Meet the Team

Emily Keller

Executive Director 

Emily is a second-generation Canadian settler with German roots who grew up on a small island in the traditional territory of the Klahoose First Nation. As a kid, she had twelve pet chickens and helped run her family’s kayak lodge. After finishing a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies back east at Queen’s, Emily returned to beautiful Coast Salish territory to apply her entrepreneurial spirit to running a non-profit. Emily lives as close to Stanley Park as possible with her Mexican-Canadian partner, Edgar. She listens to CBC radio on the daily and loves to paint birds, read novels, bake German cakes, swim in lakes, and spend time on the land.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: emily@eya.ca  I  Phone: 604-319-1729

Marika van Reeuwyk 愛丽

Program Manager

Marika is a first generation settler with Chinese Singaporean ancestry on her mother’s side and Dutch ancestry on her father’s side. She grew on Stó:lō territory, where the mountain ranges of this valley meet to embrace the River. Marika has put down new roots in Coast Salish territories with her partner Chris, her feline familiars, Connor and River, and many plant friends. On her learning journey, Marika studied applied biology at UBC with a focus on native bees and floral ecology. She is a big bug nerd and recently co-founded the Native Bee Society of BC. In her spare time, you’ll find Marika moving and grooving, getting creative, growing and cooking nourishing food, and meeting new plants, birds, and bees in the wild.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: marika@eya.ca  I  Phone: 604-689-4446

Erica Ellis

Program Manager
Erica is a second generation settler of Japanese and mixed European ancestry. She grew up on the traditional territories of the Skwxwú7mesh First Peoples, where deep forests open to mountains and oceans in a place we now call North Vancouver. An upbringing on these lands inspired Erica to pursue a degree in Natural Resource Conservation at UBC where she deepened her love for trees, wildlife, and all things natural. After her degree, Erica and her partner Brennan hopped in their tiny two-door Honda Civic to explore, climb, hike, and camp in diverse and incredible natural areas. Upon arriving back on Coast Salish territory, they settled slightly North, in a place the Skwxwú7mesh Peoples refer to as “birth place of the wind”. Erica can now be found in Squamish with her partner Brennan and crazy dog Valley, where she spends her free time cooking Japanese food, falling off her bike, pursuing a Masters in Education for Sustainability at UBC, spending time with family, and weeding her garden.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: erica@eya.ca   I   Phone: 604-689-4446

David Palmer

Philanthropy Officer

David is a dual UK/Canadian citizen who grew up in the urban-rural fringes of London. A recent settler on unceded Coast Salish territories, he landed on the west coast following a Master’s in Gender and Sexuality at University of London and a year-long bicycle journey across Europe and Asia. David is passionate about restoring ecological balance, food security, and environmental justice, and loves connecting with nature in and out of the city. He lives in a wannabe homestead in East Van where he enjoys sewing clothes, growing food, and petting the house cat, Margaret. With over seven years’ experience fundraising for nonprofits in the UK and Canada, David loves to connect people with the causes they’re passionate about.

Pronouns: He/Him
Email: david@eya.ca  I  Phone: 604-716-7933

Joyce Liao 廖釆約

Program Coordinator

Joyce is a first generation Taiwanese Canadian who grew up in Treaty 7. Since moving to Coast Salish territories to pursue an undergraduate degree at UBC in sustainable food systems, she has been gardening up a storm with peers and centering placemaking as a community practice. These days, Joyce spends most of her time pondering the interfaces of critical pedagogy, food justice and youth community engagement. When she isn’t thinking about alternative futures, you can find her drawing, biking, and tree climbing.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: joyce@eya.ca  I  Phone: 604-689-4446

Sydney Verburg

Program Coordinator

Sydney is Cree from the Whitefish (Goodfish) Lake First Nation, German, and Danish on her mother’s side, with Dutch ancestry on her father’s side. She grew up on Coast Salish territory on the sunny beaches of Tsawwassen and in the beautiful mountain ranges of North Vancouver on Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, Stó:lō and Musqueam territories. In her spare time, you’ll find Sydney hiking in nature, playing sudoku, and eating all types of food. In fact, she loves food so much that she completed her Bachelor of Science in Food, Nutrition, and Health – yum! Sydney is passionate about land-based learning, food as medicine, and connecting with youth.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: sydney@eya.ca  I  604-689-4446

