Meet the Team
The Spirit Bear Lodge team is made up of people who are passionate about wildlife and the untamed world of British Columbia's coastal rainforest.
John Czornobaj General 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 guiding and management positions with a variety of coastal wilderness tourism operators. John has many passions routed in the outdoors, including fly fishing, kayaking, river rafting, hiking, and wildlife viewing. John is passionate about sharing experiences with visitors from around the world.more...
John has been with Spirit Bear Lodge since 2016 and 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. less...
Captain John Assistant Manager
|Originally from Montreal, after graduating from Concordia University with a Geography degree John packed his bags and headed West. John has spent the last 22 years working as a wilderness guide, lodge manager, boat captain and tourism consultant on the coast of British Columbia and Arctic Canada. John is a 60 ton Master with Transport Canada and has skippered boats full of tourists from Haida Gwaii to Campbell River. His passions include being in boats surrounded by whales or tucked away in a remote estuary on the coast of BC with grizzly and black bears.
When not at the helm of a boat or in an estuary John spends the offseason at his home on Vancouver Island with his wife and two teenagers. Skiing powder, mountain biking, beach walking with the family is how the Captain spends the off season. With 9 years of experience as a bear guide and 7 as a whale guide, he is always excited to share the BC coast and its bounty of wildlife with guests from around the world.
Krista Duncan Guided Operations Manager
|Krista was born and raised in the Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nations village of Klemtu, on the central coast of British Columbia, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Krista is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to her community and the Kitasoo/Xai'xais lands surrounding it.
Having worked with bears as a guide at the village-owned Spirit Bear Lodge and as a field technician with Spirit Bear Research Foundation, Krista spends many days on the ground observing bears and guiding international guests that come to her territory to enjoy the wildlife, the marine life and to learn about her unique and powerful culture.
Krista is passionate about conserving the wildlife and the ecosystems that her people have relied on and will continue to rely on for future generations, including the future of her four children.
During the winter months, Krista is also working as a Sgüüxs transcriber apprentice and data management with the Language working group of the Kitasoo/Xai'xais, helping revive the Southern dialect of Tsimshian, Sgüüxs.less...
Ben Genaille Executive Chef
|Great food memories develop at an early age, and for Ben, they began growing up in Manitoba. As a youth he learned to hunt, fish and gather, as well, by working his summers on a local farm learning the cycle of the harvest. Along with his moms’ large gardens, Ben developed a high regard for where his food comes from, understanding tradition and an appreciation for eating locally and seasonally.
As a believer in life long learning, Bens’ journey began early in life. Training with some of Vancouver’s best European chefs he moved on to travel through Hong Kong, Italy and multiple trips to Germany.
Working hard, he conquered many achievements through his career. Such as becoming a Red Seal Chef, a Culinary Arts Instructor, a Cooks Assessor, a Food Safe Instructor, a member of Culinary Team Canada in 2008, as well as the Aboriginal Culinary Team in 2012.
With a passion to learn and share food and culture, he began to realize that Indigenous Peoples had much to share that the world had yet to explore and experience. The desire to bring traditional Aboriginal culinary to new chefs, in a way that brings the past and new together so they could share it with the world, drove him.
This passion led him to develop and teach Canada’s first and only Aboriginal Culinary Program (ACP). Developed with First Host First Nation’s for the 2010 World Olympics held in Vancouver, the ACP ran for 5 years at VCC, with great success. Those successful chefs continue today to hold positions as highly regarded executive chefs, sous chefs, food truck operators, and sought after employees in todays culinary world.
Continuing his journey, Chef was part of the cohort responsible for development of the Cooks Trade Assessment with the ITA and GO2 being currently used today. Representing Canada on the world stage, he was also a guest Chef in Hong Kong.
As a culinary educator he is proud of the 16 years that have brought youth at risk, college students and various Indigenous communities around BC into the culinary world. By being a leader in developing unique culinary programming, securing necessary funding and implementing multiple successful programs throughout the province in a way that showcases and preserves time honoured traditions.
By preserving and sharing traditional ways and sharing them in todays culinary standards the world is getting to experience a unique taste that may have been lost forever otherwise.
Darcey Robinson Marine Operations Manager
|Darcey has been working with the lodge since 2017. Darcey is Clark Sr’s son and has been on the water learning from his dad and other elders in the community since he was a boy. Growing up in Klemtu means growing up on the water and Darcey is as at home on a boat as he is on dry land. Darcey knows his territory like the back of his hand and loves to take guests out, especially when his daughter Mercedes is guiding with him. Darcey is also a talented marine mechanic and takes good care of our fleet.|
Wendy Mason Hall Housekeeping Manager
|Wendy has been with Spirit Bear Lodge for a few years now and has taken over as housekeeping manager this season. Wendy has an eye for details and is a joy to work with. Wendy works year round at the lodge keeping rooms and common areas clean and comfortable. Her husband Simon skippers for the lodge and their daughter Mercy has spent time guiding for as well. Though many of our guests never meet Wendy, all our guests appreciate her hard work and attention to detail.
Sandra Duncan Cook
|Raised in Klemtu, Sandra has been working for Spirit Bear Lodge for four years, the local restaurant for five years, and has done catering jobs here in the community. Sandra fell in love with cooking in middle/high school and is registered into the professional cook 1 apprenticeship. Sandra is very passionate about her work, and while she loves to make her favourites, she isn't afraid to get creative and try new things!|
Jack Plant Guide / Operations Assistant
|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/jackplantphoto less...
