Our Speaker Lineup

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Here is a list of speakers that presented at the 2017 Changing Landscape, New Opportunities Conference:

Sally Aitken, PhD

Session: The Right Tree in the Right Place: Adapting to a Changing Climate
Time: February 24 at 8:30 AM

Sally Aitken is a professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences and director of the Centre for Forest Conservation Genetics at the University of British Columbia. She is project Llader of AdapTree and CoAdapTree, two large-scale applied research projects funded through Genome Canada using population genomic techniques to understand local adaptation to climate in conifers, and to better match trees with new climates through reforestation. Sally received her Bachelor of Science in Forestry from UBC and her MSc and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She received the Canadian Forestry Scientific Achievement Award in 2009 and the International Union of Forest Research Organization’s Scientific Achievement Award in 2014.

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Michael Armstrong, RPF, CPA, CA

ArmstrongSession: Round Table on the BC Forest Sector Competitiveness Agenda
Time: February 23 at 3:30 PM

Michael Armstrong, RPF, CPA, CA, has 25 years of experience working with forest companies, contractors, First Nations, and federal and provincial governments, primarily in BC, but also in the Yukon, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, the United States, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Michael joined COFI in September 2016 having come from KPMG where he has worked for the last five years in the forestry consulting group. Prior to that, Michael spent 15 years with PwC undertaking forest industry consulting and advisory work with a number of BC and Canadian clients. Michael has managed a range of issues and projects on behalf of the private sector, government, and First Nations. Recent projects include conducting sustainable forest management audits, greenhouse gas audits, biomass feasibility studies, buy / sell side due diligence for forest operations, bankruptcy mandates, as well as forest policy, research, and financial analytical work.

Michael is a Registered Professional Forester, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from UBC. During his university years, he worked at Canfor’s Eburne Sawmill and Englewood Logging Division, and then spent three years as an assistant fForester for the Mainland Logging Division. He is also a Chartered Professional Accountant and a member of the Canadian Institute of Forestry. As vice president, policy and operations, Michael is responsible for the overall coordination of COFI’s policy work. He works with COFI policy staff, the management committee, and the forestry committee to advance the key policy priorities for COFI with government.

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Chris Buse, MA, PhD (c)

Session: Cumulative Effects: How Do We Manage for Everything that Happens on the Land?
Time: February 23 at 10:45 AM

Chris Buse is the Project Lead for the Cumulative Impacts Research Consortium at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) — a research and outreach initiative at UNBC seeking to understand the cumulative environmental, community, and health impacts associated with resource development. He holds a Postdoctoral Fellowship through the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research and he is an adjunct professor with UNBC's School of Health Sciences. Chris received his PhD from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. As an integrative and transdisciplinary scholar, his research interests operate at the nexus of public health, community development, and ecology. These include adaptation to climate change, resource development impacts on rural and remote communities, energy and environmental justice, and cumulative impacts from multiple natural resource industries.

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Robert Dennis

Session: Forests as a Source of Economic Development: How First Nations are Building a Forest Industry
Time: February 23 at 9:30 AM

Robert J. Dennis Sr. is the chief Councillor for Huu-ay-aht First Nations, a modern treaty nation located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

In addition to holding this title for the current four-year term, as of 2015, he served as the Nations’ elected chief from 1995 to 2011. Robert also served six two-year terms as a councillor for Huu-ay-aht and three years as Huu-ay-aht’s band manager.

While chief, Robert spent 14 years as the chief negotiator for Huu-ay-ayt First Nation, from 1996 to 2011. Robert also served as the speaker for Tayii Ḥaw̓ił Spencer Peters. He also held the forestry portfolio for the nation and was responsible for ensuring sustainable forestry management within Huu-ay-aht territory, ensuring that meaningful consultation and accommodation was achieved, and developing business relationships with licensee holders in the territory. Robert was responsible for ensuring Huu-ayaht had Treaty Interim Measures Agreements with BC and Canada and they were fully implemented.

As the chief councilor, Robert ensured that forestry was one of the natural resources used to develop a strong Huu-ay-aht economy through the development of Huu-ay-aht economic strategy.

In addition to the years of service he offered his Nation, for eight years, Robert was the executive director, building coordinator, and program director for the Port Alberni Friendship Center.

Robert also worked as a director and shore worker for Central Native Fisherman’s Co-op for more than six years. He was, and still is, a logger and fisherman.

His current position as elected chief councillor makes it easy to celebrate the culture, but Robert truly believes in the importance of preserving this and his language. For that reason, Robert is passionate about sharing these aspects with Huu-ay-aht citizens and the outside world. The forest plays a huge role in Huu-ay-aht culture, traditions, and values.

