Joan Gentles is well known across the Cariboo-Chilcotin as a tireless community leader whose selfless efforts have brought positive change in the lives of Natives and non-Natives alike.
A member of the Toosey Indian Band, Joan Gentles was the first Native court worker in the Williams Lake area. She was instrumental in sensitizing the courts, the legal profession and the police to Native justice issues.
She is a strong advocate for improving the justice system to ensure that Native people receive fair and equitable treatment when they come before the courts.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia, Joan Gentles became Native Education Coordinator for the Cariboo-Chilcotin School District.
She teaches at schools in remote communities and invariably spends many more evening hours counselling victims of family violence and sexual abuse, conducting alcohol abuse awareness workshops, teaching children traditional activities such as ceremonial dancing, or teaching parenting skills to teenagers and adults.
Joan Gentles’ interests also include a uniquely Cariboo-Chilcotin love for rodeos, in fact, she comes from a distinguished Cariboo rodeo family. Once an active participant herself, she now serves as a rodeo judge and teaches at judging seminars.
Joan Gentles has dedicated her life to serving the needs of the Chilcotin and other Native peoples and to changing the stereotypical attitudes that many non-natives still hold.