Minister's Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction

The Minister's Advisory Forum on Poverty Reduction was appointed in October 2017. The members bring a broad range of expertise to their roles and will provide their insights and guidance to the Minister as the Poverty Reduction Strategy is developed. 

The Advisory Forum will support the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction by:

  • Identifying causes of poverty and innovative approaches to poverty reduction;
  • Recommending priority actions and principles for the Poverty Reduction Strategy that governments and all sectors of society can collectively work on and support;
  • Discussing ideas for poverty reduction generated through the consultation and engagement process;
  • Offering expertise and advice on how best to implement the Poverty Reduction Strategy in the context of other government priorities;
  • Working within communities to encourage full participation in the Poverty Reduction Strategy; and
  • Providing advice on legislation, including targets and timelines. 


Mable Elmore, Co-chair

Mable Elmore was first elected MLA for Vancouver-Kensington in 2009, when she made history by becoming the first MLA of Filipino heritage. She was re-elected in both 2013 and 2017. In July 2017, Premier John Horgan named Mable Elmore as the Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction.

Elmore has long been an advocate for social causes.  Since her high school years, she had helped organize campaigns regarding social justice issues and the peace movement. After university, she volunteered and then worked at the B.C. Philippine Women Centre. Throughout her life, she has worked tirelessly on a wide range of immigrant, social justice, and workers’ rights issues. Mable is passionate about building community engagement and connecting British Columbians around important issues.

In previous terms, she served as the Spokesperson for Temporary Foreign Workers and Immigration, as Official Opposition spokesperson for ICBC and was the Deputy Spokesperson for Finance.


Dawn Hemingway, Co-chair

Dawn Hemingway has decades of advocacy, research, and leadership experience focused on the issues of poverty. Among her many titles, she is the Chair of the University of Northern British Columbia’s School of Social Work, where she is also an Associate Professor. Her teaching and research centre on poverty-related issues such as aging, disability, northern/remote health, community organizing, women’s health and social policy development.

Professor Hemingway brings a profound understanding of how poverty affects British Columbia’s northern and remote communities. She works with more than a dozen organizations committed to helping vulnerable populations—experience that will serve her well as she helps shape the Poverty Reduction Strategy. She is the co-chair of Prince George Community Partners Addressing Homelessness, a group that brings together more than 30 community agencies working with northerners who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.  She also serves on the Council of Advisors to the B.C. Seniors’ Advocate.

In recognition of her work, Professor Hemingway has received the following awards: the Bridget Moran Advancement of Social Work in Northern Communities Award (2003); Today’s Woman Forging Our Future with Education & Leader in Knowledge Advancement Awards (2006); the Canadian Association of Social Workers Distinguished Service Award (2009); and, the UNBC Excellence in Service Award (2015).


Neil Belanger

Neil Belanger is the executive director of the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society or BCANDS, an award-winning Indigenous disability and health organization founded in 1991, the only stand-alone Indigenous organization of its type in Canada.

Neil has over 30 years of experience working with marginalized populations within both British Columbia and Saskatchewan. In April 2017, Neil presented on Indigenous disability issues to the United Nation’s International Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva, during Canada’s first five-year review since signing the Convention (CRPD). He is a member of the Lax Se el (Frog) Clan of the Gitxsan First Nation.

In addition to his position at BCANDS, Neil serves in a variety of advisory roles to government and community-based organizations: Inclusion B.C. Board of Directors; the Disability without Poverty Network; the Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility; the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Action Group; the Assistant Deputy Minister’s Supporting Increased Participation (SIP) Committee; and, the B.C. Parks Access and Persons with Disabilities Committees. Previously, Neil served as the chairperson of Community Living B.C.’s Indigenous Advisory Committee. Neil, his wife Cheryl and their two children live in Victoria.


