A brief introduction to the Spirit Bear Lodge guides and operations staff
As a community owned and operated eco-cultural tourism business on BC's beautiful central coast, the Spirit Bear Lodge mandate is to provide economic benefits and sustainable local employment to residents of Klemtu.
Most of our guides, boat operators, cooks and housekeeping staff are all year round residents in Klemtu and are proud to be providing unforgettable experiences to guests from around the world. Guests who travel to ancestral lands of the Kitasoo/Xai'xais in search of an authentic, aboriginal tourism in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest will be welcomed with the warm hospitality of not only our staff, but also the residents of this remote village on BC's Inside Passage. All of our guides are certified in marine and wilderness first aid.
Tim McGrady - General ManagerTim is the General Manager of Spirit Bear Lodge. He brings over twenty years of diverse experience in the tourism industry.
After completing a degree in biochemistry at the University of British Columbia in 1990, Tim began guiding sea kayak expeditions moving between Baja, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez in the winter and the west coast of Vancouver Island in the summer. He also led month long sailing, hiking and sea kayak expeditions for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Mexico, Alaska and coastal BC.
After a brief stint on faculty in the Tourism Department of North Island College on Vancouver Island, Tim began working at Knight Inlet Lodge, leading bear viewing and whale watching excursions. While at Knight Inlet Lodge he helped establish the Commercial Bear Viewing Association (CBVA) in collaboration with a number of other top bear viewing companies in BC.
After completing a Masters degree in Leadership from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC in 2007, Tim took a hiatus from the tourism industry to work as a leadership development consultant in Latin America. Now back home in BC, Tim is looking forward to working with the Spirit Bear Lodge team and the Kitasoo/Xaixais community in Klemtu to continue building Spirit Bear Lodge into a world class international tourism destination. In the off-season, Tim lives with his wife Kelli and two boys Connor and Kai in Comox.
Charlie Mason - Boat CaptainCharlie has been working with Spirit Bear Lodge since 1999 and is a hereditary chief of the Xai’xais First Nation. Charlie is our tourism boat operator, guide and amazing storyteller of his people’s history. Charlie’s quiet confidence is apparent in all of his interactions with guest, who listen attentively to his stories as they travel throughout the vast traditional territory of his people.
Charlie, who has lived in Klemtu his entire life, is the head of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Spirit Bear Song and Dance Group, who perform in the Klemtu Big House, as well as at cultural events throughout the province of British Columbia .
Along with his role in tourism in the summer season, Charlie manages the Robinson/Mason grocery store throughout the year. He holds Small Vessel Operators Proficiency certificate and marine advanced first aid certificate.
Andrew Jennings (AJ) - Assistant Manager
Andrew has been guiding British Columbia's West Coast for almost a decade. In this time he has been lucky to share the beauty of places such as Kinght Inlet, Clayquot Sound, Discovery Islands, Johnstone Strait, The Broughton Archipelago and the Central Coast as bear guide, whale watching guide, wildlife viewing guide and a water taxi captain.
Andrew has grown up on boats, you might say salt water is in his blood! During the 35 years his family owned a Westsail 32' Andrew enjoyed sailing with them up and down BC's coast including, many trips to the Gulf Islands, circumnavigating Vancouver Island and sailing up to Haida Gwaii.
Andrew completed the Coastal Adventure Tourism Diploma through North Island College and continues to add to his certifications which include: Small Vessel Operator Proficiency, Marine Emergency Duties, First Aid, Commercial Bear Viewing Certification. Andrew received his full guide certificate under Spirit Bear Lodge and is an assistant, in the Commercial Bear Viewing Association (CBVA).
When he’s not exploring the wild coast, Andrew can be found pursuing an Electrical Apprenticeship working towards a career in the Renewable Energy Sector. Andrew has a passion for educating and inspiring others, and a great appreciation for the environment and the natural world. Andrew hopes to inspire others to learn about and appreciate the beauty of their surroundings on their journeys with him into the wild.
