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. In 2010 he found his way to Klemtu where he remains passionate about the work he does with the Spirit Bear Lodge team and the Kitasoo/Xaixais community 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.
Jack Plant - Head Guide
Jack was born and raised in the south of England where he studied Animal management and conservation for 3 years at Sparsholt College. Growing up with a mother and father who allowed 26+ pets into their household, as you could imagine, set a foundation for his love and interest for animals and nature. His best childhood hobby was digging the garden for the biggest, nastiest bugs he could find, and coming indoors covered in mud and leeches. It didn't take long before he explored his Canadian roots and fell in love with the vast wildlife that BC has to offer. "Being out in the sticks with the bears and the whales is awesome, but sharing that experience with other nature lovers from all around the world is unbeatable."
As well as a Guide, Jack is a keen wildlife photographer. You can see his work at www.facebook.com/
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.
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
Kyle Smith - Guide
Kyle Smith grew up in the Canadian Capital city of Ottawa and was fortunate to have the Algonquin Park wilderness and wildlife so close to him. It was there he discovered his passions for exploring the backcountry and wildlife photography. Since making British Columbia his permanent home, he now spends his winters in Revelstoke as a professional photographer shooting with big mountain skiers and snowboarders. During the summer months he is a passionate bear viewing guide and is certified with the Commercial Bear Viewing Association (CBVA). Kyle is currently working towards becoming a memeber of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) to help educate the public through his images on the environmental issues that Canada faces. Kyle loves to share his knowledge and techniques on nature photography and can help you get that perfect shot this summer. www.kylesmithfoto.com
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
Yukie Hayashi - Guide
Yukie was born in beautiful Kagoshima, Japan surrounded by the ocean and mountains. With professional guiding and Eco-tourism training under her belt she has, since 2005, spent most of her time around Vancouver Island and the Canadian Rockies as a long trail hiking and kayak 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 and the Arctic. After enjoying her role as a ski patroller for 3 years, she has been working as an expedition guide in Antarctica and the Arctic for the last 5 years. 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. She is excited to share her third season at Spirit Bear Lodge!
John Czornobaj - Assistant Manager
Growing up on Vancouver Island, John began venturing into the wilderness with his family as a young child. This inspired his later years of travel, both locally and globally in search of wild places. His passion for outdoor adventure led him to an education in Adventure Tourism and later to management and guiding positions with a variety of coastal wilderness tourism operations. As a guide with a diversity of skills, including fly fishing, sea kayaking, river rafting, hiking, river kayaking, wildlife viewing and helicopter based adventures, john is passionate about sharing experiences with visitors from around the world.
John spends his winters in the Comox Valley teaching Wilderness First Aid for the Canadian Red Cross and working on Ski Patrol for Mount Washington Alpine Resort. In 2016, John came to Spirit Bear Lodge as a guide and was captivated by the Kitasoo/Xai'xais people, their territory, and the lodge based adventures. Returning for the 2017 season as Assistant General Manager, John is thrilled to continue working with the Kitasoo/Xai'xais to share their culture and territory with guests of Spirit Bear Lodge. For John, there is no better place to be than on the side of a river in an untouched valley right in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.
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.
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!) When not in the office talking bears, she can be found taking care of her own two cubs at home.
Cameron is 14 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 18 years old. She was born and raised in Klemtu, BC. Mercy has been working with Spirit Bear Lodge since she was 15 years old and started as a cultural ambassador with the Sua Performance Program and is now an assistant bear guide.
Mercy Georgia Starr Mason - Guide
The knowledge gained through her work at the lodge has fueled her passion to connect with her traditional territory and culture. She also "loves seeing really cool bears, which is amazing!" On the water kayaking, boating and in a canoe, Mercy is at home.
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.
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.