We are proud to announce the keynote speakers and panelists for this year's Sustainable Ocean Conference, Seeing Beyond the Shoreline.


Keynote Speakers

Dr. Deborah McGregor

(Thursday, Sept 23rd)
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Professor Deborah McGregor joined York University's Osgoode Hall law faculty in 2015 as a cross-appointee with the Faculty of Environmental Studies & Urban Change. Professor McGregor's research has focused on Indigenous knowledge systems and their various applications in diverse contexts including water and environmental governance, environmental justice, forest policy and management, and sustainable development. Professor McGregor, who is Anishinaabe from Whitefish River First Nation, Birch Island, Ontario, is involved with several SSHRC-funded project and is a graduate research supervisor.

Dr. Andrea Reid

(Saturday, Sept 25th)
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Dr. Andrea Reid is a citizen of the Nisga’a Nation and a new Assistant Professor with the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. She is helping to launch and lead the Centre for Indigenous Fisheries, working to build a national and international hub for the study and protection of culturally significant fish and fisheries. Her research program adopts highly interdisciplinary and applied approaches to improving our understanding of the complex interrelationships between fish, people and place. 


Dorene Bernard

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Dorene Bernard is a Mi’kmaq Grassroots Grandmother of 9, mother of 4, and a Water Walker and Water Protector, and cultural teacher.  She draws her strength and courage from the Indigenous women in her life; Survivors of Residential School, Elders, teachers, leaders, movers and shakers who inspired her social justice work, in Child Welfare, with Survivors of Residential School, on Mi’kmaq Treaty Rights, resisting Environmental Racism and awareness of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives, and the protection of the water. She was the Coady Chair on Social Justice at Coady International Institute in 2017, focusing on educating in Indigenous perspectives on Indian Residential Schools, Mi’kmaq Treaty Rights, Environmental Racism, and Protection of the Water and Climate Justice. 

(Friday, Sept 24th)

Bill Collins

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Bill’s career spans almost 40 years and evolved from success in international science to success in business on the world stage. Bill was trained as a geologist and received a Master of Science degree from Memorial University. Since moving to the Victoria area in 1994 Bill has been responsible for bringing a locally invented sonar system to the world stage including sales to more than twenty navies and government institutions. As part of the ownership group of an award-winning high tech company, Bill has filled many corporate roles including M&A activities. Bill has a passion for creating and executing sound business plans and a strong belief in Vancouver Island business growth opportunity. Bill is the Chairman of Cascadia Seaweed.

Jesslene Jawanda

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Jesslene is an Arctic fisheries researcher who grew up in Unama'ki (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia). After completing a Bachelor of Science from Dalhousie University and an Advanced Diploma in Ocean Technology from NSCC, they are now working in Nunavut toward 'Decolonizing Canada's fisheries' by lobbying for increased access to resources for Nunavummiut and supporting Indigenous led research. Through their current work with Qikiqtaaluk Corporation, Jesslene is developing a new inshore fisheries research program in partnership with coastal communities in Nunavut. This program will couple cutting edge ocean technology with Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Traditional Inuit Knowledge). In addition, they are engaged in global marine social advocacy as an All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassador.  

Dr. Natalie Ban

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Dr. Natalie Ban is an associate professor in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria on the unceded territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən peoples. Natalie’s research seeks to understand how we (humans) can govern and manage the oceans to achieve biodiversity conservation and human well-being. Much of her research is co-created in partnership with Indigenous peoples, coastal communities, environmental organizations and governments.

Panel Moderator:

Elissama Menezes


Elissama Menezes is a Latina woman living in K’jipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki (Halifax, Nova Scotia). She is an associate specialist in marine shipping and conservation at WWF-Canada and a Research Assistant at Dalhousie looking at the participation of Indigenous women in the Arctic climate change science. Elissama also runs an environmental NGO in Brazil focused on ocean and climate change advocacy and engagement with socially vulnerable coastal communities through art and sports. Her work focuses on the intersection of climate crisis solutions, environmental and social justice, and building communities.