Chief John Powell
Mamalilikulla First Nation
Chief John Smith
Councillor Tony Roberts
Wei Wai Kum First Nation
Chief Ronnie Chickite
We Wai Kai Nation
Chief Ken Price
K'ómoks First Nation
Merv, a member of the Dzawad a'enuxw First Nation, has been working with the Nanwakolas member First Nations in various capacities since 1996, and has served as the Nanwakolas Council Executive Director since February 2007.
Merv is a 1994 graduate of the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria and was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1995.
Susan began working with Nanwakolas member nations with KDC Health in 1996. She has been with Nanwakolas since March 2008. Susan has an Associate Degree in Commerce, a Business Management Diploma and is a Certified Accounting Technician. She has been a resident of Campbell River for the past 24 years
Communications and Media contact
For all media inquiries please contact Katherine at email@example.com Katherine is a writer and freelance journalist living on the unceded homelands of the Snuneymuxw First Nation on Gabriola Island. She is of French descent on her mother’s side and Scottish on her father’s side.
The author of eight books, Katherine has been fortunate to work with Indigenous governments, communities and individuals both in BC and New Zealand, where she originally studied and practiced law, and continues to work in intergovernmental relationships and communication between Indigenous Nations and non-Indigenous governments and partners. For inquiries related to the Project Finance for Permanence initiative, please contact Caitlin Thompson at CaitlinThompson@nanwakolas.com.
Melanie is a conservation biologist, conducting applied research and monitoring alongside Nanwakolas member-Nations on grizzly bears and other large terrestrial mammals. Melanie’s expertise includes large carnivore behavioural ecology, human-wildlife conflict and coexistence, and conservation technology.
She has a PhD in conservation biology from Lancaster University, UK and eight years of experience as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Victoria. Melanie is also co-director of the BearID Project, a non-profit research organisation that develops non-invasive technologies for wildlife research and conservation. Melanie has worked with Nanwakolas as a collaborator since 2018 and began working directly with the team in 2023. She has 14 years of experience conducting research in member-Nation territories.
Marine Planning Coordinator
Barb brings over 20 years of experience working in natural resource fields for both private and public sectors. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Earth and Ocean Sciences from UVic and an advanced diploma in GIS from BCIT.
After her time as an exploration geologist in Canada's High Arctic, she worked for over 15 years as a Geographic Information Systems Analyst in various industries. Barb joined the Nanwakolas team after two years with the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast as Technical Planner for the NVI Sub-region. Her work with Nanwakolas involves engagement with provincial and federal governments on marine planning initiatives and GIS and data management.
Marine Program Officer
Mairead is a marine biologist working with the member Nations on the Ocean Protection Plan, Marine Planning Partnership, the Marine Protected Area Network and any other projects happening out on the water. Originally from Boston Massachusetts, Mairead moved to Vancouver in 2016 where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in both Marine Biology and English Literature from the University of British Columbia.
Mairead has worked on the water for over 5 years as a marine naturalist in Boston, Maui and British Columbia, following humpback whales around the world. She has expertise in cetacean surveys and research projects. She also has experience in science communication, knowledge mobilization, and program coordination which she gained during her time working with the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC. Mairead is thrilled to be working with and learning from the member Nations.
Chris has worked in Marine Oil Spill Response since 2011 and has been part of almost every major response on the BC coast during that time. He has a great deal of experience in both field and Incident Management Team roles, up to and including as an Operations Section Chief and has worked internationally with Australian and US Oil Spill Response Organizations.
He has recruited, trained, and managed a team of 22 full time responders, as well as managed a large a diverse contractor base, a fleet of 14 vessels, a complex suite of OSR equipment, and a state of the art facility. In addition to specific Oil Spill Response and Incident Command System training from the International Maritime Organization, Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, and the Canadian Coast Guard, he holds a Master 150 GRT license from Transport Canada. Chris has been a Campbell River resident since 2006. He and his wife Tracy have raised their two children here and love to spend their free time on and around our spectacular waters and are passionate about protecting the natural environment.
Scott has been working with the Nanwakolas member First Nations since 1996 beginning with the Kwakiutl District Council where he worked briefly on the Vancouver Island CORE planning process and then onto the Central Coast Land and Coastal Resource Management Planning process.
