The Interpretive Guides Association is supported by over 800 active members, a volunteer board of directors, a part-time executive director, program coordinator and financial assistant.
We welcome anyone who would like to share their ideas, passion and zest for interpretation to contact us or get involved in the association.
“I grew up in Nova Scotia, foot steps away from Kejimkujik National Park. Having spent my childhood playing in the fresh air whether it was canoeing, hiking, swatting mosquitoes or cross country skiing, I knew being outside was a must. I studied Outdoor Recreation at Nova Scotia Community College after high school, followed by one year of living in Halifax working for Hewlett Packard which cured me of any aspirations of office work. In 2005 an opportunity working as a bellman for the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise was scene as an offer to get some much wanted mountain experience and he left the ocean behind.
The next two years were taken up by hiking, climbing and snowboard mountaineering as much as possible. In the winter of 2007 The Chateau was looking for a new Cross Country Ski Instructor and I felt I was a natural fit for the role, eventually when the door opened for a summer role guiding I didn’t put my foot in the door, I forced my whole body through it. I have been full time guiding since 2009 and I am accredited as a Professional Interpreter (IGA), a Cross Country Ski Instructor (CANSI) and a Flat Water Canoe Instructor (Paddle Canada).”
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 a Professional Interpreter. 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 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 Professional Interpreter and has gone through the ACMG hiking guide training.
Tracey has been actively involved with the Interpretive Guides Association since 2004 and is excited to continue supporting and representing guides in the Mountain National Parks.
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.
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?
Morag was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spent a large part of her life in Toronto and moved to the Bow Valley in 2004. While packing up her home in Toronto she discovered a long forgotten Grade 9 geography project that she completed on Banff and knew she was heading west for a reason. Banff National Park had always been in her thoughts and dreams and it was at this point that she realized she was meant to live in the Bow Valley.
She has been involved in the fitness industry since 1992 managing fitness facilities and teaching classes throughout Banff and Canmore.
While working for the Banff Springs Hotel fitness facility Morag started leading hikes and ran nature-based programs for various groups visiting the area. In 2009, Morag became a member of the IGA and took the PI courses in 2011.
Morag’s hobbies include hiking, kayaking, cycling, cross country skiing, reading, photography, and baking and is truly delighted to be able to share the joys of “living in a postcard” with visitors to this area.
Anne was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. She moved to the Canadian Rockies in 2011, while studying tourism management in Montreal. She took an internship as a guide in the mountains hoping to get experience to one day become a city guide in Europe but the mountains took hold and she never looked back. She has worked as a hiking guide, bus tour guide and guide on boat tours, but her favourite part of what she does is teaching other guides about this profession and the natural landscapes surrounding them. Anne’s speaks both French and English and teaches in guides in both languages as well.
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) Assistant 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 educaton. And 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 hopefully Canadian citizenship later this year!
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 this spring.
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, and was proud to complete the Wapta traverse last season.
She’s incredibly proud and excited to become a board member for the IGA and looks forward to furthering the efforts of this incredible association.
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, the first time was 2018 and in 2019 was the second course.
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.