About Us

Meet the Guides


Take a moment to meet the staff at Spirit of the West!


our guides

Our staff are simply exceptional and match the culture and spirit of our organization. They all have an amazing passion for kayaking British Columbia and for the killer whales in the BC waters that make it such a great experience.

Terms like self-reliance, adaptability, responsibility, confidence, and sense of humour all come to mind when describing their qualities. Considering that guides must perform in the multiple roles of wilderness guide, gourmet chef, role model and educator, it's no surprise that they come from a wide variety of professions and backgrounds to each bring a unique and valued perspective to the way our business runs.

Our guides are extremely skilled in kayaking, back country travel, responsible environmental practices, and high levels of first aid and safety procedures, continually upgrading their training and striving to improve knowledge and skills. And all our staff are adventurers in their own right - traveling and wilderness tripping does't pause for us when the season's over! Personal and training trips around the British Columbia coast and around the world keep us on top of our game. At the end of the day, what we ensure is that every trip is as safe and memorable as can be, and that you will not be disappointed kayaking the British Columbia coast.



reunion
Spirit of the West reunion at guides Luke and Miray's wedding
at their home on Sonora Island





Luke Roman - Born and raised on the BC coast, Luke's love for the outdoors and wilderness adventure began at an early age. Over the past ten years, Luke's passion has taken him around the world to guide in such diverse locations as Guatemala, Belize, and New Zealand. In addition to paddling, Luke is a graduate of the Wilderness Leadership Program at Capilano University and has worked extensively facilitating youth leadership and development programs. With a warm sense of humour, keen know-how, and sharp culinary skills, Luke will keep you smiling on the water. Calling Quadra Island home, Luke will be back this year for his fifth season of leading trips with Spirit of the West. 

Meredith Lewis - Meredith Lewis loves being outside! While she calls Vancouver Island home, she lived for five winters in Halifax where she studied anthropology. She has spent many summers exploring the BC coast by sailboat and kayak and is always excited to get back out there after the long, cold winter. Meredith has travelled a lot by land and by sea and still tells anyone who will listen about just how beautiful her BC home really is.

Rick Snowdon - Rick brings his experience working as a guide trainer in Ecuador, community development project manager in the South Pacific, sailor and freelancer writer to his work as a guide with Spirit of the West. In addition to being part owner of Spirit of the West, Rick teaches sea kayaking for Capilano University and is president of the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC.

Breanne Quesnel - A certified teacher, Breanne brings her passion for learning and outdoor education to the field as she guides your trip. Breanne has also guided whitewater and sea kayaking trips in Ontario while attending university in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Breanne is also part owner of Spirit of the West.

Krista Zala - Krista grew up in Victoria, where her best summers involved sailing, rowing, or paddling somewhere around Vancouver Island. In colder months, Krista is a science writer, covering neat developments in biology, green technology, astronomy, and math. She also likes poking at things with sticks, making costumes, cooking, and enjoying some of the cheapest wines in some of the finest cities of Europe.

Miray Campbell - Miray has been leading trips with Spirit of the West Adventures for over 6 years. She is now the lead guide on The Columbia III, better know as the Mothership. Miray is an accomplished musician as well as being our own killer whale expert.

Luke Hyatt - Hailing from the Queen Charlotte Islands, when Luke isn't guiding for us he can be found assisting researchers in the field or maneuvering his paraglider high in the sky. Luke works with Miray on the Mothership.

Caitlin O’Neill - Caitlin grew up in Northern Ontario where she spent six summers leading canoe and kayak trips for a summer camp on the Great Lakes. She spent a winter guiding in New Zealand and is now on her third season guiding multiday trips on Quadra. Caitlin has a degree in Biology and Geography and specializes in plants! When she’s not kayaking, Caitlin can be found mountain biking, skiing, gardening, playing guitar and mingling at local coffee shops.

