We do historical research but we are more than researchers. We are knowledge-seekers.
Our firm is made up of friendly history nerds located in Ottawa and has been performing historical research and analysis since 1983.
We have worked for a variety of clients, including First Nation governments, Indigenous organizations, commissions, law firms, various departments as well as branches of the federal government and provincial governments.
Several research projects have been joint projects between First Nations and other parties, such as government or corporations.
We strive to provide clients with high-quality research products, analysis and advice. Our research is based on a wide variety of sources, including primary documents, published sources and oral and living history. We have extensive knowledge of the litigation process and complex jurisdictional, historical, constitutional, legal, political and cross-cultural environments affecting litigation strategies.
© 2022 Joan Holmes & Associates Inc.
B.A. | Database & Administrative Coordinator
Heather began working for the firm in 2013. In 2017, she graduated from Carleton University with a BA in English with a minor in History. Heather is always willing to take on a variety of database work and is very technologically well-versed and adeptly tackles various IT duties. On top of that, she is key in helping to ensure the quality of the firm’s products, has responsibilities for document images and collections, along with completing various research functions, and undertakes administrative tasks.
She has contributed her talents and hard work on a wide variety of projects and her extraordinary organizational and communication skills are greatly valued.
“We work on challenging and important issues that require us to continue learning and growing, both as individuals and as a firm. I’m very fortunate to work with a group of dedicated and brilliant people.”
BPAPM | Research Assistant
Alex began working for the firm in 2021 after he graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management. In his time with JHA, he has conducted research and research assistant tasks on a variety of projects including treaty benefits, Métis history, and water pollution, has worked with oral history interview transcripts, and has gained experience with primary documents at LAC and the Archives of Ontario. His knowledge of government policy has helped to inform his research into issues of First Nation and Métis relations with government.
M.A. | Editorial and Research Assistant
Olivia came to join the firm in 2023. She holds a BA in English with a minor in History from Carleton University and an MA in Information Studies from McGill University, as well as an Administrative Assistant Diploma from Willis Business College.
Over the years, she has gained experience in such areas as administration, archiving and database management, as well as having plenty of opportunities to hone her research skills.
Olivia strongly believes in the importance of archiving and maintaining historical records, particularly those regarding the Indigenous peoples of Canada. JHA’s aim to provide quality research and writing services in order to promote a better understanding of Canada’s historical issues inspires her to do her own part as an Editorial and Research Assistant.
M.A. | Researcher
Jordan started with JHA in 2023. He earned an MA in History from the University of Ottawa in 2021 and holds a BA Hons, also in History, from Wilfrid Laurier University, earned in 2016. He is well versed in Canadian and American history with research specializations in the Canadian Residential School System, diplomatic history, and military conscription law, among others.
He has research experience in Indigenous genealogy and has worked with scrip records. Jordan also brings extensive experience in researching NCTR records and parish records from both the Anglican Church and United Church national archives, as well as in researching statistical data.
Since joining JHA, he has contributed to research projects involving treaty-related issues, including treaty annuities, consulting archival materials, and inputting information into databases.
Jordan explains: “History has always been my passion and working with JHA and in historical research in general has allowed me the opportunity to work with records from a variety of governmental organizations, museums, and heritage societies on present issues in Canadian and Indigenous history.”
M.A. | Researcher
Spencer joined JHA as a historical researcher in 2023. He holds a BA (Hon.) and a MA in History from the University of Guelph. During his academic career, he published two academic articles and received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council CGS Master’s Award.
Spencer has extensive experience in historical research at museums, including the Guelph Civic Museum and Wellington County Museum, as well as archival research at the University of Guelph Archival and Special Collections, Simcoe County Archives, Archives of Ontario, and Library and Archives Canada. Additionally, Spencer has work experience indexing and transcribing census records and volunteer curatorial experience cataloguing artifacts at the Guelph Civic Museum.
Spencer contributes research, analysis, written communication, and organizational skills to his work for JHA and its clients as well as a global perspective from extensive travel and work experiences abroad. Since joining JHA, he has contributed to research projects involving treaty-related issues such as reserve land and resource usage and management, consulting archival materials, and inputting information into databases.
Spencer feels honoured to be a part of a talented and experienced team at JHA. He appreciates the opportunity to apply his talents in a meaningful way by contributing to the resolution of historical issues and contributing to the process of reconciliation.
