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:

Gini "Juniper" Beaumont

Program Manager

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Gini joined the Cheakamus Centre team at the start of the 2016 school year. Gini brings over a decade of experience in 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 began with coordinating programs and activities, overnight supervision and managing youth leaders and other program volunteers. She has now moved into her new role as Program Manager and will be developing and delivering rich learning experiences and high-quality educational programs for all Cheakamus Centre guests. 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.

Laura "Sunshine" Eckert

Field School Program Leader


Laura has just completed the role of Environmental Education Leadership Intern (EELI) at Cheakamus Centre and thoroughly enjoyed her time. In her role as EELI, Laura was responsible for providing support to high school counsellors, visiting teachers and the Outdoor School program staff. She has now accepted the position of Field School Program Leader at Cheakamus Centre, and excited to get started. Laura holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Guelph, and brings a love of outdoor education to her role. Previously, Laura was a volunteer teacher for children and youth at Timmins Therapeutic Riding Association and the Ptarmigan Nordic Ski Club. Laura has a passion for developing leadership and responsibility in young people, and connecting youth to nature, community and each other. Her lifelong goal is to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Erica "Tundra" Ellis

Residential Program Coordinator


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.

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.

Sabina "Salal" Hamilton

Program Leader


Sabina brings a passion for nature and science to her role. Most recently, Sabina was a program assistant at YMCA-YWCA of Vancouver Island Outdoor Centre and Camp Thunderbird. Prior to that, she was a sea kayak guide at Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures. Currently, Sabina is completing a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences at Quest University Canada in Squamish, where she is also a member of the campus emergency services team. Sabina is looking forward to sharing her passion for experiential learning, and to ensuring all students and visitors feel welcome, safe and engaged in nature during their stay.

Sarah Davidson-James

Cultural Program Coordinator


Sarah is the newest addition to the Cheakamus Centre programs team as Cultural Program Coordinator. Sarah's recent completion of the Adventure Management program at Thompson Rivers University led her to the position of Assistant Park Manager at Porteau Cove Provincial Park. Her previous experience with the YMCA Camp, as part of the Leadership Development team, provided her with invaluable skills working in a residential (overnight) leadership program environment, which advanced her coordination and development skills. Sarah's personal interest in natural history and her passion for inquiry-based and indigenous learning, make her a welcome addition to our program coordination team.

Heidi "Glacier" Lessman Simm



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


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



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


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


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


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.

Matthew Williams

Cultural Program Staff


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 Williams

Cultural Program Staff


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.

Amanda "Bee" Zayonc

Program Support Specialist


Amanda is excited to begin her new role as Program Support Specialist at Cheakamus Centre. Her previous experience as a counsellor and counsellor trainer for the Outdoor School program at Cheakamus Centre has provided her with a great understanding of the importance of outdoor learning in nature. Most recently, Amanda worked as a lifeguard, swim instructor and children’s recreation leader at the North Vancouver Recreation Commission. Her enthusiasm, optimism and great communication skills proved invaluable during her volunteer work with the Easter Seals Camp and The YES Camp. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Sciences in nursing with a distinction from British Columbia Institute of Technology. She is very much looking forward to working with students make the most of the experiential education curriculum and helping them stay safe, healthy and happy, all while adding a high level of energy to the Cheakamus Centre team.