The WSF Grants Working Group is comprised of a diverse group of leaders with deep experience and connection to regional watershed needs and communities in BC. Individually and collectively, the Working Group Members hold extensive knowledge relevant to addressing urgent and long-term watershed security needs across BC and are generously providing their learning and insights to support the development of an evolving innovative multi-year co-developed WSF funding program and permanent entity.

We are deeply grateful for the group’s collaborative leadership and wisdom in support of our collective learning and development of a long-term BC’s Watersheds Security Fund.

Grants Working Group Members

The Watershed Security Fund is fortunate to benefit from the collective wisdom, experience and leadership of the members of the Grants Working Group:

  • Lydia Hwitsum, Co-Commissioner, First Nations Water Caucus (Cowichan Nation)
  • Teena Demeulemeester, Delegate, First Nations Water Caucus (Saulteau First Nation)
  • Deana Machin, Delegate, First Nations Water Caucus (Syilx (Okanagan) Nation)
  • Brodie Guy, Chief Executive Officer, Island Coastal Economic Trust
  • Tara Marsden/Naxginkw, Consultant, Hlimoo Sustainable Solutions (Gitanyow Huwilp, Gitksan peoples)
  • Tim Morris, Director, BC Water Legacy
  • Ione Smith, Senior Agrologist, Upland Agricultural Consulting

Working Group Members are encouraged to contribute their own unique perspectives and are not representing the views or positions of their respective Nation, community or organization.

 Chilko Lake. Photo by Josh Neufeld

Background & Selection Process

In February 2024, the WSF Joint Executive confirmed a decision to convene a Grants Working Group to support the co-development, design and implementation of the WSF Grants Program.   A draft Terms of Reference has been confirmed in principle and is being finalized with the Working Group members.

The Grants Working Group is comprised of 3-4 delegates of the First Nations Water Caucus and 3-4 external members, with at least 50% of the membership being First Nations.

Three Water Caucus delegates volunteered to participate on the Grants Working Group: Teena Demeulemeester, Lydia Hwitsum, and Deana Machin. The Water Caucus Members worked with the WSF partners to identify and develop recommendations regarding the 4 external members, who were confirmed by the Joint Executive in March 2024. Complementary experience was sought as follows: 

  1. Knowledge and experience relevant to addressing urgent and long-term watershed security needs in territories across B.C.
  2. Philanthropic and grantmaking experience, considered valuable
  3. Cross sector understanding, particularly in agriculture, considered valuable
  4. Geographic diversity among the members in their understanding or connections to regional watershed needs and communities.

Collectively, the Members of the Working Group bring knowledge and experience relevant to addressing urgent and long-term watershed security needs in territories across B.C., such as through:

  • Reconciliation and advancing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Restoring and maintaining ecosystem services and watershed health
  • Climate resiliency
  • Local watershed governance, planning & monitoring initiatives
  • Job creation and economic stimulus
  • Learning and relationship-building between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities

Member Biographies

First Nations Water Caucus Members

Lydia Hwitsum is a member of the Cowichan Nation located in Duncan on Vancouver Island where she previously served four two-year terms as the elected Chief of the Cowichan Tribes. She has advocated for Indigenous and human rights locally, nationally, and internationally. She has presented at the United Nations Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and at the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Lydia has more than 20 years of experience in leadership positions in Indigenous governance in British Columbia and throughout Canada. In June 2019, she was elected to a second term on the First Nations Summit Political Executive, which is mandated to carry out specific tasks related to Aboriginal Title and Rights negotiations with British Columbia and Canada and other issues of common concern to First Nations in British Columbia. Lydia holds a Certificate of Administration of Aboriginal Governments and a Diploma in Public Sector Management from the University of Victoria, as well as dispute resolution training from the BC Justice Institute. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Victoria. Lydia is currently the Co-Commissioner for the First Nations Water Caucus and Co-Chair for the BC-First Nations Water Table, and is on the Joint Executive for the Watershed Security Fund.

Teena is the Treaty Rights and Environmental Protection Supervisor for her nation (Saulteau First Nation) and has worked with other Treaty 8 nations for over 20 years. She was an elected Councillor for Saulteau from 2011 to 2017. Teena was a member of the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Board from 2007 to 2012 as a delegate for Saulteau First Nations and West Moberly First Nations, where she helped evaluate grants proposals to ensure First Nations projects were being funded.

In addition, Teena was a part of the Sustainable Resource Management Planning for the Peace Moberly Tract, where she was responsible for budget management. Teena also managed the assessment of the Moberly Lake watershed and participated in the identification of Indigenous values in the watershed.

Deana Machin is a member of the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation and grew up in her home community along Okanagan Lake near Vernon BC, and these connections have grounded her strong values in relation to First Nations’ rights and their roles in the governance and management of their lands, waters and resources. She has been active in the field of fisheries management and policy for 20-years, specializing in strategic planning and Indigenous engagement in fisheries governance and management initiatives.

