Indigenous Elders

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc

Evelyn Camille

Gus Gottfriedson

Jo-Anne Gottfriedson » Jo-anne's Bio

Jo-anne's Bio

Jo-anne Gottfriedson

Weytk ren skwest es Kiye’y7e Qwisp Nu’xwenxw ell

I am extremely proud to be Tk’emlu’psemc. I am a proud mother of two daughters, and a grandmother of five grandsons and a beautiful granddaughter; I also have many adopted children, grandchildren from various nations across the country and U.S. I am married to Reverend James Isbister from the Cree Nation, Ahtahakakoop Sandy Lake, Saskatchewan.

Formally educated at Simon Fraser University (BGS and Post Baccalaureate Programs graduate), Certified Provincial Adult Instructor/Teacher- I am a member in good standing with the BC College of Teachers-BC Adult Instructor Certified, Language Proficiency Diploma SFU.

I credit my ‘traditional’ education to the persistence and commitment of my parents, grandparents and various other elders/teachers that I have met along my journey. My accomplishment and work are testimony to my belief that formal education compliments ‘traditional’ education, and that the traditions, beliefs, teaching and language of our ancestors is just as, or more important than any other education First nations can achieve.

I believe in the traditional approach to teaching, which is holistic, and combines both traditional and modern approaches to passing on the language and culture. My commitment and respect for my culture and traditions is of the utmost importance in all aspects of my life, and I am proud of my family support and commitment to maintaining this along with me; as I not only teach it, but live it with my family, community and nation.

I am a retired Teacher and I instructed the Secwepemc language and culture at the Sk’elep School of Excellence for five years, where I taught over 300 students as well as a staff of 22. In addition, I also was a part time faculty member at the Nicola Valley Technology Institute in Merritt British Columbia; I was also a contract Instructor for Aboriginal Tourism BC. I was enrolled in the (SFU) Masters Program, as I recognize the need to continually build upon and enhance my skills and knowledge that will assist me in my mission and dream, to continually pass on the language, culture and wellness of my people. In addition, I feel strongly that we must ensure that all future generations have access to the knowledge, healing, traditions and language of our ancestors. I believe that language and culture is not stagnant, that we need to continue to learn, adapt and evolve in our approaches to teaching, and learning, so that we will keep our culture and language alive; this is my calling and passion!

For the past 11 years I was the Day Scholar Coordinator of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc and I was the Executive Chair of the Day Scholar Certified Class Action for Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, Sechelt First Nation and James Cree. Over the past 10 years- I have been fully responsible for the overall organization, budgets, planning, negotiations, administration and delivery of our day scholar file and coordination of Day Scholar Certified Class Action. My role is to manage and coordinate the goals and objectives of our Litigation Process and Executive. I am a advocate and a firm believer of my cultural ways and to ensure that our Indigenous people obtain the justice and wellness that we so deserve.

Diena Jules » Diena's Bio

Diena's Bio

Diena Jules


I am Diena Jules and am a member of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc. The traditional names that I have been given over my lifetime are: Sundance Pipe Woman, Yellow Flower Woman, and Black Wolf Woman. I am proud to say that I have two daughters and five grandchildren.


  • Late Clarence Jules (former Chief and Band Councilor for many decades), Canadian Governor General award, 2009-Cowboy Hall of Fame
  • Mary Delores Jules, nee Casimir, founder Kamloopa Pow-Wow, Silver Jubilee Award Recipient

Siblings: Manny, Jeanette, Felicity, Freda and Raymond Jules. Deceased: John, Cindy and Geraldine Jules.

Paternal grandparents:

  • Late Joe Jules (1885-1962), former KIB band councillor for many decades, fluent in several FN languages, farmer, horse logger, storyteller, hunter, fisher
  • Late Agnes Jules, nee Duncan, (1900-1967), herbalist, fluent in several FN languages, basket maker, horticulturalist

Maternal grandparents:

  • Late Thomas Casimir (1907-1968), former KIB band councilor, spoke Secwepemcstin, farmer, horse logger, trapper, hunter, fisher
  • Late Sadie (Felicity) Casimir (1907-1959), nee Leonard, farmer, spoke Secwepemcstin, hunter, trapper, taught traditional Secwepemc songs and dances

I was raised up in the mountains while my dad was a horse logger. We later moved onto the reserve and I attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School as a day scholar until I was in Grade 6. All Indigenous children were integrated into the public school system in 1967. In 1971, I lived at the KIRS for one year. I consider these years as the dark ages of my life.

