Meet the Contributors

Thank you to our incredible contributors over the years – the resident green thumbs, photographers, recipe gurus, wildlife watchers, herbalists, cultural ambassadors, wellness advocates and newsmakers, and occasional guests:

  • Amica Antonelli,
  • Michelle Beks,
  • Genevieve Blanchet,
  • Christine Cogger,
  • Evelyn Coggins,
  • Bettina Falloon,
  • Calida Grymaloski of Bathtub Gardens,
  • Anna Helmer,
  • Clare Hanbury,
  • Kalmia Hockin,
  • Dawn Johnson,
  • Johnny Jones,
  • Maxine Joseph-Bruce,
  • Nic MacPhee
  • Zoe Martin,
  • Bruce Miller,
  • Tracy Napier,
  • Janet Ouchterlony,
  • Tanya Richman,
  • Lisa Richardson,
  • Danielle Saul,
  • Rachelle Sereda,
  • Louise Stacy-Deegan
  • Connie Sobchak,
  • John Tschopp,
  • Sheldon Tetreault,
  • Sarah Valentine,
  • Veronica Woodruff &
  • Laura and Mike Zgud.

Our photographers are:

  • Dave Steers,
  • Ruben Guibert,
  • Gary Martin,
  • Polek Rybcyznski,
  • Victoria Saddleman,
  • Shayla Wallace
  • Georgina Dan
  • Amie Le Blanc

Thanks also, to our wonderful instagrammers  – you can learn more about that project here: https://thewellnessalmanac.com/instagrammers-of-pemberton-follow-list/

To learn more about them, click the link for their individual bios and past stories.

(UPDATE COMING SOON.)

Michelle Beks lives up the Valley on the 3rd generation family farm, Shaw Creek Farm, where she and husband John grow elite seed potatoes, as well as pesticide-free corn, pumpkins, beans, beets and other market crops. A city girl, who fell in love with a local farm boy 33 years ago, Michelle will share gardening and growing tips from her life on the land.

My mom was a restless soul and we moved around the country starting in Saskatoon, detouring through Dawson Creek, Kamloops, Portland, Oregon, Salt Lake City, Utah and finally landing in Burnaby BC when I was fourteen. So I grew up on the road. My teenage years were a tad rebellious and at the age of fifteen I experienced a life-altering car accident that put me in the hospital for two months. In an effort to remove me from the wayward road I was going down, my older sister suggested that I move with her and her husband to a small town where my brother-in-law was starting a teaching job at the local high school. That was 33 years ago, Pemberton was the small town in question, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I met, fell in love with and married my high school sweetheart, local farm boy John Beks.

As a city girl, farming was new to me but I was up for the challenge. I quickly found that I loved the farm life, gardening and making things grow (including our 3  children Tina, Laura and Stefan). From baking bread, to cooking large meals for crews, planting vegetable gardens and canning, I learned most of what I know by trial-and-error, with helpful advice from other farm wives whose gardens and baking skills were legendary in the valley.

John and I have worked side by side at Shaw Creek Farms for the last 31 years growing the famous Pemberton seed potatoes and recently expanding into carrot production and grass fed beef. Our son Stefan has recently joined the farm operations.

From early May until the first snowfall you will find me outside in my gardens. My flower beds are a collection of flowers, shrubs and trees acquired from gardeners around the valley – a virtual tour of some of the most beautiful gardens in the area including day lilies from Ruth Hellevang and roses from Rosemary Walden.

I am happy to be able to pass on some of that knowledge. Producing my own vegetables and raising our own meat is a privilege and I am so lucky to be able to do it in such beautiful surroundings.

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Geneviève Blanchet is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and recent arrival in Pemberton, who blends Asian tradition and modern western nutritional science with the wisdom of healing herbs. She is passionate about eating fresh, seasonal and nutrient-rich food and would like to share what she’s learned with you with a monthly column. You can also find her at Sea to Sky farmers markets this summer with her new line of preserves. www.lepetitchou.ca.

I grew up in the Eastern countryside of Quebec surrounded by maple trees and vegetable gardens. At an early age I was introduced to foraging wild plants and harvesting fruits and vegetables from our land. Through this experience my passion for the healing properties of food was born.

Later in my early twenties, while travelling around Europe, I became more deeply interested in cooking and ingredients. Exploring the markets of Barcelona, Rome, Florence and Tanger I found new flavours and was particularly impressed how everyone seemed to eat only fresh and in season foods.

