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.
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 Masters 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
Dr. Carol Mayer
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.
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 three 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 they’re 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.
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. She is currently employed as a Facilitator with PHSA’s San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Program. Michele also works as a private consultant for Indigenous related contracts and provides training for local companies and government organizations. Previous to this, Michele was employed with Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) as the Cultural Safety Coordinator and designed and delivered the Cultural Safety training program for the entire health authority.
While employed with VIHA, Michele taught as an Instructor with Camosun College in Indigenous Education and Health & Human Services, where she was employed since 2008. Michele has also worked as a Social Worker in Aboriginal community and organizations, in delegated Child and Family Services and with Provincial services for the Ministry for Children and Family Development. 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.