Board of Directors
Melanie Debassige, MBA, ICD.D
Melanie Debassige has over 20 years of experience in Indigenous Economic Development. She obtained a Diploma in Native Management and Economic Development from Trent University, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario. She has a certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo and is a certified Professional Aboriginal Economic Developer with the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers. She completed the Director’s Education Program at the Rotman School of Management and is a certified corporate director which complements her Master’s in Business Administration. Currently, she serves as a Director on the Mother Earth Renewable Energy Board that oversees the for-profit wind turbine corporation that is solely owned by M’Chigeeng First Nation. Melanie has been recognized by the Canadian Board Diversity Council in the Diversity 50. She is a strategic advisor to the National Energy Board of Canada on Indigenous issues.
David Paterson is a Vancouver lawyer who has spent more than 35 years practicing in the field of Indigenous rights. He has been counsel on many significant cases including the Delgamuukw case which established the existence of Aboriginal Title in BC. From 2000 to 2004 and since 2019 he has been Chair of the Committee on Indigenous Peoples for the International Bar Association where he is also a member of the steering committee for the Goal One Initiative on the Elimination of World Poverty. He was part of the legal team which brought the class action concerning Indian Residential Schools which resulted in the settlement of residential school claims and was a member of the All-Parties Advisory Committee to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Oversight Committee for the residential school compensation process. He has been a Board member of Reconciliation Canada since its inception.
Bob Watts has been involved in many major Indigenous issues in Canada over the past 20 years and led the process, with support from across Canada and internationally, to establish Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was Interim CEO of the Commission and was a member of the team, which negotiated the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. His current activities include working with Mediate BC to recommend ways for Aboriginal communities to respond to changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act, and working on the Siting Process with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. He is an adjunct professor and fellow in the School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, and a frequent speaker on Aboriginal issues. He is also a former CEO of the Assembly of First Nations, served as the Chief of Staff to the Assembly of First Nations‘ National Chief Phil Fontaine, and is a former Assistant Deputy Minister for the Government of Canada. He is a graduate of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and fellow at the Harvard Law School. Mr. Watts is from Mohawk and Ojibway ancestry, and is a member of the Six Nations Reserve.
Sharad Kharé is a storyteller, documentarian and the founder of Human Biography, a Vancouver-based content agency that produces original video content for the most incredible humans, brands, and organizations across the globe. Sharad has documented people such as the Dalai Lama, Meryl Streep, Arianna Huffington, Chip Wilson, Susan Sarandon, Val Kilmer, Maye Musk, and Katy Perry, as well as many visionaries from all over the world. Human Biography has also created content for organizations such as TED, Microsoft, UN Women, the David Lynch Foundation and more. Sharad holds a Masters degree in communications, where his academic research focused on personal and digital legacy. He is also the co-founder of “The Indigenous Collective” and has been a prolific collaborator with the Indigenous community, directing and producing video projects that capture First Nations stories and culture. Sharad serves on the boards of BC Cancer, Beedie Luminaries, and TIE Vancouver.
Andrea Nemtin, MSM
For 25 years, Andrea Nemtin has led complex organizations and initiatives focused on creating positive social and environmental progress through strategic philanthropy, media and arts, social innovation and impact investing. In addition to roles as CEO of the Inspirit Foundation, Executive Director at Rally Assets, and President of PTV Productions, she has served in governance and advisory roles for numerous organizations. Currently Andrea is serving as a board member for the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority, The Social Innovation Institute, Story Money Impact and Challenge for Change. Andrea is committed to finding innovative ways to support cohesive and prosperous communities and was recognized in 2017 with a Governor General’s Meritorious Service Award for her contribution to inclusion in Canada.