About Us

Board of Directors: 

President: Joanne Caldwell

Joanne has been involved in animal welfare for over 20 years.  In the past she worked with the BC SPCA as a board member and an authorized agent.  She spent several years managing staff involved in fire and flood disasters.  Her experience in emergency evacuation for animals began in 2003.  She has investigated numerous cases of animal abuse and is a certified Emergency Operations Coordinator, a Post Traumatic Stress Facilitator and has delivered countless workshops.  She currently lives on a small acreage with her horse, miniature donkey, dogs, cats and a parrot.

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, Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPTD-KA)

Christina lives in Cedar on beautiful Vancouver Island with her husband Scotty, their three 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, Nosework, Rally Obedience, 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.

Lauren Silver

Lauren was born and raised in Kamloops, BC.  Growing up, animals found their way to her house, literally showing up on the front step, or being found running loose along the North Thompson River bank.  Not knowing much about backyard breeders at the time, Lauren got her first dog (Ripley, a Weimaraner x Rottweiler) in 2009.  Due to poor conditions, Ripley has had numerous health issues, and this spurred Lauren’s interest in animal health, welfare, and rescue.  While attending a rescue’s Meet & Greet to meet a potential new family member, Lauren found herself with her first foster dog in 2012.  This started her love of fostering dogs, which quickly grew into fostering cats as well.  A family member found themselves with a cat colony on their property.  Over the course of about 4 years, Lauren assisted in removing approximately 90 cats and kittens to find their forever homes.  Some were very feral, and some quickly came to realize that they enjoyed the company of people.

Pam Guelly

Pam runs a cat sanctuary, Pawprints Animal Rescue.  She has volunteered in clinics during disasters and has extensive animal welfare knowledge.  Her full time job is rescue, and she joined Spirit’s Mission in 2018.


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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