The Interpretive Guides Association is supported by over 2000 active members, a volunteer governing board of directors, and 5 part-time staff, an executive director, program coordinator, program manager, financial assistant and bookkeeper.
We welcome anyone who would like to share their ideas, passion and zest for interpretation to contact us or get involved in the association.
Dave Holder, Past President
Dave began his mountain instruction career while serving with the Royal Engineers (British Army) where he was trained as a Mountain Expedition Leader, Biathlon coach, Orienteering coach, climbing supervisor and Rock leader. Leading groups around the world to Britain,Iceland, Norway, Africa, Belize and the USA his journeys led him to Canada where he met his wife Brenda. Marraige, retirement from the military, and Immigraton quickly followed. He currently works with his wife’s company, Mahikan Trails. He is accredited by the ACMG as a Backpacking Guide and the Interpretive Guides Association as one of the organizations Master Interpreters. His other Canadian qualifications include: Nordic ski instructor with CANSI, Cave rescue training with BC cave rescue, survival Instructor with Mors Kochanski (author of Northern Bushcraft), Interpretation Canada Training Program, Canoe Instructor and First Aid Instructor.
Tracey Gage, Executive Director
Tracey has degrees in Wildlife Biology and Geography from Guelph University and has her teaching degree from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. She has worked as a researcher an educator and a guide since 1990 and has been in the Canadian Rockies since 1997. Since her move to the Rockies, she has worked as a backcountry guide, interpretive guide, manager of an interpretive guiding program, tour guide, grizzly bear educator and an operations manager in the destination management field. Her strengths lie in training and coaching guides in the theory, knowledge and spontaneity of the interpretation field. Tracey loves the mountains and what the Bow Valley has to offer to locals and guests alike. She is an accredited Master Interpreter with the IGA and has gone through the ACMG hiking guide training as well. Tracey received her Professional certification with the IGA in 2003, designed and developed the interpretive training program used in the AI course and recently redeveloped PI course and was certified as one of our master interpreters in 2018. Tracey is excited to continue supporting and representing interpretive guides and the interpretive guiding profession throughout Canada and beyond.
Rod has been a resident of the Bow Valley for 20 years and has led a varied life during this time. When he first moved here, he commuted to Calgary and worked in IT. After 5 years he found himself managing the IT Department at the Town Of Banff. Rod moved to the Bow Valley for the life style. While working full time in IT, he also became very involved with the Alpine Club of Canada at both the National and Section level. His volunteer activities include being on various Executives, leading summer and winter trips and managing ski camps. Rod started teaching outdoor skills to other ACC volunteers and discovered that he really enjoyed teaching. He expanded some of these courses and they are now offered to the public as well as IGA members. In 2000, Rod developed a program to teach skiers how to back country ski. The program known as the BIT Program has been offered now for 12 years and is highly successful. After working for 20 years in IT, Rod decided that he had spent enough time behind a desk and signed up for the Apprentice Hiking Guide course with the IGA and has been working as a guide since then. This varied background has given Rod a broad base of skills that he can use in his role at the IGA. Look for Rod in the backcountry, skiing in the winter or exploring in the summer.
Wendy is one of those people who came to the rockies for a summer job and never left. After a long career with Parks Canada, Wendy discovered interpretive guiding thanks to a casual job offer. Taking the Apprentice Interpreter course really opened her eyes to the profession of interpretive guiding. After getting her Professional Interpreter certification in 2017, Wendy applied for a short term job with the IGA and took on the role of Jasper Representative.
In the fall of 2018, Wendy added the position of Program Manager to her IGA role. When Wendy isn’t working on IGA courses or helping Jasper members, she’s likely out hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, ski touring, or hanging out with her her horses.
Kevin Whitfield, Program Coordinator
Kevin grew up in Calgary, Alberta not far from the mountains that always pulled him west. Kevin and his wife, Marg, moved to the Banff/Canmore area over 30+ years ago where they raised their two wonderful children – Noah and India. Kevin enjoys being outside in the fresh air and loves to ski, hike, backpack, SUP, kayak and bike. Kevin worked extensively in tourism management and marketing & sales including projects with Brewster/Pursuit, Road West Destination Management, Mt.Norquay ski area, and most recently with Pacific Destinations. One of his favourite positions was managing the World Tour of the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Banff Centre. Kevin was also a founding board member with Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association, a committee member with Banff Lake Louise Tourism, and created the disc golf course at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
Joe Urie, Vice President
Joe arrived in Jasper in 1988 and other than a stint in the Yukon, has lived there with his wife and three children ever since. He is a member of the Metis Nation of Alberta and his family’s history can be traced along the length of the Athabasca River, from the birth of it near his home in Jasper, to its end in Fort Chipewyan, for nearly 150 years. Joe has been an active guide in the Rockies since his return from the Klondike in 1999 working for a variety of companies until his wife decided that they should branch out on their own.
In 2012, the Jasper Tour Company was born.
Although boasting a quarter century in the mountains and accreditation as a Professional Guide, Joe feels that he is only now scratching the surface. He gives credit to the people that visit his beloved mountains as the inspiration to learn more about them and everything that lives in the shadow of their peaks.
“I see the look on their faces and recognize that look as the same one I had when I first arrived. When I see that look I think, oh yeah, they get it! Each day that I get to view my world through their eyes, my world is born anew. It’s just so pure and exciting!” And that is brilliant! When he is not guiding, Joe likes to trail run. He fancies himself a modern day “Coureur des Bois”. What would you be if you didn’t dream?
