Elementary School Teacher
Melissa Donich is an elementary school teacher and graduate student in Environmental Education in British Columbia. She has worked on various local initiatives across the province to prevent harmful, unnecessary plastics from entering the environment. Today, she is the founder of Drop the Plastic Society, an organization dedicated to finding sustainable solutions to the plastic pollution problem in Canada. While at sea, Melissa will be continuing her graduate studies and excited to bring inspiration, stories and research back to shore. She has a passion for the outdoors and loves being in the sun and in the water.
Photographer and Filmmaker
AGATHE is a photographer and film maker specialising in female adventures in mountainous environments and ocean conservation. She has had her work published by several outlets including National Geographic, Canadian Mining Journal and Canadian newspapers. Agathe grew up in the mountains north of Quebec City as well as in Switzerland, seeking adventure as often as possible and always with a camera in hand. In the winter she works as a back country guide (tailguide) and professional photographer / filmmaker in the snowy British Columbia Mountains. She is also Director of Communications for the North Columbia Environmental Society, a NGO located in the hearth of the Columbia Mountains who aims at promoting community resilience, conservation and educating local populations.
Her purpose is to share her experience and knowledge as an earth scientist in an effort to inspire people to be responsible, innovative and proactive in their decision-making while empowering people to live the life they have always dreamed of. She also has an interest in the effects of toxins on human health, having worked as an Environmental Specialist correlating blood lead levels in children and environmental exposure. To join a team of women in support of a project, adventure and dream such as this is not only empowering for her, it sends a positive message to future female athletes, photographers, scientists and environmentalists that she thinks is much needed and incredibly valuable.
You can find out more and see some of Agathe’s work here.
Coastal Outreach Specialist
RHIANNON is a Coastal Outreach Specialist for the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation in Ontario, Canada. There, she is responsible for education and outreach and teaches visitors about coastal conservation. She has coordinated a number of projects on marine debris, shoreline clean-ups and plastic pollution.
Rhiannon is a keen adventurer and has led a number of extended wilderness canoe trips, and is also a keen artist in her spare time and uses this passion to raise environmental awareness. She hopes to learn new sailing skills through eXXpedition and expand her knowledge around microplastics and toxins in the marine environment and use this experience to inform others and hopefully protect our coastal and marine environment for future generations. She also hopes to squeeze in a painting or two whilst on board RV Sea Dragon!
MARIKA has 5 years of experience in public affairs, working for a communications consulting firm as well as in both Quebec provincial politics and Canadian federal politics.
In the past year, Marika has become very interested in environmental issues and has taken steps to gain more knowledge and insight into them. A few months ago, she went diving for the first time (not the last!) in Thailand and it absolutely changed her whole world view forever. She gained a sense of how beautiful and important our underwater ecosystems are, and now feels a responsibility to do something to protect them. She’s had the chance since then to attend a conference by Sylvia Earle and her inspirational message has convinced her further that making conservation a central part of her life is something she needs to do.
Right now, Marika works for a public relations consulting firm in Montreal as a Project Manager and takes biology classes at University to deepen her understanding of conservation, ethical and animal welfare issues. She loves helping people tell their stories and aspires to one day be able to do just that for the causes she cares about the most.
Upon her return, Marika would love to offer professional public relations services pro bono for conservation and animal welfare organizations. She’d also like to spread the message in Quebec about “making the unseen, seen” through different communication methods: blog, web series, as well as government and community relations.
SARAH first fell in love with the coastal waters of British Columbia when she was eight and spent the summer with her family lighthouse keeping on Bonilla Island, located in Hecate Strait about 50 miles south of Prince Rupert. It was here, roaming the beaches, that she discovered the incredible biodiversity that can exist when ecosystems are left undisturbed. She would watch keenly and help as the lighthouse keepers took their readings and measurements. The experience remains a reminder of the rich splendour that the ocean has to offer.
Fast forward and for the last twelve years Sarah has lived on Quadra Island, part of the Discovery Islands off the inside coast of Vancouver Island.
Sarah works from home as a Jane-of-all-trades; raising her two daughters, 6 and 8, part-time home-schooler, sitting on multiple community boards, driving tractor trailers and answering phones for the family business. For fun she loves to be outdoors. As a triathlete, she prefers open water swimming because it is so liberating and there is always so much to see happening under the water.
An extroverted personality type, Sarah loves being around others and collaborating on ideas, always willing and ready to brainstorm, explore, expand and discover new ideas, concepts, and ways of seeing the world.
