Education and Public Outreach Invited Speakers

Dr Barney Williams


Dr Barney Williams is Nuu-chah-nulth and a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations situated in the Tofino area of Meares Island. He is the husband to Trina Williams and a father to six children and grandfather to nine grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Dr Williams served as Traditional Keeper of the Beach for his nation for over 60 years. In April 2015 this position was passed down to his son Vincent Williams.

Fluent in the Nuu-chah-nulth language, he continues to live a traditional and cultural lifestyle, and incorporate traditional teaching in the healing of First Nations people, lecturing on mental health from a traditional perspective.

His work has included administrative and clinical fields. Some of his experience includes serving as an Executive Director, Social Service Administrator in varied fields., including Mental health, Home School,Alcohol /drug Programming, and Education. His counselling work has focused on areas such as youth, mental health, community prevention specialist, crisis intervention and addictions.

One of his finest achievements was to be involved in the development of a two year Quasa Counselling Program at Malispina University College. Using his vast experience, he has worked with pre- and post-trauma issues related to the Residential School experience. Throughout his work history, Dr Williams has often acted as a bridge between two cultures to ensure that mutual understanding is achieved for First Nations and European people.

From 2008 to 2015, Dr Williams served as committee member for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and provided cultural and spiritual advice to the commissioners. Dr Williams mentions that this experience enhanced his belief in the importance of cultural healing following the residential experience and the importance of education to future generations stemming from this dark period.

As an apt recognition for all these contributions, Dr Williams was honoured in November of 2017 by the University of Victoria to receive an Honorary Doctorate in Laws.

Dr. Nick Claxton‘s ancestral hereditary name is XEMŦOLTW̱.   He is from the SȾÁUTW̱ Community of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation. Nick received his Master’s in Indigenous Governance and his PhD in Curriculum Studies from the University of Victoria, where he is currently an Assistant Teaching Professor in Indigenous Education Department.