Estella White (Charleson) – Hee Naih Cha Chist

Associate

  • ewhite@jfklaw.ca
  • P 250-405-3464
  • C 604-240-6353
  • Suite 816 – 1175 Douglas Street – Victoria, BC V8W 2E1

Estella is a member of the Hesquiaht First Nation and belongs to the House of Kinquashtacumlth. Her traditional name is Hee Naih Cha Chist which means ‘water that glimmers’. As an Indigenous woman, Estella feels strongly about protecting and advancing the rights of Indigenous people.

Estella was called to the bar in 2015. Her practice involves research, litigation and strategic advice on Aboriginal rights, title, and governance matters, as well as Indigenous law. Estella’s experience involves preparing for and filing claim(s) for Aboriginal title; preparing for Aboriginal and Treaty rights litigation; advancing Aboriginal rights and interests in consultation and negotiation processes; advising on and drafting governance documents; and community research. Estella has appeared at the Supreme Court of Canada, Federal Court of Appeal, Federal Court and Provincial Court levels to serve First Nations and Indigenous individuals.

Prior to joining JFK Law Estella served as an elected councilor for her Nation. Estella also had the privilege of working as a researcher for the national Accessing Justice and Reconciliation Project, which focused on the revitalization of Indigenous laws and legal traditions. Estella also gained experience in criminal, family, human rights, prison, and employment law working at the Law Centre assisting low income clients.

Outside of law, Estella has led outdoor groups with Hooksum Outdoor School, participated in several canoe tribal journeys, participates in a Hesquiaht language group, and practices cedar weaving, all of which helps keep her culturally grounded and connected to the lands and waters that sustain us all.

Practice Areas:

  • Advancing Aboriginal rights and title (in and out of court)
  • Consultation and accommodation
  • Governance
  • Indigenous law

Education and Professional Affiliations

  • Vancouver Island University, B.A., with distinction, 2011
  • University of Victoria, J.D., 2014
  • Member, Law Society of B.C., 2015
  • Member, Indigenous Bar Association
  • Executive Member, Aboriginal Lawyers Forum
  • Executive Member, Canadian Bar Association Aboriginal Law Section
  • Council Member, BC Aboriginal Justice Council
  • Legal Panelist, RAVEN – Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs
  • Board of Director, Hooksum Outdoor School

Highlights

  • Appeared on behalf of Mikisew Cree First Nation at the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada in their challenge to have the duty to consult apply to the development of legislation.

  • Appeared on behalf of Sakimay First Nation at the Federal Court of Appeal to challenge the devaluation of their reserve lands in determining appropriate rental rates on-reserve.

  • Assisted in the preparation of an Aboriginal title claim, including a novel Charter claim.

  • Act on a pro bono basis for various Indigenous women.

  • Worked with Nations to develop governance documents incorporating Indigenous legal principles.

  • Appointed to the BC Aboriginal Justice Council for a 4 year term, which is tasked with responding to and addressing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the criminal and child welfare systems.

  • Presented at the Indigenous Bar Association Conference, Canadian Bar Association National Aboriginal Law Conference, the Indigenous Law in the World Symposium and the Victoria Forum on topics concerning Indigenous law.