B.A. Hons. | Senior Project Manager & Analyst
Alison began working full-time in the field of Indigenous rights and land claims as a researcher for JHA in 1991, and previous to that, worked as a student at the Specific Claims Branch. Beginning in late 1994, she managed and co-managed her own successful businesses conducting historical research and analysis for First Nation, non-status and Métis clientele, as well as joint research projects between governments and First Nations. We welcomed her back to JHA as a project manager in 2007.
Alison has researched and written numerous reports on multiple claims topics concerning Indigenous Nations from all across Canada. She also has been privileged with much experience in gathering and compiling oral history knowledge. An advanced knowledge of claims issues and their complexities informs Alison’s role as senior project manager and analyst at JHA. This depth of experience also informs her role of overseeing staff development at the firm and she produces the company newsletter. She is also proficient in French and has some understanding of the Cree and Anishnaabe languages.
Alison holds a BA Joint Hons in Native Studies and History from Trent University. This background complements her keen interest in contemporary legal and jurisdictional issues affecting Indigenous Peoples’ communities, such as the impacts of modern development activities on Northern communities, self-governance, historical land/resource use, and the importance of including oral history in land claims, tribunals and litigation. She is enthusiastic about the application of history to these contemporary issues and all matters relating to Aboriginal rights.
“I love my work because I am constantly learning, and because it matters so much to our clients and to our staff. I am humbled by how much there is to know in order to do my part in righting past wrongs.”
B.A. | Office Manager
Grae joined the firm as Office Manager in 2018 with over 21 years of office, financial, project and human resource management experience. She is responsible for the administration of payroll and benefits, bookkeeping and oversees office operations. In her capacity as an Alternate Company Security Officer, Grae is the liaison with the federal government for Personnel Security Screening and company security issues.
B.A. Hons. | Researcher
Julia first started at JHA in the winter of 1998 while she was completing her BA Hons in History at the University of Ottawa. She worked as both a researcher and as the firm’s first editor for nearly four years before moving on to study textile design at Sheridan College in Oakville. Between 2002 and 2009 she worked for the firm on an as-needed basis using her keen eye for detail and her never-ending curiosity to assist with various research projects, as well as conducting research at the Archives of Ontario in Toronto. Julia returned to the firm full-time from 2010 to 2014, during which time she worked as a historical researcher, the firm’s co-op student supervisor, and backup editor. She then founded her own massage therapy practice and became a part-time contractor, working on a wide variety of projects before returning to working for the firm full-time as a researcher in May 2022. Julia currently resides in Victoria, B.C., allowing her to assist in the company’s research at the Regional Offices of LAC and CIRNAC, as well as at the provincial and local archives.
Julia is grateful for the collegial atmosphere at JHA and values working alongside dedicated colleagues to right historic wrongs.
M.A .| Senior Researcher
Fabian holds an MA in Contemporary History from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, where he also studied Anthropology and Political Sciences. In Canada for more than a decade, he has gained expertise in historical and archival research, project management, and database entry and maintenance. Fabian has acquired extensive knowledge on residential schools throughout Canada, having worked on various federal projects related to their legacy, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Fabian is fluent in French and English. In his time with JHA since 2017, Fabian has contributed to various projects in the areas of pre- and post-Confederation treaties and surrenders, treaty benefits, surveys, the fur trade in New France, Indian day schools, trust accounts, leasing on reserves, and Indian Affairs policy, and traditional Indigenous lands. He has also recently created French historical content for students and teachers alike for a French school board in the National Capital Region.
Fabian is proud of having played a part in the opening of the Fairbairn House Heritage Centre in beautiful Wakefield, Quebec. He worked as the Project Coordinator for the Board of Directors who transformed an old house into an innovative heritage centre.
“At JHA, we work on a great variety of projects, which keeps things very interesting and meaningful. I’m very happy to be part of such a great team!”
B.A. Hons. | Information Management Specialist
Elizabeth began working at the firm in 2019 as a co-op student while pursuing her BA Hons with Majors in History and the History and Theory of Art at the University of Ottawa, which she completed in 2021. In 2023, she graduated from the same school with a Masters of Information Studies. During her undergraduate degree, Elizabeth’s research focused on the intersection of her two majors, or how visual culture could be better used to inform our understanding of the past. For her graduate degree, she was especially interested in better understanding how knowledge is generated, and in what ways we seek out saving and sharing it. She was also interested in knowledge organization and record keeping.
Elizabeth now works as JHA’s Information Management Specialist. She is working to develop the collection of resources used to inform the firm’s research projects, and ensuring that information is easily accessible and readily available to all staff. She also continues to assist with administrative tasks and collecting research materials from libraries, archives, and digital repositories.