In 1998, I moved to Vancouver and studied the principal of traditional Chinese Medicine and food cure while working as a cook in several kitchens and serving fine dining, gourmet and traditional foods in different restaurants. I went on to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and hold a Traditional Herbalist Diploma.

I arrived in Pemberton in the fall of 2012 and intend to pursue my passion for food by growing vegetables, fruits and medicinal plants and transforming them into delicious and nourishing dishes for my family. Most of all, I am looking forward in sharing my knowledge of healing foods with my new community and seeing my passion passed along.

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Christine Cogger is an athlete, adventurer, blogging/tweeting/instagrammer, who races the odd marathon and Iron Man, (just because), organises the occasional thousand person event in her spare time, spearheads some of the most creative unofficial events around (NY Day Fun Run, One Mile Lake mini triathlon) and is bringing up 3 kids right here in the neighbourhood. So, if you want to learn how to juggle, or just where to find a fun trail that a 3 year old and a 7 year old might enjoy, or some tips on making exploring our outdoors a fun experience and not hell-on-earth, tune in to her posts.

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Evelyn Coggins is a phytotherapist (modern herbalist) who has specialized in the evidence-based use of traditional European botanical medicine to prevent and manage disease.

My husband, children & I came to Whistler from Edmonton in 1992 to open a coffee shop in the sparkling new Marketplace Pavilion. Old timers will remember Grabbajabba where Starbucks is now located.  In those days, it was separated from the main village by a woodlot and the bears used to come and lounge in the sun on our patio.The whole family worked at the coffee shop but in 1996, we sold it and each of us moved on with other things.

I had been a teacher prior to our arrival in Whistler but I decided to pursue my lifelong interest in natural medicine and herbalism, first at Dominion Herbal College in Burnaby and most recently, at the University of New England NSW where I recently received a Master of Health Science degree in herbal medicine. In 1996 we relocated to Pemberton and in 2006, I opened my private clinical practice on Pinewood Drive on the Plateau. I now divide my time between my practice and Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine where I lecture for the Botanical Medicine Department.

When I’m hangin’ in the ‘hood, people will usually find me spending my time and money in the local businesses and at the Community Centre. In my spare time I love to wander with my dog Frankie in the wild spaces of BC both on horseback and on foot. I enjoy taking the locals with me to teach them to identify local medicinal plants and educate them on how to use them. I’m so happy to contribute to this community blog and intend to use my column to illustrate the benefits of natural medicine for the people and for the local environment.

For more information, please check out my website at www.herbsforhealth.ca

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Erin Stewart Elliot has three significant passions: a) collaboration and teamwork, b) individual and community capacity building, and c) being an artist. Guided by her values Erin pursues the question: How can art be used as a tool for individual and community change? Erin is most interested in conducting research, exploring how people learn, creating the potential for positive change, and sharing complex concepts through art. In the coming months Erin is focusing her attention on falling in love with her son and husband, creating a family sustainability plan, and finding more ways to apply her passions to meaningful work. She will use her art to graphically communicate information on behalf of Communities That Care.

Bettina Falloon is, by day, the Executive Assistant at the Village of Pemberton, but she is also the organising force behind the Winds of Change Steering Committee, the Slow Food Cycle Sunday’s volunteer coordinator, and the Village’s Emergency Program Coordinator. She will share posts on Emergency Preparedness, in addition to wellness matters, and if we’re lucky, will share her tips on how to grow a prolific garlic harvest.

I feel like I am not far from home as I grew up in Horseshoe Bay, just down the road. Not being a skier, trips to Whistler were far and few between and mainly in the summer months to explore the lakes. I remember swimming with my best girlfriend, almost drowning as we were laughing our heads off in the middle of Alta Lake saying how much we wanted to live in one of the little cabins or A-frames that overlooked the lake. Who knew that 25 years later I would be living my twenty something dream, just up the road.

The dream started in Whistler on Valentine’s Day in 1989 when I moved in with my boyfriend (who became my husband for 19 years). After lots of back and forth between New Zealand and Australia and almost immigrating to Australia, we decided to settle in Whistler in 1991. We moved to Pemberton in 1996 when we started a family and needed to find larger, more affordable accommodation than a one bedroom suite.

Little did I know then what a great choice we made. Living, growing, working, raising a family and being surrounded by mountains, valleys and rivers, has made living in Pemberton an incredible adventure. I still miss the ocean, but this little community has a heart and is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (just don’t tell anyone). Pemberton = vibrant, friendly, active, supportive, engaging, safe, colourful, healthy, kind, beautiful, diverse, sense of community, a hidden gem, a place to call home.