Steve Schellenberg - Steve applies his charm and talents guiding multi-day trips. He's also an accomplished musician – if only we could bring a piano in a kayak! During the Canadian winter he spends his time guiding polar bear tours in northern Manitoba, and is in training to become a pilot.

Graham Vaughan - Is an outdoor enthusiast and lives for his time spent in the natural world. A Wilderness Leadership Program and Outdoor Recreation Management Graduate from Capilano University, Graham has a passion for educating and inspiring others. Abroad, he has kayak guided in Patagonia, done aid work in Paraguay and guided whitewater rafting trips in BC for five years. When he is not kayaking, Graham fills his days mountain biking and skiing around his home in Squamish, BC.

Marita Jmieson - is new to Spirit of the West this year, Marita is originally from a small town in the interior. When she isn’t busy soaking up the beautiful BC sunshine on hikes and bike rides, she enjoys reading, practicing her ukulele, and learning to cook. She is a fairly avid traveler, who enjoys meeting people from around the world. Marita will be working between the office and the kitchen this summer, helping to ensure that the base is organized and running smoothly. In September, she will be heading to Vancouver to study International Relations at UBC.

Ryan Schaffrick - After spending a number of years in the army being uncomfortable in the outdoors, one day I had an epiphany on the West Coast Trail. Since then I have spent time teaching people to be comfortable outside. I completed the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training program at Strathcona Park Lodge in 2006 and have since been teaching outdoor education and guiding in BC and Switzerland. An avid traveler, I have arguably been to all 7 continents.

Pat Friesen loves to work and play in the great outdoors. As a recent graduate of a 2-year Adventure Guiding program in Kamloops, he has had plenty of time to do just that. He has been lucky to hone his skills in sea kayaking, hiking, skiing, rock climbing, canoeing and whitewater paddling. Just name the sport and he would be happy to give it a shot. Pat is very passionate about the coastal environment and is excited to learn more and more everyday as an Assistant Guide.

Carly van den Biggelaar Born and raised on southern Vancouver Island, Carly's fondest memories of growing up are of camping, hiking and exploring the mountains and forests. That love of the outdoors and snowboarding brought her to Whistler where she spent 5 years living the mountain town life. A recent graduate of Capilano University's Wilderness Leadership Program, Carly is excited to be working as an assistant guide and to share the beauty of the west coast. She now calls Vancouver home, and plays and works on the North Shore mountains in the winter.

Hannah Rohan - Born in Vancouver, but raised on Quadra Island, Hannah lives the quintisential west coast life. She greatly enjoys out door activites like hiking, cycling, running, kayaking, sailing, camping, andgardening. At Spirit of the West, Hannah spends most of her time in the kitchen as a prep cook, though she has definitely done her fair share of dishwashing and cleaning gear in the past. Hannah's passion for food extends beyond SOW, into her free time which is largely spent baking, cooking, and experimenting with both. Hannah will be returning to Victoria in the fall for her second year at Uvic, studying Humanities and Social Sciences.

Robin Humphreys - Raised on a one of the remote Discovery Islands, the ocean has been a constant part of Robin's life. She loves the outdoors and feels extremely lucky to work in and around them. Robin spends as much time as possible on the water, either kayaking or sailing. Robin is one of our Food Prep team and is also an Assistant Guide.

 



Frieda Humphfreys - Frieda is a born and raised island girl. She spends a great deal of time on, in and around the water. When she s not outside, she spends most of her time in the kitchen, either cooking, baking or canning. At Spirit of The West, Frieda works mainly in the kitchen, where her jobs range from washing dishes, to ordering food.

Tara Robinson- was born and raised on the coast of BC but now calls the Kootenays home.  Other then sea kayaking, she spends plenty of time rock climbing in the summer as well as cross country skiing, split boarding, and snowshoeing in the winter.  Tara also works as a part time computer nerd, and an outdoor educator for school groups and seniors. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of back country safety and plant species.  Her favorite part of working with Spirit of the West is cooking on the beach, especially vegetarian meals, and of course the plentiful encounters with sea life. "




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