Team

Steering Committee

Fiona Beaty

Project Founder and PhD Candidate at the University of British Columbia

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Fiona is a settler marine ecologist, conservationist, and community leader who attributes her life’s direction to growing up in Howe Sound/Átl’ḵa7tsem. Having spent her childhood flipping rocks to search for crabs on Bowen/Nex̱wlélex̱wem’s beaches, Fiona was thrilled to serve as the Guide’s Project Director from 2018-2021. She is now delighted to participate on the project’s Steering Committee. Fiona is currently a PhD candidate in the Zoology department at the UBC, where she studies how climate change is affecting marine life and communities in the Salish Sea. She also coordinates nearshore restoration in Átl’ḵa7tsem with SeaChange Marine Conservation and sits as an advisory for various other regional marine conservation non-profit organizations. Fiona lives in Gibsons, Ch’ḵw’elhp. 

Ruth Simons

President, Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society

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Ruth has been a dedicated volunteer in Howe Sound for nine years following a term as Village of Lions Bay Council member (2008-2011). Prior to 2008 she was in the travel insurance industry as a business owner and CEO. She has been advocating for a holistic comprehensive land and marine use plan with the Future of Howe Sound Society for the region since 2012. She has been the Coordinator of the Howe Sound Community Forums for the past 7 years and leading the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative since its start in 2016 through to designation by UNESCO as Canada’s 19th Biosphere Region. A lifelong resident of the region, she is happiest in nature often seen either on the trails or on the water.

Jay Ritchlin

Director-General Western Canada, David Suzuki Foundation

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Jay is Director-General for Western Canada at the David Suzuki Foundation. He leads the Western Canada team in efforts to achieve the David Suzuki Foundation’s vision that we all act every day on the understanding that we are one with nature. He has more than 20 years’ experience working on solutions to environmental challenges including open net-pen aquaculture, offshore oil and gas, marine fisheries, toxins and seafood. Jay previously worked on pulp, paper and toxics issues and spent four years working in commercial fisheries. He has also worked in the U.S. Congress on foreign policy and military issues and spent several years working with Greenpeace in the U.S. and Canada. He holds a Biology degree from Kenyon College, Ohio.

Charlene Williams

Culture and Language Worker at Squamish Nation

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Charlene Williams is of Skwxwu7mesh, Nuu-chah-nulth and Snuneymuxw decent. She was raised in, and currently lives and works within her Skwxwu7mesh territory, in the Squamish Valley. She has worked as a Skwxwu7mesh Culture and Language Worker in the Sea to Sky School District #48 for sixteen years and is currently working at Aya7ayulh Chet, a Kindergarten to Grade 6 Indigenous program of choice guided by the principle that all learning is grounded in understanding the connected relationship of Language, Land and Culture. Charlene descends from a family and community with a deep connection and commitment to stewardship and protection of the Xay Temixw, sacred lands of the Skwxwu7mesh peoples. Charlene is a lifelong learner of her Skwxwu7mesh language, culture, and history and strongly believes that we can utilize these important knowledge systems to contribute to healthy communities and ecosystems.

Isobel Pearsall

Director of Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Marine Science Program

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Dr. Isobel Pearsall is the Director of PSF’s Marine Science Program. She co-ordinated the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salish Sea Marine Survival Project 2014-2019, and is the Manager of the PSF/UBC Strait of Georgia Data Centre. She holds a First class degree in Pure and Applied Biology from Oxford University, a M.Sc. in Ecology from the Department of Biology at Dalhousie University, and a PhD. in Ecology from the Department of Plant Science, UBC. Since 1995, she has worked as a scientist on numerous large-scale ecosystem management and conservation programs for government, non-profit organizations, and private industry. She is an adjunct professor at UBC. 

Project Team

Courtney Smaha

Project Director

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Courtney Smaha (she/her/elle) grew up in Northern British Columbia, and found a passion for the environment at a young age. This early interest led Courtney to pursue a BA in Environment and Sustainability Geography from the University of British Columbia. This degree steered her into the private sector where she has gained extensive experience in environmental management. Currently, Courtney is pursuing her Master’s degree at Royal Roads University in Environment and Management, where her thesis is focused on Ecosystem-Based Management of Marine Protected Areas in Canada. This experience informs her enthusiastic, mindful, and collaborative approach to the Marine Stewardship Initiative. Experiencing the beautiful Átl’ḵa7tsem area by foot, snowboard, and sea, continues to inspire her daily, in creating a sustainable future for all.

Bridget John

Program Manager

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Bridget John’s life has always revolved around the marine realm leading to the completion of a Combined Major of Biology and Oceanography at the University of British Columbia. Currently, she is grateful to be pursuing a Master’s degree in Marine Spatial Planning and Management at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. Previously, Bridget worked as a cetacean researcher in Wales, an at-sea fisheries observer off BC’s northwest coast, and as an ocean educator with Ocean Wise. Bridget is passionate about ensuring the ocean and waterways are sustainable for current and future generations. Living at the head of the fjordal Howe Sound/Átl’ḵa7tsem, in Squamish/Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, her love of its wilderness and flourishing community continues to grow. She is grateful to see the Marine Stewardship Initiative to fruition and is thrilled for its future.