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Calida Grymaloski and Sam Casavant are the growers behind Pemberton’s Bathtub Gardens, about to go into its third summer growing organic cut flowers for market. They will contribute growing tips and flower-powered inspiration.

Sam and I are self taught flower farmers, 100 percent. After purchasing our little farm slash garden 3 years ago, we dove right in, turned in the soil and have been churning out all sorts of annuals, bulbs and perennials ever since. We are incredibly fascinated by the botanical world and appreciate being connected to the earth. Drawing on inspiration from the garden I love creating lush and not so fussy flower arrangements. We research every variety we grow and are constantly searching for new species that will thrive in our unique Pemberton climate. Growing flowers has become just a little bit of an obsession and neither of  us can imagine doing anything else!!

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Dawn Johnson has always been deeply concerned with and connected to her outdoor environment, and has been  involved with the Stewardship Pemberton Society since its inception in 2006. Dawn is presently completing the University of Victoria’s Restoration of Natural Systems program. Through increased environmental awareness and education, she hopes to help foster a deeper connection between people, place, and the land.

Originally from 150 Mile House, B.C., my love of the outdoors was sparked during my childhood years of camping, fishing and adventuring in the Carbiboo Chilcotin and beyond. I spent many summers in Haida Gwaii and the North Chilcotin working in fishing lodges with her husband, while spending the winters in Pemberton. Once my children were born I decided it was time to take root and grow with my new family in Pemberton. I hope to be involved with many restoration and education programs undertaken by the Stewardship Pemberton Society and the One Mile Lake Nature Centre in the years to come. I am passionate about the mountains, forests and valleys here, and love gardening, yoga, mountain biking, skiing and spending time with my family.

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Johnny Jones is the Lil’wat Nation’s Cultural Technician. He works with the Mount Currie Land and Resource Department and has spent his life walking and studying Lil’wat traditional territory. Through his posts, Johnny will take us deep into the territory and give us a glimpse at the Lil’wat culture that has flourished all around us.

In February 1991, Líl’wat members were protesting the building of logging roads near Ure Creek in the Sea-to-Sky corridor. Engineers were blasting rocks and destroying sacred pictographs depicting legends and marking ancient burial sites. The protest culminated in civil disobedience, dozens of arrests and ultimately court. Jones became a court-ordered native observer in the tense dispute that dragged on for months.

“Where’s the evidence? Show me pictures of the rock paintings that have been destroyed,” asked the presiding court judge.

“I don’t have pictures or evidence,” Johnny replied.

He then made it his personal mission to map and photograph heritage sites throughout Líl’wat territory—a time-consuming and difficult task in the heavily forested, rocky terrain. Never again would he be without legally defensible evidence about Lil’wat use and occupancy of their lands.

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Gary Martin helped launch the Wellness Almanac’s recipe series and in 2013, will be our Instagram-of-the-Week curator, finding the coolest visual inspiration from our ‘hood on Instagram to share. A graphic designer, and Instagram addict, Gary also volunteers with the board of the Pemberton BMX Club and trains for triathlons in his spare time.

I was born in the UK but moved to Pemberton in 2007 after a year travelling with my wife a few years earlier made me realize that the grass not only looks greener, it actually is. Failing everything at school other than graphics made my career choice a pretty simple one and I have been designing ever since. Love my food and enjoy both cooking and eating it and now find myself addicted to Instagram!

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Zoe Martin is the Almanac’s Nigella Lawson. Hailing originally from Aldershot, UK, she and husband Gary emigrated to Canada and got their official maple syrup status as citizens in 2012.

We moved to Pemberton because we felt it had a greater sense of community than either Squamish or Whistler, plus looking out over Mt Currie every morning is truly awe-inspiring, and the perfect place to walk our pooch. I love to cook, bake, drink wine, knit, sew, ski and occasionally attend Lindsay May’s fitness classes! I’m taking a greater interest in buying both locally and seasonally and finding interesting recipes to use with available ingredients. One day, I’d love to own a space where I could grow my own fruit and veg.

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Tracy Napier is a biker, hiker and tool belt wearer who loves maps, dirt, dogs and Pemberton. She’ll be contributing a monthly Trails Update for the Wellness Almanac. You can reach her at tjnapier@gmail.com

tracy napierJanet Ouchterlony has an adventure and freedom seeking spirit and believes in instinct and the power of love. Her most important work is that of raising happy, healthy, spirited, and curious children.   She has worked with Whistler Blackcomb for 22 years and currently shares her skills with the company, in a volunteer role. Janet works for her husband’s high end custom home building business, and owns her own business where she has the privilege of being able to share strategies for healthier living.

