Si Sityaawks – (Woman who creates change) is from the Gitxsan and Tsimshian First Nations with extended roots among the Tahltan and Nisga’a Nations.
Currently serving as Associate Deputy Minister of the Declaration Act Secretariat, Jessica is leading British Coumbia’s cross-ministry work to align provincial laws with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples.
Jessica previously served as Assistant Deputy Minister for the Reconciliation Transformation and Strategies Division with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation where she was responsible for the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (The Declaration), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, and learnings from relevant case law. As part of this transformation, she led, in collaboration with the First Nations Leadership Council, the development of legislation to implement the Declaration in provincial law. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent in November 2019. Her division also led the development of the first Declaration Act Action Plan released in March 2022. The Plan was developed with Indigenous Peoples to ensure it reflects the priorities of Indigenous Peoples and outlines 89 specific actions every ministry will take over a five-year period.
Jessica was recently the second Policy Practitioner Fellow at UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs. She is an experienced community developer whose portfolios have focused on issues related to race relations, residential school, sexual health, sex work, Indigenous women and gendered violence. She was the first Indigenous woman in Canada whose work as a municipal social planner focused solely on the health and safety of sex workers and impacted communities, gendered and racialized violence, and the prevention of youth sexual exploitation.
Jessica has previously held positions working on the Residential School Settlement Agreement and the National Film Board Documentary Finding Dawn, a film about missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Jessica is a long-time organizer with the Vancouver DTES Women’s Memorial March Committee.