He moved to Nova Scotia for four years and completed a Master's degree in Recreation Management from Acadia University in 2005. His thesis was on the Role of Ecotourism in Aboriginal Community Development and he worked with a Mi'kmaq community in Prince Edward Island in this regard. Scott returned to North Vancouver Island to work with the Nanwakolas member First Nations in 2005. Scott's work with Nanwakolas has involved land use planning, conservancy management plans, ecosystem-based management, detailed strategic plans and, presently, developing marine use plans for each of the member First Nations.
Regional Forestry Advisor
Over the past 25 years, Jordan has worked in various aspects of forestry and natural resource management, including as a researcher, teacher, advisor, planner, logger, and small-scale tenure holder.
Through these diverse experiences, Jordan has obtained the unique combination of a doctoral degree, designation as a Registered Professional Forester, and certification as a Faller. Currently, as an advisor with the Nanwakolas Council since 2016, Jordan provides technical and strategic support to member First Nations in regional forest planning and research initiatives. Jordan was born and raised on Quadra Island but now live in the Comox Valley with his wife and two children.
Cultural Wood Access Program and Technical Advisor
Julie is a forest ecologist (RPBio. Ret.) with a background in watershed management, forestry, conservation biology, and tree physiology. She holds a Forestry Diploma from BCIT, a Bachelor’s Degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Alberta, and a MSc. in Environmental Science from the University of Lethbridge.
Born and raised in Coast Salish territory, she has worked as a tree planter, wildland firefighter, forest engineer, biologist, and forest hydro-ecologist across British Columbia in both public and private sectors. She is close to completing her PhD at Simon Fraser University and is grateful to have collaborated with the Nanwakolas Council for her doctoral research which bridges natural science, social science, and Indigenous knowledge using western redcedar (‘wilkw’ in the Kwak’wala language) as a common subject of interest across the disciplines of policy and law, ethnobiology, and ecology. Julie’s interest in cedar and Indigenous forest stewardship, and passion for learning about Kwakwaka’wakw culture, language and history has led her to developing close relationships with several Nanwakolas member Nation cedar carvers. Currently, she is a technical advisor for Nanwakolas and leads the Cultural Wood Access Program when she is not in the forest hiking, biking or xc skiing.
LCC Stewardship Coordinator/Referrals Officer
James, who works with both the Forestry and Referrals teams as the Large Cultural Cedar Stewardship Coordinator and as a Referrals Officer, grew up in Vancouver but spent a lot of time as a kid at his family cabin on Valdes Island in Lyackson territory.
James loves fishing and adventuring (that may be why he chose a career as a Registered Professional Forester that would take him outdoors as much as possible). Before joining Nanwakolas Council, James worked in various roles in forestry, logistics and project management. He and his wife Tash have lived in Campbell River for several years, along with their yellow Labrador dog.
Forest Research Coordinator
Emily was born in Singapore, raised in Ontario, and is of mixed Taiwanese-European descent. She joined Nanwakolas in 2020, after completing an MSc in Forestry from the University of British Columbia. Her varied experiences working with government, non-profit organizations, forest licensees and First Nations, provide her with a unique skill set to effectively support the Nanwakolas member-Nations and their Guardian programs in their important forest stewardship work. She is registered as a Forester in Training with the ABCFP.
Heidi Kalmakoff is the Training Coordinator with the Land & Marine Resource Management team working with member First Nations, Guardians, and Nanwakolas staff to understand the land and marine resource initiatives to help inform the implementation of the Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network Guardian training plan.
Heidi holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from UBC and is a Registered Professional Forester. Before joining Nanwakolas in 2019 she worked for more than 20 years in the coastal forest industry and is a knowledgeable forestry engineer, resource management planner, and environmental auditor. She was intimately involved in the collaborative negotiations finalizing the Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) commitments resulting in the Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order and implementation policies. She volunteered 8 years with the Campbell River Search and Rescue as a searcher, team leader, and trainer, and has lived in Campbell River since 1997.