Natika Bock

“Taanishi,”says Natika Bock. Natika is of Anishinaabe decent and is the Indigenous Youth Housing Manager at Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services (LMO), which is a delegated Métis Child Welfare Agency. She is the chair of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy Community Advisory Board and co-chair of the HomeFree Housing and Supports Committee.

She is currently leading “Kikékyelc: A Place of Belonging”, which is a culturally safe, affordable, and supported 31-unit housing development for Indigenous Elders and youth (16 – 26 years) who are or who were previously associated with the provincial child welfare system. In B.C., LMO is the first child service agency to develop and operate their own housing, and is one of few Indigenous housing projects to offer a continuum of housing for youth transitioning out of care.

Her work is dedicated to improving the outcomes for youth ageing out, as there is a strong correlation between child welfare services and homelessness, addictions, poor mental health, crime, incarceration and death. Maarsi poor toon taan. Natika is a proud mother of a 6-year-old girl who is a Huu-ay-aht First Nations citizen.


Cheryl Casimer (?aq‡smaknik pi¢ak pa‡kiy)

Cheryl Casimer was elected in June 2016 for a second consecutive three-year term on the First Nations Summit Task Group (political executive), which is mandated to carry out specific tasks related to Aboriginal Title and Rights negotiations with British Columbia and Canada and other issues of common concern to First Nations in British Columbia.

Ms. Casimer is a citizen of the Ktunaxa Nation and is from the community of ?aq̓am, located near Cranbrook in the southeastern corner of British Columbia. Ms. Casimer has served in many leadership roles over the past two decades and is a longstanding advocate for First Nations title, rights and treaty rights, recognition and reconciliation, and for closing the socio-economic gaps faced by Indigenous communities. She is committed to building better bridges of understanding between neighboring cultures.

Ms. Casimer is a former Chief and Councillor of the ?aq̓am First Nation. She was also previously employed as the Director of Treaty, Lands & Resources for the Ktunaxa Treaty Council. She has served on numerous boards and committees over the past 20 years, including one term as Co-Chair of the First Nations Summit (2002-2004) and one term as a board member of the BC Assembly of First Nations. She also previously served as a board member and President of the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services Society (KKCFSS).


Queenie Choo

Queenie Choo was the first CEO to commission a culturally appropriate care home in Edmonton. In 2010, she was appointed as the Executive Director responsible for redesigning the home and community care at Alberta Health Services. She has a deep understanding of poverty in community—where the most vulnerable people face it. Because of this, she has experience in developing strategies for poverty reduction.

Queenie immigrated to Canada 37 years ago. In 2012 Queenie was appointed as the CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., the largest non-profit social service organization in B.C.. She understands the hardship and challenges facing immigrants and vulnerable people. She has led the teams to develop many innovative programs in the area of skills and training, employment, settlement, language, family & youth for newcomers as well as seniors care and housing.

Queenie is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for her significant contributions to the community and the Excellence in Nursing Administration award.  She is recognized as one of the 35 most influential women in B.C., top 25 Canadian Immigrants and was a 2016 nominee for YWCA Women of Distinction Awards. In 2016, Queenie was named as one of the 50 most powerful people in Vancouver by Vancouver Magazine.


Shelley Decoste

Shelley DeCoste is a well-known leader in B.C.’s self-advocacy movement. She started the DIVERSABILITY campaign in 2012 and now has followers across B.C. Shelley says, “If you break down the word DISabled, you get not able. If you break down DIVERSABILITY, you get different, but able. To create a better understanding we can begin with something as simple as changing our language.”  Shelley is an inspirational speaker, trainer and mentor and has presented on Inclusive Employment and DiversAbility all over B.C.

In recognition of Shelley’s exceptional contributions to people with developmental disabilities, in 2016 she was awarded – along with the Kelowna Sunrise Rotary – with a Community Living BC Widening Our World (WOW) Award which celebrates British Columbians who are inclusion leaders in their community.