Jonathan Williams

Indigenous Research and Engagement Coordinator

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Ha7lh skwayel Jonathan Williams kwi en sna. Good day, my name is Jonathan Williams, I am a part of the Squamish nation, the Nuu-chah-nulth and the Cree nations. I have lived in the Squamish nation territory my entire life. I have had a personal connection with Howe Sound from birth. From when I was a baby I was welcomed into this world with a traditional welcoming ceremony that had traditions from the Squamish Nation and the Cree people. During this ceremony my feet were washed with sacred water and cedar boughs gathered from Shannon Falls. The teachings of my ancestors has shown me that we have to learn about Howe sound. I have done this in a traditional way and in modern ways. I have a great appreciation for my territory and I hope people appreciate and can understand the importance of a healthy ecosystem.

Myia Antone

Indigenous Research and Engagement Coordinator

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ha7lh skwáyel ta néwyap, Myia kwi en sna, tina chen tl’a sḵwxwú7mesh úxwumixw.

Myia Antone is a youth from the Squamish Nation, as well as having Ukrainian and Norwegian roots. She completed her Bachelor of Environment and Sustainability and First Nations and Indigenous Studies at UBC, and is currently learning her traditional sḵwxwú7mesh snichim through the Squamish Language Immersion program through SFU. Growing up in Squamish, she has always felt a strong connect to the ocean and would take any opportunity to be on top of (surfing, kayaking, canoeing) or underneath (swimming) it. Through this project, she hopes to share her love for Howe Sound and work with different people to protect it.

Vivian Joseph

Indigenous Research and Engagement Coordinator

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Bio coming soon!

Nikita Wallia

GIS Analyst

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Nikita is deeply passionate in using maps to tell stories of conversations, lives and songs lived out of a place. Her approach to cartography is strategic, holistic and research oriented, her practice is about balancing creativity with practicality. She completed her Bachelor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, with a focus on mapping how glaciers and rivers have shaped the landscapes of the South Coast Mountains to the Himalayas. She is skilled in translating questions into geospatial answers with professional experience in ESRI and open-source environments in the environmental, agricultural, renewable energy, and technology sectors. Nikita is delighted to be working with the Howe Sound/Átl’ḵa7tsem Marine Reference Guide to highlight local knowledge and work with like-minded communities to protect this wonderful place. When she’s not making maps she can be found exploring Átl’ḵa7tsem with her skis, bike, snorkel or paintbrush.    

Melina Stokes

Volunteer

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Melina Stokes (she/her) grew up on the South coast of British Columbia. Her love of Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound came from living by its shores and spending countless hours poking around in tide pools as a kid. Recently, Melina completed her BA in psychology with a minor in biology at UBC. During her undergraduate experience, she had the opportunity to be connected with the Ocean Bridge program run by Ocean Wise which introduced her to the amazing Marine Stewardship Initiative. She is incredibly thankful to get the opportunity to live, work and get outside in the beautiful Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound and contribute to the Marine Stewardship Initiative.

Kyla Hemmelgarn

Research Team – Volunteer

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Kyla has worked as a professional photographer for 14 years, as a Park Manager of a marine protected area (Porteau Cove), and is currently studying at the University of British Columbia to complement her experience in the fields of Marine and Conservation Biology. She is especially interested in conservation genetics, and marine ecology. She has a Citation in Environmental Studies from Langara College, is a certified sailboat skipper, a scuba diver, and a CABIN (Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network) field technician. Her work has brought her to many regions of the world, which have inspired a sense of wonder and awe in the ocean and earth, but also an awareness of its fragility, and of the vast reaches of human impacts. She now feels a deep sense of urgency to protect the richness and wild beauty we have right here at home in Howe Sound.

Project Collaborators

Advisors

Andrew Day, Ph.D

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Dr. Andrew Day is the CEO of the BC Parks Foundation. He has a law degree and Ph.D in resource and environmental management. He has developed and led some of the first and most widely endorsed oceans and wild salmon strategies in Canada. He grew up near Howe Sound and his vision and work producing Ocean Watch: Howe Sound Edition formed the origins for the Marine Reference Guide.

Darcy Dobell

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Darcy is the Principal of the wabe consulting, where she works at the intersection of ecosystem protection, Indigenous rights, and sustainable economic development. She has founded and played leadership roles in non-profit organizations form local to national scales, and provided support and advice as we launched the Howe Sound Marine Reference Guide initiative. Darcy also serves on the Boards of Directors of Coast Opportunity Funds, Ocean Networks Canada, and the BC Parks Foundation. Darcy lives in Vancouver with her family.

Andrew Day, Ph.D

Read Bio

Dr. Andrew Day is the CEO of the BC Parks Foundation. He has a law degree and Ph.D in resource and environmental management. He has developed and led some of the first and most widely endorsed oceans and wild salmon strategies in Canada. He grew up near Howe Sound and his vision and work producing Ocean Watch: Howe Sound Edition formed the origins for the Marine Reference Guide.

Darcy Dobell

Read Bio

Darcy is the Principal of the wabe consulting, where she works at the intersection of ecosystem protection, Indigenous rights, and sustainable economic development. She has founded and played leadership roles in non-profit organizations form local to national scales, and provided support and advice as we launched the Howe Sound Marine Reference Guide initiative. Darcy also serves on the Boards of Directors of Coast Opportunity Funds, Ocean Networks Canada, and the BC Parks Foundation. Darcy lives in Vancouver with her family.

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