The Interpretive Guides Association is supported by over 2000 active members, a volunteer governing board of directors, and 4 part-time staff, an executive director, a program manager, a financial assistant and a bookkeeper.
We welcome anyone who would like to share their ideas, passion and zest for interpretation to contact us or get involved in the association.
Laura Dowling President
Laura is originally from Ireland where her background was in teaching and fitness.
The opportunity arose in 2012 to take a career break and she decided to spend a couple of years in New Zealand before arriving in Canada and more specifically Canmore in 2014. Finding the perfect spot to adventure and work meant Canmore was home. In 2020, Laura and her husband Darrell launched Canadian Rockies Experience, a private tour guiding company. Based in Canmore, Canadian Rockies Experience delivers private sightseeing, hiking, snowshoe and ice walk tours from Kananaskis to Jasper and everything in between. Laura is a IGA professional Interpreter and 4 seasons hiking guide. She loves to spend her free time camping in the backcountry, hiking and cross country skiing.
Morag Mottram, Past President
Morag was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spent a large part of her life in Toronto and moved to the Bow Valley in 2004. While packing up her home in Toronto she discovered a long forgotten Grade 9 geography project that she completed on Banff and knew she was heading west for a reason. Banff National Park had always been in her thoughts and dreams and it was at this point that she realized she was meant to live in the Bow Valley.
She has been involved in the fitness industry since 1992 managing fitness facilities and teaching classes throughout Banff and Canmore. While working for the Banff Springs Hotel fitness facility, Morag started leading hikes and ran nature-based programs for various visitors to the area. In 2009, Morag became a member of the IGA and took the PI courses in 2011.
Morag’s hobbies include hiking, kayaking, cycling, cross country skiing, reading, photography, and baking and is truly delighted to be able to share the joys of “living in a postcard” with visitors to this area.
Dave Holder, Vice President
Dave began his mountain instruction career while serving with the Royal Engineers (British Army) where he was trained as a Mountain Expedition Leader. He led groups around the world in Britain, Iceland, Norway, Europe, Africa, Belize and the USA his journeys led him to Canada where he met his wife Brenda.
Marriage, retirement from the military, and immigration quickly followed. He works with his wife's company, Mahikan Trails, and teaches for a college in Holland. He is qualified with the ACMG as a Hiking Guide with winter accreditation, the Interpretive Guides Association as a Master Interpreter, and the Wilderness Guide Association as a level three Boreal guide. His other Canadian qualifications include Nordic ski instructor with CANSI and an Instructor with the Outdoor Council of Canada. Survival Instructor trained by Mors Kochanski (author of Northern Bushcraft), Interpretation Canada Training Program, and Wilderness First Aid Instructor.
Much of his time now is taken up as a survival consultant for various TV shows, including the Alone show on the History channel.
Heather Chrystie, Tourism Liaison
Chad Widmer, Community Liaison
Chad was born and raised in Alberta. A notoriously restless gadabout, he settled down to become an Outdoor Educator in Calgary and has been doing so for the last 13 years with Foundations for the Future Charter Academy, a public school focusing on character and leadership.
He considers himself a husband who married up and a father of two high energy brats that keep him young. He loves his family and friends for giving him perspective, his work with students and the community for giving him purpose, and the great outdoors for giving him balance.
Joanie McGuffin, Director of Communications/Secretary
Raoul Kluivers, International Director At Large
Raoul grew up in the east of the Netherlands and his first love was Nature. He completed his Sport Studies in the early nineties with a focus on Athletics and Outdoor sports, like white water kayaking and rockclimbing, and became a full-time sports instructor in his own business ‘Voshaar Outdoor & Education’.
In 2000, he visited the Canadian Rockies for the first time and took several courses in Canada to become a Wilderness Guide after that first visit. Since 2006 he gets back to the Rockies at least once a year.
In 2010, he earned the IGA professional Interpretive Guide certification. He loves the IGA concept so since 2012 his wilderness guide students take the IGA Apprentice course as part of the program and for their Outdoor University students it’s part of their study as well.
