Meet the Team


The Spirit Bear Lodge team consists of passionate people willing to share their knowledge of the wildlife, culture and the Great Bear Rainforest.

Almost every family is involved in tourism in some way, whether as a boat operator, tour guide, hotel staff or in marketing. It's the second biggest industry here and an extremely important one for the community.

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.

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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, especially with his wife Elissa and daughter May by his side.


Roxanne Robinson

Assistant Manager

Raised in Klemtu, Roxanne has a passion for her Kitasoo/Xai'Xais Language and Culture. In her position as the Language and Culture Instructor at Kitasoo Community School, Roxanne had the opportunity to work with a knowledge keeper on helping to revitalize the Xai'xais language. Most recently Roxanne served two terms on the Kitasoo Band Council, first term as Councillor and the second term as the first ever female Chief Councillor of the Nation.

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Roxanne Resides in Klemtu with her husband and 2 children who are the light of her life. We are thrilled to have her lead us at Spirit Bear Lodge as the Assistant Manager.


Trish McPhail

Marketing and Sales Specialist

Trish is from the Kitasoo/Xai'xais and Heiltsuk First Nations and she is very honoured to be joining our team. Trish brings 30 years of experience from the hospitality industry, she has specialized in managing a variety of special events, corporate groups sales, guest services and more.

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Trish is a longtime community soccer Coach and she is also a Cultural Presenter for SD71, where she shares a small piece of her story with children from K-12. "What I have come to understand is that there is a blood memory that is so strong, that our beautiful way of being is woven into the core fibres of who we are. Knowing where you come from helps us walk taller and embracing who we are speaks volumes of our incredible resilience." Trish looks forward to deepening her connections to her homelands and to all that live, play and visit the Great Bear Rainforest.


Cassandra Willie

Marketing and Sales Specialist - Guide

Cassandra was born and raised in Bella Bella and shared time growing up in Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. In 2018, Cassandra participated in the Aboriginal Ecotourism Training Program hosted by Heiltsuk Tribal Council in partnership with NIC and VIU. This led her to a path of self-discovery and was the beginning of her love for adventure and exploring in tourism.

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Though her immediate blood ties connect her to the Haíɫzaqv and Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw, her lineage ties her to further places like the Xai Xais (Kynoch), Haisla (Kitamaat) and the Nuxalk (Bella Coola). Cassandra has relocated to Klemtu and is creating roots with her now wife, Krista and step children. She has spent the last 6 years getting to know her cultural ties, family connections and participating in language revitalization when she worked with the Kitasoo Xai Xais Languages Working Group. Cassandra started as a guide at Spirit Bear Lodge and later in 2022, she signed on as apart of the reservations and marketing team. Her ability to adapt has led to stronger connections and she looks forward to sharing her knowledge and creating memories with those coming to experience what we have to offer.


Wanda Neasloss

Front of House

Wanda is from Kitasoo and Haisla. Wanda spent her childhood in Kitimat attending school while her father worked at Alcan. Wanda moved back home to Klemtu to settle her roots here and grow her family.

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She has 3 children and has always felt the importance of instilling the culture and keeping her children connected to Kitasoo Xaixais traditional ways and values. Wanda worked in various places within Klemtu from being a teacher's assistant at Kitasoo Community School and a early childhood educator at the daycare. During the off season Wanda can be found in her Kitchen offering her tasty foods and catering to many community events. Wanda has worked her first season as a hostess at Spirit Bear lodge this past season and enjoyed it very much. She looks forward to the upcoming season and hosting you :)


Sandra Duncan

Guide

Raised in Klemtu, Sandra has worked for Spirit Bear Lodge for years in the kitchen. Now she has transitioned into a guide role and loves her time out in the field connecting with the guests and exploring her traditional territory.


Margo Anderson

Cook

Margo has been working with Spirit Bear Lodge as part of the kitchen team for the past five years. Margo creates an amazing lunch spread for all of our guests and staff to take on adventures every day. You can also thank Margo for delicious appetizers, baked goods and treats that fill our bellies. Margo is key in delivering the delicious food we all enjoy at Spirit Bear Lodge.


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.


Wendy Mason Hall

Housekeeping Manager

Wendy has been with Spirit Bear Lodge for a few years now and is a key part of our housekeeping department. 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.


Darcey Robinson

Marine Operations Manager - Boat Captain

Welcome back Darcey! Darcey has been working with the lodge since 2017, he is returning this year as our 2023 Marine Operations Manager. Darcey has been on the water learning from his dad, Clark Robinson Sr., and other elders in the community since he was a boy. Growing up in Klemtu means growing up on the water, Darcey is as at home on the boat as he is on land. Darcey knows his territory like the back of his hand and loves to take guests out. Darcey is also a talented marine mechanic and takes good care of our fleet, we are so grateful to have him on board this season!


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.

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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. In previous year Krista spent the winter months 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. In Spring 2023, Krista has joined the lodge as our Guided Operations Manager, we are so excited to have her on board in this role!


Heather Robinson

Lead Guide

Heather has been a part of Spirit Bear Lodge for nearly a decade. Since 2016 Heather has been sharing her knowledge and passions for the culture, history and experience on the lands and waters. Since being apart of the Spirit Bear Lodge, Heather has been a key component in guide training and support to our future guides. Her willingness to share her knowledge has created inspiration and a space for teaching.

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Her experience provides a comfortable and safe space for guests and coworkers alike. When not working at Spirit Bear Lodge, she spends her off season already looking forward to the next! Her care for the environment, bears and wildlife motivates her return each year. Heather's energy and humour is memorable and we are fortunate to have her!


Elissa Czornobaj

Lead Guide

After completing her honours degree in Environmental Science, 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.

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To be invited year after year to the beautiful community of Klemtu 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 enjoys sharing with guests from around the world. For Elissa, there is no sweeter place to be than sitting next to a wild river filled with salmon, deep in the Great Bear Rainforest, with her husband John and her daughter May.


Troy Robinson

Lead Guide

Troy was raised in Klemtu until he was 7 years old, he moved away to Vancouver for 10 years before moving back to the community. When he returned back to Klemtu he sought reconnection to himself, his language and culture. Troy started working for Spirit Bear Lodge in 2017 as a tour guide.

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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! We are so fortunate to have Troy apart of our team.


Robbie Duncan

Guide

Robbie has spent a lot of time in his territory with the S.E.A.S program and has worked with the Spirit Bear Research foundation as a research intern as well. Robbie is a great boat driver and really knows his territory well. He enjoys spending time out on the water and with the wildlife in his traditional territory.


Jamie Mason

Guide

Yaú (hello) my name is Jamie Mason, my traditional name is Lua, which means Sky. I’m 18 years old, born in Nanaimo, raised in Klemtu! My favourite part of school was culture class, because we went out on the boat so much!

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I’ve been working on the boat for about three and a half years now, and I’m building my knowledge of traditional stories and words through oral history. I like hiking, and water always tastes the best at the top of the mountain or the end of the trail ;) I graduated last year in the middle of the pandemic, which was pretty chaotic, but I got through it! I took this year off of school to try and figure out what I like to do, so I figured out that I’d like to start travelling the world, learning about other cultures, and maybe go to trades school. I’m also hoping to be a boat captain one day, far in the future when I have more experience!


Mercedes Robinson

Mercedes Robinson

Guide

Mercedes has worked with Spiritbear Research, participated in the S.E.A.S program, and performed with the SUA youth group. You may have also seen Mercedes in the recent Great Bear Rainforest Imax film. Mercedes is extremely knowledgeable about her culture, and has spent many days exploring the river systems throughout Kitasoo Xai’xais territory.