Murray Barton - Boat Captain
Murray, aka 'Moose', is one of the skippers of our tourism vessel. Raised in Klemtu since he was a young boy, Murray loves nothing more than guiding guests in Kitasoo/Xai’xais territory. As he puts it, “The ocean is my playground.” He brings ample experience and enthusiasm to the position. Murray has had a varied career in construction and infrastructure maintenance with the Kitasoo Band Council.
Philip Charles - GuideGrowing up in the town of Ipswich, in the United Kingdom, Philip's love for nature took him to nearby Otley College where he completed a National Diploma in Animal Management. This love affair then took him to the University of Cumbria where he studied Animal Conservation Science with the National School of Forestry. Modules on his degree program included conservation biology, ecology, animal behaviour, behavioural ecology, behavioural applications for conservation and a final year thesis that explored predator-prey relationships in barn owls (Tyto alba). He graduated in 2011. While at University, Philip also completed an intensive study program in the Pindos National Park, Greece and an Applied Field Studies module in Bandhavgarh National Park, India. In addition to his guiding work, Phil works closely with the Spirit Bear Research Foundation and runs the youth oriented SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) program in Klemtu
Chris is a graduate from the Coastal Adventure Tourism program at North Island College in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Through this program he has gained certification in Small Vessel Operation, Wilderness First Aid, VHF Radio Operation, and Marine Emergency Duties, as well as sailing, kayaking and canoeing certifications. Having spent so much time in the outdoors, he is excited for the opportunity to share his extensive knowledge with others. He also loves animals and photography which makes Spirit Bear Lodge the perfect place to be!
Christopher Arends - Guide
Krista Duncan - GuideKrista Robinson, born and raised in Klemtu, is a guide at Spirit Bear Lodge. She also happens to be the proud mother of four children. She is certified as a small vessel boat operator and has extensive training and certification in Advanced First Aid and is licensed as an EMR Paramedic Level 1. Krista is also active as a Field Technician with the non-profit Spirit Bear Research Foundation. Her prior experience includes work with the local health clinic and five years with Marine Harvest Canada. She loves being outdoors and amongst wildlife and loves sharing that passion with others. She looks forward to making new friends and helping our guests create lifelong memories here in the Great Bear Rainforest.
John (Jack) Stewart - Head ChefJack is an Ottawa Valley born, Red Seal certified chef with many seasons of experience leading kitchens in the silviculture and remote geological research industries. Jack has advanced training in top-end urban restaurants with a specialization in French cuisine and bread making. Jack says he was inspired to join the Spirit Bear Lodge community partly because of our commitment to youth engagement and for our stewardship of the spectacular and fragile environment that is Kitasoo/Xaixais territory.
In the autumns and winters, when not working in the kitchen, Jack works as an educator for disadvantaged youth and volunteers part-time for mental-health and social-justice causes. He is a graduate of Concordia University's Master of Fine Arts Program at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. His research concentrated on advocacy media and the ethics of film documentary practice. He lives in Montreal and directs his own video media practice, providing video content creation for public education, arts and cultural groups and underrepresented communities.
Colleen Starr - Head of HouseColleen works year round in the operation. During tourism season, she does a little bit of everything from working in the kitchen to housekeeping to acting as evening hostess. She has even been known to fill in as acting assistant manager! In our tourism off-season, Colleen attends to housekeeping for all of the government and corporate guests who stay at Spirit Bear Lodge in Klemtu during the winter. She describes her passion as her family and friends, playing volleyball, going for walks, boating and going fishing with her husband Paul. Colleen's daughter Leanne also works at Spirit Bear Lodge in the dining room. At the end of the day, when all our boats are back in dock, she enjoys listening to them tell tales about their day's adventures.
Leanne describes her "absolute favourite thing in the world" as seeing bears. She says, "Nothing compares to being out and about in nature and getting to see my favourite animal in the world!" She also loves looking up at the moon and the stars on clear Klemtu nights. She enoys reading and writing stories. Leanne's mother Colleen is a housekeeper at Spirit Bear Lodge. She describes her heritage as a unique combination of First Nations, East Indian and Irish. Leanne is currently pursing an education is Tourism Management at North Island College in Comox.
