Lydia Hwitsum graduated from University of Victoria Law School (1997) with a focus on Indigenous and environmental law. Her undergraduate work at UVic. was in the Faculty of Human and Social Development in the School of Public Administration: Certificate Administration of Aboriginal Governments; Diploma in Public Sector Management. She also has dispute resolution and mediation training from the BC Justice Institute. Lydia has 25+ years executive and administration experience, theory and practical applications including governance development, organizational and policy development, implementation, and evaluation. Lydia leads with compassion, strength, commitment to collaboration and continuous improvement.
Lydia has extensive knowledge and experience working to support First Nations and FN organizations internally and in multilateral negotiations and engagement. Lydia has political and administrative experience developing, implementing, and supporting law, legislation and policy changes. Lydia is currently the elected Chief of Cowichan Tribes and also served for prior eight years (1997-2001 and 2007-11) directing governance, fiscal, law and policy development. Lydia directly supports the development of a FN Water Caucus and Water Table in B.C.. She served as member of the BC First Nations Summit Political Executive (2002-04, 2nd term 2019-21) and also served at the BCAFN (2010/12) on the Board of Directors taking direction and being accountable to BC Chiefs. She also served on the national AFN National Women’s Council supporting national engagement and negotiations. Lydia understands the law, legislation and policy frameworks associated with and applicable to First Nations.
Lydia was appointed by the Federal Government as Trustee and Chair of the First Nations Market Housing Fund, a national Trust (2019-2022). Appointed by FN’s as Chair and board designated executive officer of the First Nations Health Authority Board of Directors (2012-Mar 31,2018) supported the transfer and implementation of First Nations control of health services in British Columbia. As executive officer Lydia actively participated in the negotiation and strategy development through to implementation of the BC Health governance structure. Lydia supported the development of the organization, policy framework and human resource strategy and directly supported community engagement and reports based on direction from BC Chiefs.
As a Member of the Board of Directors for the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development (1999-2004) holding an Indigenous portfolio Lydia advocated and supported the development of the UNDRIP. As Chair of BC Capacity Initiative Council (5yrs) Lydia helped create a model of capacity development and fair resource distribution to FN’s in the province
Lydia was born in the Quamichan village and is a citizen of the Cowichan Nation which gives her deep connections and understanding of the importance of indigenous nationhood. Lydia speaks the hulqumi’num language and is guided by the snewuyulh / values and teachings of Cowichan Peoples.
Over Lydia’s career she has lead negotiations and been part of negotiating teams. Lydia has successfully leveraged partnerships and resources to meet strategic goals. Her methodology includes academic theory combined with First Nation knowledge and teachings. Lydia is a creative thinker and has a strong commitment to Indigenous rights.