Meet Our Team

*in alphabetical order

We are delighted to introduce our Program Team who will be ensuring our visiting teachers, students and volunteers have a fun and memorable learning experience at Cheakamus Centre. Joining Conor AKA "Steelhead" and the rest of the core team are new and returning staff members who are multi-talented and bring many years of experience and passion to their positions:

Etienne "Chinook" Beaudet

Cultural Program Coordinator

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Etienne is excited to be back in the Sea to Sky in the role of Cultural Program Coordinator. He holds a Master of Science in Water Resources Management from McGill University, with a focus on Indigenous ecological knowledge. Most recently, Etienne served as assistant director of environment and land use at the Cree Nation of Wemindji, where he worked with Elders and Indigenous youth on waterways protection in Eeyou-Istchee territory (James Bay area). Previously, he was an environmental project field operator for the Municipality of Saint-Donat. Prior, he was an outdoor guide for Jumpstreet Educational Tours and Mountain Skills Academy, and an educator in the Whistler Museum’s Discover Nature program. His passion for leadership and group facilitation is exemplified in his ability to engage and inspire others in safe and positive ways. Etienne aspires to create learning opportunities that increase knowledge of Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) First Nation culture, bridge cultural gaps, and move forward reconciliation.

Gini "Juniper" Beaumont

Program Manager

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Gini is excited to be joining Cheakamus Centre. Gini brings over a decade of experience in program development, planning and coordination across three provinces. Previous work experience includes program coordination roles with YoWoChAs Outdoor Education Centre, Tim Hortons Onondaga Farms, and most recently with The Yellow Fish Road. Gini‘s responsibilities at Cheakamus Centre involve coordinating programs and activities, overnight supervision and managing youth leaders and other program volunteers. Gini graduated from the City of Edmonton’s Master Naturalist program and currently sits on YWCA Canada’s Young Women’s Leadership and Engagement Committee.

Gabrielle "Newt" Diner

Program Leader

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Gabrielle is excited to share her love and knowledge of the natural world with students and visitors of all ages. Gabrielle holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of British Columbia, and brings a variety of outdoor education experience to her role. Her previous experience includes working as a field technician with Instream Fisheries Research, education guide at the Sea to Sky Gondola, and park operator at Alice Lake Provincial Park. Gabrielle is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable program leader with excellent communication skills. She is always ready for the next outdoor adventure and is keen to develop and lead new nature-based learning experiences with a focus on fun, challenge, and growth.

Erica "Tundra" Ellis

Residential Program Coordinator

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Erica earned a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of British Columbia. Her professional experience includes working as an education guide at the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, and in a supervisory role with Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. Erica has detailed knowledge of the region’s flora and fauna, and proven experience in leading and mentoring youth. Erica is a life-long learner and is looking forward to sharing her passion for the natural world with visiting students and teachers.

Emily "Larch" de Freitas

Program Leader

Emily found her way over the Rockies, and brings a passion for the outdoors and love of the natural world to the team. Before joining Cheakamus Centre, Emily was an outdoor leader at the University of Calgary Outdoor Centre, and an education guide at Company of Adventures, a Calgary-based outdoor adventure and environmental education operator. Emily holds a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Guelph, with a concentration in Molecular Biology and Genetics. Emily is excited to be part of Cheakamus Centre’s experiential learning community, and to use her combined education and outdoor skills to create positive learning experiences for all students.

Alice "Tsawaysia Spukwus" Guss

Cultural Program Staff

We are thrilled to have Alice “Tsawaysia Spukwus” join us for another year of programming at the longhouse. Alice is masterful at bringing innovative learning opportunities to all people through workshops, drumming, singing, dancing and storytelling. She is a member of the Squamish First Nation and is actively involved in the preservation of her language, culture and heritage. Alice brings over twenty years of education experience in First Nations communities as a director of education and an employment coordinator, and as an instructor of traditional arts and crafts. She is an avid participant in healing Tribal Journeys, and co-produced several documentaries including Squamish Nation: Stories from the Heart, Tribal Journeys, and Riding with the First Nation’s Snowboard Team . During the 2010 Olympics she coordinated her family’s sea-going canoe display, Pekultn, in honour of her father. Alice is learning something new everyday and keen to share her knowledge with visiting students, teachers, and parents, to continue to have a positive impact.

Heidi "Glacier" Lessman Simm

Teacher

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Heidi was thrilled to join the Outdoor School Program last year at Cheakamus Centre, and has returned for her second year. Heidi completed her degree in Geography and Natural Resource Management at the University of Northern BC and started her career working with BC Parks and Water Resources. She was introduced to teaching experiential, environmental and outdoor education in New Zealand and the Yukon Territory. These experiences as a teacher were transformative and she has worked with a variety of schools and experiential education programs in BC ever since. Heidi has worked with programs such as the Sea to Sky School for Sustainability Education, the Explore Program at Collingwood School and the Sea to Sky School District. She has also designed and delivered Zero Waste and Sustainability Workshops in the Squamish to Lillooet Region for several years. Heidi recently completed Mindfulness for Educators Training. She believes that spending time in nature is a perfect classroom for mindfulness. When Heidi is not teaching she enjoys spending time in the forest or by the ocean with family and friends.

