Our Team

Sylvia McMechan

Board Member

When I was a grade 8 student I found a book titled “Ecology” in our library. When I asked the librarian what that word meant, she said, “Why don’t you open it and find out?” The awe and wonder that followed has stayed with me through the years. In some profound way my mind was opened to concepts of connectivity and interdependence and I’ve seen life accordingly since then.

My professional background includes collaborative conflict resolution, postsecondary education, national nonprofit leadership, international and indigenous dialogue development, environmental advocacy, and small business entrepreneurship. Common underpinnings that inform and sustain my life choices include my upbringing as a Quaker and an affinity with nature. These days I’m working with a small group to establish an affordable natural burial ground that will be a regenerative ecosystem and welcoming community for those who wish to acknowledge and celebrate the rhythms and cycles of life and death.

I’m delighted to serve as a Board member: that youngster who loved to learn in elementary school lives on as I journey with my fellow CESS adventurers!

Renate Ringer

Secretary & Facilitator

I am an earth walker, star gazer, indigenous rose inhaler, ocean swimmer, wild mushroom forager and a continuing student of nature’s wisdom and the cycle of life & death. My background includes working in the health field as well as being employed in various types of research projects for several decades. For many years I also managed urban agriculture programs and social enterprise endeavors in the non profit sector. Currently I am exploring various additional healing arts such as: music, dance, poetry, story telling, herbology, reiki, dreamwork, and spirituality. 
A continuing inquiry as to how healing arts can help heal us as, well as our surrounding community of people, animals, flora and fauna? We live on an incredibly dynamic land in very uncertain but potent times. I feel compelled to find ways to enhance and share my understanding as to how we and everything we know about (and don’t know about) is all connected. I am excited to join the CES team. Co-creating and helping facilitate these timely, interdisciplinary and collaborative programs is such an honour! Thank-you.

Sandra Thomson


I have always been passionate and committed to social change, seeking ways to work that are holistic, integrated, and seek to understand root causes. I have a background in holistic health and an interest in spiritual activism, reflective practices for practitioners and social change agents, and community-based mind / body / spirit wellness practices.

I worked for several years on the coast supporting First Nations communities to assume their rights and responsibilities to determine what happens on their territories through Coastal Stewardship Network. I currently work for Social Planning Cowichan, supporting the Quw’utsun Cultural Connections program.

Alice Louise Meyers

Current Administrator + Past Vice-Chair

Dr. Alice L. Meyers is a postdoctoral researcher and consultant of Scottish, English, and Irish ancestry, living as a grateful visitor on W̱SÁNEĆ territory. Through her decolonization education work, Alice aims to create relationships of collaboration, respect, relevance, and reciprocity. Having completed a University of Toronto (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) doctoral thesis in 2020, “Blossoming Multiliteracies: Stories of How W̱SÁNEĆ, Quw’utsun, Gitga’at, and Líl̓wat Nations Reclaim Indigenous Languages and Food Systems Through Pedagogies of the Land,” Alice was involved in five years of relationship building and conversational interviews with SENĆOŦEN and Hul’q’umi’num’-speaking Elders, educators, and Knowledge Keepers, relationships which continue to this day. As an ethnobotany enthusiast, Alice is passionate about the intersections of plants, people, and healing. By grounding work in local First Nations epistemologies, ontologies, and land-based learning, including SENĆOŦEN and Hul’q’umi’num’ language, Alice strives to contribute positively to larger conversations about Indigenous languages, health, and land. In her work with the Centre for Earth and Spirit, Alice’s aim is to foster healthful, intergenerational conversations that support the wellbeing of all ages.

jessica easton

Past Board Member

I have had the privilege of being a psychotherapist for the past fifty years.  I have been able to work with individuals and families experiencing grief, loss, and trauma through counselling, providing workshops and training to schools, hospitals, indigenous groups, spiritual communities, hospice groups, and many non-profit organizations as well as their front-line workers.  Through my work, I have learned the importance of feeling connected to our own feelings, our physical bodies, our beliefs about ourselves and the world we live in.

It has been a challenging time with the world in turmoil and the effects of isolation and uncertainty brought about through the Covid pandemic. Consequently, when I moved to Victoria, I wanted to engage in work that assisted me and our community in rediscovering our connection to nature, our own spiritual and philosophical beliefs about ourselves and hopefully find a way to connect to the wisdom of those elders who may carry the knowledge to help us begin that path of discovery. The Centre for Earth and Spirit presents that opportunity to engage in this process of rediscovery.  I am delighted to be a new board member with the opportunity to help continue the work of the Centre.  I know that I cannot change the world, but the Centre for Earth and Spirit creates the opportunity for me to help change the world within my reach.

Penny Allport

Past Board Member and Facilitator

A lover of world wisdom traditions and participating in ceremonies honouring the life-death-life cycle from Mexico to Bali, Africa and the Amazon informs my work as a Life-Cycle Celebrant. Co-creating ceremony with couples and families in rites of passage, weddings, baby blessings, end of life and remembrance is one of my deepest joys.

Fueled by a deep interest in our potential for being human’s kind, I facilitate multi-generational classes and retreats, combining Continuum Movement, Yoga, writing, painting and dream processes, also incorporating the work of my mentor Angeles Arrien (1940-2014), Cross Cultural Anthropologist, teacher and author of The Second Half of Life, 8 Gates of Initiation.

