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 20 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 works at Nanaimo Pet Services teaching group classes and private behaviour modification classes. During the day she works at Nanaimo Disability Resource Centre teaching and coordinating programs for adults with disabilities, and coordinating volunteers.
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 christinayoung.ca.
Angela Wilson Director
Angela is a nursing assistant and works at Royal Columbian Hospital. Angela has attended in-field Wellness Clinics and has been involved in fundraising, events and home visits. She also volunteered with Wildlife Rescue Society for 12 years.
Marina Dawson Director
Marina is a life-long animal advocate who currently works as the Marketing & Community Coordinator with CharityVillage, where she helps connect Canadian nonprofit professionals with resources and online learning opportunities. Previously, she worked at the BC SPCA head office in the administrative and fundraising departments. Marina shares her home with a quirky and cuddly rescue pup, Abbey Road, who has her Level I Trick Dog Certification. A life-long learner, Marina has completed courses related to Aboriginal Worldviews, Animal Welfare, and Environmental Ethics. Connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.
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.