Aura "Sesemay" Lewis

Cultural Support Worker

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Aura is excited to be back for another year to support the cultural programs at the longhouse. Aura has a genuine artistic talent, including over ten years experience with wool and natural and Indigenous dyeing techniques. A lifelong learner, she loves sharing with others her growing knowledge of native wild edible and medicinal plants. Aura is committed to supporting inclusive, authentic, and joyful learning experiences for all students, and helping to instil a deeper understanding and respect for Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) First Nation culture. In addition to her work at the longhouse, Aura contributes in other experiential learning areas, most recently coordinating the student gardens and the new Farm-to-Plate program. Previously, Aura worked for the YMCA where she led multi-day hiking, camping and canoeing trips. Aura resides on property with her husband and two young daughters, a dog, two adopted rabbits and the occasional transient bear.

Teresa "Granite" Rowley

Teacher

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We are delighted to welcome back Teresa for a third year on the program team. Teresa brings with her a strong background in outdoor experiential and environmental education. She has worked with a diverse group of learners in a variety of education settings beyond the classroom, including outdoor school, day and residential camp programs, wilderness trips, local field studies, and service learning with community organizations. Teresa holds a Masters degree in Environmental Education and Communication, and specializes in curriculum integration. Prior to joining Cheakamus Centre, Teresa most recently served as the department head of the TREK Outdoor Education Program at the Vancouver School Board. Before that, Teresa was a teacher in the Explore program at Collingwood Independent School, camp director at Camp Madawaska, and mountaineering instructor at Outward Bound Canada. Teresa has lived in the Sea to Sky Corridor for over three decades. Her childhood experiences exploring the temperate rainforest and waters of Howe Sound continue to inspire her work today.

Temma “Poppy” Shandon

Senior Counsellor

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Temma is a familiar, friendly face at Cheakamus Centre. Temma is an avid volunteer and has held the roles of High School Counsellor, Counsellor Trainer and Environmental Education Leadership Assistant. She has also worked as a Camp Counsellor for Grouse Mountain Resort and the Paradise Valley Summer School of Visual Arts. Other volunteer experience includes School Program Assistant at the Lynn Valley Ecology Centre and Coach for the Carson Graham Improv. In her new role as Senior Counsellor, Temma assists the program team with afternoon and evening programming, and acts as a mentor for youth volunteers. Temma’s goal is to carry on the lineage of fun and approachable senior counsellors that positively impacted her as a high school counsellor.

Alison “Nimbus” Sokalski

Program Support Specialist

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Alison is returning to Cheakamus Centre for her second year as Program Support Specialist. She brings an understanding of children’s emotional & development needs from her volunteer and work experience at BC Easter Seals Camp Squamish, Camp Goodtimes, & Alberta Easter Seals Camp Horizon. Alison has also worked as a Lifeguard, Swim Instructor & First Aid Instructor for the City of Edmonton & the District of Squamish. As Program Support Specialist, Alison is responsible for supporting the physical, social & emotional well-being of students, youth volunteers & visitors. Her philosophy is to treat every day & new experience as an opportunity for growth. Alison looks forward to making the visitor experience the best it can be.

Cassandra "Cascade" Storey

Program Administrative Assistant

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Cassandra earned a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of British Columbia. Her professional experience includes working as a community engagement coordinator with Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society, and as an aquatic research technician for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Cassandra brings to her role proven leadership experience in mentoring volunteers and interns, and building strong community relationships. Cassandra is looking forward to using her stellar communications and organizational skills to assist teachers in pre-visit preparation to ensure a seamless and memorable education experience for visiting students and teachers alike. Cassandra is an outdoor enthusiast and can also be found out in the field helping with program delivery, or spending her spare time with the goats, salmon, and other wildlife that call Cheakamus home.

Mathew "Siýámken" Williams

Cultural Program Staff

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Siyámken (Matthew Williams) has spent much of his childhood at the longhouse at Cheakamus Centre, supporting and teaching the Skw’une-was program since the age of 13. His grandmother, Keek-yik (Ann Billy) first introduced him to Skwxwú7mesh teaching methods and guided him in the development of his practice by learning directly from family members. In addition to his on-going contributions to provide outstanding indigenous cultural education at Cheakamus Centre, Siýám ken was also a key member of the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre project and provided cultural interpretation mentoring to Aboriginal Youth Ambassadors in preparation for the 2010 Olympics. Leading by example, Siýám ken shares singing, drumming, fishing, woodworking, cedar weaving and ancestral language skills with thousands of students ensuring the continuity of these practices and inspiring others to learn more. Siýám ken is an avid road cycler, music curator, and is on the path to become a fluent Skwxwú7mesh language speaker.

Henry "Khapquolanog" Williams

Cultural Program Staff

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Khapquolanogh - Henry Williams is a key member of the Skw’une-was instructional team. He brings a wealth of knowledge related the history and practices of Skwxwú7mesh people; including a deep understanding of the geography of the region. In addition to teaching activities here at the Cheakamus Centre, Khapquolanogh contributes to archeological, mapping, and historical projects for Skwxwú7mesh Nation in collaboration with a range of post-secondary institutions. His family has lived in this area for centuries and Khapquolanogh frequently shares information about points of significance and family markers. He is a proud father and grandfather who demonstrates through his actions that a life-long commitment to learning, leadership, and community-building has the power to transform and shape a better understanding of the importance of indigenous knowledges. When relaxing, Khapquolanogh is likely to be volunteering at one of a number of organizations he contributes his time and energy to or spending time outdoors.