Conference Guest Speakers

Daryl Hatton 
Founder and CEO, FundRazr

Daryl leads FundRazr, an innovative, award-winning global enterprise crowdfunding platform. He is a serial entrepreneur who loves the challenge of building companies from scratch, has founded multiple start-ups and helped bring one, Optio Software, to a successful NASDAQ IPO in 1999. Daryl is frequently called upon for expert commentary on nonprofit fundraising and crowdfunding topics for media sites including CBC, CTV, Global News, TVO, PostMedia, BBC, Forbes and Bloomberg. Today, Daryl serves as board member and advisor to multiple Canadian and Silicon Valley based start-ups including Canadian securities crowdfunding site FrontFundr. He is a Director of the PayPal Giving Fund (Canada), Director of the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and sits on the Crowdfunding Working Group for #GivingTuesday.

Karen Aird
Heritage Manager, First Peoples Cultural Council

A member of Saulteau First Nations in Treaty 8 Territory of BC, Karen Aird has worked as an archaeologist then in cultural heritage management for the past 23 years on many projects that convey a strong sense of place in Indigenous landscapes, encompassing the stories, legal traditions and the intangible and tangible elements into Indigenous heritage. As a consultant, Karen has worked as the Cultural Heritage Planner for the Treaty 8 Tribal Association, the Tse’K’wa (the Charlie Lake Cave house) Heritage Society and the Nun WaDee (Dane-zaa Caretakers Society); as project coordinator for Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Cultural Heritage Study; and as Curator for the Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park. And, more recently, Karen has embarked on the position of Heritage Manager for First Peoples Cultural Council.

Karen is one of the founding directors and now the President of the National Indigenous Heritage Circle, a non-profit organization focused on the identification, management and conservation of Indigenous heritage.

Gary Mitchell
Provincial Archivist Emeritus

Gary A. Mitchell is the Provincial Archivist Emeritus, having retired in 2015 after 30 years at the provincial archives. Born and raised near Fort Langley, he started Public Service in 1985 after obtaining his Masters of Archival Studies at UBC. Gary’s contributions were recognized by his peers in November 2001 with “Distinguished Service and Leadership Award” by the UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for “exemplary public service leadership”; in 2012, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for “services to Heritage and Preservation” and this April, the Archives Association of British Columbia granted him an Honorary Life Membership. He continues his volunteer efforts by assisting and supporting: the BCHF; the Diocese of Victoria in restarting its archives and records program; and community archives and heritage groups in navigating the “bewilderment” of Public Service.

Chuck Tasaka

Chuck Tasaka grew up in the internment site of in Greenwood, BC. Chuck attended University of B.C. and graduated in 1968 with a B.Ed (elementary). He taught in the Ladysmith/Nanaimo School District 68 for 33 years and coached various sports for 41 years. Retired in 2002, but coached the Jump Rope For Heart Demonstration Skipping Team for another 8 years. He became interested in Nikkei history and was part of the Nikkei Legacy Roadside Signage Committee in partnership with the provincial government. He has written two books on Greenwood, Runny-nosed Brats of Greenwood and My Hometown, My Furusato.

David Leverton
Executive Director, Maritime Museum of BC

David is a former University lecturer and radio columnist with CBC. Mr. Leverton is a geographer who received a First Class Honours degree from Carleton University and a Master’s degree from University of Ottawa. David is an avid outdoor photographer and has spent over 25 years cruising the west coast of British Columbia and Alaska.

David recently co-authored Those Who Perished: The Unknown Story of the Largest Shipwreck Disaster Along the Pacific Northwest Coast and is a regular contributor of historical maritime articles to BC Shipping News.

Duncan MacLeod
Curator, Vancouver Maritime Museum

Duncan MacLeod is the Curator of the Vancouver Maritime Museum. He was born and raised in Vancouver. He completed his undergraduate degree at UBC, studying ancient history, cultures and languages. While at UBC, Duncan participated in two archaeological excavations: one in Greece and one in BC. After finishing his undergraduate degree Duncan traveled to England to pursue a master’s degree in Classical Archaeology at Oxford University. Upon returning to Vancouver, Duncan began a year-long internship at the SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology where he helped to redesign the displays and layout of the museum. Duncan has been working at the Vancouver Maritime Museum for over three years and has overseen the operations of the curatorial department for the past two years, becoming curator in June 2015. In 2016 he travelled through the Arctic with One Ocean Expeditions lecturing about the European quest for the Northwest Passage.