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Bill Downing, RPF

Session: More Than 2x4s: New and Emerging Uses for Wood and Fibre-base Products
Time: February 24 at 9:45 AM

Bill Downing, RPF, is the president of Structurlam Products LP, in Penticton. Structurlam is an innovator in mass timber construction and Bill is its driving force. Bill began his career as a forester in the Kootenay region. Over the ensuing 25 years, Bill has run several companies and one industry association. Prior to joining Structurlam in 2007, Bill was CEO of BC Wood Specialties, an association of BC’s secondary, or value-added wood product firms. Bill has a forestry degree from the University of British Columbia and an MBA from the University of Washington.

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Lynn Embury-Williams RPF, MBA

Session: More Than 2x4s: New and Emerging Uses for Wood and Fibre-base Products
Time: February 24 at 9:45 AM

Lynn Embury-Williams, RPF, MBA, is currently the executive director for Wood WORKS! BC and joined the program in 2014.

Previously the director of marketing and business development at Canfor, Lynn has brought a wealth of experience and expertise in the areas of marketing and business development to Wood WORKS! BC. Over more than two decades of working at Canfor, she was instrumental in helping the company quadruple its size to become the largest SPF producer in the world.

For six years, until the end of the program, Lynn chaired the NEW BuildS NSERC Forestry Network Program, whose primary goal was to advance scientific knowledge and construction technologies that will enable wood-based products to be used in mid-rise and non-residential construction.

Lynn was a forester in the East Kootenays during the 1980’s. During that time she managed the largest private land holding in forests in BC.

Lynn is a registered professional forester in BC and has an MBA from the University of Western Ontario.

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Delbert Ferguson, PGeo, EngL, FGAC

Session: Road Construction on Steep Terrain
Time: February 24 at 9:45 AM

Del has over 38 years of experience in the natural resources sector, with the last 22 being focused in the environmental segment of the forest industry. He is a professional geoscientist registered with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia. He obtained his Honours Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of Western Ontario and also holds a Diploma in Forest Engineering from the University of British Columbia and is a Fellow of the Geological Association of Canada (FGAC).

Del currently manages Aztec Geoscience Inc., a geoscience firm based in Comox. He is regularly engaged in terrain stability hazard and risk assessments and soil erosion potential evaluations for the natural resources sector, with primary focus on forestry roads.

He got his start in the forest industry with Western Timber in Nakusp as a road construction, maintenance, and deactivation field supervisor. At the same time he was responsible for on-site quality control for right-of-way wood, having obtained his Interior log-scaling accreditation from Selkirk College.

Del is also a consultant forest industry environmental auditor focusing on forestry road construction, maintenance, and deactivation operations for compliance and performance to certification standards (ISO14001 EMS and SFISM). He has been assisting forestry clients in this manner since 1997.

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Jason Fisher, RPF

Session: Round Table on the BC Forest Sector Competitiveness Agenda
Time: February 23 at 3:30 PM

Jason Fisher, RPF, is Associate Deputy Minister, Forest Sector, of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Prior to that he was an associate with DLA Piper (Canada) LLP, vice president of Dunkley Lumber Ltd. and a judicial law clerk for the British Columbia Court of Appeal. Active in his community, Jason is the past chair of the Board of Governors for the College of New Caledonia and past chair (Provincial Steering Committee) of WoodWORKS! BC. He is a Registered Professional Forester and received a Bachelor of Law from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Science (Forestry) from the University of Northern British Columbia.

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Brian Frenkel

Session: Illuminating the Forest Sector: Why Public Engagement Matters
Time: February 23 at 9:30 AM

Born and raised in Prince George, BC, Brian received his Forestry Diploma at the College of New Caledonia in 1980 before settling down in Vanderhoof with his wife Nadine. Brian has his finger on the municipal pulse – not only has he served on the District of Vanderhoof Council for 15 years, he has also served on the board of directors of the North Central Local Government Association for seven years and on the board of directors of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities for the past three years. Brian is involved in a variety of volunteer positions, such as chair of the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative, and he is a founding member of the Nechako Environment and Water Stewardship Society. Brian has participated in the Prince George timber supply area cell allocation process, the Vanderhoof Land and Resource Plan, and the Vanderhoof Sustainable Forest Management Plan.

As director of Avison Management, he brings over 34 years of progressive forestry and business expertise to the table, leveraging that experience to provide sustainable business practices.

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Shawn Hedges, RPF

Session: Using Research and Science to Shape Future Forests
Time: February 22 at 6:15 PM

Shawn Hedges, RPF, has a diploma in engineering from Seneca College in Ontario, a Bachelor of Science degree in forest management from the University of British Columbia, and 30 years of experience in the forest sector.