Hailey Bird Matheson

Program Coordinator

Hailey is Nehiyaw (Cree) from Peguis First Nation, Treaty One, on her mother’s side with mixed European ancestry on her father’s side. She was born on Ktunaxa and Sinixt territory in BC’s interior and grew up in Tonkawa territory in central Texas. Hailey came to stolen Coast Salish territory to study social work, swim in the ocean, and hike. As a guest on this land, she tries to be a good relative and support local Nations through activism and learning local languages and creation stories. Hailey’s passion for Indigenous-based research and land-based practices led her to intern at xʷc̓ic̓əsəm (the Indigenous garden at UBC) and engage in practicums supporting people who use substances in the Downtown Eastside. In her free time, you’ll find Hailey beading, drumming, and hanging out with her hedgehog, Henry.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: hailey@eya.ca  I  Phone: 604-689-4446

Sonia Stewart

Program Coordinator

Sonia is first generation Chinese Canadian on her mother’s side and Scottish-European mix on her father’s side. She grew up near the ocean in South Surrey on Semiahmoo territory, helping out in her family’s beautiful backyard garden. Sonia studied applied biology at UBC and is passionate about using nature to support youth mental health and resiliency. In her spare time, she loves to cook, play volleyball, hang out with her dog Frodo, and spend time outdoors, especially near trees or the ocean. In the summertime, Sonia tries to visit her family’s cabin on the Sunshine Coast as much as possible so she can kayak, fish, and swim.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: sonia@eya.ca  I  604-689-4446

Brennan Lew-Cooke

Program Coordinator  

Brennan’s ancestry is Mi’kmaq from the Qalipu First Nation and Chinese. He was born and raised on Coast Salish territories and is privileged to continue living on unceded Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories. Brennan studied Indigenous Health at UBC and spent significant amounts of time connecting to the land at Tu’wusht Vancouver Native Health Society’s Indigenous Health Garden. With a passion for culture and staying active, Brennan believes in the power of science to build youth’s confidence and motivation surrounding wildlife activism. In his spare time, Brennan enjoys spending time with friends and family, connecting to the land, and creating art.

Pronouns: He/Him
Email: brennan@eya.ca  I  Phone: 604-689-4446

Sahar Zandieh

Program Coordinator

Sahar arrived on the Coast Salish territories from Iran when she was six years old. Many years later, land that was once unfamiliar is now undeniably home. While studying applied biology at UBC, Sahar always looked for ways to apply herself on farms and in gardens, working with youth. Even when she has just left its shores, Sahar always misses the ocean and the feeling of wind rushing against her face. Her hands are happiest with a good coating of soil; her clothes are best loved when dusted in flour from baking.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: sahar@eya.ca  I  Phone: 604-689-4446

Niki Westman, CPA, CGA

Accountant

Niki is a third-generation settler of western European ancestry. She spent her childhood on Algonquin land, walking to school through suburban forests. Before becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant, Niki wrote a Master’s thesis in English Literature on the pedagogy of Indigenous ecological principles in fiction by First Nations’ authors. Inspired by the teachings of northwest coast Indigenous voices, Niki finally transplanted to Coast Salish territory in 1997 where she now enjoys counting the beans for EYA as much as she loves growing them in the community garden that she founded. She has unrestrained compulsions for sewing colourful pants, moving and singing with music, riding her bike in urban forests, and striking up random conversations with interesting creatures along the way.

Pronouns: She/Her
Email: niki@eya.ca   I   604-689-4446

Meet our Board of Directors


Andrea Duke

Board Chair
Andrea was born and raised on the beautiful, unceded and traditional Coast Salish territory, including the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Her great grandparents and grandparents were settlers from China and the United Kingdom. Andrea graduated from UVic with a BSc. in Biology and Psychology and from UBC Sauder with an MBA. Before discovering her current career in HR Management and Consulting at TPD, she gained experience in non-profits, ecological restoration and science education. In her free time, Andrea loves to be outside, especially trying new activities, the latest being cross country skiing and road cycling. While indoors, she’s often found trying to make her own environmentally friendly products from cleaners to moisturizers.

