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.
Rachel Levee – Vice President
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.
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.
Lorna Eastman – Secretary
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.
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.
Dr. Jeff Corntassel
As a member of the Tsalagi Cherokee Nation, Jeff was the first to represent the Cherokee Nation as a delegate to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples. He strives to honor his family and nation as a teacher, activist, and scholar. Jeff received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1998. He is currently an Associate Professor and Graduate Advisor in the School of Indigenous Studies and an Acting Program Director for the CIRCLE (Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement) at the University of Victoria, which is located on Lekwungen and Wsanec homelands.
Jeff has been a valued partner of PPP since 2014, and helped us to produce two conferences and many events including a 2015 Pacific Networking Conference, RedTide: International Indigenous Climate Action Summit and Youth Conference in 2018 and event components of PPP’s One Wave Gathering among other initiatives.
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.
Ruby Kafalava is originally from Tonga. She met her husband in Canada, and decided to take up a permanent residency here. She loves dancing and music, and started dancing when she was little. She was with a dance group that travelled through Fiji , Niue and across Tonga for 5 years. They used dance as a way to express messages about equality, racism, domestic violence, bullying and drugs. etc. She is now involved with keeping her culture, language and traditions alive in Canada through her participation within Pearls of The South Pacific; an authentic cultural group based on Vancouver Island. She is also a mother of two young girls and works as a professional caregiver. Ruby’s home is her life and she loves getting the opportunity to give back to her community.
Originally from the island of Molokai in Hawaii, Tierra lives and breathes aloha in all that she does. She travelled to BC right out of high school in 2008 and successfully completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resources from the UBC Sauder School of Business as well as a Tourism Management Diploma from Capilano University.
Seeking a similar island culture like her Hawaiian roots, Tierra moved to Victoria from Vancouver in 2014 and has since earned her place within the HR community and within the Tourism/Hospitality industry. She recently was awarded the 2018 HR Rising Star Award presented by CPHR BC & Yukon and was also recognized by HR Director Canada as one of the 2019 Top 20 HR Rising Stars. Tierra currently works as the HR Manager at Vancouver Island Brewing.
Tierra is very passionate about her upbringing in Hawaii and about sharing that aloha with all those around her. She is a Polynesian dancer with the Pearls of the South Pacific dance group in Victoria. She has also been involved in supporting several local indigenous events and loves to volunteer her time where she can!
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.
Dylan Sunshine Waisman
Sunshine’s maternal family hails from Fiji and the Solomon Islands with family spread across the South Pacific. Her paternal family are Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Her mother’s teachings of Fijian Talanoa (story-telling), spirituality, ancestral strength, and honouring the land as a leader, have inspired her to pursue a path of upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples and the environment. Through her reverence for her Indigenous Pasifika heritage as well as the Indigenous peoples and the land of the Pacific North West on whose lands she was born, Sunshine has made it her goal to strengthen the human rights of our Indigenous relations on Turtle Island, where she is so grateful to live.
Sunshine was born and raised in the activist community of Kitsilano in Vancouver, on Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw territory, where she learned that education, awareness, and action were keys to supporting the roots of change in her local and global community. Sunshine received her law degree with honours in the UK and her Master’s in Law degree with a focus on human rights and migration law. She wrote her Master’s thesis on extractive projects on ancestral Indigenous lands in Canada, and focussed on the overlap and disconnect between Canadian law, International Law, and Indigenous Legal Traditions.
Sunshine currently works to uphold Indigenous rights in the criminal justice system as a Gladue Report Writer, while studying to become an accredited lawyer in Canada, and volunteering on a bi-monthly basis at pro-bono legal clinics in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Gladue reports are a restorative justice tool that aim to ameliorate the dire overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system, by incorporating Indigenous history and upholding Indigenous legal traditions and healing practices into sentencing. When an Indigenous person is convicted of a crime, they’re entitled to a Gladue Report which provides the sentencing judge with (1) the individual’s life story, contextualized within the systemic intergenerational impacts from colonization and (2) a healing plan with restorative justice sentencing options, and a plan for the individual’s future that incorporates their needs and goals.
In her free time, Sunshine loves cooking with her family, being on the ocean, reading, and playing Mario kart with her friends. Her goals for 2020 and 2021 include being called to the Bar and adopting a dog.
Sunshine is honoured to take part in the inspiring work that PPP carries out and looks forward to learning and growing with the PPP community through our domestic and international initiatives and our educational programs.
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.
David is descended from the South Pacific missionary and adventurer, John Williams (great, great grandfather) on his paternal grandfather’s side, and from Staat’imc (Lillooet) Chief Joseph on his paternal grandmother’s side (coyote clan). His roots go deep into what is now British Columbia, and also into the South Pacific Archipelago.
Working extensively to support and promote reconciliation for over 25 years, he is deeply committed to reconciliation in Canada, and is profoundly aware of the obligations imposed by settler privilege. With an honours degree in anthropology and an advanced degree in library science, David’s experience as a farmer, deep ocean seaman, fisher, hunter, engineer and advisor to conservation biologists brings a wealth of expertise to PPP.
David has been instrumental in conservation science and ethno-ecology. In 2010 he established RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs), and served as its president for five years. He has worked to advance the interests of the Tsilhqot’in community, assisting in the successful Roger Williams rights and title case, and in creating the ?Elegsi Qayus Wild Horse Preserve. His work was instrumental in preventing federal approval of the New Prosperity Mine.