Joella is of the Crow Clan of the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, Mayo, Yukon.
In her words: “I come from a long line of strong, vibrant, indigenous women. My matriarchs are teachers, healers, bush women, social advocates, and cultural leaders. They’ve taught me how to make things happen and I work to embody elements of each of the special talents shared by my family and community. In everything that I do, I strive to honour the meaning of my name, which means ‘On the River’.”
An entire chapter of the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation (NNDFN) self-government agreement is dedicated to water management, with the objective to maintain the water of the Yukon in a natural condition while providing for its sustainable use. That means taking care of the waters using the best of modern science and indigenous knowledge.
One of the most important watersheds in the region is the Peel River watershed. At over 68,000 square kilometers, it is one of the largest un-roaded areas in the world. Since time immemorial, members of the NNDFN have traveled through this area, on foot, and by water, seeking physical and cultural nourishment.
Joella is also a professional heritage worker, who continues to bring Northern Tutchone culture and heritage to the forefront of life in the central Yukon. She has traveled to many parts of the watershed with Elders, knowledge holders, and scientific experts. She is also the founder of the Yukon Soaps Company, a successful wellness brand that uses local plants, employs local youth, and provides Joella a way to learn her grandmother’s language.