Shawn’s forestry career in BC began with summer employment positions with Weyerhauser in Vavenby and later with MacMillan Bloedel based in Menzies Bay on Vancouver Island. In 1991, he was hired on with the Ministry of Forests in Bella Coola as an engineering assistant and subsequently worked as the small business forester in both the mid and north coast forest districts. In 2001, Shawn joined the Forest Enterprise Branch, the precursor of BC Timber Sales headquarters, and shortly thereafter began helping to design and implement forest policies, legislation, regulation, and organizational structure that would transform the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program into what it is today — BC Timber Sales — with a staff of approximately 580 people and an annual allowable cut (AAC) of 12.5M m3/yr.

Shawn is currently the director, sustainability and forestry for BC Timber Sales. The position functions as the program’s Chief Forester and is responsible for sustainable forest management, policy and legislation, partnerships, seedling services and change management.

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Jay Ingram, CM, BSc, MSc

Session: Truth, An Inconvenience (Keynote)
Time: February 23 at 8:00 AM

Science broadcaster and writer Jay Ingram was co-host of Discovery Channel's science show Daily Planet for 16 years. Jay joined Discovery in 1994 and was instrumental in helping shape the program format.

From 1979 to 1992, Jay hosted CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks and earned two ACTRA Awards, one for Best Host. In 1992 and 1993, Jay hosted two CBC Radio series: Cranial Pursuits, a series “by, for and about the brain”, and The Talk Show, a series about language that won a Science in Society Journalism Award.
Since 2005 Jay has been chair of the Science Communications Program at the Banff Centre, a unique undertaking to promote creative science writing, broadcasting and social media. He is also co-founder of Beakerhead, an arts and engineering happening which began in 2013 in Calgary, Alberta.

In 1984, Jay was awarded the Sandford Fleming Medal from the Royal Canadian Institute for his efforts to popularize science, and he also earned the Royal Society of Canada’s McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science in 1997. In 2000, Jay was awarded a Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Alberta, and has received five honorary doctorates. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2009 he was named to The Order of Canada.

Jay has written thirteen books, three of which have won Canadian Science Writers' Awards and almost all of which have been on the bestseller list. They have been translated into 14 languages. He is the 2015 recipient of the Walter C. Alvarez award for medical writing given by the American Medical Writers Association.

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Shannon Janzen, RPF

Session: Using Research and Science to Shape Future Forests
Time: February 22 at 6:15 PM

Shannon Janzen, RPF, studied forestry at UNBC in Prince George, during which time she held a forestry summer job in Revelstoke and spent two summers in Port Alberni. Shannon’s first fulltime forestry position was based in Hazelton with a small consulting firm managing silviculture contracts for Skeena Cellulose.

Her career with Western Forest Products started in 1999 when she moved to Holberg as an assistant forester in the planning department. Five years later she moved to Campbell River, where she ventured into the Central Coast land use planning process as the ecosystem-based management implementation manager, working as a consultant, on behalf of the five forest companies operating in the region. 

In 2009, Shannon came back to Western as a land use forester, and then manager of strategic planning where she established joint ventures and First Nations business partnerships for the company. In 2013, Shannon became the chief forester of Western Forest Products and is now also a vice president for the company. She is a member of the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council and sits on the Minister of Forest’s Practices Advisory Council. Shannon currently lives in Ladysmith, BC.

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Rick Jeffery, RPF

JefferySession: Round Table on the BC Forest Sector Competitiveness Agenda
Time: February 23 at 3:30 PM

Rick Jeffery, RPF, has 30 years’ experience in the coast forestry sector of British Columbia. President and CEO of Coast Forest Products Association since 2004, Rick represents the interests of forestry companies operating on the BC coast, ensuring they have fair access to the global marketplace and are supported by government policy. With a focus on strategy, negotiation, policy, and stakeholder relations, Rick works on behalf of the industry collaborating with elected officials, senior bureaucrats, First Nations Peoples, environmental groups, communities, and others.

Rick is also the current president and chair of the Canada Wood Group, a national trade association representing wood products associations across Canada. He is a Registered Professional Forester and holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Alberta.

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Eric Karsh, MEng, PEng, Struct Eng, MIStructE, Ing

KarshSession: More Than 2x4s: New and Emerging Uses for Wood and Fibre-base Products
Time: February 24 at 9:45 AM

Eric is a founding partner of Equilibrium Consulting, a structural engineering firm recognized internationally as a leader in the field of timber engineering. Eric is also co-owner of BC Passive House, a prefabrication company specialized in high performance panelized building systems, and a director of Design Build Research, a not for profit institute teaching the design and construction of socially, culturally and environmentally relevant student lead installations.

In 2012, Eric co-authored the report Case for Tall Wood with architect Michael Green, featured by the Economist, CNN, and National Geographic. His recent projects include the UBC Earth Sciences Building in Vancouver, and the recently completed Wood Design Innovation Centre in Prince George. Eric is currently working on the new Peavy and AWP buildings at OSU’s School of Forestry in Corvallis, Oregon.

