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INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Working with First Nations communities: Jenny Philbrick

Jenny Philbrick is the executive director of the Tsilhqot’in National Government

Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) executive director Jenny Philbrick takes great joy in encouraging women to succeed.

She will suggest they take courses, apply for jobs or seize new opportunities.

“My sister Shawna Philbrick, a councillor at Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN), and myself like to humbly do that in the background - it makes us so close with each other as well.”

She was born in Williams Lake to Betty Price of WLFN and Daryl Elkins from Tl’etinqox First Nation. When she was five her mom left the area with her children and they lived in the Okanagan and Vancouver.

During high school, Philbrick returned to Williams Lake.

When she was 25, they were living in Calgary, and she decided to go to university.

Last year she completed a master’s degree at Mount Royal University in Indigenous business and leadership.

While attending the university she brought her Indigeneity to the forefront, experienced some resistance, but in the end she was able to make a difference, she said.

She was involved with the start of an Indigenization committee for the university and the development of a strategic plan.

“I am actually going to be in a video for the university for the business school.”

As she started to learn more about her people, her understanding of why they were the way they were grew to compassion. She decided she wanted to return to the Cariboo Chilcotin to work with First Nations communities.

In 2019 she was hired as the human resources manager for the TNG and six months later became the executive director. Today the organization has 125 employees.

“We have a strong team and great leaders.”

As things start to return to normal after two years of pandemic restrictions, she is looking forward to connecting with the TNG communities and chiefs.

“We have met by Zoom, but getting to see each other in person again will get that team momentum going.”

Married to Kevin Jansen, they have two children - Kay-lee, 15, and Thoren, 13.

Striking a work-life balance is always a challenge so she makes sure to get out on the land, sometimes have a massage, but for sure spend time with her grandma Mary Sutherland at Alexis Creek where there is no wifi or cell coverage.

“She’s 84, one of my favourite people, she keeps me real and humble.”

READ MORE:TNG partners with other groups for Indigenous Peoples Day

READ MORE: Tsilhqot’in utilize social media after annual Nation Gathering called off due to COVID-19

Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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