Jessie Williams is a member of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), a proud grandmother and mother; she is passionate about uplifting future generations through being a relationship holder, bridge, connector, a source of light and energy, bringing people together.
What is your favourite thing about what you do in your career and why?
I am honoured to be the Director of Business Development and Communications for the New Relationship Trust (NRT), an Indigenous non-profit organization committed to empowering First Nations in British Columbia. NRT provides resources to support capacity development and transformation of First Nations governments and their citizens, as determined by them.
One aspect of my role I am inspired by the most is focusing on identifying, building, and leveraging partnerships, connections and relationships in a way that uplifts and creates space for Indigenous presence, voice, knowledge, wisdom, brilliance, and perspectives. I invite us, from all walks of life, from all four directions, to stand next to each other in this vital work. Before we do business, we must focus first on building reciprocal relationships. There is a word in my language that I live by, Nch’u7mut (to be one, to be in unity). I’ve been taught that we must always give to receive and listen before we speak. We need each other in this work. The impact is more significant when we share in uplifting communities. I call on everyone to see who is not present in your work but needs to be. And create space for them. Because representation matters. I take great pride in this work as it allows me to use my gifts, strengths, knowledge, skills, abilities, and passion for contributing to social impact through collaboration.
When you first started your career, how did you know you were ready and what made you start?
When I started my career, I knew I was ready when I felt a strong desire to make a meaningful impact diversely. I could see both unmet needs and opportunities, and I was being called energetically to seek out places and spaces that required innovation, collaboration and a “coming together”. What motivated me to act was that I recognized more humans are needed in this reciprocal relationship work.
If you could give your past self some advice, what would you tell yourself?
If I could give my younger self advice, it would be to focus on humanities education and wellness. This means dedicating time and effort to developing spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental well-being. Society tends to provide more opportunities for educational and professional growth. To be whole and fulfilled, we also need emotional intelligence, cultural connections, spiritual depth, mental development, and physical health.
The second piece of advice would be to centre my inner wisdom, to pay attention to that gut feeling we get about a decision or a situation. I like to call this our’ spirit voice’.
This spirit voice is strong, and when we feel it, listen to it, trust it. It has valuable information about whether something is correct or incorrect for us, whether it be about a person, a job, a situation, an opportunity, or anything. I would say, “Listen to your inner wisdom. You have the power to choose what makes you feel fulfilled, vibrant, and impactful.”
I’d stress the importance of living in service of myself first, to care about fulfilling my personal needs by asking “what do I need, what do I want.” We have so much more to give the people and causes we care about when we do.
I would also say, “Let your inner light shine always. Never shrink yourself to make others feel more comfortable; never change yourself to fit into anything external to you.” We inspire others to do the same when we know and share our strengths authentically.
Do you have a mantra or a phrase you live by? My foundation as a human is my teachings. I make a habit of reflecting on what my grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles have shared with me. One that always comes to mind is from my late grandfather, who told me I was going to be a leader, connector, relationship holder, a bridge and to not let anyone tell me any different.
Connect with Jessie:
LinkedIn: Jessie Williams