Ocean Bridge Staff Team
Name: Addie Vasant
Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town): I live in Vancouver, BC on the traditional territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
What gets me up in the morning: My cat, Sunny, pawing at me for breakfast!
A bit about me: I grew up in India and moved to Victoria, BC for university when I was 19. I studied Computer Science, but I have always been drawn to the ocean and have a passion for sustainability. Growing up, I loved spending time at the beach and my appreciation for the ocean as well as awareness of some of the issues surrounding them began quite early. Music is another big part of my life as I have been singing for as long as I can remember and also picked up the guitar and ukulele along the way!
Something random about yourself: I taught myself modern calligraphy last year from watching videos on Instagram
Name: Adrian Rogers
Location: St. John's, Newfoundland, which sits on Beothuk traditional territories.
A bit about me: I grew up in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, playing on the scenic beaches and coastlines. As a child, I also regularly hosted the bug Olympics in my backyard, and I worked diligently to keep the community kitty litter box, or my sandbox, clean. In 2017 I moved to St. John's to study Marine Environmental Technology at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University. Today I advocate for clean shorelines and beaches, like I advocated for clean sandboxes 25 years ago.
Tell us something random about yourself: I do not like Animal Farm.
Location: I live on the traditional territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in Vancouver, BC.
What gets me up in the morning: Coffee and podcasts
A bit about me: I was born in Winnipeg, but moved around a lot until settling in this beautiful city of Vancouver with my parents when I was 12 years old. I worked extensively in the tourism industry in Vancouver before moving into more educational roles in the last few years. I am especially passionate about traditional indigenous knowledge and using indigenous principles as a basis of learning. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge because I am proud of the beautiful west coast that I call home and wish to help in its conservation. One of my most influential memories of the ocean was when a pod of Grey whales decided to visit and came up while I was hiking along the shoreline. It was an amazing experience that cemented my connection and admiration for the amazing diversity of nature along our coastline.
Tell us something random about yourself:
Location: I am from and currently live in Ottawa, Ontario. It sits on St. Lawrence Iroquoians, Anishinabewaki (ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ), Mohawk, Huron-Wendat and Omàmiwininiwak (Algonquin) traditional territories.
Role: Communications coordinator
A bit about me: I am a city dwelling nature-lover who loves to connect with environments and people around him. I am bilingual (English and Français), my background is in journalism and communication, and I spent a large part of time living and working in northern Ontario as a print and radio reporter before finding a new calling for our oceans and the young people who work so hard to protect them. In addition to the great outdoors, I also enjoy music, from progressive rock to jazz to downtempo to funk, sports (Go Habs go!), art and history.
Tell us something random about yourself: I've acted in a couple of stage plays with a community theatre troupe
Name: Caitlin Pierzchalski
Location: Currently, I'm living in Burnaby, BC, traditional and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and Kwikwetlem (kwikwəƛ̓ əm) Nations. But originally, I'm from Penticton BC, traditional territory of the Sylix/Okanagan Nation.
A bit about me: I love sharing with this community and learning from our combined knowledge! I live for the social and environmental responsibility that stems from work in environmental stewardship. Seeing ourselves as stewards of this world really changes how we asses our impacts and our positive actions as well. The oceans have always been one of my biggest teachers in this and I am so happy to always be learning and humbled.
I tend to be bit of an adrenaline junky... trad climbing anyone? I teach a little yoga too!
Tell us something random about yourself:
Name: Cyrielle Noël
Pronouns: She / Her
Location: I am an from the island of Montréal (, which is located on Iroquois indigenous land and the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation are considered the custodians of the territory.
A Bit About Me: I am a proud and passionate thalassophile. My love of the ocean encouraged my interest in water sports from a young age. It is through activities such as swimming, surfing, free diving, fishing and scuba diving that I have nurtured a profound respect towards the marine environment. This deference towards the seemingly resilient but ever-sensitive oceanic realm, combined with my reflections on the duality between anthropogenic intervention and environmental conservation has inspired my interest in marine conservation and ocean governance. Being a spatial planner and coming from a more social science-oriented academic background I am interested in environmental initiatives that bridge the gap and foster collaboration between social and natural scientists.
