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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...

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. more...

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.

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!

Krista Duncan   Guide / Operations Assistant

  Born and raised in Klemtu, Krista is a wealth of knowledge about her community and the lands surrounding it. Having worked with bears as a seasoned guide at Spirit Bear Lodge and as a field technician with Spirit Bear Research Foundation, Krista spends many days on the ground observing bears. Krista is passionate about conserving wildlife and the ecosystems that they rely upon for future generations, including her four children.

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 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!

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.

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!

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...

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.

Elissa Crouse   Guide/ Operations Assistant

  After completing her honours bachelor of Environmental Science degree and working in some of Western Canada’s most iconic destinations, including Banff and Jasper National Parks and the Clayoquot UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Elissa set her sights on the Great Bear Rainforest. In 2013 she joined the Spirit Bear Lodge team and fell in love with this untamed and unparalleled part of the world. To be invited year after year to live in the beautiful community of Klemtu in the territory of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation has been a great honour for Elissa. Likewise, her time spent getting to know the rivers and wildlife of this region has filled her with immense gratitude and joy, an experience she looks forward to sharing with guests. Elissa loves to share her knowledge of bears and salmon, as well of some of her more eclectic specialties, like analyzing animal scats, tracking banana slugs, and admiring the graceful dance of nudibranchs, so please do ask! more...

Elissa loves to share her knowledge of bears and salmon, as well of some of her more eclectic specialties, like analyzing animal scats, tracking banana slugs, and admiring the graceful dance of nudibranchs, so please do ask! less...

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 member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) to help educate the public through his images on the environmental issues that Canada faces. more...

Kyle loves to share his knowledge and techniques on nature photography and can help you get that perfect shot this summer. www.kylesmithfoto.comless...

Brady Stjerneberg   Guide/ Operations Assistant

  Born 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.

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...

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!

Clark Robinson Jr   Operations Assistant

  Clark Robinson Jr., born and raised in Klemtu BC, is a proud member of the Kitasoo Xaixais. In 2015 he joined the Spirit Bear Lodge team filling in for the operations assistant for the remainder of the season. He did such a great job, the manager offered him a full time position the following season. Clark accepted the offer, not only because of the unity and positive energy of staff at the lodge, but also because he likes meeting people of different cultures and nationalities who visit from around the world. more...

When he isn’t tending to the breakfast service, you will find him in the office assisting with the administrative and operational duties. Clark also loves being out on the boat, whether its viewing bears and wildlife, harvesting traditional foods, camping or picnics with family and friends. He enjoys visiting and learning more about the traditional land and waters of Kitasoo Xaixais territory and looks forward to exploring more of the Kitasoo Xaixais territory this season with SBL.less...

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.

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. more...

Outside of work, you will find Lisa weaving cedar, canoeing, painting, and making silly faces. She values individualism, empathy and positivity - just some of the life skills that she got out performance classes. She thinks that drama and comedy are forms of therapy and they have been a huge source of comfort for her throughout her life. Lisa loves working with youth and sharing the magical world of performance with them. less...