Leanne Reandy - Guest Services - Dining Room
Elissa Crouse - Guide
Elissa was born and raised in Eastern Canada but fell in love with the west coast before she even had a chance to lay eyes on it. After studying the coastal temperate rainforest at university, it became her goal to make this magical part of the world her new home. Now she lives to explore it's wild places.
George is a gentle giant of a man who loves to lead interpretive tours of the Kitasoo/Xaixais Big House for both Spirit Bear Lodge guests and for tourists who ply the Inside Passage on private yachts and sailboats. His father was the well-respected elder Francis Robinson and it is from Francis that George has learned much about his Xaixais ancestry. George was born in Klemtu and is a proud member of the Spirit Bear Performance Group who perform drumming and dancing at potlatches and village feasts. He also works in the kitchen at Spirit Bear Lodge.
George Robinson - Big House Tour Leader / Chef's Assistant
Rye Green - GuideRye says that taking people into the wilderness of the BC coast feels like welcoming guests into his home, especially while sharing a mug of hot tea on a rainy day.
An outdoor instructor, guide, and naturalist, his passion for helping people young and old experience the natural world emerged from a delightfully semi-feral upbringing in the coastal rain forests and mountains of Western Canada. From the days of "salmon-berry freedom" as a child, to working professionally as an outdoor leader specializing in self-propelled activities like hiking, mountaineering, canoeing and kayaking, for over twelve years.
Rye brings a cornucopia of experiences and knowledge to our team, and he is never happier than when sharing new discoveries in nature with guests and students. Having built his leadership foundation as a graduate of the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Program (COLT) on Vancouver Island in 2002, Rye has enriched his offerings as an interpreter of the Great Bear Rainforest by completing a degree in Indigenous Studies, a diploma in Intercultural Education, as well as a long list of certifications and technical trainings as a guide. His greatest passions as investigating and communicating about the awe-inspiring complexities of the ecology of 'the coast', including a particular focus on the roles that humans play as permanent members of the great family of life here, in the last great temperate rainforest on the planet. Oh! and he thinks bears are pretty neat too!
Yukie Hayashi - Guide
Yukie was born in beautiful Kagoshima, Japan surrounded by the ocean and mountains. With professional guiding and tourism training under her belt she has, since 2005, spent most of her time around Vancouver Island and the Canadian Rockies as a guide, and is keen to share her passion and knowledge of BC's wildlife.
Yukie's life has led her to amazing experiences. Some of these include adventures in China, Australia, South East Asia, the United States, Central and South America, and most recently Antarctica. After enjoying her role as a ski patroller for 3 years, she has been working as an expedition guide in Antarctica since 2012. Yukie has a vivacious love for life. Her motto 'Never say no to opportunities' motivated her to become a wilderness first aid instructor, a paramedic, and a translator, and her mischievous character and wild sense of humour has brightened many rainy days.
Tina Tibbits - Assistant Chef
Tina is originally from Alberta but has called British Columbia her home for the past 22 years. Tina has an adventurous spirit that flows over into her passion for food and cooking. In 2007 Tina became a Coast Guard Search and Rescue volunteer in Comox on Vancouver Island. In addition to becoming a qualified Coast Guard volunteer, she gained a love for being on the ocean. During a vacation to the South Pacific in 2009, Tina instantly knew she wanted to work on the water as a Chef. In 2010 she began studying at North Island College in the Culinary Arts Program to work towards becoming a Red Seal Chef. Tina learned the importance of fresh ingredients and the art of presentation from working as an Apprentice Chef at the renowned Atlas Cafe in Courtenay as well as Custom Gourmet Catering. Tina has been working as a Chef on private yachts for the past 5 years with her partner, Captain Chris Rasmussen. When they are not working they enjoy exploring the BC Coast on their own sailboat. Tina plans to obtain her Red Seal Chef Designation in 2016. Having a love for nature and the friendliness of remote communities in British Columbia, Tina is very excited to be able to join the culinary team at Spirit Bear Lodge.
Jack has worked for Spirit Bear Lodge for the past two years. He loves to play sports but most of all he loves to get on the boats and into the territory to see the bears! Another emerging passion for Jack is his story telling and can often be found sharing the "Under Water Big House" story to guests.