A personal journey of healing trauma inspires an ongoing inquiry in nervous-system regulation and resilience as key to our kind future. The burgeoning field of Relational Somatic Therapy informs all of my work, through past and present studies with Emilie Conrad (1934 – 2014) Continuum Movement, Susan Harper Continuum Montage, Hubert Godard, Rolfer, Kevin Frank & Caryn McHose, Resources in Movement and CFTRE. It is a sweet blessing and honor to co-create and facilitate programs with the Center for Earth & Spirit.

Jo-Ann Bance

Past Treasurer

It can be said that Life is a series of transitions and I am joining the Centre for Earth and Spirit as the Treasurer after retiring from full time work. I have a degree in business and a masters in human resource management, with 30 years of experience working in an administrative capacity in various organizations. After a 15 year exploration of yoga, I made the decision in 2013, to deepen my personal yoga practice and completed a 500 hour yoga teacher training – I have been teaching yoga ever since.
My goal, through these practices is to meet people where they are. I am at my best when I get outside walking with my pooch, practicing and teaching yoga and spending time with my family and 4 grandchildren. Another longer-term goal has always been to be part of organization that focuses on earth stewardship and the connection between earth and spirit. And here I am. Something that Simon Sinek recently posted, resonates with me deeply “Stand for people; not a product or service, or metric or number. Stand for real living breathing people and we will change the world.”

Dr. Robin June Hood

Past Board Member and Facilitator

Robin is a cultural geographer, educator, filmmaker and activist/scholar. She worked for several years in Latin America supporting Mayan efforts to strengthen indigenous education and peace. During the past 30 years she has focused on supporting endangered peoples and landscapes, and creating strategies for educational renewal.

Robin completed a post doctorate position at the University of Victoria on cultural keystone species research using digital storytelling. She was the co founder of the Global Village Store, Youth Speaks, the Gaia Project, Gumboot Productions and she was on the Rainforest Solutions team that crafted the globally significant, Great Bear Rainforest agreement. Her recent book, For the Love of Nature: Solutions for Biodiversity co-authoured with Briony Penn was published in 2010. I see Earth and Spirit as aligned with my lifelong interest in intercultural and intergenerational approaches to human and ecological well-being through the re-vitalization of indigenous worldviews.

Robin is currently engaged in action research on cultural revitalization initiatives in Canada as well as regenerative and integral approaches to community development. She recently collaborated with Integral International on a Resilience Study on Climate Change in El Salvador and believe this community based work is part of what Joanna Macy calls “the great work” of our times. – Dr. Robin June Hood

Robin served on the Board of the Centre for Earth and Spirit for more than 7 years. She is currently involved in the Living Well Dying Well program as well as co-leads the Nest Well Project.

Bill Israel

Facilitator and Past Board Member

As a long time practitioner of the Intensive Journal® (I J) method of Dr. Ira Progoff, Bill has more than 40 years effecting his own life transitions. This is the same program that John T. Shields undertook as he made significant and transformative changes to his own life. This common link enabled a cherished personal relationship between Bill and John prior to John’s death in 2017.

In his journey through three separate professional careers, Bill earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, a Masters degree in Theology and Biblical Studies and is now a Certified Facilitator for the international I J program. Transiting a number of influential personal calamities over his adult life, Bill brings the wholeness of his life experience to his work as a consultant and facilitator of the imaginative and transformative I J process. In addition to his work as the Co-Chair and Program Facilitator for The Centre for Earth and Spirit Society, Bill is truly engaged in the Victoria Community. He is a member of The Restorative Justice Coalition at William Head Institution and a Former Board Member and Fund Raising Volunteer with the Laren Society (operating the Bill Mudge Halfway House in James Bay). Bill also serves as a Former Board Member of The Church of Truth / Community of Conscious Living in James Bay and is a Past Board Chair and Honorary Life Member of the United Way of Greater Victoria.

Bill served as a Board member and Chair for the Centre for Earth and Spirit for several years and currently facilitates the Intensive Journal program.

Kim Holl

Facilitator & Filmmaker

As a storyteller, social entrepreneur and compassionate communicator, Kim spent a decade and a half in the USA working with a diverse group of nonprofits leading social change initiatives. She has worked with urban, rural, inner-city and First Nations communities, facilitating innovative, arts- and adventure-based programs that focus on bullying prevention and anti-violence, restorative practices, community engagement, and using philanthropy to inspire social change.

The recipe for her program success was the implementation of Speaking Circles and inviting the disenfranchised to become part of the conversation. The results have proven that when youth and other minority groups are empowered and invited to the round table, they demonstrate their ability to leader and capacity to become change makers. In 2010, Kim presented her story and the outcomes of her Speaking Circles at the World Conference on Restorative Practices in England.

In 2018, Kim launched Through the Lens, for people and organizations with a story to tell. She is also the Program Manager and Digital Media Producer for National Education Consulting Inc. (NECI). Kim served as a Board member for the Centre for Earth and Spirit as well as our Administrator. She currently co-leads the Nest Well project.

Ecological restoration is an act of reciprocity, and the Earth asks us to turn our gifts to healing the damage we have done.

~ Robin Wall Kimmerer