Chad was born and raised in Alberta. A notoriously restless gadabout, he settled down to become an Outdoor Educator in Calgary and has been doing so for the last 13 years with Foundations for the Future Charter Academy, a public school focusing on character and leadership. He considers himself a husband who married up and a father of two high energy brats that keep him young. He loves his family and friends for giving him perspective, his work with students and the community for giving him purpose, and the great outdoors for giving him balance.
Cindy Flegel, Director At Large
Cindy was born and raised in small-town Southwestern Ontario where she obtained an Honors Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolution. She worked in the environmental industry for several years, specifically in environmental education, restoration and regulations. The Monday to Friday jobs and sitting at a desk started to take their toll and she made the move full-time to guiding and instructing after a trial stint as a sea kayak instructor on the Bruce Peninsula. She moved to the Canadian Rockies in 2006 and has guided in the Canadian Rockies plus New Zealand, China, and Nova Scotia. She is now based full-time in the Rockies and lives in Lake Louise. She spends her summers working as a Burgess Shale Hiking Guide for Parks Canada. In the winter, she can be found at the Lake Louise Ski Area chasing small ski racers around, as she is the Head Coach of the Nancy Greene program for the Lake Louise Grizzlies Ski Club. She obtained IGA Professional Interpreter certification in 2007. She is an ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides) full Hiking Guide, Canadian Ski Instructor Alliance (CSIA) Level 2 Alpine Ski Instructor, and Alpine Canada (ACA) Entry-Level Certified Alpine Ski Coach, as well as a hatha yoga instructor, certified holistic nutritional consultant and fertility awareness educator. She certainly leads by example that life is a continual learning opportunity. With such a diverse resume we are excited to have Cindy as a part of our team.
Anna Powell, Director of Communications
It’s a familiar story: Anna moved to Canmore in 2009 to do “one ski season after finishing university”. One season turned to two, then permanent residency and Canadian citizenship. One of her first jobs in the valley was working at the Lake Minnewanka boat cruise as a dock supervisor, where she was introduced to the Interpretive Guides Association, taking a condensed interpretation course targeted at Lake Minnewanka staff. She stayed with Brewster, now Pursuit, in various roles, most recently working in the Groups and Event management team. In 2016, after Brewster closed their vacation planning department, she set up her own company called GuideMe Banff. GuideMe is designed to support independent guides by providing business administration and marketing support, drawing on her experience in vacation planning and event management, and her passion for getting guests off the pavement and into the mountains. She has completed her apprentice interpreter, group management and wilderness first aid courses with the IGA and hopes to complete her professional interpreter qualification soon. Anna loves getting out into the backcountry; her favourite hike to date is probably the Mount Jimmy jr scramble, or 3 summits of Mount Edith. In the winter she’s happiest on two planks, walking up and skiing down mountains.
Michaela Paule, Tourism Liaison
Misha is a certified Hiking and Snowshoeing Guide with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and a Professional Interpreter with the Interpretive Guides Association. Misha started her guiding path over 21 years ago, leading tours in Austria, Croatia, England and the Czech Republic. Here in Canada, her experience includes guiding for Parks Canada, Discover Banff Tours. Besides private guiding she is currently Lead Guide and Manager of Educational Services for The Lake Louise Ski Resort. To stay on top of first aid skills she is also part time member of Lake Louise Ski Patrol team during the winter.
Raoul grew up in the east of the Netherlands and his first love was Nature. He completed his Sport Studies in the early nineties with a focus on Athletics and Outdoor sports, like white water kayaking and rockclimbing, and became a full time sports instructor in his own business ‘Voshaar Outdoor & Education’.
In 2000, he visited the Canadian Rockies for the first time and took several courses in Canada to become a Wilderness Guide after that first visit. Since 2006 he gets back to the Rockies at least once a year.
In 2010, he earned the IGA professional Interpretive Guide certification. He loves the IGA concept so since 2012 his wilderness guide students take the IGA Apprentice course as part of the program and for their Outdoor University students it’s part of their study as well.
Guiding all over Europe he started to think about making the IGA more international, cooperate with European (protected) areas. The first step was teaching the IGA AI course in the Netherlands in 2018 and has now taught the AI and GM courses there a few times.
For Raoul it is a great honor to be part of the IGA board and he will try as hard as possible to accomplish International cooperation concerning IGA courses outside of Canada.
Brenda was born and raised in the Rockies in Jasper National Park and has spent a vast amount of time trekking from valley to valley. She is pleased to follow her lineage as a traditional Métis guide from the Kwarakwante of Jasper.
Brenda is a Master Interpretive guide and is an active advocate of Indigenous Tourism.
She is a past member of the Métis Women’s Economic Security Council for the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs. In addition, she is a board member for the Interpretive Guides Association as the Indigenous Liaison. She is the Chair for the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada representing Alberta and she is also the Chair for the newly formed Indigenous Tourism Alberta.
Brenda has been the recipient of several prestigious awards for her work in using her company both in the entrepreneurial spirit and in educating the public about Indigenous culture.
Brenda is most often found guiding clients into the beautiful forests of the Rockies, sharing the teachings passed down from her parents and grandparents. She has a passion for the plant medicines found in abundance in our local forests and has a love for sharing the wonders of the plants!
ᒪᓈᐟᒋᐦᐃᐁᐧᐃᐧᐣ Manâtcihiwewin With Respect
Chair ITAC & ITA