Our People

Executive Team

Muavae (Mua) Va'a

President

Mua has been involved in many different areas of South Pacific and First Nations issues. He is originally from Samoa and married a First Nations woman with three children. He has lived in Canada since 1991, working with Youth With a Mission, a non-profit organization, involving mostly First Nations communities on Vancouver Island. Mua is very active in our local Pacific Islander community, specifically with family gatherings, Pearls of the South Pacific dance group, and the rugby community. He currently works in a First Nations community as a youth counselor and coordinator, which allows him to connect with many youth in public schools as well as the Saanich First Nations communities.

April Ingham

Executive Director

director@pacificpeoplespartnership.org

April became the Executive Director of PPP in 2009. Since then, she has overseen multi-year CIDA funded projects for civil society conflict transformation in Manokwari, West Papua. This included the development of women’s networks and cooperatives. April has also assisted in the development of communications strategies along the Sepik River Region of Papua New Guinea and helped produce and host three major Pacific conferences. April has also succeeded in creating public engagement programs that connect the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the South Pacific while opening space for all who care about Pacific concerns.

April is currently a Director of the Canada Council for International Development, an Advisor to the School of Technology and Education for Royal Roads University, and is active in a number of organizations including the BCICC and its regional group, and Media-Net. She boasts an impressive career and record of service within the non-profit sector, most notably with the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation, public art galleries, the BC Arts Council, and the BC Museums Association. Throughout her career, April has successfully managed complex projects in a cross-cultural and multi-stakeholder context. Prior to joining PPP, she worked for three years as Production Manager for the nationally broadcast Indigenous arts and culture television show “The New Canoe”. She is also credited as part of the development team for the web-based Indigenous language archiving system First Voices.

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Kat Zimmer

Vice President

Kat grew up in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in Ktunaxa territory. She joined PPP in 2009 as the Cultural Events Coordinator. Since that time, Kat has chaired the organizing committee of PPP’s annual One Wave Festival, which celebrates the diverse cultures of the Pacific and inspires action on Pacific issues. In the lead role for the UVic student chapter of Rights and Democracy, Kat also helped raise awareness about the human rights challenges in West Papua, where PPP’s partners are located.

Kat holds degrees in Political Science and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria. She is passionate about permaculture, a solutions-focused design system for meeting human needs while enhancing the health of ecosystems. Her Master’s research on permaculture education was instrumental in establishing the first permaculture design course offered at the University of Victoria. She currently works as the Communications Specialist for Sierra Club BC, an environmental organization.

Andrea Clark

Treasurer

Andrea has a BA Honours degree from Carleton University in Directed Interdisciplinary Studies, with a focus on Sustainable Development in Latin America. She also has an International Human Rights Certificate from the University of Ottawa. With 35 years of experience in the volunteer and NGO sector, Andrea has worked on a range of issues including social justice for indigenous peoples, gender equality, peace, international human rights, and environmental sustainability. She worked for many years as a solidarity activist supporting human rights in Central America, and was a member of a national human rights observer delegation in the first post civil war election held in El Salvador in 1994.

Andrea worked for the South Pacific Peoples Foundation (now PPP) from 1993-1994 as coordinator of SPPF’s Networking Conference, and organized a BC Tour for South Pacific islanders visiting First Nations communities. She volunteered with CUSO in Vanuatu as Program Manager of IDEAS (Industrial Development and Economic Alternatives for SANMA) from 1995 to 1999, promoting human development and ecological sustainability. Most importantly, Andrea has an 18 year old son that has kept her very busy on local soccer fields. She is fluent in Spanish and Bislama (pidgin English in Vanuatu).

Board of Directors

Eli Enns

Director

Eli Enns is an internationally recognized expert in bio-cultural heritage conservation. He is a community developer and Canadian political scientist focused in Constitutional Law, Geopolitics and Ecological Governance. Eli has experience in First Nations program administration, capital project management, fundraising, green & culturally appropriate housing, the deployment of renewable energy solutions in remote communities and small scale liquid/solid waste management systems; all in the context of fostering alternative pathways to economic certainty through International Dispute Resolution.

Co-founder of the Ha’uukmin Tribal Park in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on Vancouver Island, Eli volunteers for several organizations including The Canadian Commission for UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program, The ICCA Consortium, Clean Technology Community Gateway, Ecotrust Canada and RAVEN Trust.

