HGI and the education we deliver are based on the principle of mutual respect, for each other and the human and ecological communities we inhabit.

Dr. Carlos Gustavo Anthony Ormond


For nearly two decades the focus of Carlos’ work has been on developing and participating in strategic initiatives to support the continuous improvement of communities and the ecological systems they are dependent on.

Carlos' ancestry is Irish, Spanish and Italian, and he is a citizen of both Canada and Argentina. Carlos grew up on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Musqueam people in Vancouver, B.C. Canada, and in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the ancestral and traditional territory of the Het people. Carlos lives in Daajing Giids Village of Queen Charlotte with his wife and two young sons who have known Haida Gwaii as their home since they were born; and volunteers his time as a Director for the Literacy Haida Gwaii board, and as a Commissioner for Haida Gwaii Recreation.

Emily Sky Collins

Operations Manager

Emily studied cultural anthropology at the University of Northern British Columbia and was a student of the very first Haida Gwaii Semester in 2010. These experiences helped to further her curiosity in the many ways that nature and culture intersect.

As Operations Manager her role involves collaborating with students, community, instructors, and staff to develop and deliver transformative education inspired by Haida Gwaii. While much of her work is behind the scenes, she is focused on supporting best practice place-based education, ensuring that all HGI operations are running smoothly, and helping students to have the fullest experience possible.

When she is not at work, you can find her at the beach with her bad dog, Jude.

K’iinuwaas Carrie Anne Vanderhoop

Indigenous and Community Initiatives Manager

Carrie Anne is the daughter of Evelyn Vanderhoop and granddaughter of Delores Churchill of the Gawa Git’ans Massett Inlet Eagle Clan of Old Massett. Carrie Anne’s father is David Vanderhoop, Aquinnah Wampanoag from the island of Neope, commonly known as Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Carrie Anne holds an Ed.M. from Harvard University Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Carrie Anne comes from a long line of Haida weavers and carries on the tradition as a weaver of the prestigious Raven’s Tail and Naaxiin (commonly referred to as Chilkat) textile garments. Carrie Anne lives in Massett with her daughter Rosalie. She believes nature is the greatest classroom, doesn’t own a television, and spends as much time outdoors with Rosalie as possible.

“Connecting with our lands and waters is crucial, instilling values of respect for our environment and fostering relationships with the natural world around us, trees, forests, ocean, shores, is important to me as a parent and an educator.”

Debbie Pearson

Finance and Administration Manager

Debbie arrived on Haida Gwaii as a young adult and to this day remains enthralled with the people, lifestyle, culture and environmental richness provided by the islands. She is passionate about initiatives focused on sustainable community development that serve to protect both the people and environment.

As Finance and Administration Manager, Debbie works behind the scenes to balance budgets and report operations to the various levels of government. She has 30 years of management experience working for a wide variety of community-based and not-for-profit organizations. Her past work has included planning and implementation of public works infrastructure projects, numerous social programs, community events and festivals. Currently, she is also employed by the Hecate Strait Streamkeepers and manages projects focused on salmonid education and stewardship, assessment and habitat restoration.

In her spare time, Debbie volunteers spends time assisting at the Queen Charlotte Community Salmon Hatchery.

Debbie is currently working on her thesis in completion of a Master of Arts in Environment and Management, Royal Roads University.

When not working or volunteering she can be found playing in the dirt of her organic garden. She has raised two children on Haida Gwaii, both of whom she is profoundly proud of.

Alessandra Monique Cross-Lusignan

Program Coordinator

Alessandra is the daughter to Tanu Lusignan, granddaughter of Monique Brown, and Raymond Reid – Bill Reid’s adopted son. She belongs to the Staastaas Eagle Clan on Haida Gwaii through her mother and grandmother who both shared the name Violet Cross.

Alessandra’s clan might be from the northern part of the island, but she grew up on the southern end in the village of Skidegate. At a young age she learned traditional Haida singing and dancing, attended the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program, and berry picked with her late great grandmother Nelly Cross. In adulthood Alessandra joined Air Canada as an international Flight Attendant, where she was able to represent her heritage to people from all over the world. She now lives in Skidegate, where she exercises her traditions by food gathering, immersing herself in nature, and sharing stories with her family.

Accepting the position as Program Coordinator, Alessandra joins us as the newest member of the HGI family. She works to coordinate and support our instructors as well as our students. Alessandra comes from a background in customer service that spans more than ten years, has a firm understanding and love for her heritage, and a vast array of knowledge gained from world travel, and post-secondary education.

Verica Yovanovich

Program Coordinator

Verica is the daughter of Bev Yovanovich and granddaughter of Ada Yovanovich. She is part of the Ts’aahl Clan of Skidegate which originates at Kay Llnagaay Sea Lion Town.

Born and raised on Haida Gwaii, Verica is a proud member of the Haida Nation but is also of Yugoslavian and Maori ancestry. Verica lives in Skidegate with her daughter Arrielle and partner Kirk. She also has a trifecta of furry felines: Prince Peach, Lady Glitter Sparkles, and Qtip. When she is not working you can find her hunting or fishing with her brother; visiting with her family; or, scheming some sort of event.

As being the newest member to HGI as Program Coordinator, Verica looks forward to using her life experiences, knowledge, connection to the land and relationships with the people to ensure the best experience for all.

Kate Trueland

Program Assistant

Kate was born in Canada and grew up on the island of Bermuda. She feels fortunate to have returned to an island community that has the great character of Haida Gwaii. For the past 10 years Kate has worked in education management in Toronto, Ontario, specializing in the teaching and student service support of hospitality, tourism, and summer programming for students from around the world.

An explorer at heart, Kate chose to complete a Master of Arts in Tourism Management at Royal Roads University in 2018 which energized her passion for community, learning, and adventure. The journey left her hooked on the West Coast! In August 2020 Kate made Haida Gwaii her new home – so far, she’s learned how to build a beach fire, struggle into a wetsuit, and remember where to go for cell service.

Kate is honored to join the Haida Gwaii Institute as Program Assistant, to support the delivery of such valuable academic and experiential programming. She has enjoyed every moment so far on Haida Gwaii and is excited for what is to come.

Nang Ḵ'uulas Patrick Shannon

Creative Advisor

Patrick is a First Nations professional creative and social entrepreneur from Haida Gwaii, raised by his Haida elders he endeavours to keep storytelling alive through today's modern art forms. He travels the country empowering neighbouring aboriginal communities in using technology and media, to not only address and heal social issues, but to start forging new cultural identities in the modern world.

Originally from HlG̱aagilda (Skidegate), after a decade of working in several creative industries throughout Vancouver, BC, Patrick returned home to Haida Gwaii to reconnect with his community and culture, and to help develop new media industries.