Speaker Bios

Senwung Luk

Associate, OKT

Senwung Luk is an associate at OKT. He has appeared in different levels of court, representing clients in Aboriginal and treaty rights litigation, as well as in negotiations and litigation arising from duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal communities.

Senwung received his J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School, where he won awards for highest standing in Aboriginal law, civil liberties, and constitutional law courses. He served as law clerk to Mr. Justice John Evans of the Federal Court of Appeal of Canada. Senwung also received a Bachelor of Civil Law from the University of Oxford, where he wrote a master’s dissertation on the constitutional protection of Aboriginal self-government rights.  Senwung did his undergraduate studies at Yale University, where he received a B.A. in Ethics, Politics, and Economics.

While in law school, Senwung took part in the Intensive Program on Aboriginal Lands, Resources, and Governments, where he was posted to Inuvik, N.W.T., to work with the self-government negotiating teams of the Gwich’in and the Inuvialuit. He was also a senior editor at the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, and a features editor of the Obiter Dicta student newspaper.

Senwung is a volunteer with the Ontario Justice Education Network, and an adjunct member of the faculty for the Global Professional LL.M. Program at the University of Toronto Law School.

Senwung is a member of the Ontario bar, and a member of the executive of the Aboriginal Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association.

Cathy Guirguis

Associate, OKT

Cathy joined OKT as an articling student. She assists with civil litigation and negotiations, and advises First Nations across Canada.  Cathy’s experience at OKT has included representing clients in various contexts from participation in environmental assessment reviews, to participation in provincial inquests about in-custody deaths.  She received her LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School, and she also has a Masters of Environmental Studies.

While at law school, Cathy was a senior editor of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal and she volunteered at Osgoode’s Community Legal Aid Services Program, and Downsview Legal Aid Clinic. She has also worked with the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER), working on projects dealing with the duty to consult and accommodate, and indigenous environmental laws.

Cathy is a member of the Ontario bar.

Raleigh Seamster

Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach

Raleigh helps nonprofits and indigenous communities use Google's tools to visualize their data, create their own maps and tell their stories. She has been at Google for 7 years. Before life at Google, Raleigh managed international exchange programs at the nonprofit American Councils for International Education in Washington, DC, taught English and trained teachers as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine and studied cultural anthropology at James Madison University in Virginia.

Christiaan Adams 

Developer Advocate, Google Earth Outreach

Christiaan is a Developer Advocate, GIS specialist, and KML designer with the Google Earth Outreach team, where he helps nonprofits to use Google's online mapping tools to tell their stories, visualize their data, and share their work work with the world. Christiaan focuses on working with Crisis Response and Conservation organizations. His background is in Environmental Engineering, Technology Policy, GIS and international development. When he's not playing with digital maps, Christiaan can be found mountain biking, hiking, or "fixing" things in his workshop.

Vanessa Schneider

Geo Media Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach

Vanessa coordinates media outreach efforts as a program manager for Google’s Geo organization. She works closely with media professionals around the world using Google Maps and Google Earth for research and storytelling. Previously, Vanessa worked at The New York Times, Time Inc., and at New York startup Hot Potato, acquired by Facebook in 2010. Vanessa earned bachelor's degrees in both Journalism and Culture and Communication from Ithaca College.

Ann Chen
Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow; Organizer, Public Lab

Ann Chen is a multimedia artist and researcher from New York. For the past year, she has been traveling across Alberta and British Columbia along the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline route, documenting the impact of energy development projects on northern communities and land through participatory mapping, sound, video and photography. She is a 2014-15 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow, a visiting research fellow at the University of Alberta in the English and Film Studies Department, and an active member and organizer with Public Lab, a citizen-science non-profit. In September 2015, she will be starting a Collaborative Productions Fellowship at UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art in Brooklyn, NY. She was a Critical Writing Fellow at Recess, NY, and a resident curator at Recess Analog. Her work has been exhibited at the Gallatin Galleries at New York University, the 92nd Street Y TriBeCa, and The New Museum's Festival of Ideas. She organizes artist residencies and site-specific projects under The Nomadic Department of the Interior (NDOI), a creative research group working at the intersection of science, art and geography. She completed her graduate studies at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and holds a BA with honors from Wesleyan University.