Paul Gravett
Heritage BC

Paul Gravett has extensive experience working with non-for-profit organizations as an executive director, board chair, and interim manager. As a consultant, Paul has worked with organizations in the arts, tourism and health and wellness sectors, focusing on ways to operate viable and vital businesses, as well as to reach and engage communities through values-driven strategies. Paul is currently the executive director of Heritage BC.

Jon Ambler
Colonel (Retired) Jon Ambler OMM CD

Born in England, Jon emigrated to Canada in 1964. Following school he joined the Canadian Forces in 1978 and qualified as an Aircraft Navigator, specializing in Anti Submarine Warfare. He served four tours of flying operations, the highlight being Commanding Officer of 415 Squadron. Other tours saw him command the Canadian Contingent of a none-UN peacekeeping force in Egypt’s Sinai Desert. He commanded the RCAF’s only Base in British Columbia, 19 Wing Comox, from 2004-2007. During his military service he completed a BA in History from the University of Manitoba and studied year-long courses with both the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force. In 2007 he was appointed an Officer in the Order of Military Merit.
Following his retirement in 2008, after 30 years of military service, he became the Program Manager and Volunteer Coordinator of the Comox Air Force Museum. He retired in March 2019 and now serves as the Vice President of the Comox Valley Air Force Musuem Association. He and Jill, his wife of 42 years reside in Courtenay.

Andrea Lister
Editor, British Columbia Magazine

Andrea Lister wears many hats. She is the principal of Absolutely Literate, editor of British Columbia History magazine, author of the sold-out book Commitment to Caring: Chilliwack Hospital Auxiliary’s 100 Years, and an avid family historian. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts from UBC and a Technical Communications certificate from SFU. She is the 2015 Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission winner of the History and Heritage Research and Publication award for her design and indexing work for Looking Back: Volume One published by the Maple Ridge Historical Society.  She co-edits the Maple Ridge Family History Newsletter and regularly speaks about researching your family history.

Michelle Willard
Cumberland Museum

Michelle Willard is the Executive Director of the Cumberland Museum and Archives. She studied at UBC, where she earned her master’s degree, and specialized in museum studies under the guidance of staff at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. Michelle has worked in museums, historic sites, and community centres throughout BC. She is interested in museums as possible agents of social change and she mixes both anthropological theory and critical curatorial practices in exploring the portrayal of Cumberland’s history.

Kevin McPhedran
Parks and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator
Village of Cumberland

Kevin McPhedran is the Village of Cumberland’s Parks and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator.  As part of this role, he is responsible for implementing the 2014 Coal Creek Historic Park Master Plan, which listed the installation of interpretive signage at the Chinatown and No. 1 Japanese Town Historic sites as priority projects.  In working with the Cumberland Museum and Archives as project partners, the Village developed interpretive walking tours in Chinatown (2017) and No. 1 Town (2019) historic sites.  In his spare time Kevin enjoys roaming the hills surrounding Cumberland on foot, bike, and skis.

Meaghan Cursons
Interpretive Guide
Cumberland Museum and Archives

Meaghan is an interpretive guide for the Cumberland Museum and Archives with a passion for storytelling, place making and community building. She is a high energy presenter who delights in sharing the connections between the local and global forces which have shaped our community. She uses built and natural spaces as jumping off points to explore social justice and environmental themes in the Village’s past and present. She is also Executive Director of the Cumberland Community Forest Society, a conservation organization dedicated to purchasing working forests surrounding the Village to protect them for their ecological, social and cultural values. Meaghan has lived, worked and played in the Village of Cumberland for 25 years.