Cultural Capacity Coordinator
I work primarily with the Ha'ma'yas Stewardship Network of Guardians in building up their cultural and professional capacity. Since starting this position in January 2023, I have been busy developing a cultural framework with the guidance and feedback of knowledge holders. The framework is intended to guide Guardian education/ capacity building activities, projects and programs to be culturally aligned with our Indigenous values.
I was born and raised in Comox BC on Vancouver Island. I am of Sahtloot/Pentlatch (K’ómoks), Kwakwaka'wakw, Carrier, French Canadian and Norwegian descent, and am a member of the K’ómoks First Nation. I carry the name Xanusa'mega from the Gigelgam Walas Kwakiutl
Johnny was born in Campbell River and is a member of the We Wai Kai First Nation. He received a Fisheries Resource Technicians Diploma from Malispina College and holds many other diplomas in GIS.
Johnny started his resource-based career working in fisheries sector in 1997 and then as a GIS AnalystWildlife Resource Planner for a First Nations treaty organization in 1999. Johnny joined Nanwakolas in 2007.
Diana is a GIS analyst working to support the member nations with their diverse range of projects. She has over 25 years experience working in the resource sector before joining Nanwakolas in 2018. Diana received an advanced diploma in GIS/Cartography from the College of Geographic Sciences in Nova Scotia before switching to the west coast. She has lived in a few communities along the east coast of Vancouver Island, now calling Campbell River home.
Referrals Office Manager
Art was born in Campbell River and is a member of the We Wai Kai First Nation. He received a Natural Resource Technology Diploma and Forestry Certificate from Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in 2003.
Art began his resource-based career in 1998 working as a Forest Engineer in the coastal forest industry and then as a Forestry Coordinator for a First Nation treaty organization in 2003. Art joined Nanwakolas in 2007 as Referrals Officer, later becoming the Referrals Office Manager in 2008.
Referrals Office Assistant
Katie was born and raised on Haida Gwaii and is a member of the Haida Nation. She moved to Campbell River in 2011 to further pursue her education.
Katie subsequently graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Criminology. Katie joined Nanwakolas in 2016 as an Administrative Assistant, later becoming the Referrals Office Assistant in 2017.
Wei Wai Kum Referrals Officer
Karl Smith is a member of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation. His grandparents were Hereditary Chief William Duncan Sr. (Da’naxda’xw) and Violet Duncan (Quocksister) from Wei Wai Kum.
He was a commercial fisherman for 20 years until 2000. It was then that he began his transition into the Fisheries stock assessments and management areas with A-tlegay Fisheries Society. While working at A-tlegay for 3 years, Karl received a Fisheries Resource Technician’s Diploma from Malaspina College along with many other certificates. He then worked for a local biological consulting company for 12 years as an environmental monitor, along with being a fisheries and biological technician. Karl then became a Guardian Manager and marine planner for his Nation from 2019-2022.
Casey is a member of the We Wai Kai First Nation.
His Maternal grandfather was Hereditary Chief Way Key- Bill Dick Sr. Before Joining Nanwakolas in 20201, he worked in Fisheries with Atlegay (which also represents 4 of the Nations involved with Nanwakolas), as a reception/data entry clerk. In his spare time he enjoys coaching and watching baseball. His family holds and annual baseball tournament for his late grandfather Bill to raise funds for cancer.
Rick is a member of the K'ómoks First Nation. His grandparents were Margaret Frank (Wilson) from T'sakis (Fort Rupert) and Chief Andy Frank from K'ómoks.
Rick brings a well-rounded blend of education and experience to Nanwakolas. His educational background involves both land & resource management and GIS training. Rick has eight years experience in First Nations politics and nine years working for a First Nation treaty organization. Rick has been working Nanwakolas since 2008.
Erica Roberts is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation and has strong family connections to the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, her grandparents were Ethel (Wilson) and James Dawson. She is a proud mother of two children, Fisher and Arie, and wife to loving supporting husband, Chief Chris Roberts.
Erica's work background is from the tourism and hospitality industry where she worked in an administrative front of house capacity and foodservice management roles. When not at work Erica enjoys travelling, the outdoors and spending time with family. Erica is excited to be a part of the team at Nanwakolas and having the opportunity to work for and support multiple First Nation administrations.