About Us

Spirit’s Mission is a proud member of Vancouver Island Animal Trainers Association.

Board of Directors: 

President: Joanne Caldwell

Joanne has been involved in animal rescue and welfare for many years, and has worked with the BC SPCA as a board member and an authorized agent, and with Noah’s Wish Disaster Animal Rescue Service during the 2003 firestorms in the Okanagan. She has investigated numerous cases of animal abuse and is a certified Executive Coach, an Emergency Operations Coordinator, and a Post Traumatic Stress Facilitator. She worked as a Director of Human Resources for 30 years and facilitated workshops on such topics as communication, leadership, and workplace health. Retirement allows her to work with her true passion – the animals!

Vice President: Kerri-Lynne Wilson

Kerri-Lynne has been actively involved with animal rescue since 2005, primarily with special needs foster dogs (medical and behavioural). She has attended and helped organize several in-field vaccination and spay/neuter clinics in under-served communities, and has taught pet first aid for several years. Kerri-Lynne has a scientific background as a fisheries biologist and environmental technician, and is an active equestrian.

Treasurer: Vicki McDonald

Growing up in Creston, BC, Vicki has shared her entire life with animals. Her first “official” introduction to animal rescue was her involvement with the Creston Pet Adoption & Welfare Society (PAWS) beginning in 1996. Vicki fostered more than 100 dogs while working with PAWS and was president of the organization from 2001 – 2013 when she moved to Gabriola Island. It was through a PAWS rescue of 56 dogs chained to trees on the Kootenay Pass that she met Spirit’s Mission founder, Gail Moerkerken. Additionally, Vicki was one of the first Canadian members of Noah’s Wish Disaster Animal Rescue Service, is a certified dog obedience trainer/instructor, and is a member of Citadel Canin Society, a charity training and providing service dogs for veterans and first responders with PTSD.

Secretary: Christina Young BSc, CTDI

Christina lives in Cedar on beautiful Vancouver Island with her husband Scotty, their four dogs, senior kitty, and three horses. She has been involved in rescue for 25 years starting with running a rabbit rescue in her teens. Since then she has fostered kittens and worked with special needs dogs including fostering, training and rehoming. For fun she competes in Disc, Agility, Dock Diving, and other dog sports. Christina is a certified Professional Dog Trainer and  owns Positive Dog, teaching group classes and private behaviour modification classes.

Christina is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer via CCPDTA, a Certified Trick Dog Trainer via DMWYD, a Certified UpDog Challenge Judge (K9 Disc), is Pet First Aid Certified, a CKC Canine Good Neighbour Evaluator, and has her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Her website is www.positive.dog.

 Joni Heinrich

Joni started her animal rescue work early in life, her first cat being a rescue when she was in Grade 4.  Wherever she has resided, she has taken in abandoned cats and kittens….she started in earnest rescuing abandoned cats and kittens at the Esquimalt naval base, in Prince George she founded a street cat rescue group, working primarily in the industrial areas of the city, and when residing on the Sunshine Coast she volunteered with Happy Cat Haven, and helped initiate a feral cat TNR program.   While residing in Keremeos, BC between 2007 and 2010, she organized the spay/neuter of over 300 cats and rehomed numerous cats and kittens.  Since 2007 she has been an active volunteer with Pawprints Animal Rescue, helping with feral TNR, rehoming tame cats and kittens, taking in abandoned dogs and rehoming them.

Our Founder Gail Moerkerken

Founding Spirit’s Mission was Gail’s dream – to help establish self-sustaining pet animal management programs in remote First Nations communities. Gail’s inspiration for founding Spirit’s Mission was a special little pup named Spirit, and you can read her story, written by Gail herself, by clicking here.

Gail was a long-term member of the animal rescue community and with her kindness and generosity she impacted more people and animals than we could ever count. Here is an excerpt from a beautiful tribute written by the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association.

Gail founded Big Heart Rescue Society, which rescued dogs and cats throughout BC, with a special focus on Bella Bella. She was a coordinator for Noah’s Wish, an emergency disaster response organization for animals. This took her to the heart of numerous major incidents. In Fire Storm 2003, she worked flat out to save and rehabilitate companion animals and livestock in Kamloops and Kelowna. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she lived in the disaster zone for many weeks on end, working long hours each day to rescue abandoned and injured animals.

In her home community on Gabriola Island, she was the Emergency Social Services Pet Care Coordinator, a volunteer with GROWLS (Gabriola Rescue of Wildlife Society) and a volunteer with Gabriola Cats Alive. In 2014, she founded Spirit’s Mission, a rescue organization dedicated to eliminating disease, neglect and overpopulation for cats and dogs in BC’s remote communities. Spirit’s Mission will continue, albeit with a heavy heart, to fulfill Gail’s vision of a province in which no cats or dogs are abused, neglected or left to suffer disease and starvation.

gailRead VOKRA’s full tribute to Gail

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