The Rural Islands Economic Partnership (RIEP) is a grassroots organization created as a means for cultivating enduring rural island-wide economic partnerships, in collaboration with Indigenous communities, to ensure economic resilience and generate long-term prosperity without depleting natural or social resources.
A Partnership Born Out of Necessity
British Columbia is home to a spread out network of islands where thousands of rural islanders live, work, and create. While each island has its own unique community and culture, all islands share many common experiences and needs.
Before the formation of RIEP, there was no formal channel for island voices to unite for communications, planning, and advocacy. Today, RIEP is the voice for building sustainable economic resilience and organizing rural islanders in the province to effective action.
2023 Board of Directors
Francine’s motto: “If not now, when, if not me, who?
Francine has called Salt Spring Island home for the past 13 years where she currently serves the community in volunteer capacity as the Chair of the Salt Spring Island Community Economic Commission and as a member of the Islands Trust Council Advisory Planning Commission. She also serves as a Director on the Board of the BC Rural Centre.
She is the resident justice warrior and believes that no island can be resilient alone. In the course of her community work she learned there was no one government or organizational entity that has the well-being of BC’s rural islands as a priority. As a result Francine, with like-minded islanders, decided to create one, and the Rural Island Economic Partnership was born. Francine believes that “by islands joining together locally and regionally, we can truly be a united force for good change”.
Francine has a wealth of business experience with over 25 years as a Public Relations and Communications Executive and now working for some 22 years as Principal of the Business Harmonizer Group, supporting business-families by linking the issues of the heart to the world of business. Francine holds a Masters of Arts in Humanities from the State University of New York.
Mike’s motto: “Keep your eye on the prize, but don't forget to smell the roses.”
Having lived and worked in both Vancouver and Victoria, Mike has been a resident on Galiano Island for the past 40 years. Now retired Mike’s career span from Provincial Civil Servant to University Professor, Educational Consultant and High School Teacher. He holds a degree in Anthropology and Biology as well as a PhD in Ecology from UBC.
Mike has a desire to help make the small rural island communities more economically sustainable and he wants to help support the diverse and creative population on Galiano. He believes that cooperation and collaboration across the islands means the best ideas get shared which in turns helps inspire.
Keena’s motto: “Get things done right, the first time.”
Keena is of multicultural descent (English, French and Iroquois) and now hails from Vancouver, BC. She’s is a strategic leader and seasoned CPA (CA), PMP, CFE and ICD.D, with over 25 years of extensive local and international business consulting experience, specializing in risk management, internal controls and project management. Currently she is the President and Founder of New Leaf Enterprises, and also CFO and brand owner of Live for Tomorrow (LFT Group Brands Ltd.) Additionally, she was the Founding CEO of the Namgis Economic Development Corp., where she assisted the ‘Namgis First Nation (“NFN”) with establishing their new economic development corporation. She is the Chair of the Board of Orca Sand and Gravel Ltd. (one of NFN’s companies), and a Board member of APTN.
Keena loves to problem solve and is involved with RIEP as she wants to use her experience and skills to support BC’s rural island communities. Her belief is that efficiencies can be gained through learnt lessons and economic growth can be derived from strategic partnerships. One thing not many know is that Keena was the first female bellman and doorman at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver and the Empress Victoria!
Mark’s motto: “Show me the calculations, do not guess.”
Born in the Northwest Territories, Mark first visited Quadra Island in 1960 and made the full time move to the island, calling it home, in 2016. With a strong background in Professional Structural Engineering and completing a BSc Honors degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta in 1977, Mark has spent the past 40+ years working on high level projects around Canada and the globe, and currently provides engineering services to builders on Quadra Island. Mark has generously given his time, energy and expertise acting as a Board Member on many groups from the Association of Professional Engineers of Alberta to the Quadra Island Seniors Housing Society. Mark became a member of the Discovery Islands Chamber of Commerce in 2018, and most recently became Secretary Treasurer in 2019.
Mark is passionate about supporting the sustainability and growth of local small businesses because he wants to ensure there are services and support for the aging population of the islands. He is a board member of the Rural Island Economic Partnership as he believes “we need to share experiences in order to identify common causes and concerns”, through RIEP he hopes to “provide the voice in numbers on behalf of small businesses on the rural islands.”
Colin’s motto: “Make the ordinary extraordinary.”
