Valérie is a registered professional forester who specializes in Indigenous issues, forest ecology and ecosystem-based management and planning.  She is a member of the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh, located on the shore of Peikuakami, or Lac-St-Jean.

Courtois holds a degree in forestry sciences from the Université de Moncton.  She has served as a forestry advisor for the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador, forestry planner for the Innu Nation, and as a consultant in Aboriginal forestry, including certification and spatial planning, and caribou planning. In 2007, she was awarded the James M. Kitz award from the Canadian Institute of Forestry for her early-career contributions to the forestry profession.

Courtois has been the Director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative since 2013. In addition to her work in conservation and planning, Courtois is an avid photographer. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Corporation du Mushuau–nipi, a non-profit that encourages cultural and professional exchanges on the George River.  She lives in Happy Valley—Goose Bay, Labrador.