Eli is currently the Director of Operations for the Halalt Nation.

Alison Gardner

Director

Alison Gardner has had a long and affectionate association with PPP (and SPPF), dating back nearly 25 years. She served on the Board for five years and as Secretary for three years, and has been closely associated with the production and direction of Tok Blong Pasifik over many years as well. Professionally, Alison is a longtime magazine editor and freelance journalist, for the past 17 years focusing exclusively on travel research and writing worldwide.

Based in Langford (Victoria), B.C., she is publisher/editor of her own senior-focused Travel with a Challenge web magazine, specializing in nature-based vacations, educational travel, cultural/historical travel and volunteer vacations. Alison and her husband, Peter, lived and worked in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina for two years (2006 to 2008) and in Kolkata, India for 18 months (2010-2012) while Peter was serving on the start-up team for two international schools. Her regret is not to have travelled more widely in the South Pacific than Fiji and all six major islands of Hawaii. While serving on the PPP Board she will be looking to visit other areas of this vast region more fully.

Eugene Lee

Director

(Former President)

Eugene was born in the city-state of Brunei, Northern Borneo. He is of Kadazan, Dusun, and Chinese ancestry. Eugene immigrated to Canada in 1988 with his family. Like many Canadians, David Suzuki and the Nature of Things influenced his interest in the environmental movement. Torn between a career in music or Environmental studies, he pursued neither and went home to the island of Borneo. This trip was the catalyst to his decision to attend the School of Business at the University of Alberta. He spent his formal training in the study of non-governmental organizations and Social Entrepreneurship.

As chair of the Alberta Students’ Association for Social Entrepreneurship, he attended the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford, England. There he heard inspiring stories of triumph and justice for peoples of the world and decided to dedicate his energy to organizations such as the Pacific Peoples’ Partnership. Today, when not earning his keep with the McPherson Theatre and Royal Theatre in Victoria, Eugene works on musical soundscapes on his laptop, or spends what little time he has daydreaming.

Dr. Carol Mayer

Director

As the head of the curatorial department at the UBC Museum of Anthropology (MOA) and an associate to the Department of Anthropology, Carol is an expert in her field on the African and Pacific Islands. She was awarded fellowships based on her Pacific research at the Smithsonian Institute and the Sainsbury Research Centre.

Along with teaching courses at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of Victoria, and the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Dr. Mayer has served on various museum councils, been a jury member for numerous granting agencies, is an expert examiner for the Cultural Property Review Board, and a reviewer and editor for several publications. Holding degrees from UBC, Cambridge University, and the university of Leicester, she has delivered papers at several conferences and been published widely on topics relating to museum practice.

Dr. Mayer also publishes exhibition catalogues, articles, and books on various areas of material culture. Her most recent book (2013) tells the story of an important reconciliation ceremony on the Island of Erromango, Vanuatu. Her involvement in this ceremony earned her the 30th Anniversary of Independence medal for her cultural contributions to the Republic of Vanuatu.

She has recently completed a chapter for a book on missionaries in the Pacific and is working on a book about MOA’s founding collection from the Pacific Islands. She currently serves as the vice president of the North American chapter of the Pacific Arts Association.

Sean Burns

Director

Sean is originally from Southern California. He holds a Master of Information Management & Systems as well as a Master of International Relations both from Victoria University of Wellington.

Sean has a decade of international development and United Nations Development Program experience across the South Pacific and has seven years experience as a volunteer board member for non-profit organizations. He has had a long career working as a consultant in both the private and public sectors at  Toshiba, Kiwi Bank, for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in New Zealand and most recently at Paradigm Consulting Group.

Michele Mundy

Director

Michele is First Nations, born in Alert Bay, BC of Kwakwaka‘wakw ancestry and a member of the ‘Namgis First Nation with ties to Kingcome Inlet, Turnour Island, Village Island, and Fort Rupert. 

Michele is currently employed as a Facilitator with PHSA’s San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Program, since August 2013. As a Facilitator, this training includes: educating about Canada’s history with Indigenous people, with a focus on unparalleled outcomes we see in health, child welfare, and justice, and priorities around building awareness and understanding for the need of culturally safe services for Indigenous people.  Michele also works as a private consultant for Indigenous related contracts and provides training for local companies and government organizations.

