Helen Copeland is a descendent of the P’egp’ig’lha (frog) people, from the community of T’it’q’et – one of 11 communities that make up St’át’imc Nation, located in the southwestern part of British Columbia. Helen has been working with decolonization and Indigenous knowledge since 1993.
Helen was one of four members of the T’it’q’et Self-Governing Working Committee. This committee researched both traditional and contemporary governing systems and then drafted a P’egp’ig’lha constitutional framework. The P’egp’ig’lha Council, Elder’s Council and Youth Council was implemented in 2002 and the P’egp’ig’lha Constitution was ratified in 2007. Today, Helen sits on the P’egp’ig’lha Council representing her family.
More recently, Helen worked for St’át’imc Chiefs Council as a Researcher / Facilitator for the Revitalizing Indigenous Law for Land, Air and Water (RELAW) project. Helen firmly believes that the RELAW project provided time and space for ucwalmicw (St’át’imc people) to learn from each other on how the teachings of the stories guided them in their lives.
“Talking about the teachings of our traditional stories showed us where our values and beliefs came from. It also provided healing from colonialism and oppression. The more we shared and learned from each other the clearer we became on ‘the right way to live.’ It is time to embrace our responsibility – our legal responsibility to the land, water, air, animals, birds, and fish.”
Helen received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Lethbridge and holds a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Saskatchewan.