Deana is the former Strategic Development Manager for the First Nations Fisheries Council of BC where for 10-years the purpose of her work was to build collaborative and effective relationships among First Nations and with government and NGOs. Prior to her time with the FNFC, she was the Fisheries Program Manager for the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) for seven years. While working for her Nation, Deana led the Reintroduction of Sockeye Salmon into the Okanagan Basin Initiative, which in 2006 saw the first release of Okanagan sockeye fry into Skaha Lake, and she collaborated with federal and provincial governments and other partners on the development of the Okanagan Basin Fish Water Management Tool model and the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative. Deana holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Business Administration from the University of British Columbia.

External Members

Brodie has served in executive roles with Indigenous and public funds investing where he’s led teams investing in landscape-level stewardship, conservation (IPCAs), sustainable development, and reciprocal restoration throughout British Columbia. Currently, he is the CEO of Island Coastal Trust working towards its transformation into the first regional development organization in Canada that is co-governed by Indigenous and local governments.

Brodie is a founding director and Vice Chair of the Blueberry River Restoration Society, a $200 million landscape-level restoration fund established in 2023 by the Blueberry River First Nation and the Province of B.C. He is grateful to serve as a long-time director of the Indigenous-led national charity The Circle on Philanthropy, he serves as a Canadian Commissioner on the international Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission, and he is a director with Comox Valley Project Watershed, a non-profit working with K’ómoks First Nation to restore and rematriate a special place known as Kus-kus-sum. Brodie has advised government and philanthropic organizations across Canada and multinational conservation organizations on globally significantly conservation projects.

Previously, Brodie was the long-serving CEO of Coast Funds, one of the world’s largest Indigenous-led conservation finance and sustainable development funds where he worked for 27 First Nations across the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. Through his roles, Brodie has directly worked on the governance and sustainable financing of Indigenous stewardship authorities, the formation of many Guardian programs, and the start-up of numerous First Nations development corporations.

Brodie holds a Chartered Director designation from McMaster University and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Victoria. He and his partner Jessica are grateful to be raising their children in the beautiful ancestral territory of the Pentlatch, E’ikʷsən and K’ómoks people, known today as the Comox Valley.


Tara is from the Lax Ganeda (Frog) Clan of Gitanyow Huwilp of the Gitksan peoples. For more than two decades, Tara has been dedicated to advancing sustainable development and operationalizing free, prior and informed consent for Indigenous peoples. Drawing on her Master’s degree in Political Science and her upbringing in Gitksan Ayookxw (laws), Tara has worked for a number of First Nations governments, academia, the provincial government, philanthropic organizations, and most recently for her own nation Gitanyow as Wilp Sustainability Director. In 2021, Tara established Hlimoo Sustainable Solutions to continue her life’s work as an independent consultant in her homelands of the Gitksan people.

Pronunciation for Naxginkw: Audio file for pronouncing my traditional Gitksan name for introductions only, you can still call me Tara 

Also see prior projects here: 2022 – A Year of Growth for Hlimoo Sustainable Solutions | Hlimoo Sustainable Solutions

Over the past 20 years, Tim Morris has dedicated his career to working for water. Tim has worked on watershed protection in multiple roles across Canada – as an advocate, funder, policy analyst and partnership builder.  Today, he focuses on initiatives that weave together his experience in watershed governance, funding, and communications to transform the systems of governance that have degraded and weakened the health of our watersheds.

Tim’s current role is Director of BC Water Legacy, which was established as a funding partnership to advance new approaches to watershed governance. These approaches are grounded in recognition of Indigenous authority, rights, and title, and seek to support new ways for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to work together in watershed stewardship. Over the past several years, BC Water Legacy has invested in emerging watershed governance initiatives in multiple regions of the province, including in the Nicola, Nechako, Cowichan/Koksilah, and Skeena watersheds. 

Recognizing the need for long-term, sustainable funding for watershed work, BC Water Legacy has convened spaces to explore and advocate for sustainable funding, including a working group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge holders that developed a collaborative vision for a permanent, co-governed Watershed Security Fund. Additional advocacy for sustainable funding is being undertaken through BC Water Legacy’s secretariat role with the BC Watershed Security Coalition.  

Prior to his role leading BC Water Legacy, Tim supported the creation and coordination of the BC Water Funders Collaborative, a network of funding organizations that work together to align collective resources towards freshwater protection.  Tim has a Masters of Laws with a focus on water law and rights, but his real education has come from the time spent in his local home waters – paddling, swimming, or simply listening to the wisdom she generously shares.

Ione is a Professional Agrologist with a background in agricultural planning and land resource science. Ione brings 20 years of experience in developing recommendations and policies to improve the viability of farming through strategic stakeholder engagement processes. Ione has built a career on developing innovative agriculture and food security plans, climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, and farm business plans. She works with Indigenous communities, governments of all levels, and non-governmental organizations. 

In addition to her consulting work, Ione currently serves as Vice Chair (South Coast) of BC’s Agricultural Land Commission and is an Instructor at Simon Fraser University where she teaches a course on community economic development and food systems. Ione received a MSc from UBC in 2004, where her thesis focused on the relationship between farming and water quality in the Fraser Valley and she received a B.Sc. (Hons) in Environmental Sciences from the University of Guelph. Originally from Montreal, Ione lives in Sechelt on Shishalh Nation territory on the Sunshine Coast where she and her husband raise their two daughters and run Upland Agricultural Consulting together.