My Favourite Marine Animal & Phenomenon: I am intrigued by majestic marine megafauna and have a special appreciation for whales. I am also extremely enchanted by the phenomenon of bioluminescence.
Name: Dabney M.
Location: I live in Vancouver, B.C., the traditional, unceded, and occupied territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and Sel̓íl̓witulh Nations. I am originally from Lingít Aaní, the ancestral and occupied territories of the Tlingit people and more specifically Aak’w & T’aaku Kwáan or Juneau, Alaska (and will always call there home!!!).
A bit about me: I am Tlingit (Kaagwaantaan) from Déix X’awool Hít (the Two Door House) and Heenka Hít (the House on the Water). I grew up on my ancestral homelands in SE Alaska fishing, berry picking, and hiking. I love spending time with my family practicing our Haa Kusteeyí or our ways of living. I believe that climate justice must look to and center Indigenous peoples as the first stewards of the earth, land, and water. I love meeting friends for bubble tea (honey milk w/pearls!) and my favourite show on Netflix is Luke Cage! I am excited to work with Ocean Bridge as the Indigenous Knowledge and Engagement Program Specialist for the Pacific Cohort.
Tell us something random about yourself: I love horses! I ride twice a week and enjoy spending time at the barn with my horsie friends!
Name: Erica Angers (pronounced like the city in France!)
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, which sits on St. Lawrence Iroquoians, Anishinabewaki (ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ), Mohawk, Huron-Wendat and Omàmiwininiwak (Algonquin) traditional territories.
A bit about me: I worked in rural and urban farming, food education and food justice for many years in Quebec (L’Ange-Gardien and Montreal), Toronto and Southern France. I love growing food and engaging community to learn about their local environments! My love for the ocean, and water more broadly, came from growing up next to the Ottawa river, as well from many camping trips across Ontario. Coming from a landlocked community, I’m passionate about seeing how we can engage new audiences to care for the ocean and the environment more broadly. Having worked with Ocean Bridge for a couple of years now, its been fantastic seeing how creative people from all across the country can be in engaging their ocean adjacent and landlocked communities to care about the world around them.
Outside of work you can find me reading (everything and anything), volunteering at/attending local arts, music and community building events, spending time with friends and family, and wandering my city/travelling elsewhere.
Tell us something random about yourself: I love seeing puppets, theatre and dance used as a way to make change. A 2020 goal is to make some puppets.
|Erin Van Breda||
Location: I live in beautiful Thunder Bay, ON, in Robinson-Superior Treaty territory,
traditional territory of the Anishnaabeg
A bit about me:
I grew up throughout northern Ontario, mainly living in small towns. I attended Laurentian University for an Honours Bachelors of Science in Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology and went on to pursue a post-graduate certificate from Cambrian College for Environmental Monitoring and Impact Assessment. I am Red River Metis and I am learning how to bead and working with leather from elders. I enjoy the outdoors and kayaking on a hot summer day.
Tell us something random about yourself:
|Erin Van Breda|
Name : Jasveen Brar
A bit about me: I'm really interested in exploring the intersection between science, education and policy and how youth can better access these spaces. Growing up in Alberta I always found the Oceans to be this mysterious thing, my earliest connections with the oceans where through books and film. It wasn't until I moved to Halifax for my undergrad that I developed a personal connection with it. Living in a land locked province also allowed me to better understand that although we may not be on a coast, we do influence what happens in the oceans. I'm excited to be a part of Ocean Bridge team to support and learn more about the incredible things youth are doing from coast to coast to coast.