She is very proud to be part of a forward-thinking, supportive, and dynamic workplace which contributes to the rectification of historical wrongdoings and the correction of the colonial historical narrative.
B.A. | President
Tara first joined the firm in 1989 and in her 34 years here has developed an impressive expertise in research for Indigenous claims and litigation. She was promoted to Research Director in 1998, Vice-President in 2011, and President in 2014.
Tara has a reputation for performing detailed and accurate research in the demanding areas of treaty land entitlement, genealogy, and membership issues. She has worked on many projects pertaining to treaty land entitlement policy and practice; reserve establishment and surrenders; expropriations of reserve land for railways, roads, and other purposes; treaty rights and benefits; and pre-Confederation treaties and surrenders.
Tara has extensive experience in developing research methodologies and best practices. She gave presentations on researching and preparing successful claim submissions at the National Claims Research Workshop as well as at Pacific Business & Law Institute’s conferences on Specific Claims. Strategies for performing research and document management in the face of technological and institutionally based changes continue to interest Tara, and she maintains a key role in ensuring the firm remains up to date with the latest advances.
“I continue to find it very rewarding to help understand and resolve historical grievances. My evolving role over the past 35 years with JHA provides me with a valuable perspective for both clients and staff. It is tremendously rewarding to work and collaborate with such an amazing team of dedicated and engaged people.”
M.A. | Senior Research Analyst
Carol started as a researcher with JHA in 2003 and has worked as an analyst since 2007. She has researched and written reports on a range of issues, including expert reports on the management of trust funds, the establishment of reserves, and land sales. Many of these projects have included the presentation and analysis of large volumes of historical data concerning funding, revenues, and expenditures. Her current areas of interest include pre-Confederate history and Crown management of First Nations lands and moneys. She has a particular focus on exploring the relationship between policy and practice.
Carol values working at JHA for its dedication to historical research as a tool for reconciliation. She holds an M.A. in Canadian Studies and a B.A. Hons in Cultural Anthropology, both from Carleton University.
PhD. | Researcher
Judith has an MA and a PhD in History from Brown University, where she studied the history of international law, minority protections, and state violence in the modern period. She began working as a researcher for JHA in 2019. She brings experience researching in both public and private archival repositories in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Britain. In Canada, she has conducted research for the Truth and Reconciliation project and worked as a reference services archivist at Library and Archives Canada. In this latter capacity, she focused on various RG10 (Department of Indian Affairs) tools. Judith’s work at JHA has centred on projects related to treaty rights and benefits, including annuities. She has also gained experience in the areas of reserve establishment, the loss of reserves, and research into historical Indigenous land use. In addition to research within RG 10, Judith has worked with treaty paylists and Hudson’s Bay Company records. She is quickly developing expertise in the area of treaty benefits, while also becoming increasingly familiar with claims and litigation in general, including issues, jurisprudence, and processes.
M.A. | Researcher
Thea first worked with JHA in 2016 as a co-op student, and joined the team as a researcher in 2021. She holds a Joint Honours BA in History and Political Science from the University of Ottawa, and an MA in International Relations from the University of Victoria where she specialized in feminist and post-colonial theory. Before joining JHA, Thea worked several research jobs including in the government at the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
Thea has developed experience in research tasks such as document review, collection and analysis. She has worked specifically on several financial mismanagement claims, as well as paylist analysis, and analysis of surrender proceedings. Her excellent ability to learn new things quickly always makes Thea a valued asset to any research team.
Charlotte first joined JHA on contract in 2010 providing technical support and assisting with clerical and administrative work. During her time with the firm, she has gained valuable experience in the areas of land sales and valuations on reserves, natural resource rights and revenues, trust fund account analysis, and federal management of First Nation trust fund account activities. Her involvement in these projects has contributed greatly to the company’s reputation for excellence in organizing and analysing large amounts of data and the history of land and fiscal management of First Nations’ assets.
Charlotte is mixed-Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw, and currently lives in Tkaronto (also known as Toronto), allowing her to assist in the company’s research at the Archives of Ontario, the Baillie Special Collections Centre, and various provincial government offices.
M.A. | Editorial & Research Assistant
Ginny joined JHA in 2021. She holds an MA in History from Trent University with a specialization in British military and religious history. She also holds a BA Hons degree in History from Trent University. Ginny is currently pursuing a Ph.D in History.
