DENISE WILLIAMS

Connecting First Nations Communities in the Circle

A willingness to do the heavy lifting – that’s how Denise Williams, Executive Director of the First Nations Technology Council, describes one of the most important aspects of her job. Armed with an MBA from Simon Fraser University, this member of the Cowichan Tribes on Vancouver Island thinks working for an aboriginal non-profit organization like the First Nations Technology Council is a true gift. “I was raised outside my community and I wanted to understand our culture and our people. Here I get all of that – travel, talk, learning, and enrichment,” she explains. “This is the type of job where you see the results and the effect you’re having on others. This role has changed my life,” Williams adds. “The challenges I’ve faced, the opportunities I’ve had, and the hills I’ve climbed truly shaped who I am today.”

Williams’ job involves providing advocacy, insight and leadership in the movement to connect all First Nations communities to digital and connected technologies. Her goal is to transform B.C.’s technology sector through the skilling up of Indigenous innovators who will lead technological advancement on their traditional territories.

After five years on the job Williams recognizes that one of the most significant challenges and opportunities of her role is the need to ‘learn to learn’ quickly. It’s a job of possibilities. “If you don’t like the system as it is you can literally change it,” she explains. “It’s hard work, but in the end you might just effect major social change. But if coping with change isn’t your strong point,” she adds, “you may need to brace yourself!”

“I absolutely recommend working with non-profit organizations,” says Williams. “I feel as though I’m part of something that will make life better for future generations. Every day I am humbled by how lucky I am to be able to talk to and connect with people on a topic that I care so much about. It’s not a job, it’s a privilege. Working in a non-profit environment is dynamic, ever changing and sometimes unpredictable. If you like the idea of not being able to fully predict the future, it’s amazingly stimulating.”