|Jennifer Blackaller Ruiz||
Nom : Jennifer Blackaller Ruiz
Un peu sur moi: Holaaaa! Me llamo Jennifer, je vis à Longueuil au Québec avec mon husky de 110livres et on adore avoir des aventures de plein air peu importe la saison. On est une belle équipe de voyage et on s'entraine pour la certification de chien de service. Mise à part notre relation, je suis une passionée des océans qui aspire à avoir un impact positif dans la conservation de ceux-ci. Je suis née au Mexique dans un environnement qui a développé en moi une admiration profonde pour la biodiversité marine. L'idée de travailler avec des gens de partout au Canada et de contribuer à l'éducation à la sensibilisation et à la protection des océans me fascine. Après Ocean Bridge, ma carrière et mon objectif de vie sont de pouvoir travailler pour une organisation et d'avoir un impact positif sur l'environnement et plus particulièrement les océans en raison de leur immense importance et de l'urgence d'agir. Quelle meilleur meilleure idée que de commencer par le St-Laurent, dans mon Québec chérit!
Dites-nous quelque chose de vous au hasard: j'ai beaucoup de rêves lucides
Name : Jennifer Blackaller Ruiz
A bit about me: Holaaaa! Me llamo Jennifer, I live in Longueuil, Quebec with my 110-pound husky and we love having outdoor adventures whatever the season. We are a great travelling team and we train for service dog certification. Aside from our relationship, I am an ocean aficionado who aspire to have a positive impact in its conservation. I was born in Mexico in an environment that inspired me to have a deep admiration for marine biodiversity. I am fascinated by the idea of working with people from all over Canada and contributing to the education of ocean awareness and protection. After Ocean Bridge, my career and my life goal are to be able to work for an organization and to have a positive impact on the environment and more particularly the oceans because of their immense importance and the urgency to act. What better idea than to start with the St-Laurent, in my dear Quebec!
|Jennifer Blackaller Ruiz|
Name : Kaitlyn Harris
A bit about me: I'm a firm believer that communities are stronger and more resilient when young people are involved and taking on meaningful roles, which is why I'm so excited to be a part of the Ocean Bridge Team and to do my part to mobilize and empower youth-led action. I have a background in Geography and Marine Management and am particularly interested in exploring the interface between education, management, and community. I'm fired-up by the shared sense of responsibility we all have for caring for this Earth and I'm excited to learn from all of us who are part of the Ocean Bridge community and beyond. Aside from my love for the ocean, I'm also interested in homesteading, trail running, mountain biking and rock climbing!
Name: Melissa Aguilera
Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town) – I live in Montréal, QC. Pronouns: She/Her
What gets me up in the morning: The sun! I hate sleeping with the curtains of my bedroom completely closed. Then what really activates me is my first coffee of the day!
Nom : Melissa Aguilera
Lieu : J’habite à Montréal, QC.
Qu'est-ce qui me motive à sortir du lit chaque matin? : Le soleil! J’ai horreur de dormir avec les rideaux de ma chambre complètement fermés. Par la suite, ce qui m’active pour de vrai c’est mon premier café de la journée!
Name: Mo Phung, Community Specialist
Location: I live in
Mi'kma'ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq People / K'jipuktuk (Halifax). I grew up in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Tell us something random about yourself: I can hold my breath underwater for two minutes... aiming for longer someday!
Connect with me!
|Nicole Marie Dupuis||
Location (Traditional Territory and City/Town) –
Boozhoo, Nenookaasi-Kwe indizhnakas, Owaapaaginisining endoongee minobamadis, moong dodame. Hello, my Spirit name is Hummingbird-Woman and I am from the place where the pipestone dwells, (also known as Red Rock Indian Band) and I am from the Loon clan. I was born, raised and currently living in Nipigon, Ontario located at the mouth of the Nipigon River, on the northshore of Lake Superior. Nipigon is the traditional territory of the Ojibway of the Red Rock Indian Band, and the shared territory of other Ojibway bands under the Robinson Superior Treaty Group and Metis Nation of Ontario. *It is important to note that Red Rock Indian Band does not set boundaries of their traditional territory, it spans to include all of Turtle Island (North America), from Ocean to Ocean in all directions.