Brian Thom
Assistant Professor, University of Victoria

Brian Thom, Assistant Professor at University of Victoria, focuses his research on the political, social and cultural processes that have surrounded Coast Salish people's efforts to resolve aboriginal title and rights claims and establish self-government. He is interested in the interplay of culture, power and discourse in land claims negotiations, and in exploring the political and ontological challenges for indigenous people who engage institutions of the state. His work is keenly attenuated to developing practical policy outcomes from the insights gained from this research. His research is community-driven and politically engaged in matters of contemporary social significance.
Nicole Recollet
Geospatial Applications Specialist, Wahnapitae First Nation

Nicole Recollet is the Geospatial Applications Specialist for the Wahnapitae First Nation for the past seven years.  She is responsible for the maintenance and operation of our Geographic Information System (GIS). Our GIS provides strong geospatial analysis of projects and activities within in our territory and is the core of resource management for the Wahnapitae First Nation.  Nicole has a graduate certificate in Geospatial Applications from Sault College as well as a Civil Engineering Diploma from Cambrian College. Nicole also holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Algoma University.

Stefanie Recollet
Resource Development Analyst, Wahnapitae First Nation

Stefanie Recollet is the Resource Development Analyst for the Wahnapitae First Nation.  She monitors and assesses resource development occurring within the Wahnapitae First Nation territory.   Stefanie has been the lead on many of our Traditional Land Use and Occupancy Studies and has been intricately involved in the protection, collection and monitoring of our native values and native values mapping projects.  Stefanie, a proud member of WFN, is also responsible for policy research and development, leading historical and cultural research, community engagement, and to develop and implement Consultation Protocols with governments and industry.

Her background includes an honours degree in Law and Justice from Laurentian University and Social Services through Cambrian College. Stefanie enjoys learning about Anishinaabe culture and practices, and is currently a registered trapper and paddle instructor in Wahnapitae First Nation. She does cultural outreach work and has led canoe trips with the community's youth for the past 2 years. As an avid outdoors-woman she has a great respect for the land and understands that protection of Shkagamik-kwe is paramount, so she works with governments and industry to minimize environmental impacts from mineral exploration and project development in WFN Territories

Rod Whitlow
Policy Analyst, Chiefs of Ontario

Rod Whitlow (Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk), Six Nations of the Grand River) is presently a Policy Analyst with the Environment Unit at the Chiefs of Ontario Secretariat. Rod holds an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Guelph. Inspired by a cultural-based reverence and respect for the natural environment, for more than 25 years, Rod’s career path has been guided by numerous community elders, leaders, academic mentors and peers. He began his career at the local community level as a fisheries biologist for the Six Nations Council completing an aquatic habitat assessment and biological inventory of the community watershed. Rod then worked at the regional and national levels as a researcher for the Chiefs of Ontario and Assembly of First Nation as part of the EAGLE Project, which was a 7-year collaborative environmental health study involving First Nations communities within the Great Lakes basin. Rod also served as a regional project coordinator and program manager for Health Canada’s environmental contaminants program. Rod’s career continued in the field of environment as an instructor for the Earth Keepers Solid Waste Management training program at the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation.  More recently, Rod served as a dedicated public servant in the Aboriginal Affairs units of the federal Department and provincial Ministry of the Environment, advocating for indigenous socio-environmental equity and justice. 

Rachel Olson
Director, The Firelight Group

Rachel is a citizen of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation from the Yukon territory. She has been a researcher in First Nation communities since 1998, working on various projects, from oral history, traditional land use and natural resource management to First Nations health issues. She has a Master of Research in Social Anthropology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. In May 2013, Rachel completed a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Sussex, looking at the politics of midwifery care and childbirth in Manitoba First Nations communities.

Rachel has worked as a consultant for the LINKS (Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems) program at UNESCO in Paris, France and at the First Nations Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization on their maternal care file. She works closely with the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives (NACM) as a researcher and writer for their Aboriginal Health and Human Resource Initiative projects.

At Firelight, Rachel is a technical lead of the Traditional Knowledge and Use Study team. She has authored numerous Traditional Knowledge (TK) / Traditional Land Use (TLU) reports for First Nation communities in BC, Alberta, and the NWT. Her work has focused on knowledge and use in relation to a number of different industries including: pipelines, wind farms, and mining. She has also testified at environmental review board hearings on Firelight TUS methods, analysis, and assessment.

Steven DeRoy
Director, The Firelight Group

Steve is Anishinabe/Saulteaux and a member of the Ebb and Flow First Nation from Manitoba. He is a director and past president of the Firelight Group. Since 1998, Steve has worked as a professional cartographer and geographic information systems (GIS) specialist, primarily with Aboriginal groups in North America. Through his work, Steve has provided advisory and technical support for: the collection and protection of indigenous knowledge and cultural heritage; health and social issues; land use planning; treaty land entitlement; and natural resource management. The other aspect of his work is to promote the transfer of knowledge by facilitating hands-on technical training and mentorship with First Nation practitioners. He has facilitated workshops in communities and presented at numerous conferences. Aside from providing technical and analytical support, Steve is a moderator of the Open Forum on Participatory Geographic Information Systems and Technologies, a co-moderator of the Aboriginal Mapping Network, and a trainer of the Google Earth Outreach Trainers Network.