Michele holds a Masters’ in Conflict Analysis & Mgmt, a BA in Child & Youth Care with a First Nations specialization in child protection, and a diploma in Business Administration from Camosun College. Michele says community connections are extremely important and is always mindful of why we do the work we do as we advocate for change, Aboriginal representation and leadership.

Peni Tavutonivalu

Director

Hereditary Chief, Namosi, Fiji

Peni Tavutonivalu, is a respected Fijian Hereditary Chief from the Province of Namosi, though born and raised in his maternal village of Tokou on the island of Ovalau, Fiji.  He has lived in Victoria for 25 years but has kept a strong connection with his country, visiting regularly, maintaining relationships with family members and observing cultural protocols from afar.

He received all his education in Fiji and worked 25 years for the Fiji government in Radio Telecommunications plus two years in the Ministry of Information as a Radio Stations Licensing Inspector, before moving to Canada. He has served in various organizations including a trade union, Parish councils, sporting bodies, and charitable clubs through his church.

Peni’s life-long love of music began when he learned to play ‘ukulele before progressing to guitar.  He has been a member of many musical groups in his native Fiji, performing in and around the country as well as at church services.  Since coming to Canada he has formed a South Pacific band, Tradewinds, which continues to perform locally and out of town.  Members of Tradewinds are Maureen Campbell (Canada), Joe Fuailefau (Western Samoa), Noa Molia (Fiji) and Alan Law (Canada).

Paul Vandermade

Director

Originally from Huntington Beach, California, Paul relocated to Victoria, BC in 2009. Paul is a natural innovator and problem solver with a strong business sense and foresight. A former business owner, who has led multiple employees at his 3 retail locations, Paul combines his knowledge of the local real estate market with his international background in manufacturing, distribution, and retail to offer his foreign clients/investors the detailed service that they are accustomed to.

As an active member of the South Pacific community on southern Vancouver Island, Paul is the proud sponsor of the South Seas 7‘s Rugby Club. He currently coaches son Karras’ in his U5 Soccer Team. Paul has served on the New Member Advisory Group of the Victoria Real Estate Board and has sat on the Strata Council of many of his properties since 2010. Paul has also been a staunch supporter of The Salvation Army-Victoria since 2012.

Christopher Porter

Director

Christopher brings over twenty five years of international experience working in marine mammal conservation and aquariums, including as a consultant for the National Aquariums of Canada and Italy. His interest in marine mammals stemmed from early experiences living and working in Alert Bay on Kwakwaka’wakw territory. Chris has worked extensively in the South Pacific, most notably in the Solomon Islands, supporting communities to develop, re-evaluate and strengthen dolphin conservation efforts.

Chris now focuses on wild orca conservation efforts in the Salish Sea, utilizing multimedia to create participatory public education displays. When Chris discovered the Pacific Peoples’ Partnership, he found an organization with a foundation and value system mirroring his own. Chris is fluent in pijin.

Staff

Siobhan Powlowski

Deputy Director

deputy@pacificpeoplespartnership.org

Siobhan holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) from UVic, with a specialization in International Development. Her research has focused on education in the global South. Siobhan was raised in Rurunga, Ambae, Vanuatu, moving to Canada for higher education. She also spent some time living in Kosovo, Papua New Guinea. Her approach to working at Pacific Peoples' Partnership is guided and directed from afar by her ni-Vanautu family and community, including her youngest nephew Lucas Hawa.

Siobhan has a strong professional record in disability advocacy, having previously managed outreach and housing programs supporting at risk community members, and as a photographer. She is passionate about building community, arts, and sea turtle conservation. Siobhan speaks fluent bislama (tok pijin) and Spanish.

Pawa Haiyupis

Programs Director

programs@pacificpeoplespartnership.org

Pawa was brought on as PPP’s Program Director in 2016. Pawa has an impressive background facilitating large and small group conversations with a focus on indigenous Nation Building and providing meaningful engagement.

For 14 years, Pawa has worked across Canada with Indigenous leaders creating awareness about aboriginal rights and responsibilities as well as developing programs that connect youth and communities to language, ceremony, children, healthy families, and a respectful relationship with all creation in our territories.

Alan Thomas

Financial Officer

finances@pacificpeoplespartnership.org

Alan has an MBA, a CPA accounting designation, and an undergraduate business degree. His past work in the public and private sector includes being the Business Planning Director for BC Emergency Health Services, Director of Finance for Vifor Pharmaceuticals (in both Canada and Switzerland), Regional Head of Finance for Aviva Insurance Company Western Canada, and Manager/Director, Planning and Analysis and Alderwoods Group. He currently acts as a Finance/Accounting Consultant.