What gets me up in the morning : Yoga and morning walks with my dog.
|Nicole Marie Dupuis|
|Samantha Guerard Dimitraki||
Name: Samantha G. Dimitraki
Pronoms / Pronouns: Elle / She-Her
Emplacement / Location: Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC (Montreal)
À propos de moi: Bula! (Allo, en Fidjien) ! J'ai grandi dans l'Ouest-de-l'Île de Montréal dans une famille culturelle diversifiée (mère québécoise et père égyptien / italien / grec)! Nous avons beaucoup voyagé quand j'étais jeune, ce qui m'a permis de développer mon amour pour l'OCEAN! J'ai fait mon bac en biologie environnementale, fait du bénévolat et dirigé des expéditions de groupe à Bornéo, en Malaisie et au Fidji, et ces expériences m’ont permis de développer une passion pour l’éducation environnementale. J'ai ensuite continué ma propre éducation en faisant ma maîtrise en gestion intégrée des ressources en eau! Je défends la science citoyenne et les solutions basées sur la nature en ce qui concerne nos systèmes d'eau !
A bit about me: Bula (that’s Hello, in Fijian)! I grew up in the West Island of Montreal in a diverse cultural family (Quebecoise mother and Egyptian/Italian/Greek father)! We travelled a lot when I was young, allowing me to grow my love for the OCEAN! I did my undergrad in Environmental Biology, volunteered and group lead expeditions in Borneo, Malaysia and in Fiji, and these experiences allowed me to develop a true passion for environmental education. I then continued my own education by doing my master's in Integrated Water Resource Management. I advocate for citizen science and Nature-Based Solutions when it comes to our water systems!
Qu’est-ce qui me lève le matin? / What gets me up in the morning: Mon chien / My doggy Lola!
Quelque chose d'aléatoire sur moi-même / Something random about myself: J'ai interagi avec un hippopotame adulte qui s'appele Jessica! Elle était la plus douce / I've interacted with a grown adult Hippo before named Jessica! She's the sweetest <3
Location: I currently live in Port Moody, BC, on the traditional and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and Kwikwetlem (kwikwəƛ̓ əm) Nations
What gets me up in the morning: My dog, Margot. I may or may not invite her up on the bed for a quick snuggle before I get up...
A bit about me: Though I was born on a small farm in the Alberta prairies, I grew up on Vancouver Island and learned to play in the waves from a young age. I have lived in both Calgary and North Vancouver and have travelled extensively throughout Australia, Europe, Scandinavia, Turkey and India, and I have recently returned from a 5-month road trip through the Western USA and Mexico. I am a scuba diver and kiteboarder, but draw my limit at mountain biking. I completed my Bachelor's degree with a major in Greek & Roman Studies and a minor in French language; to this day, I am cognizant of the importance of understanding history and context in order to communicate effectively. After a career that includes everything from teaching improv drama, digging for dinosaurs, building watershed models and managing compliance requirements, I am now preparing to defend for my Master's in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University. My research focuses on the links between making and being, how hands-on work can change the way we act in the world. I strongly believe in the power that youth have to create change and I look forward to employing my experience in helping to conserve the oceans!
Tell us something random about yourself: I play a tuba that is bigger than I am. I can fit inside the case.
Name: Stephanie Foucault
Location: I am currently living in Vancouver BC, the traditional and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. I was born and raised in Sudbury ON, the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnaabeg in Robinson-Huron Treaty territory.
Since I grew up in a landlocked community, my interest in ocean conservation started much later in life, but I've always had a connection with freshwater growing up in the city of lakes. As a 2018 Ocean Bridge Alumni, I owe so much of who I have become to Ocean Bridge and I truly hope you get as much from this program as I did! I am also a graduate student at the Institute of Oceans and Fisheries (IOF) at UBC and would be happy to chat about my Thesis on ending IUU fishing in the high seas!