“Back in the early 90’s I chose to end an inauthentic, albeit extremely fun relationship with Queen’s University. It ended in classic “it’s not you, it’s me” fashion and off I went to pursue life. After a brief period of deliberation, I followed my heart, which led me to Whistler. The lure of the mountains, adventure, and people that liked sports as much as I did drew me in. I hopped on a plane with no agenda other than to live life, have fun, and figure it out along the way. Some 22 years later, many adventures have happened, much fun has been had, and the most wonderful community of people surrounds me. To this day, I still marvel at the fact that such a place exists and that I get to live here.  As I navigate this life of mine, I do so in hopes of making deep connections, hearing and sharing stories, contributing, inspiring others, encouraging people to see and think differently, and always to love. Life is a gift and many of these gifts show up as seemingly ordinary moments. I strive to recognize those moments and share my perspective with our community.”

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Tanya Richman is a clinical counsellor at the Xet’olacw Community School, a child and youth therapist, soccer coach, mom, former owner of the Pony Espresso and the energy behind Pemberton’s Junior World Changers Club. And, she hates writing about herself.

I moved to Whistler in ’92 when I drove across the country with one brother to stay with the other brother for a season. Here I am, 21 years later and I’ve moved 40 km up the road!

Born in Montreal (go Habs go), I have had the pleasure of visiting each province in Canada. I still have to get my butt up north, I have dreams of going to the Yukon for summer solstice and I really have to take my family to Newfoundland. Also on my wish list: to volunteer in Mexico for a project that helps kids with kids from Pemberton, to start a small private practice, and to survive parenting teenagers.

I moved to Pemberton in ’95 for love and the years have turned this city girl into a slaughter safe certificate holding-vegetable producing-wood stove feeding-hockey playing-egg picking-chicken gutting-can’t wait to get pigs and a cow kinda gal. I’m really quite passionate about social justice too.

Pemberton is the little town that could, here I have a fantastic family, a kick ass group of friends, countless really clever people to keep my mind working overtime and a great job. Really, the only thing missing in my life is a unicorn (they are much more fuel efficient than my car and my daughter tells me they poop cupcakes).

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Lisa Richardson likes dirt – on her bike, on her interview subjects and on her carrots. She’s a Pemberton-based writer, and the editor of the Wellness Almanac and Choose Pemberton.

I knew I’d found my happy place in Pemberton when a cowboy rode past and asked “which way to the beach?” I’m a transplant here – the Aussie accent is a giveaway – maybe that’s what makes me so passionate about cultivating a sense of place and celebrating local culture. I’m also trying to shake off my suburban upbringing and workaholic tendencies to learn how to slow down, pay attention, and live (and play) in the dirt, now with a little person for whom that seems to come completely naturally.

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Rachelle Sereda is the author of 2 Nourish cookbook and shares posts about nutrition and healthy eating.

Originally from Alberta, I moved to Pemberton in 2012 to run a summer nature camp for kids through Stewardship Pemberton. The programs have now expanded from a summer program to preschool after school programs for children. The program is geared toward increasing awareness of our surroundings, as well as learning about our local ecology. I am so passionate about the work I am doing with these children. I love fostering love, respect and connection with our environment.

My journey to a healthy lifestyle has been a long, winding road. There were a number of years where my father yo-yoed between being functional to being incapacitated. He was treated by the medical system for anxiety and depression without success for almost 15 years. By the time my parents looked for a different route, he was near death. By miracle, they discovered a doctor who had left the medical system to practice alternative therapies. Chelation therapy confirmed that he had heavy metal poisoning. After he was detoxed, with my mother’s support, he started his journey to healing. They slowly but surely discovered that the best thing he could do was to nourish himself. They have changed their diet and researched the best supplements that assist his body to heal and flourish. Now, he is free from drugs, depression and anxiety, and is living a healthy and fulfilling life.

I have now come to a point in my life where my passion of learning about healthy food and lifestyle, and the positive effect it has on every single aspect of a life, can be shared with others who are starting out on that sometimes daunting path.