Heather Robinson Guide
|Heather works as a Teaching Assistant at the Kitasoo Community School from September to June, but her summers are dedicated to guiding guests from around the world throughout her territory. Heather brings spirit and laughter to the SBL team, along with a wealth of knowledge of both the natural and cultural history of this region. Since 2016 she has shared her attentive and caring nature and excellent sense of humour with the lodge, bringing comfort and high spirits to her tours. Heather is just awesome!|
Sierra Robinson Guide
|Sierra began working at Spirit Bear Lodge in 2012 as a Student Guide. In 2013, Sierra worked as a Student Research Field Technician for the Spirit Bear Research Foundation and has been working on-call seasonally for the Foundation since. She also completed an 8-week summer internship called Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS) and talks about how amazingly shape shifting the program was for her. After completing high school in 2015 with a Dogwood Diploma at the local Kitasoo Community School in Klemtu she soon became a mother to her son Austin Robinson in July 2016. While becoming a young mom, Sierra decided to make some concrete career choices and began working for the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Languages Working Group on Revitalizing Klemtu’s two native languages, Sgüüxs and Xai’xais. more...
As well as working here at the Spirit Bear Lodge as one of our Assistant Guides and occasionally, your Front of House Hostessless...
Justin Neasloss Guide
|Justin Neasloss Is a local Guide from Klemtu. He grew up in the territory & was out and about in it from his childhood with his father. He loves to share stories along with his knowledge of his culture.|
David Mason Guide
|David spent time creek walking to monitor salmon when he was younger which gave him an intimate knowledge of the wildlife, salmon, and river systems in his territory. Now David shares his passion for wildlife and his culture with our guests through storytelling, interpreting cultural sites, and guiding people into his territory. David is a gifted guide and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Spirit Bear Lodge team.|
Troy Reece Guide
|After living in Vancouver for 10 years Troy returned to his home town of Klemtu in 2017 aspiring to reconnect with his roots and to learn his traditional language and the stories of his people. Troy began guiding with Spirit Bear Lodge in 2017 and was an instant success. He is also a member of the Súa Youth Performance Group. Troy is a hard-working, positive, team player, always smiling, and with a knack for storytelling. He loves to share the stories he has learned, and maybe a few of his own, so just ask!|
Cameron Robinson Guide
|Cam has been out on Spirit Bear Lodge boats with long time skipper Moose since he was a little kid. Now all grown up, he is a guide in training and continuing to learn to skipper under Moose’s guidance. Cam has performed with SUA and loves spending his summers in Klemtu exploring the territory. His traditional name is Duglas Wism, which means “the boy who sees things first.” So when you’re out looking for spirit bears you may want Cam on your boat.|
Mercy Georgia Starr Mason Guide
|Mercy is 19 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.
The knowledge gained through her work at the lodge has fuelled her passion to connect with her traditional territory and culture. She also loves seeing bears, and all of the wildlife that live in the Great Bear Rainforest. On the water kayaking, boating and in a canoe, Mercy is at home.
Charlie Mason Boat Captain
|Charlie 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.less...
Missy Robinson Kitchen Steward
|Missy has been a fixture at Spirit Bear for years. Missy keeps the dishes clean and likes to have a lot of fun. Missy is a part of the Spirit Bear Lodge family and loves to sing while she washes dishes and helps out around the lodge. Missy has also spent time performing with SUA. The lodge just wouldn’t be the same without Missy on the team, we are lucky to have her.|
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.|
Reginald Lewis Neasloss (Louie) Boat Captain
|Louie 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.|
Jeremiah Robinson Housekeeping
|Jeremiah has lived in Klemtu his whole life and been involved with the Lodge since 2015 doing guide training and housekeeping. He has also worked with the SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) Program where he really enjoyed travelling through his territory by boat and exploring new places. In 2017 he was a research assistant working on bear research with the University of Victoria and the Resource Stewardship Department of the Kitasoo Band Council. Jeremiah is always smiling. He keeps our team laughing and having fun!|
Johnny May Guide
|Johnny has participated in the S.E.A.S program where he spent time exploring his territory and learning about his roots. Johnny is a talented performer and basketball player, he was a star of the SUA youth group drumming and singing traditional songs. Johnny brings energy and positivity to everything he does, including guiding.
Michelle (Lawson) Brown Office Admin/ Reservations/ Marketing
|Michelle joined Spirit Bear Lodge in the 2013 season and has been the face behind the emails ever since.
Her passion for travel and adventure steered her to a diploma in tourism management in 2008 at Capilano University and has taken her to places such as New York, Mexico, Bermuda, England, and extensively throughout Canada (Coast to Coast!) When not in the office talking bears, she can be found taking care of her own two cubs at home.
Bridget Orsetti Office Admin/ Reservations/ Marketing
|With a business management education, former business owner and adventure guide Bridget has worked in the tourism industry for 25 years. Having guided and lived throughout Canada and Internationally; adventure, culture and wild places are the common thread through it all. Her specialty lies in improving systems and business development.
If she isn't working in the industry she is playing in it, enjoying the snow, ocean and mountains with her family and friends. Bridget's passion remains the same, protect the environment by sharing it's importance with people who care.