We are happy to welcome some new people to our POLIS family, as we also say thank you and good luck to others who are moving on to new challenges and adventures—and who no doubt will stay connected to the water community in the years ahead!
Deana Machin, Advisor
Deana Machin was welcomed last year as an advisor to the POLIS Water Sustainability Project, and her work continues. This includes working closely with our team helping build the Water Leaders’ Network and advising on our ongoing work on watershed security and co-governance—especially as they relate to the proposed provincial Watershed Security Strategy and Fund for B.C. and specific application for policy and governance reform direction around security, climate, and co-governance.
Deana is a member of the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation and grew up in her home community along Okanagan Lake near Vernon B.C. These connections have grounded her strong values in relation to First Nations’ rights and their roles in the governance and management of their lands, waters, and resources.
Deana has been active in the field of fisheries management and policy for over 20 years, specializing in strategic planning and Indigenous engagement in fisheries governance and management initiatives. She is the former Strategic Development Manager for the First Nations Fisheries Council of BC (FNFC), where for 10 years the purpose of her work was to build collaborative and effective relationships among First Nations and with Crown governments and NGOs.
Prior to her time with the FNFC, she was the Fisheries Program Manager for the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) for seven years. While working for her Nation, Deana led the Reintroduction of Sockeye Salmon into the Okanagan Basin Initiative, which saw the first release of Okanagan sockeye fry into Skaha Lake in 2006. She also collaborated with federal and provincial governments and other partners on the development of the Okanagan Basin Fish Water Management Tool model and the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative. Deana holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Business Administration from the University of British Columbia.
Kevin Kriese, Advisor
Kevin recently joined our team as an advisor, with a focus on water, land use planning, and connections between watershed security, forests, and wildfire. His work has centred on resolving resource conflicts in B.C. through collaboration and multi-disciplinary problem solving. His current interests include the intersection of forest management, climate change, water, and fire. He is trained as a forester and planner, and has a certificate in conflict resolution.
Kevin worked for the B.C. provincial government for over 30 years designing and delivering land use plans, developing government-to-government agreements with Indigenous Nations, and leading organizational change. He served with five different ministries and was an Assistant Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Kevin also served as the Chair of B.C.’s Forest Practices Board.
Shayla Auld, Communications Intern
Shayla Auld recently joined our team as a new Communications and Graphic Design Intern. Her work primarily focuses on developing creative awareness and outreach strategies through a wide range of digital design mediums.
Shayla completed her undergraduate degree at Lakehead University (LU), specializing in Environmental Sustainability and Wildlife Management. She conducted LU’s first research study on students’ single-use plastic use and waste knowledge, which led to the reduction of on-site plastics and reform of the University’s Sustainability Plan. Later, she was proudly nominated and awarded the Lakehead Leader Award in the Sustainability Category. Since graduating, Shayla has worked for a variety of non-profit organizations that focus on environmental stewardship, youth leadership, and community-based activism. Shayla is also an active freelance artist, designer, and communications student at North Island College.
Sherry Da, Water Leaders and Special Projects Coordinator
After a one-year internship and position at POLIS, we are grateful for Sherry’s contributions to our team and work over the past year. Her work was most closely connected with the B.C. Water Leaders and Funders’ Network. This included ensuring connections and updates; strategically engaging on opportunities to advance water policy and law reform, the provincial Watershed Security Strategy mandate; and supporting the broader water community as they implement projects or programs to advance watershed initiatives.
As Sherry continues her career she remains interested in exploring and addressing watershed management issues through the intersections of justice, equity, and decolonization. Her experience working and studying in India and Singapore helped her understand the connection between local and global issues—how local projects can be scaled to influence international change, and how international decisions can affect the daily lives of the most remote villagers. She takes this broad view when considering watershed management and policy issues, since water cannot be separated by boundaries and maps.
Montana Lewis, Work Study Student
Montana joined our team as a work study student last October. We are grateful for everything she contributed to our team over the past year. We also congratulate her on completing her Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria!
As a work study student, Montana developed her understanding of water law and watershed governance and contributed her collaborative and interpersonal skills to the team. As a young learner in the sustainability field, she enjoys cultivating positive working environments where team members can learn and grow. Montana is passionate about food security, promoting community development, and removing barriers to accessing clean, safe, and reliable drinking water. We wish her all the best on her career ahead!