Speaker Bios


Terry Tobias

President, Tobias and Associates

Terry is President of Tobias and Associates a small consultancy that specializes in use-and- occupancy research. He has helped design dozens of First Nation, Métis and Inuit research projects in most provinces and territories in Canada, and assisted aboriginal nations with the introduction of use- and-occupancy mapping in Australia. He has 33 years of full-time experience doing mapping, traditional ecological knowledge research, quantitative bush-harvest surveys and a variety of other applied cultural research. Virtually all his work has been with indigenous communities. During the 1990s Terry concentrated on delivering a variety of workshops aimed at transferring research capacity to communities. Since 2000 much of his professional energies have been focused on developing instructional material for aboriginal community- based research, starting with Chief Kerry’s Moose, A Guidebook to Land Use and Occupancy Mapping (2000). The popularity of the guidebook, which quickly went to a second printing and was translated into Cantonese and Spanish, led to requests for a much more detailed treatment of the discipline. Terry then devoted five full-time working years to the non-profit, 468-page sequel to the guidebook, Living Proof, The Essential Data-Collection Guide for Indigenous Use-and-Occupancy Map Surveys (2009) that is published jointly by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Ecotrust Canada. Living Proof won the Alcuin Society award for the best-designed reference book in Canada, and has been translated into Inuktitut. The book is a full methods text that explains how to put the general advice found in Chief Kerry’s Moose into practice. It is a synthesis of best practices based on interviews with 110 practitioners representing over 1,000 years of experience with use-and-occupancy mapping. The book reflect’s Terry’s commitment to excellence. His bottom-line proposition: all applied cultural research must respect the fundamentals of science so that the final information products have credibility with even the most unfriendly of audiences.

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.

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.

Ginger Gibson

Director and President, The Firelight Group 

Dr. Ginger Gibson is the President and Director of the Firelight Group Research Cooperative. She works as a negotiator and implementation coordinator for First Nations on land use and mining issues. Her research is on impact assessment, negotiation and implementation of Impact and Benefit Agreements. She is the co-author of The Community Toolkit for Negotiation of Impact and Benefit Agreements. As a Trudeau Scholar, she completed a PhD in Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia and is now an Adjunct Professor there.



Chief Grand Stewart Phillip

President, UBCIC

In October 2008, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip concluded his fourth consecutive term as Chief of the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) after having served the Band as Chief for a total of 14 years. In addition, he served as an elected Band Councilor for a 10 year period and continues to serve as the Chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance. 

In October 2006, the Okanagan Nation, led by the Elders of the Penticton Indian Band, acknowledged his lifetime commitment to the defense of Indigenous Peoples' Title and Rights by bestowing on him and his family the rare honour of the title of Grand Chief. 

Over 37 years, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip has worked within the Penticton Indian Band Administration holding a variety of positions such as, Band Administrator, Director of Land Management, Education Counselor, Economic Development Officer and Band Planner. 

Aside from serving as a member of the PIB council for a total of 24 years, he is proud to be in his fifth three-year term as the President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. 

He has taken an active role in the defense of Aboriginal Title and Rights by readily offering support to Native communities in need. He has taken a personal approach seeing first-hand the impact of fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago, lobbying on Parliament Hill to defeat the First Nations Governance Act, standing with Elders of Treaty 8 against oil and gas development in the Peace River, burning referendum ballots with fellow chiefs in protest and has stood on the steps of the Legislature with 3000 other people united under the Title and Rights Alliance banner.

John Bailey

Program Manager, Google GeoEDU

Until last year John Bailey was a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He has a MPhys in Physics and Space Science from the University of Kent at Canterbury, and MS & PhD in Volcanology & Remote Sensing from the University of Hawaii, where his research focused on understanding the evolution of volcanic landscapes using satellite data. The release of Google Earth (in 2005), had a huge impact on his career path as it was the perfect tool for geomorphology studies. At that time John was postdoc at the Alaska Volcano Observatory and was able to the develop ongoing collaborations with the Google Geo and Education teams, that ultimately led him to him joining Googler as the newest member of the Earth Outreach team last February.

Tanya Birch

Program Manager, Google Earth Outreach 

Tanya Birch is a Program Manager at Google Earth Outreach. With an academic background in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, she has been part of Google Earth Outreach for 5 years and at Google for 9 years. Prior to Google, she researched human elephant conflict in Sri Lanka with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society. At Google, she's applied her experience working with mapping for the non-profit sector to helping public benefit organizations learn to use Google's powerful mapping tools and Android mobile technology to further their missions.

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.

Brian Thom

Assistant Professor, University of Victoria

Brian Thom, Assistant Professor at University of Victory, 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.

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