Stephen D’Souza

Stephen D’Souza has been the Executive Director of Burnaby Community Services and Burnaby Meals on Wheels for over twelve years and became the E.D. for Burnaby Seniors Outreach in 2016. He leads the strategic and daily operations of these three local charitable societies with a focus on supporting families living in poverty and seniors experiencing isolation.

Stephen has spent decades working collaboratively with local and regional partners to design innovative solutions to reducing poverty and isolation. He volunteers as a Director with the Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby, recently became the co-chairperson for the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, and was a member of the 2010-11 Steering Committee that guided the development of Burnaby’s Social Sustainability Strategy. 

Stephen completed an Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurialism from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University in 2016 and the United Way of the Lower Mainland’s Public Policy Institute in 2011. He is also a guest lecturer at Simon Fraser University for Health Promotion in Practice: in the Canadian Context (Master of Public Health program, Faculty of Health Sciences) and the Health Change Lab (a partnership between RADIUS Social Innovation Lab, The Beedie School of Business and Faculty of Health Sciences).


Jane Dyson

Jane Dyson has been the Executive Director of Disability Alliance BC (DABC) since 2009. Jane has been responsible for the management of many programs and projects designed to enable people with disabilities to live with dignity and independence in their communities. The broad focus of her work with DABC has been the alleviation of poverty for people with all disabilities through improved income supports and eligibility for poverty reducing programs such as the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). Jane has also played a leadership role in developing stakeholder partnerships to promote communication between the disability community, government and other decision-makers in order to promote positive change to public policy impacting the lives of people with disabilities.

She is a new Board member of the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) and Plan Institute, a member of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police Chief's Community Council, and the Law Foundation of BC’s Access to Justice Committee. She is a past Board member of the Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry, and a past member of the Vancouver Foundation’s Disability Supports for Employment Advisory Committee. Jane has also participated in advisory committees established by TransLink, BC Hydro, and ICBC.

Jane has a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Simon Fraser University. In 2015, she was awarded the Order of British Columbia for community leadership.


Viveca Ellis

A passionate advocate for reducing poverty, Viveca Ellis is a community organizer who has worked to bring the voices and experiences of parents and others living in poverty into the discussion of public policy solutions. A leader in challenging policy gaps and deficiencies that trap women and children in poverty, she co-founded the Single Mothers’ Alliance BC in 2014 and created a grassroots network of mobilized women throughout B.C. devoted to reducing poverty for single mothers, including impacting the campaign to end the clawback of child support from single parents on welfare. She has partnered broadly with many organizations within the First Call and B.C. poverty reduction coalitions and the BC CEDAW Group, reporting to the United Nations on women’s equality in BC, among others. Her hands-on experience through organizing single mothers and designing a social enterprise have provided her with a clear understanding of the systemic barriers people face trying to climb out of poverty, as well as the local and provincial conditions that create poverty. Viveca upholds a vision for a deeply integrated, cross-ministry poverty reduction strategy based on leading research on the social determinants of health and a gender equality lens, rooted in local community participation through deep engagement. Viveca is a community organizer and advocacy coordinator for First Call’s early years campaigns and a project designer of the new Community Action Network aimed at creating durable support for those living in poverty to engage with policy development at all levels. She lives in Vancouver with her 8 year old son.


Trish Garner

Trish Garner is a passionate advocate for social justice. Having gained her experience working with Raise the Rates, an anti-poverty group based in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, she has been the Community Organizer of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a broad-based network of over 400 organizations throughout B.C., since 2011.

She is the co-author of A Poverty Reduction Plan for BC (2008), which brought together research from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Economic Security Project, statistical evidence, international research on best practices within poverty reduction plans, and community consultations. In the last year alone, she contributed to reports co-published with the CCPA (Working Poverty in BC; Long Overdue) and published a report in partnership with Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods drawing on extensive qualitative evidence of life on disability.