Tell us something random about yourself: I love all things Marvel! If I'm not in the office, you can probably find me at home watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Go Captain America!
Name: Taylor Jones-Arason
Location: Originally from Cypress River MB, but moved to Carberry (which isn't very far away) for work. Carberry resides in Treaty 1 territory and is the traditional home of the Anishinabewaki and Sioux nations.
What gets me up in the morning: Usually coffee and wet kisses from my dog, but the environment is pretty cool too I guess :P
A bit about me: I got interested in the environment during my time camping as a kid and spending most days outdoors in the pasture playing knights, building tree forts and doing mischievous kid things with my buds. My passion for protecting what's close to home really came about in my second year of university, as I struggled to find something I really wanted to learn about. I eventually chose to get a degree in the Environmental Sciences and took a bunch of classes in biology because evolution is pretty neat you know. A fun fact about me is that I was actually part of the 2018 cohort that went to Haida Gwaii and will be working with the Pacific Cohort this year as we go back to the enchanting isles.
My passion for the ocean more or less started out as curiosity because I'm from a land-locked community and I hadn't had the opportunity to actually see the ocean until Oceanbridge came along. I learned a lot about the oceans during my time in school, but it's hard to truly understand the importance of something if you've never actually seen or experienced it yourself.
Also I'm interested in a lot of things (Music, Gaming, Neature, Hiking, Carpentry, etc), so feel free to strike up a conversation with me about anything really.
Name: Zana Mody
Location: I'm newly living in Vancouver, traditional and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and Kwikwetlem (kwikwəƛ̓ əm) Nations. I previously lived in Peterborough (Nogojiwanong, an Anishinaabe word meaning "at the foot of the rapids"), the traditional territory of the Michi Saagig people of Treaty # 20. I also immigrated to Canada at the age of 12, from the state of Gujarat, India.
A bit about me:
I'm an interdisciplinary person by nature who is passionate about socio-ecology and climate change resilience, and learning about integrated human-nature systems in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. It just made sense for me to study both science and social sciences, including biology, ecology, and anthropology throughout my academic career, which led me to conduct fieldwork all across Asia, Canada, and Central America. My other favourite ways to learn and explore include travelling, learning languages, cooking, and reading.
Tell us something random about yourself:
Name: Zihan Cai
Location: Montréal, QC
What gets me up in the morning:
A bit about me:
Salut! Je m’appelle Zihan et j’étais né dans la province du Hebei, en Chine, où j'ai résidé jusqu'à l'âge de 6 ans. En grandissant, ma famille a déménagé à Montréal et je me souviens avoir appris l'anglais et le français. Sur le week-end, j'adorais pêcher, randonnée dans les bois et faire du vélo. Je suis tombé amoureux avec la nature en Canada, puis j’ai choisi une carrière en environnement! J'ai obtenu un baccalauréat à l'Université de Toronto en sciences environnementaux et la conservation de la biodiversité et récemment terminé ma maîtrise en sciences de l'environnement. Avec une formation en éducation et en engagement du public dans le secteur de l'environnement, je suis très content d'être un spécialiste de programme Ocean Bridge aujourd'hui.
Hello there! I was born in the province of Hebei, China where I resided until I was 6. Growing up, my family moved to Montreal and I remember learning English and French. On the weekends, I would go fishing, hiking and biking. I fell in love with Canada’s wilderness which led me to a career in environment! I completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Toronto in Environmental Science and Biodiversity conservation and recently finished a Master of Environmental Science. With a background in education and public engagement in the environmental sector, I’m very excited to be a Program Specialist at Ocean Bridge today.
Something random about yourself:
Je m'entraîne pour un art martial chinois compétitif (wushu) plus de 4 jours par semaine. C’est ma passion!
I train for a competitive Chinese martial art called wushu over 4 days per week. It’s my passion!