Ginny’s attention to detail, excellent written and verbal communication skills, as well as organizational skills make her a great editorial assistant. Since joining JHA, she has also contributed to many projects in entering documents into databases, deciphering historical letters and financial statements, and compiling information on payments of treaty benefits.
Ginny is an important part of the editorial team at JHA, helping to ensure that the company’s work meets its own high standards.
M.A. | Senior Editor & Research Analyst
Adrienne began working for the firm in 2001, after graduating from Carleton University with an MA in Canadian Studies. She also holds BA Hons degrees in International Relations and Canadian Studies, and earned a Law Clerk diploma from Algonquin College in 2014. In her dual role of Senior Editor and Research Analyst, Adrienne has developed a detailed knowledge of Canadian and Indigenous history and is expert at the preparation of reports, tables, and databases that clearly present research findings to clients.
Adrienne prides herself on the superior quality of the firm’s deliverables, and enjoys the learning experience that comes with editing reports on a variety of subject matters. Her professional experience also includes conducting archival research, analysis and report writing, managing research and editorial teams, and transcribing historical documents. Her own research specialization is treaty benefits claims.
B.A. Hons. | Researcher & Co-op Student Supervisor
Laura began working with Joan Holmes & Associates in 2015 as a co-op student and joined the firm as a researcher in 2017, after earning a Joint Honours BA in History and Political Science from the University of Ottawa. Before joining JHA, Laura also completed co-op terms with Environment Canada and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
Laura is excellent at data management and is meticulous about organizing large amounts of information extracted from a range of historical documents. She has performed research on a number of topics, including First Nation and Métis genealogy, treaty land entitlement, treaty rights and benefits, paylist analysis, historical Indigenous land use, and Indigenous education. Besides being a skillful researcher, Laura’s work includes the transcription of historical documents, the creation and management of databases, report drafting, and the preparation of document collections.
M.A. | Research Analyst
Since joining JHA in 2006, Krista has worked on a wide array of projects in the field of Indigenous rights and claims, researching topics including pre-Confederation treaties, surrenders, and land transactions in present-day Ontario and Quebec, western treaties and surrenders, government policy, Traditional Knowledge, historic Indigenous land use and occupancy, reserve creation and expropriations, band amalgamation and membership issues, mixed-ancestry research, and Indian Residential and Day schools. Her professional experience includes conducting archival and other historical research, preparing research plans and methodologies, oral history interviewing, leading small research teams, document analysis and interpretation, and writing historical research reports, including an expert report on land surrender issues. She has also helped to develop learning materials relating to claims resources and research practices, and, from 2014 to 2017, worked as JHA’s co-op student supervisor.
Krista holds an MA in Canadian Studies (Carleton University), as well as BA degrees in English and History. Her Master’s research project concerned the displacement of Indigenous peoples from national parks. Krista conducts research in both English and French and has accrued extensive experience working with diverse archival and other records from government, private, religious, and digital archives and repositories across Canada. She is also interested in issues regarding the usage of oral history in Indigenous claims resolution and reconciliation processes.
Krista brings strong analytical abilities and a notable dedication and diligence to all of her work for JHA and its clients.
B.A. | Research Assistant
Trevor started with JHA in 2021 and is a full-time research assistant performing database work and other tasks on a variety of projects.
B.A. Hons. | Senior Researcher & Project Supervisor
Vanessa holds a BA Hons in History from King’s College at the University of Western Ontario and an Archives Technician Diploma from Algonquin College. Prior to joining the firm in 2003, Vanessa worked at the National Archives of Canada (now Library and Archives Canada) arranging and describing labour and union records and was the first Archivist in King Township (north of Toronto) where she conducted a widespread records survey which resulted in the establishment of the King Township Archives.
Vanessa performs archival and library research, historical and document analysis, report writing, genealogical research and database work. She has developed considerable experience in the areas of numbered treaties, reserve establishment, treaty benefits, treaty land entitlement, band membership, paylist analysis and land use and occupation.
She has experience working with a variety of government records and has conducted research in both public and private archives in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, as well as at Yale University in the United States.
During her time at the firm, she has amassed considerable experience in the identification and enrolment of rights-bearing Algonquins as potential beneficiaries to the Algonquins of Ontario treaty negotiation process.
M.A. | Senior Researcher & Project Supervisor
Hans joined JHA as a full-time researcher in 2008. He holds a BA Hons in Political Science and History and an MA in Public History, both from the University of Waterloo. Before joining JHA, Hans worked for several federal departments, conducting research and writing on departmental history and litigation.