Pronouns: She/Her

Sara Fralin

Board Vice Chair
Sara Fralin is a fourth generation Canadian, born and raised in Vancouver on the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Sara’s Jewish ancestors escaped the Pogroms of Russia and arrived in Canada in 1923 as refugee immigrants. Sara’s appreciation for nature led her to pursue a Master’s degree in Sustainability Studies from Trent University and Bachelors degrees in Political Science and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria. Sara currently works with the Fraser Basin Council as a program coordinator for the Climate Change and Air Quality Department. She is also a Certified Yoga Instructor who loves the outdoors and is often found camping, hiking and skiing throughout BC.

Pronouns: She/Her

Lisa Tam

Secretary
Lisa grew up in the concrete jungle, Hong Kong, and it is extremely difficult to find a community garden to grow plants and crops. After following her family to immigrate to Vancouver, Canada, growing plants and crops at the backyard is no longer a dream. She loves to plant flowers and trees in her own garden. Watering plants and shrubs is one of her favourite activities to do with her little son during the spring and summer. Other than that, Lisa enjoys biking and hiking. Lisa graduated from the Simon Fraser University, and is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) and Certified Public Accountant (Delaware) in the United States. Lisa is excited to advise the Board with regards to financing and accounting matters.

Patty Lowe, CPA

Board Treasurer
Patty is a second generation Canadian with German and Scottish ancestry. She spent her childhood on the traditional territories of the Pellt’iq’t and Tk’emlúps First Nations in BC’s Cariboo Region, where she loved being outside in nature. Patty is now a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) working at the Vancouver Chinatown Association. She is passionate about connecting youth with the outdoors and regularly seeks out nature as a way to relax, rejuvenate, and make sense of the world. Patty lives in southeast Vancouver on traditional Coast Salish territory with her husband and teenage son.

Pronouns: She/Her

Kristina Zalite

Board Member at Large

Kristina is a second generation settler who was born in Coast Salish territory and grew up in Germany, Iran, the US, and Canada. During her time living in Coast Salish territory, she has participated in EYA’s lobby to preserve the Grandview Cut, completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at UBC, co-organized a Queerk-cycle contingent at Vancouver Pride, authored the video Sounding Queer Space with the VIVO Arts Centre, and played many Balkan folk songs. Kristina has lived in Kugaaruk, Iqaluit, and Fairbanks; and she authored a Landscape Architecture thesis on park design in Nunavut. She has her own landscape architecture business and strives to create spaces that encourage ecological and cultural interaction.

Pronouns: She/Her

Joey Levesque

Board Member at Large
Joey is a Vancouver local and on-again/off-again Californian of mixed Indigenous and settler ancestry. He graduated from the Allard School of Law at UBC, and studied at the Peace Palace and Leiden University while living in the Netherlands; he now practices securities and corporate law downtown. Joey grew up immersed in the Canadian wilderness and spends as much time as possible scuba diving, sailing, hiking and skiing.

Pronouns: He / Him

Ben Heller

Board Member at Large

Ben is a second generation settler of Polish, Romanian and Israeli ancestry who grew up in Coast Salish territory near the Musqueam village of q̓ʷeyaʔχʷ.  Ben studied finance at UBC and then traveled to the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq to study law at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University.  When not behind his desk pouring over the fine print, you’ll likely find Ben on the pitch coaching young footballers with a local youth soccer club.  In his spare time, Ben can usually be found hiking and biking in the summers, skiing and boarding in the winters, and always ready to experiment with a new marinade or rub for the grill.

Pronouns: He/His

Tommy Kuo

Board Member at Large (Youth Representative)
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Tommy moved to Coast Salish territories in 2015 with his family. As a current UBC student, he is passionate about plant biology and how humans interact with the environment. During his free time, Tommy enjoys watching comedy shows, playing music with his brother, and reconnecting with nature in parks and gardens.

Meet our Youth Advisory Committee


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