His work philosophy has always been to “roll up his sleeves” to resolve issues, and to act as a business partner to the leadership team. He feels strongly that an accountant/finance officer needs to go beyond the typical statutory requirements of the role, and add value through the strategic planning process to ensure optimal use of both financial and human capital.  He believes in the importance of team work and mutual respect throughout all levels of an organization.

Andy Nystrom

Archivist and Research Assistant

info@pacificpeoplespartnership.org

Andy has two BAs (English Major, Psychology Minor; Sociology Major); over two decades later he is still trying to find some use for them. He first started volunteering with PPP in 2010. Andy has conducted considerable research in the region for articles. He also acts as an archivist for Tok Blong Pasifik, maintaining inventories and scanning earlier issues.

Andy's outside interests include movies, comics, travel, and photography (with over 2.5 million photos uploaded to Flickr), with an interest in publishing novels in the future.

Madeline Storey

Communications and IT Intern

madeline@pacificpeoplespartnership.org

Madeline is our newest staff member and has recently moved from Australia after completing a Master of Policy and Applied Social Research.

During her studies, Madeline has been involved in several cross-cultural research projects from creating educational manuals on sexual and reproductive health in India to designing resources for inclusive child wellbeing practices for university students. 

Her passions include women's empowerment and environmentalism.

Friends and Associates

Dr. James Boutilier

President Emeritus

Dr. Boutilier established the South Pacific People’s Foundation, the forerunner of the Pacific People’s Partnership, in the 1970s and served as the president of SPPF for many years. He is currently Special Advisor (Policy) at Maritime Forces Pacific (MARPAC), the Canadian Navy formation on the West Coast. He joined MARPAC in 1996 and travels widely on behalf of the Navy, primarily in Asia.

He received his PhD from the University of London (UK) in 1969 and taught at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, from 1969 to 1971 before taking up an appointment at Royal Roads Military College in Victoria, British Columbia. He served on the staff of RRMC until 1995 as a professor of history and Dean of Arts. He was an adjunct professor of Pacific Studies at the University of Victoria during the same period. He was instrumental in the establishment of Royal Roads University.

Todd Biderman

Papua Program Coordinator

Todd holds a BSc. in Ecology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, and also studied Holistic Science at Schumacher College (UK). His graduate research explored integral approaches to bridge placed-based phenomenology, Indigenous knowledge, and emerging scientific approaches to ecological sustainability and social justice.

In 2001, Todd served as a Community Forestry Facilitator in Flores, Indonesia, through Silva Forest Foundation. He returned to Indonesia for 18 months in 2003 as a CUSO-sponsored Community Development Advisor in West Kalimantan, supporting capacity development of community forestry initiatives. Since returning to Canada in 2004, Todd has been an active member in the Canada-Indonesia Working Group since 2003 and a coordinating member of the Asia-Pacific Working Group since 2009. Fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, Todd has returned to Indonesia numerous times to work with partners leading up to and throughout PPP’s initiative Papua, Land of Peace: Civil Society Leadership in Conflict Transformation (2009-2012).

Chesa Abma

Cultural Educator

Chesa is a proud Lekwungen woman from the Esquimalt Nation, and has mixed Coast Salish, Interior Salish, and Friesian ancestry. Formerly PPP’s Outreach and Media Coordinator Intern, Chesa completed the Indigenous Studies Program at Camosun College while working as an Indigenous Education Assistant in the W̱SÁNEĆ territory. She also attended the Seventh Gathering of Healing Our Spirits Worldwide in the Waikato region of Aotearoa (New Zealand). At this gathering of Indigenous people from Turtle Island, Aotearoa, Australia, and the islands of the South Pacific, Chesa had the opportunity of presenting on leadership through Indigenous education. Through her travels to Aotearoa Chesa discovered the deep connections amongst the people of the Pacific and the immense benefits that come from fostering these relationships and the sharing of cultures.

Chesa’s interests include performance arts and film. She has recently realized the significance of these practices within Indigenous communities. She has noticed the for a long time the public has formed perceptions of Indigenous people based on forms of media that have been created by non-Indigenous people. Therefore she believes that there is great value in utilizing media as a means of reclaiming the image of Indigenous people in a way that more accurately represents who they are.