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Garth Lord, PEng

Session: Road Construction on Steep Terrain
Time: February 24 at 9:45 AM

Garth Lord has over 35 years of experience within the natural resource sector; employed by major licensees and as a consulting engineer. His experience includes 19 years of contract auditing work with the BC Forest Practices Board as lead auditor, roads and structures, as well as being involved in various special projects and investigations. Garth has been on staff with the BC Forest Practices Board as a manager of audits and investigations since 2013. He is a professional engineer registered with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia; graduating from the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Science.

Garth’s forestry career started with MacMillan Bloedel’s Franklin River operations in the early 1980’s in the Carmanah/Walbran Valleys and after 15 years of coastal operations located to Salmon Arm 20 years ago.

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Renel Mitchell

MitchellSession: First Nations Perspective on Land Use Planning
Time: February 23 at 10:45 AM

Renel Mitchell has been working for Tl'azt'en Nation since 1998. She was lead researcher for the Tl'azt'en Nation Traditional Land Use Study (1998-2000) and manages the Tl'azt'en Nation Cultural Archives which contains all cultural material, such as Elders interviews, photographs, audio and video recordings of interviews and cultural activities, transcripts, databases, and research and archival material. She has finalized Neyun Hawuts'inli – Taking Care of Our Land, the Tl'azt'enne Cultural History and Place Names Atlas. In addition, the Tl'azt'en Nation Natural Resource Department is working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and local licensees to implement the Tl'azt'en Nation Land Use Plan Management Objectives, which identifies key management objectives for Tl'azt'en Nations Aboriginal interests and rights.

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Diane Nicholls, RPF

NichollsSession: Using Research and Science to Shape Future Forests
Time: February 22 at 6:15 PM

Diane Nicholls is the assistant deputy minister, chief forester for the province of BC in the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. She is a registered professional forester who has a depth and breadth of experience in most major facets of forest management, stemming from over a 25 year career in forestry.

Diane’s extensive and varied career started in the field as a forest technician from the BC Institute of Technology (BCIT). She quickly went on and completed her Bachelor of Science in Forestry, starting at the University of Alberta and completing at the University of British Columbia (UBC), then went on to attain her RPF.

Diane spent two thirds of her career in the private sector before joining the public sector. Over the past 10 years, Diane has held senior positions in the BC Government where she has brought her diverse experience in forestry to the challenges of designing policy, legislation, and operations. This combination has given Diane a strong understanding of the many facets of the forest sector.

Diane is looking forward to the challenges ahead and is committed to working towards solutions for those challenges.

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Jennifer Psyllakis, PhD

PsyllakisSession: Cumulative Effects: How Do We Manage for Everything that Happens on the Land?
Time: February 23 at 10:45 AM

Jennifer Psyllakis, PhD, has lived in BC for most of her life – from her earliest roots in Kitimat and Victoria, to Kamloops, Prince George, and a few places in between. While studying in Quebec and Saskatchewan, the importance of the landscapes of BC were reinforced to her. She came back to Prince George where she completed her PhD at the University of Northern BC in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Studies. She started working for the BC Government in Victoria in 2006. Over the last 10 years she has played various roles, including program and policy leadership for habitat designations made under the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Environmental Mitigation Policy, respectively. Most recently, Jen has played a significant role in the Cumulative Effects Framework Initiative. The framework enables the consideration of cumulative effects information in natural resource decision-making and coordinated governance across the sector to help avoid unintended consequences to identified economic, social and environmental values.

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Jeremy Shelford, JD, RPF

ShelfordSession: Forests as a Source of Economic Development: How First Nations are Building a Forest Industry
Time: February 23 at 9:30 AM

Jeremy Shelford, RPF, joined Ratcliff & Company’s team of business lawyers in 2012, after starting his law career in 2007 at a national law firm in downtown Vancouver where he worked in the business and securities law area. Jeremy worked throughout BC as a forest engineer prior to entering law school.

Jeremy primarily works with First Nation clients and his practice focus includes natural resource, aboriginal, corporate, commercial, and contract law. Jeremy brings forest industry and aboriginal law experience to complement his business law practice. Jeremy regularly assists his clients on transactional matters (buying/selling businesses, corporate restructuring) and the planning and implementation of business strategies. As part of his work with FNs, Jeremy helps his clients create customized corporate and governance structures to suit their particular business goals.

Jeremy also acts as general counsel to FNs throughout BC, including on Crown referral/consultation and accommodation matters, and is supported on aboriginal rights and title issues by Ratcliff’s team of aboriginal law litigators.

Jeremy is the father of twins and spends any remaining free time doing outdoor sports, including camping, backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, and fly-fishing.

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