Elaine is an avid sailing enthusiast who has always felt the call of the ocean. Living in the centre of a large continent, however, means that she currently sails in the freshwater lakes of Ontario, enjoying the incredibly unique and fragile ecosystem of Georgian Bay (a UNESCO biosphere reserve). Her experiences and continuing education on the state of our oceans and freshwater systems have made a remarkable impression and led her to act on this. As a clinical neuropsychologist, she is also well aware of the accumulating evidence of how much exposure to toxics is leading to a worrisome increase in health concerns in children and adults both. As a parent to three children, two of whom are young women, this concern is particularly focused on their risks for cancer and reproductive problems in the coming years.
Joining the Pangaea expedition is a first step in realizing several goals: contributing to the scientific study of the state of our oceans; studying the effects of the accumulating toxics and pollutants on health; and crossing an ocean in the company of knowledgeable, empowered women. Elaine hopes that through this experience, she will be able to contribute to further discussion on these critical issues among children and adults in her community, to both heighten understanding and to bridge the gap between understanding and much needed action.
Jen is a geographer and filmmaker fascinated by human-environment interaction. She has a BA in Geography (2:1) and an MSc in Environment, Science & Society (Distinction) from the University College of London. Her academic research explored environmental management and experience, film as an emancipatory tool for environmental education, as well as geographies of health and biological identity. She has been involved in several research, filmmaking and sport expeditions in a diverse range of roles. In 2009, she led a UCL-funded research expedition to British Columbia and in 2010 was a member of the Lost World Project documentary-making expedition to Venezuela’s Mount Roraima.
Following this expedition, Jen set up her film company, Your Frontier (www.yourfrontier.co.uk) to raise awareness of worldwide expeditions as well as social and environmental responsibility projects. She has since been Marketing Manager and Head of Media for several world-first expeditions including Row Zambezi (2011) and the Yangtze Adventure (2013). For the past year she has worked at the UK Energy Research Centre at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, bringing together academic, industrial and political groups/individuals to bridge gaps in understanding and action around UK energy issues and climate change. She is also a Relationships Manager for Ibex Earth’s ‘Our World: Our Choice’ initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of preserving global biodiversity and find ways to offer support to environmental and conservation charities including the Galapagos Conservation Trust, the World Land Trust and ZSL’s EDGE of Existence Programme.
She is passionate about health, well-being and outdoor fitness. She is a keen runner and paddleboarder, certified as a SUP and PaddleFit Instructor. She is also Co-owner/Operator of an environmentally sustainable outdoor recreation park in Canada called Windmill Lake (www.windmill-lake.ca) which she hopes will be a springboard for community health initiatives in South-Western Ontario. The mission and aims of the Atlantic eXXpedition hold personal significance for Jen due to the diagnosis, care and loss of several family members and close friends to cancer. She is very excited to be a part of this incredible project that will allow her to explore her own health, behaviour and relationship with the environment while encouraging others to do the same. She is passionate about producing a wide range of high impact film-based outputs from this expedition and showcasing them internationally through different forums. This is a unique opportunity to have a tangible impact on the communication and understanding of human/environmental health and she can’t wait to get onboard!
Teacher and Educator
KARINE is a mother of four, sailor, stand-up paddler and yoga instructor. Passionate about environmental sciences, water protection and having fun in water, she is a strong believer in healthy lifestyles and following our bliss. Having lived along the St-Laurence River and the Great Lakes, Karine is an avid advocate of sustainable agriculture. After her masters degree in agro-environmental engineering deepened her interests around water protection, she advised established farmers on soil management best practices and the future generation by teaching in college.
Education of science (learning and teaching) has always been, for Karine, the best way to bring awareness to people to change their actions. She’s passionate about scientific research, environment protection (mainly water), health, education (teaching and learning) and sailing. Karine is particularly motivated by the post voyage: educating people around the plastic issues in water, the link to our health and the impacts of our actions. She is planning to start by talking directly to children in schools.
Nikkey is a freelance creative who lives on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, she can often be found in the kelp forests near her home.
She uses her work as a tool to connect people with the environment and has spent many years working in and with clients in the eco-tourism industry. She sailed as part of the eXXpedition North Pacific 2018 crew and started volunteering as eXXpedition Social Media Manager at the end of 2018.
