Joan Jack is Aanishinaabe Ikwe, from the Berens River First Nation, which is a fly-in community located approximately 270 air kilometres north of Winnipeg on the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba and is the eldest daughter of three children and lived in Berens River until she left home for high school and college/university. Though she left her home in Berens River to attend high school in Winnipeg at the age of thirteen, Mrs. Jack has maintained a strong and clear dedication to her people, her community and land.
In 1982, Mrs. Jack enrolled in the Business Teacher Education program at Red River College, which is a joint degree program with the University of Manitoba. Upon the successful completion, Joan taught Technical Communication at the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Engineering and was also the Counsellor and Writing Instructor within the Engineering Access Program.
In 1991, Joan entered the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Law. After completing law school, Mrs. Jack took a job with Taku River Tlingit First Nation in Atlin, B.C. In her role as Lands & Resources Director, the recent graduate put her newly acquired legal skills to use negotiating the Aboriginal Fisheries Management Agreement worth 1.6 million and observed the Yukon Self-Government Agreement, the Canada/USA Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiations and several other land claims negotiations. She also participated in the discussions during both the Meech Lake Accord and Charlottetown Accord Conferences. While working for the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, Joan also continued to teach such courses as Intro to Native Studies, Business Communication, and Introduction to Management Principles at the Northern Lights College Campus in Atlin, BC.
Joan returned to Manitoba in 1995 to complete the Manitoba Bar courses and articled with Jack London, then of Buchwald Asper Galleghar Henteliff (now Pitblado) for six months and with Reese Jones of Jones Lofchick Jones and Associates for the remaining 6 months. Joan was called to the Manitoba Bar in June of 1996, thereafter returning to BC.
As an Aboriginal Governance Advisor from 1992 to present, Mrs. Jack developed and delivered a two day Aboriginal Worldview Seminar to over 200 participants and has also worked on constitutional drafting for First Nation governments. Helping to develop governments for her people is an experience she describes as both an honour and a privilege and is work she continues today.
In addition, in 1997, she and her husband started the Nakina Centre for Aboriginal Living and Learning and still operate a Summer Youth Program every summer that involves a 30 km hike in and out to the river through the mountains and life on the river for two weeks where the children and youth live and learn life skills, wilderness survival skills, traditional food preparation skills, leadership skills and team work skills.
Joan Jack, along with her husband and children, returned to Manitoba in 2003 and settled in her birthplace of Berens River, where they built a log home using trees from the surrounding boreal forest and Joan Jack Law Office was also opened in 2003 specializing in Indigenous, First Nation, Aboriginal & Treaty Rights with a small General Practice, including IRSSA IAP Claims.
Joan is always busy creating and doing what she loves, which is working with/for her people! She also sews traditional clothing, does her own beadwork and prepares traditional foods such as dry meat and fish!