A̱ka̱la Society is an land and water-based non-profit operated by a group of Musgamagw Dzawada̱’enux̱w people.

Board of Directors

Elizabeth Taylor, T̕łaliłila̱’og̱wa

Board Member – Elder Representative

Elizabeth H. Taylor- nee: Willie. I am the 8th Child of the late Charles E. Willie & Emily M. Willie Nee: Scow.
I was married to the Late James E. Taylor, together we had 6 Children. One of our children passed away. I took Grande 12 in Alert Bay. I went to Douglas College after I was 30 years old & I attended Langara College and graduated with a Social Work Certificate in 1979. Head of Social Work Program for the Namgis from 1979 to 1987. I attended University of Victoria to get my degree in Social Work but that didn’t happen. I had 2 years to get my Degree. We lost our Daughter in August of 1988. I was the Victims Services Worker for the Namgis from 1989 to 1996. In 1999 I was hired as Health Director for the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation and I
retired in 2011. I adopted my granddaughter. I took a course at UBC and received a Certificate in Aboriginal Health Care Administration. Retirement didn’t agree with me. I am currently working as the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation Community Health Worker and Patient Travel Clerk Assistant.

Lindsey Willie, Amya’xid

Board Member – Treasurer

Lindsey is a member of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw People, living and working in the remote village of Ukwanalis— Kingcome Inlet, BC. Her filmmaking explores Indigenous identities, particularly by youth who are hungry to learn their ancestral knowledge and wisdom from their elders. Willie explores the revitalization of her community’s language, culture, and arts, and in doing so, helps to recover and sustain Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw artistic heritage. She now works as the Administrator and Program Coordinator for Nunwakola Cultural Society.

Jessica Key, Kwanxwalaogwa

Board Member – President

Jessica Key a member of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw People. She is a registered nurse working with youth facing mental health and substance use issues in North Vancouver. A career focus includes implementing and delivering culturally safe care for indigenous clients and youth in health care settings. Jessica brings a mental health and wellness focus to the Akala programs. Her vision is to use connection and engagement with traditional territory as a mental wellness intervention to support mental and emotional health. 

Grace Johnson, Malidi

Board Member – Vice President

My name is Grace Johnson ( nee Moon) my mother is Evelyn Moon from Kingcome Inlet my father is Dennis Wilson of Scottish and Irish descent. I am married to Sandy Johnson . Presently I am a student North Island College taking the Aboriginal Leadership Course. I have been a Family Networker in the Comox community for about 3 years prior and received my certificate as a Community Mental Health worker at VIU before that. I look forward to being of service to our community.

Alana Coon, Nanwakolagalis

Board Member – Secretary

Alana Coon was raised in G̱waʼyasda̱ms and still resides in the community. She has taken part in various contract work with the Musgamagw Dzawada̱’enux̱w Tribal Council that has connected her to our traditional territories and land. She is currently supporting Ḵwikwa̱sutinux̱ Haxwa’mis First Nation in various roles, working for her people and helping her community in any way that she can. She also sits on the board of Musgamagw Dzawada̱’enux̱w Fisheries Group and helps coordinate the G̱waʼyasda̱ms Youth Play Potlatch. She is passionate about finding opportunities for our youth and for there future.

Diana Dawson, Klapala’sugwilakw

Board Member – Secretary, Alternate

Gilakasla Nał’namwiyut, Nugwa’um Klapala’sugwilakw, Gayu’tłan lax Wayu’kwama’yi, laxa Dzawada’enuxw.

My name is Diana Dawson (Née Dick), I come from the Wayu’kwama’yi Clan of the Dzawada’enuxw. I am the eldest daughter of Gordon Dick and Mary Macko. Idescend from the eldest lines of the Dick and Dawson (Frank Whale Dawson) families of the Dzawada’enuxw people. I live in Kingcome with my husband Leslie, along with children and grandchildren.

Gana Dawson,

Board Member – Member-At-Large

Bio coming

Robert Smith,

Board Member – Member-At-Large

I’m Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw. My Mom’s from Kingcome Inlet on BC’s central coast.  I grew up in my Dad’s territory. He is Tlingit from Whitehorse. I’m a father of three beautiful daughters and I’m a brand new Grandpa to my first grandson. 

Currently I’m ten years in as Video journalist with Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) Investigates. I started 1989 in the north. Don’t make me count the years. A shooter, editor, director, producer for Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon. In 2000, I freelanced after my move to Vancouver. In 2006 I found myself with a gig I loved: BC correspondent for APTN national news. 


Julia McIntyre-Smith, Ik’sta̱mgilag̱ame’

Administrator and Instructor

Julia is the founder of A̱ka̱la Outdoor Education Society. Exploring her traditional territories gave her a purpose and an identity. She wants to create access to the land for fellow Musgamagw Dzawada̱’enux̱w, so that they can experience and connect to the places that their ancestors thrived. Julia identifies as two-spirit. She is a Paddle Canada certified Coastal Canoe Instructor.

Agathe Bernard

Program Coordinator

My name is Agathe ((pronounced Agat), I am a conservation and adventure photographer/filmmaker, and live partially on my sailboat on Vancouver Island. I specialize in female adventures in remote environments, creating climate change and ocean conservation narratives while giving voice to minority communities. I find purpose in sharing my expertise and knowledge as an earth scientist to encourage people to be innovative and proactive in their decision-making. I am passionate about giving voice to indigenous communities and supporting their reconnection with nature. I completed graduate studies in Environmental Education and Communication to bring positive, inspiring, and hopeful narratives. I am the former Director of Communications for the North Columbia Environmental Society. I am thrilled to support A̱ka̱la is developing more environmental education projects.

Shawn Kangro

Youth Leadership Paddle Program Instructor

Shawn has been a Paddle Canada certified canoe instructor since 2007. Since then, he has worked primarily leading youth as a wilderness expedition canoe guide and instructor both in Alaska and around Vancouver Island. Shawn has also spent the last six years training staff in wilderness expedition leadership at Alaska Crossings, a therapeutic wilderness program for youth. He currently works part-time as a Restorative Justice Facilitator with the RCMP for the city of Burnaby. Shawn is thrilled to be invited again to work with Musgamakw Dzawada̱’enux̱w youth in their territory.