Guiding all over Europe he started to think about making the IGA more international, cooperate with European (protected) areas. The first step was teaching the IGA AI course in the Netherlands in 2018 and has now taught the AI and GM courses there a few times.
For Raoul it is a great honor to be part of the IGA board and he will try as hard as possible to accomplish International cooperation concerning IGA courses outside of Canada.
Keith Diakiw, Indigenous Liaison
Keith Diakiw is a professional Métis geologist and GEO (Geo Experience Officer) of Talking Rock Tours, which is a natural and cultural educational tour company showcasing the geological wonders of Alberta through an indigenous lens. Mr. Diakiw attended both the University of Lethbridge and University of Alberta where he successfully earned three Bachelor degrees: a Bachelor of Science CO-OP in Physical Geography, a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology/Archaeology, and a Bachelor of Science Specialization in Geology.
Geologically speaking, he possesses exploration and mining experience in metallurgical coal, thermal coal, conventional oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, and oil sands to date. Mr. Diakiw also joined the Royal Canadian Navy while attending the University of Alberta and became a qualified Naval Warfare Officer in 2005 and still enjoys serving Canada as a naval reservist with H.M.C.S. Nonsuch.
Mr. Diakiw also considers himself an indigipreneur in the business world while he strives to meet the needs of the public with indigenous tourism while inspiring the next generation of indigenous youth along the way. Mr. Diakiw was elected this year as a board member of Indigenous Tourism Alberta on the overall journey of healing and reconciliation with fellow Canadians.
Joe Urie, Director At Large
Joe arrived in Jasper in 1988 and other than a stint in the Yukon has lived there with his wife and three children ever since. He is a member of the Metis Nation of Alberta and his family’s history can be traced along the length of the Athabasca River, from the birth of it near his home in Jasper to its end in Fort Chipewyan, for nearly 150 years. Joe has been an active guide in the Rockies since his return from the Klondike in 1999 working for a variety of companies until his wife decided that they should branch out on their own. In 2012, the Jasper Tour Company was born.
Although boasting a quarter-century in the mountains and accreditation as a Professional Guide, Joe feels that he is only now scratching the surface. He gives credit to the people that visit his beloved mountains as the inspiration to learn more about them and everything that lives in the shadow of their peaks.
“I see the look on their faces and recognize that look as the same one I had when I first arrived. When I see that look I think, oh yeah, they get it! Each day that I get to view my world through their eyes, my world is born anew. It’s just so pure and exciting!” And that is brilliant! When he is not guiding, Joe likes to trail run. He fancies himself a modern-day "Coureur des Bois”. What would you be if you didn’t dream?
Katie Hill, Director At Large
Born in England, Catriona (Katie) first experienced the natural world through the amazing commentary and videography of David Attenborough, prior to moving to “the wilds” of Canada’s Northwest Territories when she was 12. Growing up on the banks of the Slave River, with the playground of Wood Buffalo National Park and its iconic wildlife on the doorstep, a lifelong love of the outdoors took root.
After completing her BA in English and Phys. Ed and starting work in the recreation sector, Katie “fell” into the guiding industry when she became a SnoCoach tour guide at the Columbia Icefield, Jasper National Park (1996). Like so many, what started as “just” a 4 month summer job turned into a diverse tourism and hospitality career focused on creating exceptional experiences for her guests spanning 24 years.
During COVID, Katie pivoted back to the sport industry and is currently Director of Experience at the SLS Family Sports Centre in Cochrane. She continues to find ways to create and share interpretive experiences with her guests, friends and family whenever possible.
Katie is a certified “Chief Happiness Officer”, a qualified professional interpreter for Banff National Park (2002), and once danced with MC Hammer at a bar in Las Vegas! Her favourite pastimes include walking her pups – Bella, a border collie and Tikka, a German shepherd cross – or running along the Elbow River and at Glenbow Ranch, and spending time playing in the mountains.