Hans has amassed considerable archival experience at the national, provincial and local levels. In addition, he is familiar with the departmental records of Indian Affairs, Health & Welfare, Foreign Affairs, and National Defence. Hans has worked on research projects involving schools, land claims, treaty grievances, natural resource rights (in particular minerals, timber, water and fisheries), First Nation veterans, and the constitutional jurisdiction of programs and services. His rigorous approach and overall efficiency make him a valued asset in leading research projects, several of which produced large document collections and databases.
B.A. Hons., PLCGS | Genealogical Researcher
Joanne began working with JHA in 2017 and holds a BA Hons in History from the University of Lancaster, England. Joanne also holds two Professional Learning Certificates in Genealogical Studies from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, specializing in English and Canadian records. She is a dedicated, analytical, and enthusiastic genealogical researcher with over 15 years experience in working with genealogical records.
Joanne’s work experience includes transcription of historical documents, collection and analysis of civil and church records, Hudson’s Bay Company records, and treaty paylists, as well as report writing on individual family genealogies. She also has experience working at local and national archives, in online genealogical databases, and in larger research libraries, such as the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
B.A. | Researcher
Robert holds a BA Hons. in English Literature from Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina. After managing an independent bookstore in Ottawa, he joined the firm in 2005 as a researcher. He has performed archival and secondary research on a wide range of issues relating to treaty rights and obligations, management of Aboriginal resources and reserve lands, First Nations health and education, and the management of pre- and post-Confederation trust funds.
Robert’s passion for learning has served him well in his role as researcher. Since he joined the firm, he has acquired a great deal of knowledge regarding the Robinson Treaties and Treaties 3 and 9, contemporary and historical issues relating to Aboriginal resources, and mixed-ancestry land claims.
M.A. | President & Founder
Joan’s reputation as an expert in the field of Indigenous land claims and litigation research is built on over 38 years of experience in the field. She has appeared as an expert witness on behalf of the Kahkewistahaw First Nation (2018, 2020), Blood Tribe (2018), Missanabie Cree (2010, 2015, 2016), Micmac de Gespeg (2015), City of Brantford (2009), the Ipperwash Commission of Inquiry (2004), the Province of Alberta (2002), J. Johnson of the Kawartha Nishnawbe, a non-Status Anishinaabe community (2001), Samson Cree (2000), and Grand Chief Michael Mitchell of Akwesasne (1996).
Joan has presented at a number of conferences and workshops on a wide range of topics, including best practices for conducting archival research and documenting historical grievances, current and future developments in membership, researching non-status communities, the impact of Indian Act legislation on Indigenous women, sovereignty issues, and many others.
Joan acts as the Enrolment Officer for the Algonquins of Ontario treaty negotiations. She is particularly interested in how First Nations groups and individuals are identified as eligible for inclusion in treaties with the Crown and in the recognition of new rights-bearing groups. She has recently worked on several focused investigations of claims to Aboriginal Title.
B.A. | Researcher
Sheila first worked with JHA as a co-op student in 2006 and joined the firm as a full-time researcher in 2008, after earning a BA Hon. in History from the University of Ottawa. Since then, she has conducted historical research in a number of areas, such as genealogy, treaty land entitlement, education, trust accounts, and subterranean mineral rights.
Sheila is extremely adept at the transcription of financial and land-related documents and in the extraction of detailed information from original documents. In addition, she is often called upon to edit databases and reports for accuracy of information and quality of writing and has assisted in writing reports.
M.A. | Research Analyst & Co-op Student Supervisor
Simon has an extensive research and writing background in Indigenous claims and litigation as well as Canadian social and military history. He holds an MA in History from the University of Ottawa where he studied the rights and socio-economic status of Black Canadians. Before relocating to Ottawa, he earned a first-class BA Hons in History from the University of New Brunswick, where he studied social memory and commemoration. Simon’s research into the recruitment policy of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the perspectives of black volunteers during the Second World War was published by the Canadian Military History journal.
Simon joined JHA in 2010. He has contributed to a variety of Indigenous claims and litigation projects in the areas of post-Confederation treaties and surrenders, railway expropriations, surveys, treaty benefits, treaty land entitlement, trust fund accounts, education, and BC history. His experience includes collecting and analyzing archival documents and maps, creating and maintaining databases, and writing analytical research reports, including expert reports. Simon also draws from the experience he acquired working in Litigation Support and Document Management Services at Health Canada.
Simon is scheduled to provide expert testimony for a claim at the Specific Claims Tribunal in 2022. Simon is also responsible for interviewing, supervising, and helping to train the firm’s co-op students.