Known as Si Sityaawks – (Woman who creates change) Jessica Wood is the second Policy Practitioner Fellow to join UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, having joined in June 2020. Jessica is from the Gitxsan and Tsimshian First Nations with extended roots among the Tahltan and Nisga’a Nations.
Currently serving as Assistant Deputy Minister for the Reconciliation Transformation and Strategies Division with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Province of British Columbia, Jessica is leading British Columbia’s cross-ministry work to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (The Declaration), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, and learnings from the relevant case law such as the Tsilhqot’in decision. As part of this transformation she has led, in collaboration with the First Nations Leadership Council, was the development of legislation to implement the UN Declaration in provincial law. The Declaration Legislation received Royal Assent in November of 2019, with unanimous support from all sides of the house, affirming the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples in what is now known as British Columbia. Currently, her Division is leading the development of the Provincial Action Plan to support implementation.
Jessica is an experienced community developer whose portfolios have focused on issues related to race relations, residential school, sexual health, sex work, Indigenous women and gendered violence. She was the first Indigenous woman in Canada whose work as a municipal social planner focused solely on the health and safety of sex workers and impacted communities, gendered and racialized violence, and the prevention of youth sexual exploitation.
She has previously held positions working on the Residential School Settlement Agreement and the National Film Board documentary Finding Dawn, a film about missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Jessica is a long-time organizer with the Vancouver DTES Women’s Memorial March Committee.