Pulling Together Email:
Attention: Pulling Together Canoe Society
PO Box 78034 Grandview PO
We are pleased to introduce your Board of Directors for 2016:
Rhiannon Bennett- President Rhiannon Bennett is a member of the Musqueam Indian Band and has been participating on Pulling Together Canoe Journeys since 2006. She has served on the Board since 2013 and served as President since 2014. She is active in her community and volunteers her time on a variety of community organizations including: Pulling Together Canoe Society, Ladner Fisherman’s Hall Co-op, Delta Secondary Alumni Basketball Tournament, an Inter-community Language Revitalization Committee, and founded the Musqueam Pulling Together Canoe Club. Rhiannon is well known for asking the tough questions in a manner that encourages engagement and dialogue. Professionally, she has worked with Aboriginal youth and the overarching themes of her work have been decolonization and reconciliation. She has worked with children, youth and families for about 18 years in a variety of roles including a dance teacher, soccer coach, Youth Worker, Youth Program Coordinator, Aboriginal Community Developer, and Aboriginal Enhancement Support Worker in the Richmond School District. She is currently working in her community of Musqueam as their Family Outreach Worker and was recently elected to the Delta School Board. Rhiannon is passionately working towards creating a more equitable world for all people.
Linda Blake – Vice President – Has been a participant of Pulling Together Canoe Journey’s since 2001, involved in roles as a puller, skipper, safety consultant, and now a member of the Board of Directors. A career that includes local, national and international experiences in the law enforcement field. Working with youth as a martial arts instructor for 20 plus years. A new work transfer maybe a challenge for Linda to attend the next year’s journey, but her belief in what Pulling Together Canoe Journey’s brings to all those who participate will keep her involved, just from a distance.
Emanuela Sheena – Treasurer-Emanuela Sheena has been working in the non-for profit sector for over 20 years. In 2000, she helped start a totem pole carving project at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, which included a master carver teaching Aboriginal youth the traditional art of carving. This successful project went on to see 3 more carvings raised in the community. In 2004, her oldest son, a member of the Upper Nicola Band, participated in the Pulling Together Canoe Journey. This was the first time he was exposed to his Aboriginal culture and really built a sense pride in him, leaving him wanting to learn more. Emanuela went back to her organization and helped establish a canoe program. Since 2005, she has brought Aboriginal youth to participate on the journeys. One of the focuses on the canoe journeys was to ensure the youth were connecting with Vancouver Police Officers, building relationships that grew beyond the canoe journey.
Emanuela has been on the Board of directors since 2005, bringing her administration and community development skills to enhance the capacity of the board. Her work with Aboriginal youth has also given her the ability to bring a youth lens to the planning process and ensuring that youth have a place on the journey. One of her goals is to continuously encourage youth to join the board, ensuring their voices are heard and supporting our succession plan.
Howard Tran- Secretary-Howard joined the PTCS board in 2013 after a very memorable first journey in Sliammon 2012 and is currently the Secretary. He quickly learned that the journey off the water is just as important as the journey in the canoes and that this is where the important work lies in furthering PTCS’ Mission Statement – enhance understanding between public service agencies and Aboriginal Peoples. He is a member of the Vancouver Police Department and is currently the Inspector in charge of the Youth Services Section, the Mental Health Portfolio and the VPD Cadet Program. He is also a board member for KidSafe Society and the UBC Institute of Mental Health. The PTCS is close to his heart and the annual journey is always the highlight of his summer.
Swustus (Max Henry) -Director – Max is from the Pauquachin First Nation and is a youth/frontline worker in W’SANEC territory. He is on his second year with the board of directors bringing his years of strong cultural responsibility learned from generations of family tradition. He remains strong in his commitment to community leadership development through pulling , Lacrosse, and Soccer. This will be his fourth Pulling Together journey and second year on the board of directors. He is the skipper of the Ocean Spirit canoe family. GO HABS GO!
