Robson Bight Warden Team
Marie Fournier – Robson Bight Marine Warden Manager
Marie has been with Cetus Society and the Robson Bight Warden Program for 11 years. She was born and raised in Vancouver B.C. and completed her bachelor’s degree in biology at The University of Victoria with a focus on the marine environment. Marie has many years of experience working with cetaceans in a variety of projects around the world. She started her career as a marine mammal trainer at the Vancouver Aquarium, worked as a dolphin research assistant in Kaikoura, NZ, and Western Australia and was a naturalist/zodiac driver with GAP adventures in Scotland, Norway and the Arctic. Marie also acted as a marine mammal observer on surveys along the BC coast with Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Over many winters Marie has spent her time caretaking Orcalab, which is a land based research station that monitors cetaceans both acoustically and visually. For the past two winters and springs she spent a number of months at the Hakai Institute doing sea otter surveys and foraging observations.
Stephanie Spencer – Robson Bight Warden
Stephanie Spencer joined the Cetus team in 2017 as a marine warden. She was born in Victoria BC, but moved to Alberta shortly after high school. After realizing that the flat, land locked, prairies were not for her, she moved to Prince Rupert and completed an Applied Coastal Ecology diploma. During her time in Prince Rupert Stephanie worked for DFO and the salmon assessment program on the Nass and Skeena Rivers. Being on the water everyday and encountering tonnes of cetaceans, Stephanie knew this was her calling and is currently working towards her Marine Biology degree from the University of Victoria. She is thrilled with the opportunity to join the Cetus team and help with the conservation of the cetaceans on the west coast of British Columbia.
Emma Weiss – Robson Bight Warden
This is Emma’s first season with the Cetus team as a marine warden. Emma completed her bachelors degree in marine biology at the University of Victoria. Growing up on the BC coast her passion for marine biology and conservation started at a young age. She has worked as a naturalist and zodiac guide in Haida Gwaii and worked on leatherback sea turtle research in Costa Rica. Her hobbies stem from her love for the ocean and include kayaking, scuba diving and snorkelling.
Stephen Alfred – Robson Bight Cultural Interpreter/Guardian Watchman
T’solagalis, Stephen Alfred is from the ‘Namgis and ‘Mamalilikala First Nations. He is the grandson of Chief ‘Nage’dzi, Great Mountain. Stephen was born and raised in Alert Bay and was exposed to the rich Kwakwaka’wakw culture, language and history during school and in his home life. Stephen has always been very involved in the Alert Bay community working at Seafest weekend, he was crowned Salmon Prince of ‘Namgis June Sports in 2015 and an active member of the Junior Canadian Rangers in Alert Bay. Stephen also participated in a 10-day hunting trip for Native youth in Knights Inlet. When he is not busy with school or out in camp he works part-time at Shop Rite grocery store in Alert Bay. This is Stephen’s second season as our Guardian Watchman/Cultural Interpreter at Robson Bight and he is excited to meet all of you!
This is Erin’s fifth season returning to work with the Robson Bight Warden Program. Originally from Reno, Nevada Erin has been traveling to B.C. and other places around the world to work with, study, and be close to the cetaceans that are her main driving passion. Her past experience includes studying the benthic impacts of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill through the University of Nevada, Reno, from which she gained her undergraduate biology degree, habitat usage studies on Burrunan bottlenose dolphins, and behavioral response studies of East Australian Humpbacks.
Gala – Robson Bight Warden
Currently in her fifth season at the warden camp Gala is an integral part of our Robson Bight team. She alerts us to visitors, accompanies us on the daily hike to the cliff and helps to keep camp morale high. Gala can often be found waiting outside our tents in the morning, stick in mouth, ready to play!
Mark Dombowsky – Director/Board Chair
Mark Dombowsky has spent more than two decades working in the non-profit world. For
over fifteen years, Mark worked with Greenpeace in Canada and internationally as a logistics coordinator and resource manager. He has also worked as a solar consultant to the private sector. Mark has years of maritime experience and accumulated knowledge including direct experience of Cetus Society’s on-the-ground operations. Mark currently works with a community-based arts & nature non-profit as technical director. He lives on the Sunshine Coast of BC.
