Regional Chief Puglaas (Jody Wilson-Raybould) is a descendant of the Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples, which are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw, also known as the Kwak’wala speaking peoples. She is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation and lives with her husband, Tim Raybould, at Cape Mudge Village, Quadra Island, BC.
Coming from a long line of strong political leadership, Jody was raised to be a leader. After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History at the University of Victoria, she went on to earn a law degree from the University of British Columbia. After being called to the Bar Association in British Columbia in 2000, Jody worked as a provincial crown prosecutor in Vancouver’s Main Street criminal courthouse in the downtown eastside. In 2003, Jody took a position as a process advisor at the BC Treaty Commission, a body established to oversee the negotiations of modern treaties between First Nations and the Crown but was soon elected a Commissioner by the Chiefs of the First Nations Summit in 2004. She served as Commissioner for nearly seven years, one and a half of which she spent as A/Chief commissioner. As a commissioner, Jody helped to advance a number of treaty tables and supported the establishment of a ‘Common Table’ of 60 plus First Nations and the Crown.
Jody was first elected Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations in 2009 and re-elected in November 2012 by the 203 First Nations in BC. As Regional Chief, Jody has championed the advancement of First Nations’ strong and appropriate governance, fair access to lands and resources, improved education and individual health. In 2011 and 2012, Jody co-authored the BCAFN Governance Toolkit: A Guide to Nation Building. Part 1 of the Governance Toolkit – The Governance Report has been acclaimed as the most comprehensive report of its kind in Canada, setting out what First Nations in BC are doing with respect to transitioning their governance from under the Indian Act to a post-colonial world based on recognition of Aboriginal title and rights, including treaty rights. In 2012, Jody and the BCAFN launched Part 2 of the Governance Toolkit – The Governance Self-Assessment and Part 3—Guide to Community Engagement: Navigating Our Way Beyond the Post-Colonial Door. Jody believes passionately in the need for Nation re-building and empowering Indigenous peoples to take the practical steps necessary to implement the hard fought for rights as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the promise of the recognition of Aboriginal and treaty rights in section 35 of the Canadian Constitution.
In addition to her responsibilities as Regional Chief, Jody is an elected member of Council in her home community of We Wai Kai, a role that she credits for strengthening her understanding and commitment to work at the provincial and national level advocating for strong and appropriate First Nations’ governance. As a former board member for Minerva Foundation for BC Women, Jody was instrumental in the development of the “Combining Our Strength Initiative” – a partnership of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women. She is currently a director of the National First Nations Lands Advisory Board, and deputy chair of the First Nations Finance Authority. As Regional Chief, she holds portfolio responsibilities on the AFN executive for Governance and Nation building, the Chiefs Committee on Claims (including additions to reserve and specific claims) and chairs the Comprehensive Claims joint working group. In 2011, Jody was awarded a Minerva Foundation for BC Women alumni award and in 2012 a distinguished alumni award from the University of Victoria. Jody has travelled extensively to work on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and leadership issues, including to the Philippines, Taiwan and Israel.