Conserving biodiversity is Melissa’s passion. She is an advocate for science literacy who works with youth, Indigenous peoples, and community members to share perspectives on ways that people can affect the natural world.
MELISSA is based in Toronto, Canada where she currently works as an environmental scientist at Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). Prior to joining the NWMO, she worked as project manager at a global environmental and engineering firm, and as a researcher studying human interactions with terrestrial and marine ecosystems. She has a keen working interest in the environment and has undertaken environmental research in a number of countries. An essential part of her work involves engaging in community learning. She works with youth, indigenous people, and community members to build their understanding of landscape ecology and environmental impact assessment.
Being on, in, or near the water is Melissa’s favourite place. She is a qualified rescue SCUBA diver, and enjoys sailing on beautiful Lake Ontario on her 9 m cruiser. Melissa has successfully completed Sail Canada’s Basic Cruising Standard for keelboats, and participates in weekly club racing as crew on a Beneteau 36.7. Although an experienced sailor, Melissa is looking forward to developing her sailing skills, and learning to more confidently handle moderate wind and sea conditions. Melissa is also an advocate for science literacy. She is certain this expedition will provide exciting stories to share with her friends’ daughters, inspiring them to a life of adventure and active participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
Organic Farmer and PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor
Katrina is passionate about the environment and our oceans, showing that she cares through her organic farming, PADI open water scuba teaching and participating in awareness raising and educational opportunities like eXXpedition.
KATRINA currently farms using draft horses and ecological practices in Huron County, Ontario.
Born and raised there, her love of nature was imbued from the get-go. Katrina’s passion for water and the aquatic world started in elementary school when she adopted a humpback whale in lieu of birthday gifts. She recently went a step further and became a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor with Float N Flag, to share her awe, passion and love of the aquatic world with others.
Committed to social justice, community building, and everything food, Katrina has worked in higher education, as a cook, in social change organizations, for governmental agencies and for businesses. With a focused interest in sustainability and building stronger communities, she keeps herself engaged by volunteering, travelling, running youth programs, cooking, and taking over her family’s farm.
Her interests are eclectic and diverse, spanning from road tripping to quilting and she is rarely found without a cup of tea. She has a passion for extreme sports and enjoys skydiving, downhill skiing, scuba diving and motorcycles to keep her adrenaline pumping.
Katrina holds a degree in Business and Non Profit Management from a small, liberal arts university where she minored in French.
Bimadoshka is Saugeen Anishinaabe and is a recent PhD graduate in Anthropology.
She is a mother to three sons, based in Ontario and is very active within her indigenous community. She is particularly concerned about environmental issues impacting Lake Huron and the rapid changes to the water quality in recent years.
By joining eXXpedition North Pacific, Bimadoshka welcomes the opportunity to bond with other like-minded women. As she has never been to British Columbia, she believes that the educational and spiritual experiences on the voyage will be countless.
CAROL a humanitarian, researcher and writer, who believes we can change the world for the better. Carol works on global health and earth health and her main work is for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) working on migration and climate and health issues. Carol has also done marine debris collection in the Arctic and Antarctic, creating a Sciart project and exhibit “Aquamess”, which was inspired by these two expeditions. Carol led the first civilian clean up expedition to the Antarctic in 1995-6 with The Russian Antarctic Expedition and joined the early civilian clean up expedition, Clean Up Svalbard, in 2015.
Carol is keen to be part of the marine debris survey around Great Britian, the Scottish leg in particular. She loves that eXXpedition links exploring marine debris and women’s health, and contributes to scientific understanding of anthropogenic ocean pollution. Carol wants to stretch herself to learn more about sailing and is looking forward to engaging with communities and getting involved with sciart along the way.
Scuba Diving Instructor and Commercial Diver
Scubaholic working to better the management of marine and coastline sustainability.
AMANDA simply loves the outdoors, growing up North of 60 in Whitehorse, Yukon Canada. Whitehorse was named after the breath taking Rapids that resembled the flowing main of a white horse. The Yukon is mainly known for its rich history from the Klondike gold rush, today mining still remains an important industry. Amanda experienced first hand the world of mining threw her parents family business, and was always surrounded by natures simple beauty.
She is a High School Graduate, Dive master, equestrian rider, and sailing advocate, and developed a need to always be outdoors riding her horse and embrace every opportunity for adventure from a very young age. Her passion for the ocean began on a few family vacations to Maui, Hawaii, where she couldn’t get enough of the salt water and marine life while diving.