She has a PhD in gender, sexuality and women’s studies from SFU and initiated one of the only research projects in Canada highlighting LGBTQ issues and poverty, in which she produced Under the Rainbow, an internationally acclaimed festival documentary. She works with a wide variety of organizations within the Coalition but always strives to make sure those most marginalized have a voice at the table, working directly with many grassroots groups.


Wes Hewitt

Wes Hewitt is the Executive Director of the Port Alberni Shelter Society. He has been with the society since 2009. The Society provides emergency shelter, low barrier housing, supportive housing, a Sobering and Assessment Centre, an Overdose Prevention Site, food programs and Outreach services to Wes’ community of Port Alberni. “Through working with these programs I have been able to have the privilege of working alongside clients that poverty has a tremendous effect on their life,” he says.

He is an active member of the community, sitting as a member of the Alberni Clayoquot Health Network, Chair of the City of Port Alberni Advisory Planning Commission, Mental Health and Substance Use Steering Committee, the Housing Coalition and several others. Wes enjoys sports and is currently an avid sailor when time permits. He is an active Free Mason and has just become a Shriner because of the organization’s commitment to helping sick or injured children. Wes has lived in Port Alberni for the past 25 years, where he has raised two children that live in the community, and now has four grandchildren.


Zahra Jimale

Zahra H. Jimale is a lawyer and the Director of Law Reform at West Coast LEAF, an equality rights organization whose goal it is to end discrimination against women using litigation, law reform and public legal education. Prior to her current role at West Coast LEAF, Zahra was a family law lawyer and worked with families experiencing numerous challenges including economic insecurities and barriers to accessing justice and dispute resolution processes.

Zahra brings to the discussion on poverty reduction an analysis of the gendered nature of poverty. She is committed to promoting the need for poverty reduction strategies to address the needs of women living in poverty, including Indigenous women, racialized women, women with disabilities, senior women and women parenting alone. Zahra is dedicated to the improvement of equality and social justice for all. She is passionate about effecting transformative change through research, innovation, education, and law reform.


Murry Krause

Murry Krause has been engaged in community and social justice work for over 40 years. He is hard working, informed, outspoken and passionate advocate for the poor. Murray was elected to the Prince George City Council from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2002 to present. He is a Director on the Regional District of Fraser Fort George, where he chairs the Regional Hospital District Board and Cultural Advisory Committee.

Murray was elected to the UBCM Executive as a Director at Large in 2009, and is currently the UBCM Past President and Chair of the First Nations Relations Committee. Murry was previously employed as the Executive Director of the Central Interior Native Health Society; a position he has held for 22 years. Prior to that, he was the Executive Director of the Prince George United Way and manager of several non-profit organizations.

Murry has been an active volunteer for local, regional, provincial and federal initiatives. He has been recognized by being awarded a Governor General of Canada Commemorative medal and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. He was named Prince George’s Citizen of the Year for 2000.


Catherine Ludgate

Catherine Ludgate is a manager of community investment at Vancity.  She is accountable for the delivery of the credit union’s microfinance programs as tools for poverty reduction and financial inclusion, including financial literacy and microcredit. She also supports staff working to develop co-operatives, an alternative economic form, and to build reciprocal relationships with labour organizations. She supports partnerships that address poverty in our communities, including the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the Living Wage for Families campaign and she spends a goodly amount of time talking to other employers about joining the Living Wage campaign.

She is the developer of the award-winning “Each One, Teach One” financial literacy program which has been shared with credit unions across Canada; 85+ credit unions are now using this platform to mobilize their own staff in support of community financial literacy.

Catherine works on a range of inclusive banking projects, from supports for refugees to banking services for community living members. She holds a master’s degree in the management of co-ops and credit unions. She is appointed to the Federal Ministerial Advisory Committee on Poverty and works with the City of Vancouver to meet its goals around poverty reduction.