Rob Longley – Director -In 2006 Rob became familiar with the Pulling Together Canoe Journeys at a Pulling Together Canoe Society barbeque – after discussion with some of the planners, Rob, a Reserve with the Royal Canada Navy, since 1981, saw an opportunity to have the Royal Canadian Navy provide support in areas of marine knowledge and safety. Rob and Randy Young were the first Royal Canadian Navy participants in the role of support vessel in the PT Canoe Journey 2007.
Rob began providing additional support as a Safety consultant in the PT Canoe Journey 2009, and then provided additional support and mentorship for the youth who planned the 2010 PT Canoe Journey and continues that work serving on the 2016 Board of Directors.
In 2011 he was asked to join the board of directors based on his continued participation as a Safety Consultant. In 2013 he was appointed Director of Safety for the PT Canoe Society.
Nikki Walser -Director -Nikki is a proud member of Beausoleil First Nation from the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay, Ontario. Participated in her first Pulling Together Canoe Journey in 2008 and has enjoyed the beauty of every experience on the water since. Blessed to be part of the UNYA (Urban Native Youth Association) Canoe family, bringing an incredible crew of youth leaders every year. Works in East Vancouver, coordinating a Sports & Recreation program for Native youth, ages 11-24. A guitar playing Lacrosse fanatic, who loves to travel and spend time with family and friends. This is Nikki’s first year on the Board of Directors and she looks forward experiencing journey through this new and exciting lense.
Matteo Rossit-Director-Matteo Rossit-Lavigne – Matteo joined the board in 2016 as a Director. Currently, Matteo is working through an Apprenticeship in Metal Fabrication, attending BCIT. But while his career path is metal work, his heart lies in the canoe along the ancient highways. After 10 years of participating in the Pulling Together Journey, the majority of them paddling with the Abbotsford Police and Sumas First Nation Canoe Family, he is committed to working towards a better understanding and relationship between First Nations and Public Services and development of the approach taken to this end.
Michelle Webster-Michelle is a member of the Namgis First Nation, participating in her first journey in 2013 as a skipper and member of the planning committee. Webster was first appointed to the board of Directors in record fashion during a lunch break on the 2015 journey and is pleased for the opportunity to be a “new and a half” board member.Michelle is a the Interior Sport and Physical Activity Coordinator for the Aboriginal Sport, Recreation and Physical Activities Partners Council, and is dedicated to providing opportunities for young people for personal growth and learning through physical activity and new experiences. Michelle has a Masters degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Sport management and a B.A in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She has played collegiate softball and spent time as the Bullpen catcher for the Canadian National team for their last Olympic cycle. Webster and now enjoys spending time as Technical Director for Kelowna Minor Fastball, Instructor for Beyond the White Lines Softball Academy, and working with the Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Partners Council as a FitNation Leader and coach.
Leila Williams-Friend of the Board-Leila Williams is of Wet’suwet’en and Carrier decent from Moricetown B.C. She is one of the friends of the board, she still wants to be completely involved and help the strategic planning and gain experience . Also she has been volunteering within our community as youth rep in board of directors at Urban Native Youth Association. Over the past twelve years she has been a participant in about 10 or more youth programs within Vancouver, and is involved in various community events . In the past she has received help from many youth workers and this is the reason she is interested in youth work. As well as being able to give back to the communities she grew up in, she has already taken steps toward meeting her goals and will continue to do what she loves.
Verna (Kate) Smith-Friend of the Board is from the St’at’imc Nation on her mothers side and Wet’suwet’en on her fathers side. Her very first Pulling Together Canoe Journey was in 2011 with the UN-Easy (Unya and COELS-Easy) Canoe family. The Collingwood Aboriginal Youth C.R.E.W program amplified her love for paddling when she attended the 2013 journey in the Shushwap. She was on the PTCS Board in 2015 and has continued to play a role as Friend of the Board. Her enthusiasm and excitement for every journey has encouraged her to continue the work she does as the Aboriginal Youth Outreach worker for C.R.E.W.
Your Board of Directors