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Board

West Coast Environmental Law is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.  Board members are appointed at our Annual General Meeting each September.  West Coast's current board members are:

 

Sarah Khan
Barrister & Solicitor, BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre
On board since September 2010
Association and EDRF Society Boards

Sarah is a staff lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre, where she develops and litigates constitutional, administrative law and human rights cases mainly in the areas of income assistance, disability benefits, low-wage workers’ rights, employment standards, and residential tenancy. Sarah recently spent three years practising civil litigation with Henshall Scouten, a law firm in Vancouver.  

She has been a regular guest lecturer and presenter at the University of BC and University of Victoria faculties of law, and at Legal Services Society and Law Foundation of BC advocates training conferences. She received her law degree from the University of Victoria, and was called to the bar in 1999.


 

Lisa Matthaus
Provincial Lead, Organizing for Change
On board since September 2010
Research Foundation Board

Lisa joined OFC in April 2009.  Prior to this she was with Sierra Club BC for more than ten years, starting as a Forest Policy Analyst and ultimately becoming Campaigns Director overseeing the strategic development and implementation of all conservation campaigns.  She has played lead roles in several high profile BC campaigns including forest policy reforms, negotiating Forest Stewardship Council standards for BC and climate initiatives such as BC’s ground-breaking carbon tax.  She was also one of the primary leaders on the Great Bear Rainforest campaign for which she received a Wilburforce Foundation award for Outstanding Conservation Leadership (2006).  She gained extensive experience with media and government in these roles and earned a strong reputation for constructive collaboration with her ENGO allies.

Lisa has a Masters degree in Environmental and Resource Economics from University College London (London, UK, 1995) and an undergraduate degree in commerce/finance (McGill).  She spent seven years working as an investment banking credit analyst in Toronto and London before joining SCBC in 1998.  She was raised in a resource-based community in coastal BC and now lives in Victoria.


 

Nancy McHarg
Vice President, Jim Hoggan & Associates
On board since September 2008
Research Foundation, Association and EDRF Society Boards

Nancy McHarg is Vice President, Strategic Counsel at Hoggan and Associates, a leading Canadian public relations agency (www.hoggan.com) on environment and sustainability. Nancy provides strategic communications counsel to a variety of BC-based and national organizations. Nancy is actively involved in Hoggan’s sustainability practice and has led the firm’s landmark research initiatives in 2006 and 2009 that explored Canadians’ understanding and attitudes toward sustainability. Over the years, Nancy has worked on a variety of environment-related communications issues working with both corporate and ENGO interests. As a volunteer, Nancy has served on the Board of Directors of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and the executive of the Parent Advisory Council and School Planning Council of her children’s school.


 

Lorene Oikawa
Assistant Supervisor, Province of British Columbia
On board since September 2008
Research Foundation Board

Prior to her work with the provincial government, Lorene served three terms (2005-2014) as an Executive Vice President for the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU).

Lorene is an activist who speaks and writes on a range of topics including women in leadership, human rights, migrant workers, food security, social media, and labour history. 

She is the founder of the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance in BC. She is also a director on the board of the Canadian Labour International Film Festival and the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association.

Lorene has a BA (UBC) and is a strong advocate of life-long learning. She was part of a multi-union design team that created a climate change workshop for union educators across Canada.

Lorene is a fourth generation British Columbian whose family migrated from Japan in the 1800’s and 1906. Her family’s roots are close to environmental issues from food security to protection of fish habitat (T Buck Suzuki).


 

Richard Overstall
Barrister & Solicitor, Buri, Overstall, Smithers
On board from September 2009
Research Foundation Board
 
Richard Overstall practices in Smithers, British Columbia with a particular interest in land-use, environmental and aboriginal law.
 
He received an undergraduate degree in geology and worked for a decade as a mineral exploration geologist in Ireland and western Canada.  In the mid-1980s, Richard began work with the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en peoples, including coordination of the scientific evidence in the Delgamuukw trial, and advice on the subsequent settlement and treaty negotiations, particularly in the areas of forest and land use.  He also helped design a restorative justice program based on indigenous law and practices, as well as education and training programs in fisheries, wildlife surveys and forest ecology.
 
Richard obtained his law degree from the University of Victoria in 2000.  His general practice has included litigation and policy advice on pesticide judicial reviews, contaminated sites, aboriginal fishing rights, land-use plans, forest-use practices, and establishing a public-private land-use plan monitoring trust.
He has published peer-reviewed articles on the use and misuse of DNA evidence in criminal trials, the use of the trust as a legal device to reconcile indigenous and western legal orders, and the concept of property in indigenous law as it relates to land and to so-called cultural property.  He is currently investigating the close similarity between the legal orders extant in Northwest Europe in the first millennium AD and those on the Northwest Coast of America in the second millennium AD.

 

Christine Scotnicki
On board since September 2012
Research Foundation Board

Christine Scotnicki grew up in Edmonton and obtained her BA from the University of Alberta in 1983.  She has practiced law in the interests of Indigenous peoples since attending the University of Victoria law school and being called to the bar in 1989.  She resides in Victoria, B.C. 

After  several years working with a downtown Vancouver firm providing general legal services primarily to Bands, Tribal Councils, and several national Aboriginal organizations, Christine began working  with the-then Gitksan & Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council in early 1991.

She became in-house counsel with the Gitxsan Chiefs in November, 1994 and was involved with negotiations at the provincial and federal level as the Chiefs implemented several governance initiatives, notably for community-based self-government, health services, and child welfare.  She advised the Chiefs in treaty negotiations in the post-Delgamuukw era. 