Hilary Marks

Hilary understands local and provincial conditions that contribute to poverty in B.C., and she is committed to reducing poverty so people don’t have the same experience as her. She has lived experience with sex work, homelessness, and disability assistance. She uses her experiences to educate others about root causes of poverty and the changes that need to happen to make sure other people do not experience what she has experienced.

Hilary has tremendous respect for people dealing with economic, health and addictions issues that keep them marginalized. She is a strong and informed champion of enhanced programs, policies and processes on issues of housing, social and clinical support services for individuals suffering from extreme economic marginalization and homelessness within the community.

Hilary is a peer-support worker for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, and a shelter worker at Our Place Society. She is past co-chair of the Social Inclusion Committee for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness. She also volunteers with Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) where she helps people access legal advocacy services. She also sits on the TAPS Board of Directors.


Jen Matthews

Jen Matthews works with Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS), the largest anti-poverty organization on Vancouver Island. She joined TAPS as a practicum student at the beginning of 2014 and was hired on as full-time staff later that year. Jen is now the senior advocate in TAPS’s Income Assistance Advocacy Project. As a Legal Advocate, she works with people throughout the Capital Regional District to ensure their full access to entitlements provided under provincial social assistance legislation.

Central to Jen’s role is pushing for broad reforms and systemic improvements to the provision of social assistance in B.C. She is committed to carrying out this work and building community in ways that respect individual dignity, promote social and economic equity, and ultimately advance the rights of people experiencing poverty in B.C. She comes to this work with a master’s degree in social work from the University of Victoria, and an undergraduate degree in political science from Carleton University in Ottawa.


Rosanna McGregor

Rosanna McGregor is the Executive Director of the Cariboo Friendship Society in Williams Lake where she has worked for 26 years. Rosanna has had numerous years of experience with contract management and economic development with the programs that are run by the Friendship Center.

Rosanna participates in many community boards including the Social Planning Council, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Advisory Committee and participates on the Human Service Worker Advisory for Thompson Rivers University.  She is the President of the Board of Aboriginal Housing Management Association and the chair for Williams Lake Social Housing Society.  She was a member of the Sector Table for the Ministry for Children and Family Development.  Rosanna has also been a member of the Board of Directors for Interior Health for seven years with the responsibility for a variety of portfolios. 

Rosanna is a member of the Williams Lake Indian Band where she lives with her husband and two lovely daughters. One of her children and many family members are from Stswecem’c Xgat’tem.

Knucwente kuc es yegweyegwt.s-kuc.  Help us be Strong.


Debra McNaught

Born at Vancouver General Hospital, Debra McNaught grew up in Vancouver. In late 2014, she found herself in the Downtown Eastside, completely traumatized and without resources. Even after completing a post-secondary degree (as a mature student), somehow her prospects failed to improve. For the past decade, Debra has struggled to cope with narrowing job options as an aging worker.

“So I got a room at a disgusting SRO, navigated the onerous and humiliating process of applying for welfare, and started to get to know my new community,” she says. In March 2015, she discovered the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP). From that point, she says things began to look up. She learned about the issues affecting her community: “I learned about what austerity, poor bashing, social injustice, poverty, gentrification and displacement really meant.”

Debra serves on the Carnegie Association Board (third term) and acts as chair of the Community Relations committee. Through CCAP, she works with Raise the Rates, Our Homes Can’t Wait and Our Community Vision for Mental Health. Debra also volunteers at the Carnegie, contributes to the Carnegie Newsletter as a cartoonist, and is currently taking part in the CAN Leadership Training workshops. She is currently working on a book about what it’s really like to live at Hastings and Main.


John Millar

Dr. John Millar was born in Vancouver in 1941. He graduated with a degree in medicine from UBC in 1967. Since then, he has spent many years in developing countries where he did general surgery and administration as a hospital superintendent and Deputy Minister. This experience led to a deep appreciation for the power of prevention.

