Shelley Bevz is Smelqmix (semelqumix) from Lower Similkameen Indian Band. She is Sylix (Silk) Indian and Blackfoot Lakota Cree. Her community is located next to Nighthawk, USA and spans from Vernon, BC down to Colville, Washington.
Currently working with BCFNJC - Justice through Self-Determination as the CAO. She has been a CPA since 1992, graduating from the College of New Caledonia in Prince George with a diploma in accounting and finance, attending the School of Chartered Accountancy of BC and Atlantic Canada, and successfully establishing her own CPA practice.
In 2013, her life changed when she lost her brother to suicide. Shelley felt the overwhelming urge to return home and help her people. Says Shelley, “To me, home is any Indigenous person as we have that common bond and understand without speaking what it is to have suffered, survived, and thrived through our history. As a knowledge-keeper, it is time to pass this information to others and mentor the way our grandparents mentored us with sharing, showing, and passing knowledge down.”
Shelley has had the opportunity to work with many First Nations in BC and now lives in Manitoba where she is the CFO for Peguis First Nation. She has also been a facilitator for the CPA Western School of Business and AFOA Canada, among others, has set up Volunteer Tax Clinics for many non-profit entities and First Nations, and gives back as a financial literacy volunteer.
Says Shelley, “Indigenous people have always dealt with economics, the currency has just changed from currencies familiar to us such as fish, fur, meat, berries, shells, and ribbons – to the paper and cryptocurrencies of this new world. As Indigenous peoples, we now find the balance to walk in both worlds and take back our sovereignty as we develop our own traditional laws through the education of a colonial government so that we are equal with our brethren from other Nations.”
In closing, Shelley says, “I hope that what we learn today will help you navigate the challenges we face away from and in our communities as we continue to grow and thrive, taking our place among the leaders of our Nation.”