Friday Panel Presenters - Bios

"Have you Ever Seen the Rain?" : Water Availability in the Southern Interior

Mike Simpson, MA, RPF; Senior Regional Manager - Thompson
Mike Simpson facilitates multi-stakeholder initiatives addressing complex environmental and natural resource management issues involving all orders of government (local/municipal, provincial, Aboriginal, federal), the private sector and civil society. Experienced in dealing with various issues including forestry, interface fire, agriculture, mining, trails, recreation, watersheds, water quality, wildlife, Aboriginal title and rights, economic development, fisheries, invasive species, air quality, sustainable development, flood and debris flow. He also provides governance and strategic planning support to small organizations and collaborative initiatives.
Mike has a BScF from University of Toronto (1994), an MA in conflict resolution Royal Roads University (2004), and has been a professional forester in BC since 1996. He lives in Kamloops, BC with his partner Holly, daughter and son.
He is currently Senior Regional Manager with the charitable non-profit society Fraser Basin Council based in Kamloops. The primary mandate of the Fraser Basin Council is to advance environmental, economic and social sustainability in British Columbia with a core focus on the Fraser River Basin, using a collaborative, inclusive, impartial approach.
Before joining Fraser Basin Council in 2006, he consulted in the forest industry to forest products companies, provincial governments, woodlot licensees, private landowners and other tenure holders predominantly in the area of pre-harvest planning at the stand and forest level, but also in logging supervision, log sales and silviculture in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.


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"Cheeseburger in Paradise" : Food Production in the Southern Interior

Laura Kalina, MA   

Laura Kalina is a Registered Dietitian (McGill University) with a Master's degree in Adult Education. She currently works as the Food Sovereignty lead with Q’wemtsin Health Society which serves Skeetchestn, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc   and Whispering Pines.   Laura is currently working in partnership with Skeetchestn’s Community School, Band and Council in the development of a Food Forest, traditional foods/harvesting curriculum with the ultimate goal of building an  indigenous agriculture training program

Laura’s passion for indigenous food sovereignty extends from a 32 year as a Public Health Dietitian with Interior Health and as a pioneer in the food security movement in Canada. Laura’s commitment to building capacity for sustainable food systems and healthy eating is showcased by the success of the Kamloops Food Policy council which she founded 25 years ago and the “Shop Smart” Nutrition Tour program led by Dietitians in Supermarkets across Western Canada. Sharing and mentoring others is high priority for Laura and she has authored numerous books  on  food security and healthy eating including, Building Food Security in Canada: From Hunger to Sustainable Food  and the International Best Seller  “Low-Glycemic Meals in Minutes.”    

Laura Kalina has received numerous awards acknowledging her innovative approaches to nutrition education including the Dietitians of Canada’s Speaking for Food and Healthy Eating Award and Member Award for Innovation , the Kamloops’ Women of Distinction Award, YMCA International Peace Medal for her work in social justice issues relating to food security. And most recently,  Sharon Martin Community Development Award and City of Kamloops Pioneer Spirit Award recognizing her leadership in food policy  and the creation of many food action projects in Kamloops.  Laura is married with 2 grown children and enjoys the outdoors with her passion being cross country skiing, cooking, travel and permaculture. Visit her website at

Ed Basile 

The past 5 years have definitely presented challenges arising from the constantly evolving changes in climate conditions. From smoke to rain to fluctuating temperatures there is no time to assume things will work out.  A farmer must be proactive and think outside of the box.  Ed Basile is an organic farmer working in the Kamloops area.  Ed and his partner Daniela have been farming for 15 years with a focus on soil health and resilience.  They grow vegetables and fruit in this summer Mediterranean  style climate to supply the farmers markets, grocery stores and local restaurants.  They have transitioned to growing seed that suit this area.

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