A Cortes resident since 2014, Colin believes success in life is dependent in part on creating positive stories that inspire others. In many ways, his path has included this very pursuit, with the majority of his career spent in the arts and arts administration, both as a theatre director and leadership development facilitator. Originally a graduate of the Broadcast Communications program at the BC Institute of Technology, and with training in Theatre Arts at Vancouver Playhouse, Colin ran Banff’s Precipice Theatre—an ‘eco-theatre company—for 25 years.
Colin came to RIEP to support creative collaborative inquiry, and to introduce the sharing of place-based knowledge as a way of addressing complex challenges and exploring unlimited possibilities for positive growth and sustainability. The wonder and awe of the natural world is Colin’s key inspiration: “I want to inspire positive action and creativity in others as a way to protect and enhance the world’s remaining natural areas.”
Colin has also served on the Board of the Cortes Community Economic Development Association since 2016.
Marjorie’s motto: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Initially visiting Sointula on Malcolm Island for a 6-month trip, Marjorie fell in love with the community and its unique way of life and 6 months has turned into 30 years.
With a degree in Environmental Studies and Sociology, specialising in forestry and fishing from UVIC, as well as being trained in Community Economic Development from SFU, Marjorie’s has a myriad of working experiences from being an entrepreneur to a fisherman and a logging camp cook. She currently serves Malcolm Island as the Community Economic Development Officer at the Sointula Resource Centre Society, which she helped establish in 2002.
Marjorie has a deep love for community and believes in nurturing and supporting islanders. She became a board member of RIEP because she understands the differences which living on the rural islands bring. Marjorie wants to help bring a strengthened voice through collaborative efforts which will improve island life for all.
Vaune’s motto: “A healthy community is one that thrives.”
Success to Vaune means living a connected life true to your values, and she has demonstrated that in the short time since becoming an islander 8 years ago, moving to Bowen Island after living in East Vancouver for almost 40 years.
Vaune was inspired to become involved and participate in her community shortly after her arrival, inspired by Bowen’s warm, connected community of just under 5,000 people. “I wanted to honour my entrepreneurial spirit while embracing the community,” she said, and she found that she could use her business experience to make a contribution on the island.
As Chair of the Community Economic Development Committee, a volunteer Committee of the Bowen Island Municipal Council, Vaune became aware of RIEP and quickly learned of its reputation as an innovative organization that understands the power of like-minded people coming together to share challenges and successes appealed to Vaune. “We can learn much from each other and support each other!”, she has said, adding: “I believe the voice of this group of rural islands can be amplified by working together and we can find solutions to our greatest challenges.
Vaune holds a degree with a joint major in Liberal Arts and Business, and after a 20-year career at Simon Fraser University working in Continuing Education and convening public policy conferences and symposia, she made the shift to real estate, working between Bowen Island and the Lower Mainland.
Maria’s motto: “Success is being happy with who you are, and helping to create opportunity and success for others.”
Maria likes to joke about how she peaked early in life by winning a baby beauty contest, but her sustained commitment to creating positive impact throughout her adult life—personally and professionally—suggests otherwise.
Maria holds a joint BA in psychology and business, a diploma in accounting, a certificate in municipal governance, and numerous coaching certifications, including as a professional certified coach with the International Coaching Federation. Maria considers herself fortunate to have had opportunities in her career to strengthen her expertise in administration, project and event coordination, personal and organizational development, culture change and human resources management.
Her passion for people and community began her next career trajectory of coaching people and teams on their personal and professional leadership journeys. Her consultancy ChangeWorks Coaching and Consulting provides people, teams and organizations the skills to create deep, values-aligned, sustained change.
A Gabriola resident since 2016, Maria currently works as the Interim Executive Director for the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce, and also sits on the Board as VP. Being involved with RIEP fills a particular interest for Maria — regional representation for BC’s rural islands. “Island collaboration makes anything and everything possible” she has said. Maria's participation in REIP was sparked in part by seeing other RIEP Board members bring their own strengths and contributions to the table to create positive change.
The Rural Islands Economic Partnership Society leads, inspires, and cultivates sustainable economic resilience and community well-being through collaborative initiatives and partnerships for the benefit of British Columbia's rural islands and the Indigenous Communities who have traditional or reserve lands on these islands.
A thriving alliance of diverse rural island communities sustained through a united voice; shared values; social, economic and cultural well-being; environmental stewardship; and collaborative strength.
- We practice excellence in leadership and environmental stewardship.
We walk our talk—accountable, trustworthy and transparent.
We are inclusive, respectful and collaborative.
We are tenacious and proactive.
We are open-minded, innovative & creative.