From 1994 until 1997, Christine practiced law part- time while partnering with 2 other women to establish a neighbourhood garden centre on Vancouver’s east side.  Nearly 20 years (and several changes of ownership) later, Figaro’s Garden continues to serve the Commercial Drive neighbourhood.

Since late 2003, Christine has worked for the Gitksan Watershed Authorities and Skeena Fisheries Commission.  GWA is the Gitxsan fisheries program and SFC acts on behalf of  its member Nations the Gitxsan, Gitanyow, Wet’suwet’en, Lake Babine, and Tsimshian First Nations for fisheries and other natural resource issues along the Skeena River.  With increasing development pressures on the territories of the SFC First Nations, her work has increasingly involved issues at the intersection of Aboriginal and environmental law.


 

Cheryl Sharvit
Barrister & Solicitor, Mandell Pinder
On board since September 2006
Research Foundation, Association and EDRF Society Boards

Cheryl Sharvit has a BA from York University (1992), a LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School (1995) and a LLM from the University of Calgary (1999, specializing in Natural Resource and Aboriginal Law).  She received several scholarships and awards while completing those degrees.  She was called to the bar (BC) in 1999.  She is an Associate at Mandell Pinder, and was previously Staff Lawyer and then Managing Lawyer at EAGLE, where she also articled.  Her practice is focused on Aboriginal law and employment law.  She has represented clients at all levels of court, including the British Columbia Supreme Court, British Columbia Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada, and has also appeared before tribunals.  Ms. Sharvit has taught environmental law as a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary, and has published articles and spoken at conferences in the areas of environmental law, constitutional law, natural resources law, and Aboriginal rights.  She has also been a member of other Boards of Directors, including the False Creek Watershed Society.


 

Cristina Soto, PhD
On board since September 2008
Research Foundation Board

Dr. Cristina Soto has a BSc. and MSc. in marine biology from U. of Guelph and a multi-disciplinary PhD in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University. Cristina is an environmental and wellness consultant, facilitator and project manager.

Cristina's doctoral thesis examined the barriers to using Traditional and Local knowledge in fisheries management. She chose the topic because this valuable knowledge is still minimally incorporated into current natural resource management and planning. During her studies, Cristina published a research paper on Climate Change and Marine Protected Areas.

Cristina has worked for the Federal, Provincial and First Nation's Governments. She was biologist/planner at North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society in Prince Rupert, facilitating community-based marine planning with six First Nations. She also worked in Eastern Indonesia for two years with coastal communities to address issues of cyanide fishing, overfishing, small-scale aquaculture, and community development. She is currently completing a research project on innovatively designed subdivisions that retain environmental and community values.

Cristina has been on the Board of West Coast Environmental Law since 2008.


 

Paul Stewart
President, Outbound Sales
On board since September 2014
Research Foundation, Association and EDRF Society Boards

Paul Stewart has pioneered creative approaches to environmental impact and finance at North American banks, start-ups and environmental not-for-profits.  Starting with chartered banks in Canada, Paul focused on software, Internet and independent film finance.  From 1998 to 2001, he worked in film, television and Internet finance in Los Angeles.  Since moving to Canada's west coast in 2002, he has focused on impact finance at Ecotrust Canada and Vancity and environmental start-ups such as Offsetters.


 

Tracy Wachmann
Public Interest Coordinator, UBC Faculty of Law
On board since September 2010
Association and EDRF Society Boards

Tracy Wachmann is the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law’s first Public Interest Coordinator and works closely with UBC Law students, faculty members and the broader public interest community to support the needs of students who wish to pursue a public interest legal career.

Tracy obtained her B.A. in communications from Simon Fraser University in 1990, specializing in environmental risk perception.  After realizing that she could affect social change more readily through the field of law, Tracy obtained her LL.B. from U.B.C. in 1994.  Following a clerkship with the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Tracy articled with a Vancouver litigation boutique firm, where she subsequently practiced general civil litigation and administrative law.  In 2001, Tracy chose to become a sole practitioner with a focus on administrative law.  Tracy has a background in public interest environmental law in private practice, in association with public interest environmental law organizations and as a consultant with the Provincial Ministry of the Environment.  She has also worked very closely with grassroots public interest community groups in such diverse areas as land use planning and community support for families.


 

Ellen Zimmerman
Program Director Emeritus
On board since September 2014
Research Foundation Board

Ellen Zimmerman has been a champion of the environment in the Columbia Valley since 1970 when she first discovered the joys of birding.  She lives near Golden, B.C. where she and her husband Don raised two sons and countless organic vegetables on 150 acres.  Ellen has worked as a newspaper reporter and a community legal advocate.

The protection of the Cummins River Valley, a 20,000-hectare low-elevation Rocky Mountain rainforest and wilderness in 1997 and designation of the Columbia Wetlands and East Columbia Lake Wildlife Management Areas are among Ellen's career highlights.  She is a past member of the CPAWS B.C., Y2Y, Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners and Golden Food Bank boards and is currently a director of the Golden Women’s Centre.  From 2008 to 2012, Ellen was the regional coordinator for the BC Bird Atlas. 

In 2006, Ellen was the first Canadian women to win the Yves Rocher foundation Terre de Femmes (Women of the Earth) Award.

She has worked both as a volunteer and program manager for Wildsight for 27 years and notes the achievement of Ramsar status for the Columbia Wetlands in 2005 as another career milestone.  Ellen is currently working on the last part of a three part federal boating regulation designed to protect environmental and wildlife values within the Columbia Wetlands Wildlife Management Area.