Through multiple outdoor and experiential school programs such as Class Afloat: an international school aboard a Traditional Tall Ship. The crew sailed the Great Lakes of Canada followed by two South Atlantic Crossings with many ports of call through the semester.
Amanda understood the great power of the seas and saw first hand the pollutants that were being dumped of the coast of under developed countries that simply could not afford to dispose of it properly. She gained her confidence to expand her goals to having a global impact once realizing the varsity and remoteness of the ocean.
Environmental Scientist and Advocate
Rachel is a Marine Ecologist and has a BSc. in Biology from McGill University and a MSc. in Ecology from UFSC in Brazil. During her studies she gathered international experience, working at places such as Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and more recently as a Research Associate at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her passion for ocean advocacy led her to work with Sylvia Earle Alliance-Mission Blue, and participate in a 21-day all-female research voyage about ocean plastics and health impacts with eXXpedition. Rachel is currently working in development and science program management for 5 Gyres Institute, and spends her free time in entrepreneurship for her plastic pollution reduction start-up in Canada, The Green Stop.
JESSICA is a Senior Lecturer in North American History at Leeds Beckett University where she specialises in the history of environmental contamination and health. In her academic career, Jessica has published a number of pieces on the history of the Canadian asbestos industry and has a keen interest on the linkages between the environment and human health. Jess uses the past to inform present environmental issues.
Jessica has experience on the water, from speedboats to canoes and kayaks and is now excited about extending this into yacht sailing. Jessica is excited to be part of the all-female crew on board RV Sea Dragon and is looking forward to integrating her academic expertise into the eXXpedition project on plastics, contamination and endocrine disruptors and to use this experience and the data collected in her own research.
Britt Buirs is a marine biologist and artist with a passion for protecting the wild spaces of our Earth. She resides in a small rural town surrounded by the sea, where she has managed a citizen science microplastic study.
Britt anticipates this expedition to be equally difficult and inspiring as she witness first hand the impact of plastic pollution in a different part of the world. She looks forward to working together with a group of like-minded women on solutions to the problem.
Associate Professor of Public Health
Sheri Bastien is an Associate Professor of Public Health at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Norway and an adjunct faculty member at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada. She has been engaged in transdisciplinary research for over a decade in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia on a range of issues related to determinants of adolescent health and global health promotion, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene and most recently dengue prevention and control. As a post doc she developed an intervention called Project SHINE (Sanitation and Hygiene INnovation in Education) which has been successfully implemented and evaluated in rural Tanzania and India.
Through her participation in Leg 5 of eXXpedition, she hopes that being surrounded by an inspiring, passionate group of women on board will provide the first-hand experience needed to help develop an in-depth understanding of the issue of plastics pollution, innovative approaches to raise awareness and find alternative solutions, and to establish the network to help grow the SHINE model of science education and social entrepreneurship to include the issue of plastics which affects youth and communities globally.
Community Team Program Manager at Mapbox
Marena is an aquatic soul from Nova Scotia, Canada currently delighting in the wild Pacific coast of northern California where she scuba dives and beachcombs any chance she gets. In her day job at Mapbox, Marena supports non-profits and others to use geospatial technologies for positive social and environmental impact.
Before joining Mapbox, Marena worked to secure customary and indigenous land rights in Africa and Asia with the legal empowerment non-profit Namati, and facilitated participatory planning efforts with indigenous communities in Canada. Marena holds a master’s degree in natural resource management and planning from Simon Fraser University and a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of Guelph.
Founder and Director, Asociación PLAYA PATROL
“When young children present me with their first bottle of discarded cigarette butts that they’ve collected at a beach clean up or enthusiastically share a story about why plastic is harmful to the sea, their eyes light up and they get very excited to tell me something important. That’s how I know that what we do with PLAYA PATROL is important at a grassroots level because it inspires people of all ages to change their relationship with single-use plastic. I am both excited to join eXXpedition and fearful to witness first-hand the harm that our relationship with plastic has on our fragile planet.
Ann is originally from Canada and now lives in La Herradura, which is located in Costa Tropical, Spain. In October 2018, she hosted her first beach clean up which attracted 350 volunteers. That propelled her to create a non-profit association which focuses on large scale community beach clean ups in order to educate families, schools and business about the harm that single-use plastic has on our sea and our planet. Ann is looking forward to the challenges and rigor of two weeks at sea and is excited to share her on-board experience when she returns to Spain.