In 1984, John returned to UBC for training in population and public health, after which he became Medical Health Officer in rural B.C. In 1992, John was appointed B.C.’s first Provincial Health Officer where he developed health goals for the province which emphasized acting on the socioeconomic determinants of health (SDOH) including poverty reduction.

In 1998, John was appointed Vice President of the Canadian Institute for Health Information where he led development in the use of ‘big data’ for improving health care and population health. In 2003 John took the position of Executive Director for Population and Public Health for the BC Provincial Health Services Authority from which he retired in 2011. Since retiring John has continued to teach population and public health as Clinical Professor Emeritus at UBC Medical School and to advocate for poverty reduction, action on homelessness and the opioid overdose epidemic.


Jan Morton

As Executive Director of the Skills Centre in Trail for the past 20 years, Jan Morton has direct and local knowledge of the complex factors that contribute to poverty. The varied employment and community development programs delivered by the Skills Centre have informed her involvement in poverty reduction.

The focus on poverty reduction began in 2012 with the development of the 20/20 Vision for Women in the Lower Columbia Region, a poverty reduction plan through a gender lens. More recently, Jan helped develop Thriving for All: Lower Columbia Poverty Reduction Plan. Her experience has included research, engaging stakeholders in collaborative planning and developing programs to address poverty. 

Jan brings to her various roles in the community more than 40 years’ experience in adult education, employment services, organizational leadership and community economic development. Her experience and perspective is well rounded and encompasses many sectors, including economic, education, social, and local government.  As a long-time active member of the Lower Columbia Community Development Society, she consistently brings a social perspective to economic development network. She has a passion for the role of affordable housing in poverty reduction, serving on several affordable housing society boards and committees. 


Tabitha Naismith

Tabitha became an ACORN member in February 2013, when she was visited by ACORN organizer, Marcos, who asked her about her concerns for her local community. When her local chapter launched in Newton in May 2013, she was elected as chair and hasn’t looked back! Tabitha has been involved in a number of campaigns, including fighting to end the child support claw-back. She travelled to Victoria to have her story told in the legislature. The campaign resulted in a huge $13-million victory when the policy was scrapped in B.C.

In 2016, Tabitha was elected as secretary of ACORN’s national board, where she has had the opportunity to work with ACORN leaders across Canada. She recently participated in a call with the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development about ACORN’s Internet for All campaign, fighting for affordable, high speed home internet for low income earners.

In 2017, Tabitha made a great impression at her first national convention as co-emcee of the member speak-out, confidently speaking to over 250 ACORN members. She credits the skills she developed at ACORN leadership school for this experience. Tabitha attended leadership school in Ottawa, building leadership skills, developing the ability to speak the media, and learning how to lead an action.


Anne Peterson

Anne Peterson’s career spans over 25 years with an extensive record in developing and advocating for social policy. Anne has worked tirelessly through community service in her previous role as a city councillor for the Corporation of Delta, and through many community organizations.

She is the Policy & Research Manager of the Surrey Board of Trade, a position she has held for close to 3 years, and manages 10 advocacy teams, and several research projects. Her skills to analyze public policy, interpret legislation, develop advocacy statements and resolutions for the Surrey Board of Trade are unparalleled, leading the Surrey Board of Trade in their advocacy efforts to instigate change. In addition, she publishes Surrey’s only business publication, ‘Surrey Business News’.

Her extensive educational background forms the foundation to her public policy work with an MA (Anthropology, UBC 2006), a BA (Joint Anthropology/Sociology, SFU 2001), Applied Project Management Certificate from Langara College (2015) and a number of certificates including evaluation methodology, and leadership & conflict resolution, that add to her expertise in policy and research.


Lissa Dawn Smith

Lissa Dawn Smith has been a member of the Metis Nation BC Board of Directors for the past ten years. Lissa is the elected Vice-President and Métis Minister Responsible for Metis Rights, Justice and Metis Veterans. Previously, she has held the portfolios for Children and Families and Health.

