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.
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. As an adventure guide with a diversity of skills, including fly fishing, kayaking, river rafting, hiking, wildlife viewing and helicopter based adventures, john is passionate about sharing experiences with visitors from around the world.
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.
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.
Ben Genaille - Executive Chef
Originally from Manitoba, Ben has been involved with food from a very early age; spending summers working on a local farm harvesting, hunting rabbits and partridge, all by the age of eight. Moving west, Ben's wife Carolyn traveled to beautiful British Columbia, now married for thirty-four years they are blessed with three wonderful sons and two amazing grandsons.
Ben has worked in the hospitality industry for most of his career. Working with some of Vancouver's best European chefs when he was young, provided him with a strong culinary foundation. His travels to Hong Kong, Italy, and Germany have ignited a new passion for learning from other cultures, and clarified how much indigenous peoples have to offer the culinary world. A lifelong passion for culinary learning has also led to exploration of food of cultures from the past. Ben is a Red Seal chef, culinary arts instructor, cooks assessor, food safe instructor, as well as a member of Culinary Team Canada in 2008 and Aboriginal Culinary Team in 2012. Ben has a passion for learning and sharing aboriginal food knowledge from around the globe and is excited to join Spirit Bear Lodge to learn, share, and grow with the team.
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
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.
Alex Mowat - GuideAlex grew up, close to Banff National Park, hiking and camping with his family. Through early childhood experiences with the Nakoda First Nation, Alex learned the value of story-telling and the importance of oral tradition. After a ten-year career as an international exchanges coordinator at the University of Calgary, he moved to the Canadian Rockies and began building his career as an outdoor educator, parks information officer and hiking guide.
In the last decade he has been involved in human-bear conflict reduction educational roles and bear DNA researchprojects. In 2015, Alex became a bear-viewing guide, first in the interior of BC and in 2016 on the central coast, at Spirit Bear Lodge. Most recently, Alex began working as a polar bear viewing guide in Churchill, Manitoba. When back home in Canmore, Alberta, he continues to work with students, facilitating programs like "Grizzly Bears Forever." A central thread to Alex's work is to help people respond to bears not from a place of fear but instead from a place of knowledge and understanding.
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.
Brady Stjerneberg - GuideBorn and raised in western Canada, Brady has always looked to the natural world for inspiration and guidance. A commitment to social, as well as environmental justice has led him into various movements of settler responsibility when regarding the history of colonization and how it affects indigenous rights and empowerment in a modern setting. After attending Vancouver Island University in the First Nations studies program, Brady believes that Spirit Bear Lodge is one of the best platforms available to blend his academics, passions, and beliefs; and is grateful for the opportunity to learn, share, and teach about the unique world he calls home.
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.