Nella Nelson is originally from the N’amgis Nation of Alert Bay and married into the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuwx Nation. She is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Nella and her husband, Alex, have also cared for 34 First Nations young people from their home communities.
Nella worked for the Greater Victoria School District for 39 years and retired in 2018. She was a high school history teacher and counsellor for 10 years and was the district administrator for the Aboriginal Nations Education Division, a position she held for 29 years prior to her retirement. She has also taught as a sessional instructor in the University of Victoria School of Social Work, and currently is a guest lecturer for the UVic Faculty of Education. She received a UVIC distinguished Alumni award in 2019.
Nella is a very active member in the Indigenous community. She served on the Camosun College Board of Governors from 1995-2001, and has been Chair of the Camosun College First Nations Advisory Board for 30 years. She is a Board Member of the M'akola Housing Societies, and the M’is kow’a ao Development Corporation. She is a board/advisory member of the University of Victoria Faculty of Education Advisory and Masters of Aboriginal Counselling Program Advisory. Nella completed terms as a board member of the B.C. Children's Commission Multi-Disciplinary Team, the B.C. Human Rights First Nations Advisory, Greater Victoria Police Diversity Team, Sexually Exploited Youth Committee for the Capital Regional District and Hulitan Social Services.
She served for five years as President of Surrounded by Cedar Child & Family Services. She has served as a member of the Ministry of Education Provincial Audit Program Advisory Committee, Ministry of Education Elders & Knowledge Keepers Advisory, the University of Victoria Office of Community-Based Research Steering Committee, the Provincial Representative Advisory Committee on Children & Youth with Special Needs with the Representative for Children and Youth, the Aboriginal Early Intervention Local Advisory Committee and Success by Six Provincial Board Member.
Nella was seconded by the Ministry of Education to work on the curriculum teams that developed the First Nations Studies Framework for the province. In addition, Nella coauthored “A Framework for Developing First Nations Curriculums”, “A Response to the Celebration of 50 Years of Human Rights in Canada.” [Legislated Discrimination in Canada] and Welcome, Friends and Relatives, to our Bighouse: Volume 1, Kwakwak'wakw Potlatch. Nella continues to be involved in a range of cross-cultural learning initiatives including through the Called to Action Collaborative.