Muavae Va’a – President
Originally from Samoa, Mua has lived in Canada since 1991. He is married to an Indigenous woman and is the proud father of three children. Mua has worked primarily with Youth With a Mission, a non-profit organization focused on Indigenous communities on Vancouver Island, and now works as a Youth Coordinator for a local First Nations community. This has allowed him to connect with many youth in public schools, as well as in First Nations communities across the Saanich Peninsula.
Mua is highly involved in many areas of South Pacific and Indigenous life. He is active in the local Pacific Islander community, specifically with community gatherings, Pearls of the South Pacific dance group and rugby.
Alison Gardner – Vice President
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. Alison now returns to the Board as Vice President.
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 (Greater Victoria), BC, 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 eighteen 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.
Sean Burns – Treasurer
Sean has over seven years of non-profit Board of Directors experience. He has extensive international development and United Nations Development Programme experience across the South Pacific, having spent more than ten years in the region. He also has over sixteen years of experience with Fortune 500, private and public sector consulting.
Today, Sean resides in Victoria, B.C. brokering commercial real estate across Canada. He holds multiple Master’s degrees and believes technology initiatives should be available to everyone in the world.
Rachel Wang – Secretary
Rachel Wang was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario – home to many diverse Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee, the Huron-Wendat and the Mississaugas of New Credit First Nation. Rachel received her Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree from Queen’s University, specializing in the evolutionary ecology of a North American tree frog. Her thesis was later used to produce a manuscript published in BMC Evolutionary Biology. Upon graduation, Rachel moved to the east coast of Canada to complete her Master of Marine Management (MMM) degree at Dalhousie University.
Rachel’s passion for conservation and international development in the South Pacific began in 2014, when she served her first term in Solomon Islands working for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). She became heavily involved in projects around rights based fisheries management and climate change risk mitigation planning. She continues to stay connected with her South Pacific networks and is delighted to use Pacific Peoples’ Partnership as one of the mediums to do so.
Rachel is currently based in Victoria, BC, working for WWF-Canada as their Forage Fish & Marine Conservation Specialist.
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.
Eugene Lee – Past President and Director at Large
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.
Lorna Eastman, a Certified Financial Planner, provides financial consultation for aboriginal organizations, individuals, corporations, and the public sector. With a specialty in pensions, Lorna assisted Aboriginal Non-Profit Agencies in British Columbia to develop a pension strategy for over 300 employers in the sector. Further to this assignment, the Aboriginal Officers Association of Canada contracted Lorna to research and to write an Income Tax Manual with a First Nations Focus on Income Tax Filing. This report highlighted the ability to access eligible benefits as a result of tax filing. These benefits include the Canada Child Benefit, GST Rebates, Guaranteed Income Supplement and Canada Learning Bonds. This resulted in further research into Canada Learning Bonds, Group Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Volunteer Income Tax Clinics from a First Nations perspective.
Lorna has extended family in New Zealand, travels to New Zealand each year with her Kiwi husband and has been welcomed onto several Marai’s in New Zealand. Lorna was adopted into the Papariki Whanau on the Whanganui River and continues to maintain close ties there.
Lorna grew up in a large farm family in the Souris river valley in Manitoba and attended a one room country school. Her father’s family came to Manitoba in the late 1800s from the Orkney Islands and her mother’s family came from England in the early 1900’s. Her large extended family continues to farm in Manitoba.
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 and 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.
Peter has a PhD from the University of British Columbia in Natural Resource Management and Economic Development. Between his MA and PhD, he worked in the financial markets in Toronto and Vancouver for several years. After completing his PhD he taught university for more than a decade before taking a break to join the British Columbia government for four years working as a senior manager in Economic Development.
Returning to the academic world, Peter taught economics at Royal Roads Military College for four years before joining the faculty at Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific where he taught for 17 years. This included two years helping to start a new United World College in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina where, in addition to teaching economics, he was the Pastoral Coordinator and the University Guidance Counsellor. Subsequently, Peter served on the startup team for the first International Baccalaureate school in West Bengal, India. When he returned to Canada he was able to turn his full attention to working with the NGOs and charitable organizations he had helped over the years. His focus is now on fund raising and assisting with designing strategic plans that will bring practical help to those in need in Canada and around the world.
Of mixed European and Jewish heritage, Rachel’s family has lived in Canada for three generations. For most of those generations, they have lived on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory, on the island of Montreal.
Rachel always felt the pull of the Pacific and is grateful that she, her husband and young son were able to make their dream come true of living on the far west coast of Canada, here on the Island.
Rachel has an MA from the University of Toronto, specializing in oral history and the interplay between personal and national identities for minority cultural groups.
Always drawn to the oceanic space, she has sailed around the Atlantic on a tall ship, got married on the beach in Tofino, and hopes to one day really learn to surf.
Most recently Rachel was the National Coordinator for the Inter-Council Network (ICN), a coalition of the eight provincial and regional Councils for International Cooperation. She has coordinated and managed community based projects from Vancouver to Addis Ababa, with a focus on media, documentation, and public engagement.
Rachel currently fills her days playing in the sand with her little boy, keeping an eye on how Canada is doing with the SDGs, seeking the perfect energy ball recipe, and making Victoria her home.
Ruth is Maori from Aotearoa/New Zealand with tribal affiliations with Tainui and Ngapuhi. She was raised in the Bay of Islands and is now married with 3 children. Ruth moved to Canada in 2001.
She has worked as legal secretary for Maori Land Claims, a resource management advisor to diverse Maori hapu, lectured on business management at the University of Auckland, and worked in international business here in Canada. She also has served in Taiapure (Management of Commercial and Non-Commercial Fisheries, estuarine and coastal waters) with the Ministry of Fisheries, as a Te Ture Whenau Maori (Maori Land Act) Maori Trusts and Incorporations Advisor, was Secretary of the Mataatua Confederation, Chairperson for the Tapuaetahi Incorporation, Secretary to the Taitokerau Roopu Kaumatua (Northland Council of Elders) with Judge Andrew Spencer, and a business advisor to various Maori Incorporations, business ventures and the first Urban Maori health clinic.
Ruth is a current member of the Victoria-based Pearls of the South Pacific.
Dr. Carol Mayer
Professor 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 is 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 the Museum of Anthropology (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.
Now retired, Art spent most of his life as a photographer and filmmaker. As a filmmaker, he worked with a number of voluntary organizations in several countries in Africa, as well as Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines and Canada. In East Africa he was involved in filming “Mama June,” a film about a Canadian teacher who contracted AIDS and returned to Tanzania to work with AIDS organizations there as well as a series of short videos on AIDS projects in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The film was nominated for a Juno Award.
Art initiated and co-produced the film “Killer Whale and Crocodile” about an arts exchange between an Iatmul carver from Papua New Guinea and a Coast Salish carver. He has also worked on training manuals, educational kits and study guides and taught a photography course as well as a seminar on photographic technique.
In the voluntary sector, Art was a member of the board of the Victoria AIDS Resource and Community Services Society for many years and served as chairman of the board for most of those years. In the last few years, while living in Ottawa, Art volunteered at a local food bank.
In retirement, Art recently completed a book titled “Adherents of the Higher Law” about the efforts of the members of a small college community in Ohio in the battle to end slavery in the United States.