Board of Directors

Jennifer Forbes, Chair
Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society

Jenna Forbes is a proud Indigenous woman with roots in the Gitksan, Tsimshian, and Haida Territories of BC. Jenna is the Executive Director with the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society (VATJSS) and has now been in this role for 1.5 years.  Prior to this role, she was the Senior Justice Advisor for 8 years. In her current position as Executive Director, Jenna uses traditional Indigenous Transformative approaches to support community members in conflict with the law.  Primary services at VATJSS include Alternative Measures, Support for Indigenous Community Members in Provincial Community Corrections, Homelessness Prevention, Self Sufficiency, Law Education, and various crime prevention projects.  As well as being Vice Chair for USF, Jenna also volunteers as a Board of Director for Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society(ACCESS), Metro Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Executive Council (MVAEC) and she is the assigned Representative for the Aboriginal Housing Steering Committee (AHSC) at the Metro Vancouver Homelessness Partnership Strategy.

Ross Ramsey, Vice Chair
Ross specializes in improving the performance of organizations.  His public and private sector career throughout Canada and the US for the past 35 years has focused on board governance, healthcare, foundation development and organizational effectiveness.  He held senior government positions in Nova Scotia, Manitoba (CEO of a Crown Corporation) and Alberta. He was also President and CEO of a private family foundation in BC before entering private practice as an organizational effectiveness consultant.

Ross served as Chair of the Board of two national organizations:  Community Foundations of Canada (1998-2002) and the Canadian Addictions Foundation (1980-1981). Other contributions include: Director, Centre For Sustainability; Advisor, Kakawis Family Development Centre; Member, Youth Advisory Committee, Vancouver Foundation; Director, Rediscovery International Foundation; Native Alcohol Abuse Program Regional Advisory Board (Prairie);

Olivia Jim, Director
Olivia Jim has been employed with Helping Spirit Lodge Society for the past 17 years, working her way up the ranks to the position of Executive Director for the last 5 years. Helping Spirit Lodge Society provides shelter and safe housing for Indigenous women and men in the Metro Vancouver area. Olivia is originally from Moricetown, B.C formally known as Witset (Wet'suwet'En First Nations- belongs to the house of the rafters). Olivia has been active in helping youth, children and families in the Downtown Eastside and in Metro Vancouver. She brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge as a USF Board member.

“I am looking forward to being a part of the Urban Spirit Foundation as it plays an important integral role in our Urban Indigenous Community serving youth who need the extra help to further education.”

Susan Tatoosh, Director
Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society - Executive Director

Susan is of Shuswap ancestry and a member of the Hupacaseth First Nation of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Territory. For the past 35 years, she has been actively involved in community work in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Susan’s volunteer work has been at all levels — community, municipal, provincial and national — serving on boards, committees, task forces, panels and at round table discussions. She is currently the Executive Director of the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre. She has worked with the federal government via the Northern Native Development Corporation, the K’ensu Development Corporation and Indigenous Personnel Services. As well, she has represented numerous Indigenous and non-Indigenous civic organizations, including: the Urban Native Indian Education Society, the Urban Native Youth Association, Aboriginal Community Careers Employment Services Society and the YWCA, among many others. Susan was recognized for her over-30 years of voluntary contributions to the community when she received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

Stewart Anderson, Secretary-Treasurer
Manager Community Investment – Indigenous Partnerships Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity)

Stewart is a community banker with Vancity (Vancouver City Savings Credit Union) one of the largest member owned financial organizations in Canada. His mandate at Vancity is to broaden and deepen the Credit Union's involvement with Indigenous communities in and beyond the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people where Vancity is located. Working in the financial services sector for the last 20 years, Stewart has a strong background in economic development, project finance, and corporate lending, as well as a keen awareness of the importance of relationship building. His clients have included First Nation Governments, Indigenous and First Nations Development Corporations, Indigenous Social Service agencies, and First Nations/Private Sector Joint Ventures. Stewart is active in the East Vancouver community where he lives, and serves on the boards of a number of community and arts organizations.

Lou Demerais, Director
Retired Community Member - Director

Mr. Demerais was a founding member of Vancouver Native Health Society, serving on its inaugural board established in 1990. He became executive director in early 1991, the year the society began developing and offering programs and services.

Mr. Demerais began his adult life as a newspaper journalist and eight years later became involved in Indigenous political/social affairs, first with the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (1972 - 1975) as administrator, and then as national consultant on Native people and the criminal justice system in Ottawa (1976 - 1979) with the Ministry of the Solicitor General. He returned to Vancouver in 1980 as director of Native Programs for BC Legal Services Society before taking positions of public affairs officer with the Assembly of First Nations and the Indian Association of Alberta (1983 - 1988). Mr. Demerais worked again for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs from 1988 to 1991.

Mr. Demerais was co-chair of the Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council from 2012 to 2015 and has been a member of the Cedar Project's advisory council since it began in the mid 1990's. He served from 2002 - 2007 as Aboriginal co-chair of the Metro Vancouver Urban Aboriginal Strategy. His volunteer work has included membership on the boards of the Downtown Eastside Youth Activities Society, the Bantleman Court Housing Society, Britannia Community Centre, the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Metis Family Services Society of BC.

He is a Board Member of ACCESS (Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society) and also a Board member of Urban Spirit Foundation.

Mr. Demerais has served as a member of the UBC President's advisory committee on Aboriginal Affairs.
Mr. Demerais was a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal commemorating her 60th year as Canada's Sovereign

Francesca de Bastiani, Director
Francesca is an independent contractor and is currently working with First Nations communities in the area of employment and training and has a passion for integrating the concept of Essential Skills into programs.  Francesca brings over 20 years of experience working with First Nations communities.  She retired from a 28 year career with the Federal Government (Human Resources Development Canada) and returns to work for them on contract occasionally. She holds a Master's Degree in Education specializing in Curriculum Development and Diversity from Simon Fraser University.

Nick Calla, Director
Nick Calla is the president and owner of Eagle Bay Financial Services and a member of the Squamish Nation.

He is honoured that Eagle Bay is the single biggest provider of employee benefits and retirement plans for Indigenous groups in British Columbia.

Nick established Eagle Bay in 2002. He recognized the necessity to design and customize extended health and insurance products required by Indigenous Communities. He saw this as a source of inspiration and his ultimate goal. Nick carefully surveyed the needs of his client base asked insurers to provide extended health and insurance products that truly met the needs of Indigenous groups, including their specific requirements of NIHB integration.

Nick is passionate about supporting the capacity of Indigenous Communities and Organizations and improving the lives of everyone he comes in contact with. Therefore, he has sought to build his business by providing a workplace that attracts and retains quality employees.

Samantha Singbeil, Director
FortisBC - Manager, Indigenous Relations
Nick Calla is the president and owner of Eagle Bay Financial Services and a member of the Squamish Nation.

At FortisBC, Samantha leads a team of dynamic leaders to implement FortisBC's Statement of Indigenous Principles. Alongside her team, she leads consultation, negotiation, and community investment. She is also passionate about implementing the organization’s Socio-Economic Impact program, which provides pathways and supports to local, Indigenous and underrepresented groups to achieve employment, contracting, and community development benefits from FortisBC’s Major Projects. 

She has extensive experience in the utility industry, focused on education, training, and communications, but the thread that ties all these disciplines together, and what she loves most, is relationship building. Sam has a BA in political science and sociology and an MA international & intercultural communications.

With her husband, daughter, and gigantic dog, Eva, she calls the traditional and ancestral territory of the Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking peoples, including Tsawwassen and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), home.