Rivers Inlet estuary (Photo by NCC)

Rivers Inlet estuary (Photo by NCC)

Tanya Wahbe, West Coast Program Director (Photo by NCC)

Tanya Wahbe, West Coast Program Director (Photo by NCC)

Tanya Wahbe

What is your position at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)?

Program director for the West Coast

Where do you work?

Vancouver, but my work takes me throughout the West Coast Program areas — the Salish Sea, Central Coast, West Chilcotin, Clayoquot Sound and Haida Gwaii.

How did you come to join the NCC team? 

My parents instilled in me a deep respect for the natural environment, so I've been passionate about conservation since I was a child. I spent over 20 years working at the University of British Columbia in applied conservation ecology and Indigenous community health research. I have a deep interest in improving connectivity in landscapes to maintain environmental and human health. With NCC, I can help work toward this goal. I was also excited by the diversity of projects, locations and interest groups involved in NCC's work, so joining the team in 2015 was an excellent next step in my career.

What is your educational background and previous experience?

I have educational training in biological sciences (BSc, California) and applied conservation research (MSc and PhD, UBC). I focused on amphibians during my MSc and dissertation, then became interested in the field of conservation medicine — how environmental and human health intersect. This led to my post-doctoral training through the UBC Institute for Aboriginal Health. Over the years, I have done research on the impact of environmental contaminants on Indigenous communities (Musqueam First Nation and Heiltsuk First Nation) and Indigenous food security (Squamish First Nation and Indigenous Quechuan communities in the Ecuadorian Andes). I continued my work as research associate at UBC and am currently an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, where I supervise students in food security and Indigenous community health.

What are you hoping to achieve through your work at NCC?

With my NCC colleagues, scientific support and our many committed partners and interest groups, I am excited to grow the conservation land network to improve connectivity of habitats across the west coast. To strengthen our securement and stewardship initiatives, I would like to build mutually beneficial, respectful and open partnerships with Indigenous communities, and provide conservation training for youth.

Describe a typical day at work.

My responsibilities include stewardship, securement, fundraising, outreach, communications and administration, but each day brings new and sometimes wild surprises. There is always so much to learn, which keeps the work interesting and fresh. One consistent thing is that I can always rely on my fantastic colleagues to get through the work ahead of us in a most thoughtful and professional manner.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

I love spending time with my family and friends — dancing, baking and cooking with my kids, gardening, singing, playing guitar and accordion, camping and hiking through new landscapes, going to music concerts, downhill skiing, cycling and hatha yoga. What I love most, and am fortunate to do regularly, are music jam dance parties with my kids and husband! High-energy unstructured fun!

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