She has sat on the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Board of Directors in Victoria for the last two years. She is committed to reducing poverty and has been involved over the years as an advocate and tribunal nominee for clients on income assistance, appealing decisions affecting their benefits. In the past, she has been employed as a financial assistant worker for the Ministry of Human Resources, giving her a real understanding of the social determinates that contribute to poverty.

Lissa holds a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from the University of Victoria with an Indigenous Specialization and a Human Service Diploma from the Vancouver Island University.

As a former single mother of two daughters, Lissa has lived the experience of poverty, and understands the need for resources and services for families struggling to make ends meet with low incomes.

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith is the first woman elected president of the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), representing 73,000 members at 550 different employers and B.C. government ministries. Stephanie was elected BCGEU president at the union's convention in May 2014, and was re-elected for her second term in June 2017. She is from the non-government sector, reflecting the diversity of BCGEU’s membership base. Stephanie has already made her mark on the union, meeting with members around the province and being consultative and connected with the union's elected officials, members and staff. Prior to being elected BCGEU president, Stephanie served three years as BCGEU treasurer.

An early childhood educator by training, Stephanie began her involvement with the labour movement in 1981 – first in New Zealand, and then in British Columbia with the Children's Services Employees' Union, which merged with BCGEU in 1995/96. Stephanie comes from the community social services sector (CSS), which represents community living services, youth-at-risk, child care, women services, Aboriginal services and many other members working with B.C.’s most vulnerable.

Stephanie served as first vice chair of BCGEU’s community social services component for six years and has sat on the BCGEU provincial executive – the governing body of the union between conventions – since 2008. A tireless advocate for worker rights, young workers, and equity groups, Stephanie has spoken at provincial, national and international conferences on behalf of BCGEU members.Stephanie is the very proud mother of two young adults, and lives in Richmond, B.C.


Stacey Tyers

Stacey Tyers is a senior poverty law advocate from Terrace., located in beautiful Northwest B.C. Stacey is a two-term Terrace City Councillor, and the former chair of the Regional District Kitimat-Stikine.

Stacey has an extensive background in poverty law, poverty reduction, poverty education and awareness.  She has held a variety of roles in the field from Executive Director of Terrace Anti-Poverty, Poverty Law Advocate and Manager of Counselling and Support Services.  Stacey has worked passionately on the front lines of poverty, systemic advocacy, and in decision and policy implementation positions such as city council. In addition to her professional experience, Stacey has lived in and experienced poverty as a single mom.  Her passion and work in the field comes directly from wanting to provide the respect, support and assistance to the people she serves.

Some of the Boards and Committees Stacey has been involved with include the BC Access to Justice Committee, Community Legal Assistance Society, Povnet, Ministry of Social Development – Moving Forward Steering Committee, Ministry of Social Development – Regional Quality Service Control, APSECT BC and Federation of Canadian Municipalities – Social and Economic Committee. Stacey is a single mom to her daughter, Keysha.


Leslie Varley

Leslie Varley is a committed social justice advocate.  A member of the Killer Whale clan of the Nisga’a Nation, she holds the name, T-an De’entkwhl Aluugigat (One who guides Indigenous people). She is the Executive Director of British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, an agency supporting the 25 centres in B.C.

Previously Leslie held the Indigenous health portfolio at Provincial Health Services Authority where she headed the development of San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training. San’yas is a leading-edge decolonizing anti-racism training developed to educate and build skills and tools that enable Canadians to actively address racism and discriminatory behaviour in the health and social justice sectors. Her advocacy has led to national and international presentation opportunities including the CBC’s 8th Fire series.

Leslie has worked with federal, provincial and municipal governments, First Nations and Indigenous organizations. Her community work focuses on increasing Indigenous inclusion, and addressing structural racism and violence.  She currently volunteers with as a board member at Central City Foundation in Vancouver and Victoria Cool Aid Society. Leslie holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University. She lives as a guest on Lekwungen Territory in Victoria.