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2017 Keynote Speaker - Bernd Christmas

Bernd ChristmasAs former Chief Executive Officer of the Membertou Band of Nova Scotia and the Membertou Corporate Division, and as a negotiator for several First Nations bands, Bernd brings a deep understanding of Indigenous perspectives. He also has extensive experience on national and international boards and commissions. Bernd was the first Mi’kmaw to become a lawyer in Canada.

He now serves as chief executive officer of Gitpo S.T.O.R.M.S. Corp., a Canadian sustainable development technology company based in Eel Ground First Nation near Miramichi, N.B., and with locations in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Montreal. Gitpo endeavors to be the partner of choice for First Nations Peoples to help bring in a new era in resource management, project negotiation and execution, and sustainable and socially responsible development.

Mr. Christmas was a partner in the law firm of Cassels Brock, specializing in Aboriginal Law. Prior to joining Cassels Brock, he worked at a large national firm to expand their Indigenous practice before going on to found The Bernd Christmas Law Group. The Bernd Christmas Law Group offered advice and assistance to First Nations, industry and government organizations in various aspects of regulatory matters and policy setting.

In 2003, he was appointed by Prime Minister Chrétien to the External Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation. From 2000 to 2002, he was one of three Canadian commissioners to the International Commission for the Conservation of Tuna.

He is a former member of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board and of the executive committee organizing the Governor General’s Conference on Leadership and Diversity.

He has been a Director of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and of Keltic Petrochemicals Inc. Bernd also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Investors Group and the Indigenous charity Outside Looking In.