Samantha-Jo Dick, executive director of Yeqox Nilin Justice Society, says her position is not a job, but a responsibility to her people. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

International Women’s Day: Samantha-Jo Dick advocates for justice system change

Samantha-Jo Dick is with the Yeqox Nilin Justice Society

Samantha-Jo Dick is quick to credit the strong women in her family for her success as the executive director of Yeqox Nilin Justice Society.

Dick said she is grateful that her Tsilhqot’in culture thinks highly of women.

“I look back on everything I’ve accomplished and where I am now and I don’t think I would have been there without the women in my family,” she said. “My mom, my sisters, my aunts — they have had a huge impact on my life. They are strong and very independent women.”

Watching her mom complete a master’s degree in education, and witness the successes of other women in her family, have been building blocks for her own life, she added.

In May 1, Williams Lake will be officially opening its new Indigenous Court, something Dick and her administrative assistant, Ann Guichon, have worked hard for.

“Myself and Ann Guichon are both Indigenous women and were a huge part of bringing Indigenous Court to Williams Lake,” she said. “We were able to bring this process, not only to First Nations people in Williams Lake, but in the future that we can tell our nieces, nephews and children, this is what we did.”

Read more: ‘It’s been a long time coming’: Samantha Dick on Indigenous Court in lakecity

A member of Tl’etinqox First Nation, Dick was born in Williams Lake, attended schools in the lakecity, and graduated from Williams Lake Secondary School. Her mom’s family — the Petals — owns a ranch at Tl’etinqox.

“I always knew I wanted to work with youth and went into the Human Services program at TRU, but after a year and half realized it wasn’t what I wanted.”

Taking a year off of school, she applied for a job at Tl’etinqox as the youth worker and soon realized she loved interacting with youth.

In July 2010, she saw a posting for a justice worker position with what was then the Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society, now Yeqoz Nilin Justice Society, applied and was hired.

Nine years later in July 2019, she became the executive director, where she said while it’s been a long journey, she feels respected.

“When I started I was 22 years old and I felt like I was seen as a child and what I said wasn’t important. I felt like I had everything against me being First Nations and a women and I could see the look in the eyes of some males eyes that they didn’t appreciate I was outspoken. It was a struggle to find my voice.”

There are a powerful people in the justice system, she added, noting fighting for the right to be heard has been a lot to overcome.

Her position is more than a job, but rather a responsibility to help her people, she said.

“I feel like if I were to leave tomorrow it would completely break my heart because I know we are nowhere near where we need to be for our people who need to heal and grow. The day that I don’t have that many offenders coming through my door is the day I know that we are winning.”

Read more: Attorney General announces new Indigenous court for Williams Lake

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Days Inn and Super 8 offering reduced rates for healthcare workers

This move comes to help protect their families and immuno-compromised individuals

HAPHAZARD HISTORY: Family connection to history of Springhouse school

Columnist Barry Sale’s father taught during the 1930s at the one-room school

Cariboo real estate sales stall, decline due to struggling resource industries, COVID-19

Sales down in every Cariboo city over the same time last year

Keeping B.C. together while staying apart, Royal BC Museum creates webinar series

Museum and archives responds to COVID-19 with online programs for all ages

Williams Lake city council to meet by teleconferencing due to COVID-19

Williams Lake city council will be holding its meetings by teleconference during… Continue reading

VIDEO: How doctors in Canada will decide who lives and dies if pandemic worsens

Officials in several provinces have been developing guides so that doctors don’t feel alone

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

General exposure to public low after inmate tests positive for COVID-19: Interior Health

The Okanagan Correctional Centre inmate is receiving appropriate care

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Sinclar Group curtailing all sawmill operations temporarily

Nechako Lumber, Apollo Forest Products and Lakeland Mills to be curtailed for three weeks starting April 5.

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Most Read