Jack Reandy - Guide
Daryl is a fibre artist, naturalist and for almost a decade a full time bear viewing guide. In the winter Daryl resides in comox on Vancouver Island where you can find her in her studio, at dance classes, up on the mountain playing in the snow or down on the water sailing. She has also volunteered for more than eleven years in her community with the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 60, where she became a qualified Coxswain in charge of a search and rescue crew. Daryl joined the Spirit Bear Lodge team in 2012 as a lead guide and one of the lodge's boat drivers.
Daryl Dancer - Guide
P.S. if you dont know what a fibre artist is, just ask her when you come to the lodge or go to her website at http://daryldancer.com to find out.
Joanna Gower - Housekeeper
Joanna recently relocated back to BC from Montreal, where she studied fashion design. She grew up in Sooke BC, spending every Sunday exploring tidal pools or rainforests. There she developed a deep appreciation for plants, and everything else outside. Joanna is a veteran housekeeper and sewer. She is ecstatic to spend time in Klemtu, and will surely be found on her day off either sitting on a dock sketching or searching the forest for plants she can photograph.
Lisa Hackett - Cultural Ambassador Program Coordinator
Lisa Hackett was born and raised in Victoria, BC, but has recently moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she attends Dalhousie University in their Medical Sciences Program. She is coordinator of our Cultural Ambassador program where she works with Kitasoo youth and community elders in the development and delivery of culturally authentic performances in the Klemtu Big House by the Sua Youth Performance Group. Lisa is an ACTRA union actor, a performer with Make 'Em Ups Improv Company and a trainer with the Canadian Improv Games. She has had the pleasure of working with some of the great minds behind Picnicface, Mr. D and The Trailer Park Boys.
(Currently on Maternity Leave)
Michelle Lawson - Office Administrator/Reservations Lead
Michelle joined us in the office after our 2013 season and has been the face behind the emails since. Her passion for travel and adventure steered her to a diploma in tourism in 2008 at Capilano University and has taken her to places such as New York, Mexico, Bermuda, England, and extensively through out Canada (Coast to Coast!) In 2011 her and her partner started their family with the birth of their daughter and she is currently on maternity leave with the anticipated birth of their second child in April!
Cameron is 12 years old and can spot wildlife like no one we've ever seen. Out with 8 bear guides one day on a training run cruising the inlet at 30 knots, he spotted a Spirit Bear on the shore. We hired him on the spot. He often joins his Grandfather, Papa Murray - skipper Murray Barton, on board. Whenever Cam is aboard we see orca, humpbacks, bears and many species of birds and its usually him that spots them first. We are looking forward to the day when we can promote him to a lead guide position.
Cameron Robinson - Junior Wildlife Spotter
Medrick (Meddy), was born and raised in Klemtu, and is one of our skippers for our tourism vessels. Meddy tells us that he has been going out on the waters to harvest traditional food ever since he was a young buck and would like to acknowledge his Uncle Clark Robinson Sr for taking him under his wing and teaching him everything he needed to know about operating a vessel and how to move through the Kitasoo/XaiXais waters.
Medrick Robinson III - Boat Captain
Meddy started working for the lodge in 2012 and has often stated that while he is out in the field he is in his “office”. He enjoys working at the lodge because he gets to meet new people every year. Other than work, Meddy enjoys to participate in sports, which include basketball and volleyball. During the winter months you could find Meddy working almost anywhere within the community because he has many skills. Currently, during his time away from the lodge, Meddy resides in the Comox Valley area aspiring to finish his education.
Mercy is 16 years old. She was born and raised in Klemtu, BC. She is a Cultural Ambassador for the Sua Performance Program. She likes working at the lodge because it helps her gain more knowledge about her traditional territory and culture. Also, she loves seeing really cool bears, which is amazing. Mercy loves being on the water, especially kayaking, boating and canoeing. During the winter months she attends the Kitasoo Community school and staying out of the Klemtu cold.
Mercy Georgia Starr Mason - Cultural Ambassador
Jon is 14 years old. He has always lived in Klemtu. He is a Cultural Ambassador for the Sua Performance Program and Tim McGrady’s right hand handy man. Jon likes working at the lodge to keep busy during the summer months and to save up for a dirt bike and a trip to Vancouver. Jon prides himself for his “Jon Travolta” hair and his ability to eat huge portions of food. During the winter, Jon attends Kitasoo Community cool and plays in the snow with his friends.