As a teenager, I was a member of the Paul Creek Tribal Dancers and we performed our traditional songs and dances across BC and Alberta and, in 1975, we went as far as Quebec. I was a traditional dancer at pow wows primarily in BC.

In my younger years, most of my employment was with my band as a labourer, lifeguard, librarian, welfare financial officer and welfare department coordinator, home school coordinator and cultural and educational researcher. With my determination to improve the quality of life for my daughter and I, I decided to enroll in the NITEP at UBC where I graduated with my BEd and went on to to compete my MA at UBC. My thesis was: Traditional Ways Shuswap People Identified and Nurtured Gifted and Talented Girls.

While completing my graduate degree at UBC, I worked as a librarian, educational researcher and did a contract as a Native Indian Teacher Education Program instructor. After I returned to Kamloops I worked as at Sk’elep Elementary School teacher as a primary school teacher, then from 2004 until 2017 I was the Education Department Manager.

After I retired, I moved to northern Ontario and, after 18 months, I returned to my home community and family and began a term position in the natural resource department and worked part time in the cultural heritage study and genealogy research project. In July in began to work as the administrator of the SMHP.

I try to be a good role model in healthy living, I bike, ride and walk daily, I pray to the Creator for the health, safety and protection of our land, water, animals and ice, I live my values of showing respect and caring to all living things, but most of all, I take time to show my loved ones, especially my grandchildren, how much I love and value them. It is everyone's responsibility to be the change we wish to make in the world.

Sunny Leonard

Charlotte Manuel

Colleen Seymour » Colleen's Bio

Colleen's Bio

Colleen Seymour was born March 7, 1963, to Loretta and Daniel Seymour. Colleen’s journey thus far has been about relaying the importance of education and that all activities such as sports for instance, are not limited in their enjoyment by the confines of gender. Colleen grew up playing hockey, broomball, football and softball. Colleen’s schooling began at Paul Creek Hall Nursery and Kindergarten. This place of learning was one of the first of its kind in Canada. She then attended Alan Matthews and Lloyd George Elementary School. She moved through John Peterson and Kamloops High schools with a strong foundation of Secwepemc ways of knowing, being, and doing from her parents. A point which she recognized was absent during these formative years in the Provincial School System.

Her educational journey has spanned her life to date. It continued with her entrance into Post-Secondary education, which began at the Okanagan College in Kelowna. Two years later she moved to University of British Columbia. She completed her Bachelor of Education Degree, through the Native Indian Teacher Education Program (NITEP) It was there she was honored by being named one of the Valedictorians for her graduating class. Upon returning home to Kamloops she started teaching at the Native Adult Basic Education Program (NABE) Later she worked at the Chief Atahm Secwepemc Immersion Program where she taught English. After her time ended there she joined the Nlaka’pamux peoples in the Stein Valley in Lytton, BC where she also taught English to grades four and five. She was later called home to Sk’elep School, to teach grades three to six. Various subjects ranging from Language Arts, Science, Math, Physical Education, Art and Social Studies were taught. It was in these settings, that she saw the opportunity to nurture confluence with Secwepemc Knowledge’s and relationships to the land and water.

In 2000 she honored herself through taking time to grieve the passing of her father Daniel. She returned to community service as a Family Support Worker. The highlights of this posting was creating a Woman’s Support Group and a Youth Support Group. After Colleen returned to teach grades two to six at Sk’elep School Of Excellence which is now operated under Tk’emlu’ps te Secwe’pemc First Nation. In 2011 she took medical leave and at present is on long-term disability. This diagnosis however was experienced as a blessing. A blessing in that she had the opportunity to honor and care for her Mother Loretta, who passed away in 2019. Coupled with the sacred and prayerful space she invites all people to her home in Cold Creek that hosts various ceremonies throughout the years, and has marked her in numerous communities across Turtle Island as a highly regarded and respected Secwepemc Woman. She generously offers people to nurture themselves and help grow as they come to walk with her for a season or more, and when they sometimes return. She carried the Sacred Staff for Water and the Missing and Murdered Indigeneous Women, Girls, Boys and Men as directed by the Secwpemc Women’s Knowledge Keepers whose wise Council is comprised by it youngest member being 72 years old, through to the Eldest being her Mother at 85 years of age. Her core message is to be lighted and to be enlightened. Colleen regards this new path with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council Language Revitalization program as achieving one of her dreams to be empowered with Secwepemctsi’n and writing skills to aid her in Welcoming and Hosting Ceremonies to the Secwepemcu’l’ecw — our language is inherently Spiritual.