Aileen Penner – Director/Secretary
Aileen Penner has worked in the field of environmental communications for more than 11 years with various organizations such as BC Hydro, the Living Oceans Society, Metro Vancouver, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the University of British Columbia, and the International Institute for Environment and Development (in the UK). Aileen has a Masters Degree in Communications from Simon Fraser University as well as a Certificate in Creative Writing (Creative Non-Fiction) also from SFU. Aileen has long held a goal to work with marine scientists and conservation groups on Vancouver Island to help build a bridge to a new paradigm where art and science are not thought of as dissimilar or opposite ways of knowing. In her pursuit of this goal, Aileen volunteered in 2015 with Cetus and did an artist residency at the Whale Warden Program base camp on West Cracroft Island. Aileen brings years of administrative and event management experience to the organization, as well as web/social media and writing and communication skills.
Christine Basque – Director
Christine Basque is the Associate Vice President with the BC Cancer Foundation. Chris has spent her working life in the nonprofit sector, initially doing front line and management work with women’s organizations before moving to fundraising, initially with West Coast LEAF. She has served as the Director of Development at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, and as Director, Major Gifts & Planned Giving with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Her background in both areas includes leading and building collaborative endeavours with non-profits to scale up services and fundraising efforts. Chris has always believed in being of service, and her body of work, both paid and volunteer, reflects this value. As a volunteer, Chris has sat on the Board of Battered Women’s Support Services for many years, Co-Chaired the Campaign School as a Board member with the Canadian Women’s Congress, and she currently volunteers her time to the Nature Conservancy on Galiano Island, where she lives. Chris’s passion for conserving nature, and her hope to increase the well-being and sustainability of BC’s whale populations, has lead her to the Cetus Board of Directors.
Jane McAslan – Director
Jane McAslan works at Humanities and Social Sciences Library of McGill University in Montreal. She currently serves as the Vice President – Communications of her union, MUNACA. She has served on the Executive of MUNACA since 2009. Jane brings more than 25 years of non‑profit administrative and management experience to Cetus. She has particular expertise in the areas of protocol and procedural development and policy construction and implementation. Prior to her work at McGill, Jane worked with Greenpeace Canada and Greenpeace International in administrative and communications capacities. She managed the Greenpeace Canada office in Vancouver for several years, and conducted online research for international offices and campaign staff. Throughout her life, Jane has exhibited a commitment to the environment and to the welfare and protection of animals both domestic and wild.
Tristan Ray-Wilks – Director
Tristan Ray-Wilks currently works as a wildlife guide and zodiac captain for Orca Spirit Adventures, an ecotourism operator out of Victoria BC. He holds numerous certifications related to marine activities, safety, and technology. Tristan also holds diplomas in Resource Management Officer Technology and Adventure Tourism Travel. In the past, he has worked as an environmental consultant and technician and as a fish biotechnician. He has been a dedicated volunteer for numerous organizations including BC Conservation Corps and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, for whom he monitored illegal shellfish. Tristan brings direct experience and knowledge of the waters that Cetus monitors and an insiders knowledge of the tourism industry operating on them. He is passionate about educating the public regarding wildlife and human impacts on them, and, as an animal lover, is dedicated to expanding Cetus’s ability to reduce and minimize human-generated harm to BC’s whales.
Mark Warford brings a wealth of environmental and human rights non-profit experience to the Board of Cetus. From 2003 to 2012, Mark was Chair of the Board of Directors for Crude Accountability, a Washington DC-based non-profit working to eradicate human rights injustice and environmental degradation in the countries bordering the Caspian Sea. For many years, Mark was a Senior Director and member of the International Programme Council of Greenpeace USA and Greenpeace International. He directed business development initiatives for Agence France Presse and was Managing Editor for international image producer and aggregator Getty Images. In 2009, he proudly joined Archbishop Desmund Tutu in being honored as a global environmental ambassador. Mark is an acclaimed photographer and has directed Academy Award-winning actors, has written for, produced, and performed with Grammy Award-winning musicians, and is the recipient of a Clio award. His portfolio of humanitarian and environmental activism includes steering international expeditions and global awareness campaigns for the world’s largest NGOs from the Russian Arctic to the South Pacific Atolls.