Jonny May - Cultural Ambassador
Anthony Dale Robinson (Gaga) - Boat CaptainTony has lived in Klemtu all his life and he holds the position as one of our skippers for our tourism vessels. His traditional name is Kajanuwala. What Tony likes most about his job is that it benefits his health and his life. He calls driving his “medicine” because it is peaceful, relaxing and it clears his mind. He loves his Kitasoo/Xaixais territory and being able to share it’s beauty with guests all over the world.
Tony is a local Emergency Responder (EMR) with a certification of Paramedic level 1 and is a volunteer firefighter for the local fire hall. He takes most pride in his 3 children Jalen, Tyson and Shaelyn Robinson. He mentions that he comes from a rather large family line (Robinson/Mason) and that he is of the Blackfish clan. During the winter he tries to keep himself busy by either working at the fish farm sites, Helifor (heli-logging) or by just relaxing at home with his family while being able to collect traditional foods.
Jalen Robinson - GuideJalen is 18 years old and has lived in Klemtu all his life, he holds the position as one of our guides. Jalen began his guiding experience in 2012 with a program called SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) and he has been guiding since. He absolutely loves being a guide because he gets the chance to pass on his knowledge to people who may not know about bears and the Great Bear Rainforest. Jalen especially enjoys learning and telling stories that involve the background of the Kitasoo/Xaixais territory. He describes himself as very outgoing, and is always willing to answer anything to the best of his abilities.
Reginald Lewis Neasloss (Louie) - Boat CaptainLouie grew up in Klemtu, but also has family ties to the Haisla Nation (Kitimaat). Louie holds the title as one of our skippers for our tourism vessels. He has been a boat operator for the lodge for three years, and loves to be out on the ocean as much as possible. One of the perks for Lou while working with us is that he gets the chance to meet new people from all over the world.
Jack Plant - GuideI was born and raised in the south of the United Kingdom where I studied animal management for 3 years at Sparsholt College. With Canadian roots, I visited many times growing up and it didn’t take long before I took an interest in the vast wildlife that Canada had to offer. But it was when I spent 2 years living and working on a remote ranch in BC’s Rocky Mountains where I really fell in love with Canada’s natural world. I’ve spent many hours wandering in the wilderness, fishing, hiking (and getting lost) and I look forward to bear season at SBL to share knowledge, make new discoveries and new friends. I am passionate about travelling, experiencing new cultures from around the world and am a keen musician that loves to teach and make music with others.
Chris Rasmussen - Marine Trainer/Kayak GuideChris is one of the most experienced mariners working on the BC coast today. He is also a gifted marine training instructor who works in many remote First Nations communities delivering high level certification courses. We consider ourselves lucky to have Chris join us annually to delivery our nautical training. He also serves as part time kayak guide at the lodge during our tourism season as he tries to keep himself busy while his partner Tina works in our kitchen as assistant chef. He and Tina run a successful business called Captain and the Chef offering privately guided, contract yacht charters anywhere in the world. During one of his Northern trips to the First Nations communities of Gitxaala, Lax Kwa'laams, and Gingolx he was given the name of “Naa Guk”; which translates into his memorable persona as the “Bald One”.
Steve Robinson Jr - Boat CaptainSteve was born and raised in Klemtu, BC. He is one of the boat operators for our tourism vessels. What Steve likes most about working with the lodge is meeting clients from other places, experiencing wildlife and being able to see bears, wolves and whales. Steve also likes to share stories of the Kitasoo/XaiXais area. He has gone through a vessel-operating course every year, though he is especially fond of being able to learn out on the ocean. He also would like to acknowledge Charlie Mason, Murray Barton and Medrick Robinson III for sharing their knowledge of the area with him when he gets the chance to enjoy their company.
During the winter months Steve works part-time with Kitasoo Forestry and co-manages the Kitasoo Hatchery. He has also been a drummer/singer for the Spirit Bear Song and Dance group since 2006.