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Louise Stacey-Deegan works with Sea to Sky Community Services as the Pemberton Food Bank coordinator. (She’s also in charge of the Healthy Pregnancy Outreach Program). She will share updates and recipes from the Food Bank once a month. The Food Bank is a service run and funded by Sea to Sky Community Services, and is open every other Monday from 12:30pm to 2:30pm at 1366 Aster Street. It helps around 200 people every Monday, with a few Emergency Food items handed out other days. The Pemberton Food Bank serves clients from eight communities in and around Pemberton and Mt Currie, reaching as far as Birken, Darcy, N’Qua, Skatin, Samaquam and Tipella. Contributions can be dropped off at the Sea to Sky Community Services office between 11:30 and 4pm weekdays.  

“I’ve lived in Pemberton for 16 years. I like the small community feeling. Coming from a large city in England, it’s nice to know most faces in town.”

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Sheldon Tetreault is the former administrator of the Lil’wat Nation and chairs the Winds of Change Steering Committee. He has been involved with the Winds of Change initiative from the outset. He works as a consultant in First Nations governance and nation building.

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About 20 years ago my (now) wife and I drove from Vancouver via hwy 99 to start our life in the Yukon.  Along the Birkenhead the salmon were spawning.  It was the first time I had ever seen salmon that didn’t come in a can on the store shelf.  I thought “that’s cool”!  Then about 15 years ago I was in a charter plan that left Victoria enroute to Fort Ware.  For some reason we stopped at the Pemberton airport.  It was a hot sunny August day and I stood on the tarmac in awe of Mount Currie.  I thought “I could live here!”  And today I do.  I am not a professional skier, I don’t live on a farm, I’ve never paraglided, and I don’t own a snowmobile.  Yet somehow me and my family have found a place that we can call home.  A beautiful place with wonderful people and such zest for community.
I moved here in 2002 to take the senior administrator job with Lil’wat Nation. It was just after 15 year old Ross Leo was killed behind Signal Hill Elementary  School.  There were very emotional community meetings in Pemberton and Mount Currie and people demanded action to increase public safety and deal with alcohol abuse.  A joint task force was struck and I participated as the Senior Administrator along with 9 other people from Mount Currie and Pemberton.
We have been on a learning journey together ever since.  We quickly learned how little we actually knew about drug and alcohol addictions, harm reduction strategies, and in fact, each other.  We completed our final report in November 2004.
Since that time a broadly based steering committee has led the implementation of the report.  I have chaired the steering committee as a volunteer ever since.  Over the years there has been an ebb and flow to our work as members change or opportunities present themselves.  Sometimes we are very active and at other times less so.  Our work is not always visible to the community.  Thankfully, however, the support of elected leaders in Pemberton and Mount Currie has not wavered.  We are all motivated to honor the life of Ross Leo and to contribute to a healthier and safer community – for everyone in the Pemberton Valley.   A lot has changed since 2002 – for the better.  I hope the trend continues.
I want to write about topical events in Mount Currie that don’t get covered in local media in order to  shed light on how things work and why it matters to the broader community.

John Tschopp, owner of Beaverlodge Machine Shop and “extreme welder”, is a renowned local birder , who will share his ornithology insights and sightings with us. (He also does the maintenance on the avalanche guns located along mountaintops above the highways, to keep things interesting, and spend some time above the Pemberton Valley, where he lives.)

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Laura and Mike Zgud, for the Pemberton Creek Community Garden, will share stories and images in the Green Thumb column. They have been thriving in Pemberton since 2009.

In summer, Mike loves riding his mountain bike on the trails and commuting on his road bike, while in winter, he tours up the local mountains in search of untouched powder lines. Fixing cars to pay the bills allows him to nurture his true passion for photography on their outdoor adventures.

In summer months, Laura prefers her Cruiser bike best and is usually found in their garden plot at the Pemberton Creek Community Garden. She is frequently spotted out on One Mile Lake where she has been teaching Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga since 2011. Laura is also in and out of the studio, teaching classes at Tadasana Yoga & Wellness.

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The Wellness Almanac also acknowledges the support of the Winds of Change Steering Committee – with representation from the Village of Pemberton, Mount Currie Band, Squamish Lillooet Regional District, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, RCMP, Sea to Sky Community Services, Mount Currie Health Care Centre, Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police, Youth Mental Health, School District #48, Xet’olacw Community School, N’Quatqua Band, Pemberton and Mount Currie Youth Leaders, and a nominee from the Community at Large.

Interested contributors (with one-off posts or potential columns) are welcome to contact TheWellnessAlmanac@gmail.com with questions, contributions, photographs, interviews, shout-outs, observations, recipes, profiles or news.