Christine Dickinson
Courtenay and District Museum

Born and educated in New Zealand, Christine Dickinson is an educator who lived in Northern British Columbia for 34 years. Her passion is for the regional history of the province.  She co-authored Atlin. The Story of British Columbia’s Last Gold Rush (1996) with Diane Solie Smith.  The book received the Lieutenant Governor’s Award.  Christine has lived in Courtenay since 2007, but she has had close family connections to the Comox Valley since 1973.

Catherine Siba
Curatory of Social History
Courtenay and District Museum

A graduate of the University of Victoria, Catherine Siba is the Curator of Social History at the Courtenay and District Museum.  Catherine has led a number of historic digitization projects and has been involved with museum curatorship and research for many years.

Marianne Bell

Marianne Bell has lived and worked in and around Cumberland her whole life, absorbing the local folklore both legendary and historical. She has developed tours focusing on the women of Cumberland, the local labour history and on the everyday life and business of the community. Marianne recounts these tales of life, loss, tragedy and comedy in an engaging and considerate manner. She is also a community activist and volunteers for the Cumberland Events Society, The Coal Creek Historic Park Committee and the Cumberland Alleyway Signage Committee.

Patrick Trask

Pat Trask has had a lifelong interest in the natural world. In 1993, he began a career with the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Center as a programme interpreter. He has assisted with, and led, several significant excavations and is the co-author on a number of scientific publications.

For the last twenty-five years at the Courtenay Museum, Trask has hosted over fifty thousand visitors from around the world on fossil exploration tours to Comox Valley Rivers and waterways.  He has also presented lectures at universities and museums across the province.

A founding member of the Vancouver Island Palaeontological Society, he also serves on the executive of the British Columbia Palaeontological Alliance and received the Alliance’s 2014 Rene Savenye Award for contributions to public understanding of palaeontology.

He is the Curator of Natural History at the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Center. On a daily basis, he continues his lifelong interest in natural history and inspires and encourages people of all ages and walks of life to explore the past, present and future natural world around them.

John Aldag

John was born and raised in rural Saskatchewan where he began a Parks Canada career managing programs in National Parks and National Historic Sites in six provinces and two territories over 32 years. He earned an MBA from Royal Roads University.

An outdoorsman, active community member and advocate of Canada’s natural resources and cultural treasures, John is a Tourism Langley Lifetime Achievement Award winner, a three-time recipient of the Parks Canada CEO Award of Excellence, and a proud recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

John was elected Member of Parliament for Cloverdale – Langley City in October, 2015. In addition to representing Cloverdale – Langley City in the House of Commons, he served all Canadians on the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.

Aldag introduced Private Member’s Bill C-374 which, if adopted, would provide a seat on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada for First Nations, Inuit and Métis representation. John is also the Chair of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, where he continues to promote a stronger, more sustainable future for all Canadians.

Deborah Griffiths

Deborah has worked in B.C.’s museum industry in the Okanagan and on Vancouver Island for over thirty-five years. She’s been involved in interpretation and management of community museums throughout that time and has a sense of big dreams on small budgets.

For the past thirty years, Deborah has been a museum Executive Director. She’s worked with varied subjects, from the history of Okanagan rodeos and vineyards to pictorial histories of life on Vancouver Island and fossil discoveries. She has also worked on capital projects over 2.5 M and nonprofit advancement. Earlier in her career she attained a Canadian Museums Association work-study bursary to explore palaeontological collections in BC and to begin a partnership with the Royal Tyrrell Museum to mentor palaeontological interpretation in BC.

In 1998, she attained an M.A. in Leadership at Royal Roads University, with a focus on the potential of B.C. palaeontological collections for knowledge tourism and natural history education. From experience throughout her career, she’s been able to see that balancing cultural and natural history interpretation is vital to welcoming diverse global audiences to communities.

Fox and Bee

Kim Bannerman is an author and artist based in the Comox Valley. As part of Fox&Bee Studio, she provides script development services, voice-over narration, illustration, filming, and editing services.

Shawn Pigott is an accomplished filmmaker and musician, who grew up in the Okanagan but now lives in the Comox Valley. He is Fox&Bee’s primary videographer, and his original musical compositions set our videos apart