Presently Colleen is Secretary for the Board of Directors at Kamloops Native Housing Society. She is also co-leading an Indigenous Health Nursing Research Program. Providing guidance and direction as a Knowledge Guardian in relation to Health Care Service Delivery for Indigenous Health Care Providers. A five year grant funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research — Institute Indigenous Peoples Health.

Dolly Thomas

Leona (Doe) Thomas » Leona's Bio

Leona's Bio

Leona (Doe) Thomas

Leona (Doe) Thomas is a member of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc (TteS) band.

She is a mother, and grandmother. She has been retired for several years working with Alberta First Nations with developing, implementing and reporting on health programs.

She is currently an elder with the Kamloops First Nations court and generally enjoying retirement.

Williams Lake

Cecilia Derose

Other Nations

Mike Arnouse (“Sexqeltqin” Adams Lake Band) » Mike's Bio

Mike's Bio

Mike Arnouse

Mike Arnouse is from the Adams Lake community. He has been an Elder on campus of TRU for over 20 years.

He is a helper who believes in learning from one another. He appreciates the opportunities to meet and talk with students, staff, and faculty, as we all can learn from each other. He shares his knowledge freely. He makes note that knowledge has been hidden from our people for so long, though. Everything that we learn, and share is for the future generations — to learn about the medicines, animals, stories. The colonization of our culture and the copyrights to knowledge systems are a hindrance that carries knowledge of the history of Secwépemc’ulucw.

Indigenization and de-colonization of the Secwepemc culture. Knowledge is best passed through relationship and talking to one another. Mike invites people to sit and talk with him anytime that he is one campus. Have tea and chat. Be yourself and have a heart to heart. Build relationship and friendship and family.

Chief Atahm, from Sexqeltqin — he would be center of most of us in the valley — half Kamloops and Neskonlith, Adams Lake, Little Shuswap, Salmon arm — Okanagan Shuswap confederacy — during Atahm’s time, allegiance, and peace by marriage.

Oliver Arnouse (Little Shuswap Band)

Joanne Brown (Cheslatta/Dakelh) » Joanne's Bio

Joanne’s Bio

Joanne Brown

Joanne Brown is a member of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation, L’silu clan, born and raised in her home territory near Burns Lake, British Columbia. She moved to Secwépecmc’ulucw from Prince George in 1996. Joanne’s previous work with Employment and Immigration Canada, as well as her studies in geography and anthropology (TRU) made a natural fit with an occupation in Indigenous post‑secondary education. She is grateful for her amazing community, especially working with neighbours and friends. Joanne strives to make sure that everyone is welcomed and ensures they feel special in a way that is unique and unforgettable. In her free time Joanne kayaks, gardens, cooks, and loves spending time with her precious friends and family.

Sandi Hendry (Métis) » Sandi's Bio

Sandi's Bio

Sandi Hendry

Please join us in welcoming Métis Elder Sandi Hendry to TRU in the Elder in the House Program. Sandi is a Métis Elder at Two Rivers Métis Society in Kamloops, and provided cultural support to Métis youth with Métis Nation BC at TRU gatherings in the past year. She is very familiar with TRU, as a former staff member in Print Services for many years. We are happy to have her join our community here at TRU.

Doreen Kenoras (“Sexqeltqin” Adams Lake Band)

Bella Morris (Inuit) » Bella's Bio

Bella’s Bio

My name is Bella Morris, and my Indigenous identity is Inuk (Inuit). I was born and raised in the small community of Iklavik in the Inuvik Region of the Northwest Territories. As a child, I attended a Catholic Residential school until Grade 9. After I moved away from the North, my family and I lived on Vancouver Island for 20 years where I owned and operated a successful butcher business for 15 years. During the evenings, I attended Malaspina College working towards a teaching degree. I also attended UBC where I completed my degree in education.

My family and I then moved to Kamloops to start my career with School District 73, serving as the First Nations Coordinator and teacher for 16 years. In 2008, after a year-long battle with cancer and dealing with long-term recovery, I decided to take an early retirement. Since my retirement, I have spent several years volunteering in different schools teaching traditional games, history, and the RCMP Justice Program/ Aboriginal Justice Circle. I love my community, my culture, and the many wonderful friendships I’ve formed over the years with the people living within the beautiful Secwépemc Territory.

Thank you,
Bella Morris

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