourses surrounding the “digital divide” towards strength-based approaches that position Indigenous peoples as creators and influencers of technology. Jasmin is particularly interested in Indigenous participation in new media development (such as virtual reality, video games, and apps) and the potential of these platforms for increasing representation of Indigenous stories, worldviews, and visions of the future.
Jasmin hopes to bring all the learning and experiences that she has been fortunate enough to gain with her to this new role at the First Nations Technology Council.
Kim is Inuit from her mother’s side and Scottish from her Father’s. She’s a lifelong Northerner from Yellowknife NWT who relocated to Vancouver BC in 2018. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Vancouver Island University and is currently enrolled with the Project Management Institute to gain PMP certification.
Before joining the FNTC, Kim worked with the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Health within the Project Management Services Division assisting with various information system deployment projects throughout the Territory. Her interests with connecting remote communities to technology lead her to join the FNTC under the role of Skills Coordinator where she is assisting with the planning and deployment of the Foundations and Futures in Innovation and Technology program.
Tirzah Swampy is a Program Coordinator for the Skills Division, where she is tasked with recruiting students for the Foundations program. As one of the first people in contact with potential students, Tirzah has the privilege of interacting with Indigenous people across BC who are interested in developing their skills in technology and ensures that those selected are able to attend, participate and complete the training successfully.
Tirzah is a mix of Cree and Blackfoot, originally from Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta. Before relocating to British Columbia, Tirzah earned her Bachelor of Arts where she focused on Psychology, from Macewan University in Edmonton, Alberta. She is also a Certified Coach Practitioner.
Prior to her role with FNTC, Tirzah spent many years working with Indigenous families as a youth/family support worker, where she forged relationships as both a mentor and advocate. As the newest Program Coordinator, Tirzah hopes to combine her education and training to help her in her search for the next Indigenous Innovators (and the best bannock recipe that she can pass on to her daughter)
Skills Program Assistant
Mario’s primary responsibilities include supporting front desk and assisting with skills development programs. Having the privilege to had grown up on the unceded territories of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en peoples Mario identifies as Nisga’a from his mother and of European settler ancestry from his father.
Notably, Mario had successfully developed and lead the Landed Learning Indigenous Education Program, a partnership with χpey̓ Elementary operating at UBC Farm, to advance Indigenous perspectives in land-based elementary education. Mario’s commitments are to uphold anti-racist and decolonial values by way of Indigenous guiding principles and frameworks to uplift intergenerational healing.
Currently, Mario is studying Gender with experiences in Indigenous studies and expressed interest in critical race theory and social justice. In addition to education and work Mario has an interest in creating radio documentaries. His work has been featured on UBC’s CITR campus radio and has been syndicated across the country covering topics on Indigenous food sovereignty.
Program Coordinator, Futures
Adrienne is Nehiyaw (Plains Cree) from Maskwacis, Alberta in Treaty Six. Though she is not from British Columbia, she lives with gratitude and respect on the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. As the First Nations Technology Council’s Community Coordinator, Adrienne’s responsibilities are to oversee project administration and coordination in assigned short-term and long-term projects, ensuring deliverables meet quality standards. Adrienne serves as a liaison in the coordination efforts with Indigenous Peoples and communities, as well as community organizations as it pertains to the participation and engagement in programs and services.
Adrienne earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honours from the University of Alberta where her research focused on Indigenous Governance. Adrienne brings with her over 5 years of experience at the provincial and non-profit sector in policy analysis, strategic initiatives and community relations. For the last several years her focus has been creating opportunities for Indigenous people to access post-secondary education and training opportunities. In addition to this work, Adrienne is also an Indigenous Artist who is reclaiming her cultural practices through her sewing and beadwork and is a strong believer in life-long learning.
Lloyd Taghavi is an MBA, CPA and CMA, with 25+ year of experience in accounting and financial management, including 11 years working for First Nations organizations as a CFO. He moved from U.S. to Canada in 2006. He is married with one child.
Bio coming soon!
Trevor Jang is a storyteller who blends an Indigenous worldview with the tools of journalism and technology to support First Nations empowerment. His role at the Technology Council includes leading the development and implementation of a communications and social media strategy, working across programs to create relevant content that engages the Technology Council’s many audiences on multiple platforms.
Trevor is an award-winning writer and journalist whose work on Indigenous issues has been published with the CBC, Walrus Magazine, BC Business Magazine, National Observer, Discourse and others. He has a mixed-race background of Wet’suwet’en Nation, Chinese and European ancestry. In 2012 Trevor graduated with a Diploma of Technology in Broadcast Media and Communications from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
Web / Design Coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Roy is from the Cree Nation of Lac La Ronge Indian Band located in Northern Saskatchewan; he is the oldest of five siblings. He is currently residing in Vancouver, BC, in the traditional territory of Musqueam, Squamish, and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Roy is tasked with network management for the Technology Council; and providing technical support to the students. Roy brings in over 11 years of information technology experience.
Also, his work experience includes eight years working with indigenous non-profits and in post-secondary education. Roy is currently enrolled in the Master in Business Administration program in Community Economic Development with Cape Breton University. Previous training includes earning his Bachelor of Applied Information Systems Technology degree majoring in Network Management from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. He also completed his Information Technology diploma from the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies. Roy also completed his Microsoft Certified Professional designation with Microsoft in Windows Server.
Chief Morale Officer
Valentine is an Assistance Puppy-In-Training from the Pacific Assistance Dog Society (PADS). She lives full time with her puppy raiser, Allison Beardsworth and is in the office every day. She takes her role as Chief Moral Officer very seriously and keep the teams’ spirits light through her joyful personality.