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Board of Directors

Nature Canada / About Us / Board of Directors

Nature Canada’s Board of Directors

Nature Canada is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors representing various provinces, regions, backgrounds and areas of expertise to help guide our organization. Policy resolutions proposed by the board are voted upon democratically by Nature Canada members during our Annual General Meeting.


Richard Yank has recently relocated from Australia to Ottawa at the end of his career with Alcan Inc. He joined Alcan Inc after graduating with a B.Sc in Chemical Engineering. Yank held a variety of positions within Alcan and retired as the president of its bauxite and alumina operations in the Pacific Region. A former Nature Canada director, he is interested in wilderness and habitat conservation, biological diversity, and climate change.


Born in London, UK, Cliff moved to Calgary in 1957 and has lived in Alberta ever since. Cliff has operated his own Calgary-based environmental consulting firm, Cottonwood Consultants Ltd. since 1978. He is a Professional Biologist with a diverse background in protected areas, ecotourism, environmental assessment, species at risk, and environmentally significant areas. As a volunteer, Cliff has served on the boards of environmental NGOs nationally, provincially and locally. He has worked proactively with federal, provincial and regional government agencies, non-profit organizations, indigenous communities, local landowners, and businesses. Cliff has been involved with precedent-setting legal actions related to species at risk and environmental assessment. He has international experience working on environmental protection in Cameroon and China and in dialogues in international environmental fora. He is currently focusing efforts on Greater Sage-grouse recovery in Canada’s grasslands.

KEN THORPE – Treasurer

Ken Thorpe is a long time birder and has served on boards of other environmental and charitable boards. A financial advisor and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) by profession, he has served as president and treasurer of the Social Investment Organization, Canada’s national non-profit trade and education group that promotes socially responsible investing. He has an undergraduate degree in accountancy from Concordia University and is married to Janice Linder with two teenage sons Jonathan and Jamie. They all appreciate nature together from backyard birds to exotic species when vacationing.


Raised in rural Nova Scotia, Joan Czapalay is an avid naturalist, educator and conservationist. She is a committed member and representative of Nature Canada and Nature Nova Scotia. She was President of Nature Nova Scotia (2000-2005), a former Director of the Nova Scotia Bird Society and former Provincial Coordinator of the Ducks Unlimited Greenwings program. Joan is also an active participant of the Regional Affiliates Meetings for Atlantic Canada and is one of the original board members of the Young Naturalist Club of Nova Scotia. She holds an M.Ed in Education Administration and post graduate courses in Language Acquisition and Communication, and continues to enrich her understanding of biological sciences through university courses. She is presently a supervisor of student teachers for the Mount St. Vincent University and to this day continues to engage youth with the natural world while instilling conservation ethic.


Diane Griffin is the PEI Manager for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Previously she served as Deputy Minister in the PEI Department of Environment and Energy; Executive Director of the Island Nature Trust; and Natural Areas Coordinator for the Province of Alberta. She was a partner in The IRIS Group, a PEI consulting business. Diane is Past-chair of the Board of Directors of Bird Studies Canada, and Past-chair of the Atlantic Board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. She has been President of the Canadian Nature Federation, Vice-chair of the Wildlife Habitat Canada Foundation, and President of the Natural History Society of P.E.I. She and Kevin live in Stratford where Diane is a member on the Town Council. In 1985 she was selected as the Canadian Outsdoorsman of the Year; in 1990 she received the Governor General’s Conservation Award and in 1992 the Nature Canada Douglas Pimlott Conservation Award. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Charlottetown Royalty. Mrs. Griffin has published numerous articles about nature and is the author of Atlantic Wildflowers, a book published by Oxford University Press.

BOB PEART – Director

Bob is a biologist, and he has worked in the fields of parks management, land use planning and environmental education for nearly 40 years. Currently, Bob is Executive Director of Sierra Club BC. Previously he has worked for Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the BC Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, the BC Outdoor Recreation Council, the Royal BC Museum and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-BC Chapter. Bob has volunteered for numerous organizations related to these fields, such as the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC. In recognition of his work and volunteer contributions Bob has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the J.B. Harkin Conservation Medal.


Sheefra Brisbin is a partner of Greenbridge Consulting Group a government relations and strategic communications firm with a special focus on health and safety, environment and business issues.

Sheefra’s interest and passion for the environment began when she was appointed publisher and editor of Communique, the national industry publication for the Petroleum Association for Conservation of the Canadian Environment (PACE) and   subsequently the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI).   She was a recipient of the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Conservation and Protection of the Canadian Environment’ Award by both PACE and CPPI.

Her experience and reputation at CPPI led her to be recruited by the federal Minister of the Environment to head Environment Canada’s Conservation and Protection Program.    During her tenure with the Minister of the Environment, Sheefra immersed herself in a wide range of issues that included Ozone Depletion, Global Warming, Climate Change and Pollution Prevention policy.

Sheefra’s leadership was acknowledged by the Minister when chosen to attend the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 1995, Sheefra founded Greenbridge and in this capacity she led a delegation through three cities in India and organized the Asian Regional Workshops on Ozone Depleting Substances Phase Out on behalf of Environment Canada, the CII and the World Bank.

More recently, Sheefra organized a panel on energy production, environmental responsibility and economic growth on behalf of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee in the United States.   Sheefra also organized for three consecutive years Earth Hour for the City of Ottawa, for which she received the Agent of Change Medal from the Mayor of Ottawa.


Sandra Schwartz was appointed VP, Policy Advocacy of the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) in November 2010. As VP, Policy Advocacy, Ms. Schwartz oversees the association’s communications, public affairs and government relations on issues of national interest to the Canadian electricity industry.

Prior to joining the Canadian Electricity Association, Ms. Schwartz served in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition as policy advisor on environment and energy issues.  She was previously employed as the Director of Policy and Government Relations with the Canadian Wind Energy Association, and was employed for several years as policy advisor to the federal Minister of Environment where she specialized in energy policy, climate change and the federal clean air agenda.

Ms. Schwartz has also worked both as a regulatory affairs consultant to federal government departments as well as a government relations consultant to several national voluntary sector organizations.

TUMA YOUNG – Director

Tuma Young was born into the Squirrel clan for the Rabbit clan and grew up in the Malagawatch First Nation. He was raised traditional by his parents, the late William Fred Young and Veronica Phillips, trapping, hunting, fishing and gathering for his family.

Tuma subsequently obtained a Diploma in Addictions Counseling (Dalhousie University), a B.A. in Mi’kmaq Studies (Cape Breton University), an LL.B. (University of British Columbia), and an LL.M in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (University of Arizona). He is currently completing his SJD (Dalhousie/University of Arizona).

Tuma became the first Mi’kmaq-speaking lawyer in Nova Scotia when he was called to the bar in 2001. He currently teaches as an Assistant Professor at Cape Breton University.

Tuma’s community involvement is extensive and includes the following activities:

  • Board Member, Nova Scotia Bird Society
  • Senator, Cape Breton University
  • Pro Bono Legal Clinic, Cape Breton University
  • Mi’kmaq Traditional Knowledge holder in plants, birds and medicines (Mi’kmaq Ethnobotanist)
  • Member, Photographic Guild of Nova Scotia (particular expertise-photographing birds)
  • Member, Canadian Water Network Research Project: Integration of Traditional & Western Knowledge for First Nation, Inuit, & Metis Water Management.
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