VIU Scenery

Member Biographies

Nate Bello

Nate Bello was an Instructor at the College of New Caledonia, a Director with the Cariboo Regional District and the Mayor of the City of Quesnel. Active in his community, Mr. Bello was a Member of the Vancouver Island Workability Society and the Columbia Institute. He was also President and Director of the Social Planning and Research Council, Vice - Chair and Director of the Northern Development Trust Initiative, and Vice – Chair and Member of the University of Northern British Columbia. Mr. Bello holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum Development from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Fordham University.

Karen Bittner

Karen Bittner was raised a farmer’s daughter in small town Saskatchewan.  After high school, she completed her Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation (now known as Chartered Professional Accountant) and Master of Business Administration.  For the first 20 years of her career, she served as a public servant in management roles firstly for the City of Regina and, later, the Government of Saskatchewan. In 2008, Karen moved to Vancouver Island accepting a Director role with Vancouver Island Health Authority in the seniors’ portfolio.  She later served as the Executive Director of the Vancouver Island Providence Community Association and, currently, is an accountant in private industry.  Karen and her husband have also pursued one of their “bucket list” items by starting a small farm outside of Mill Bay. 

Karen learned early in life that if you want your community to serve you, you must serve your community.  In Saskatchewan, she volunteered for numerous boards and organizations including the 2003 Grey Cup, the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, TCU Financial Group and the Society of Management Accountants of Saskatchewan, serving as its President in 2007.  In 2007, Karen was conferred a Fellow of The Society of Management Accountants of Canada for her contributions to her community, her employer and the accounting profession.  She has continued her volunteer work in the Cowichan Valley and is proud to serve Vancouver Island University.

Jean Crowder, Vice-Chair

Jean Crowder is a retired Member of Parliament for the Government of Canada, where she served over 10 years. Prior to serving as a Member of Parliament she was a City Councillor for North Cowichan. Active in her community, Ms. Crowder is a Board Director for Providence Village Housing Society, and has been Chair of Volunteer Cowichan, United Way and the Pacific Childcare Society. She holds a Bachelors Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Linda Derksen

Dr. Linda Derksen has been a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Vancouver Island University since 2003. She earned her PhD in Sociology and Science Studies from the University of California at San Diego, where she was supported by over $190,000 in Canadian and American scholarships. She also holds a BA and MA in Sociology from the University of Alberta. She boasts an impressive scholarly publication record in front line journals including the American Sociological Review, the Encyclopedia of Sociology, Social Studies of Science, Implementation Science, Nursing Research and more. Her research interests are diverse, including the history of DNA profiling, the CSI effect, knowledge utilization, hierarchical linear modelling, seniors’ caregiving networks, and bibliometric analysis. One of her early (1993) publications on recycling behaviour has been cited over 500 times, and has influenced recycling policies worldwide. Dr. Derksen has volunteered her time to do community-based research, including Nanaimo's "Safer City" initiative, and as lead researcher on the successful Gabriola Island Transportation survey.

Chair of the Department of Sociology from 2005-2011, Dr. Derksen is an experienced leader, bringing to the board expertise in governance, leadership, data collection and analysis, organizational knowledge diffusion, and a deep understanding of the role of universities in contemporary society. She is passionate about the unique learning experiences VIU provides, and is unwaveringly committed to her students’ success. She has mentored many of Sociology’s most successful students, including a former student who won VIU’s 2016 Distinguished Alumni Early Achievement Award.

Colin Gabelmann

Born in London, England in 1944, Colin Gabelmann moved to Osoyoos, BC with his mother in 1947 where he grew up on an orchard with five siblings.  He attended Elementary school in Osoyoos, High School (Grades 10 to 13) in Oliver, and UBC (1964-1967) though he did not complete a BA.  Gabelmann worked for BC New Democratic Party (1967-70) and the BC Federation of Labour (1970-1972; 1976-1978).  He was elected MLA in North Vancouver Seymour in 1972 and elected MLA in the North Island from 1979-1996.  Gabelmann also served as BC’s Attorney General from 1991-1995; worked as an advisor for two Coast Salish First Nations (1997-2002); and has served on various Boards including Pacific Racing Association, The Land Conservancy, John Howard Society North Island (currently) and John Howard Society BC (currently). His interests include reading, public policy, gardening, travelling, kayaking and skiing.

John Alan Jack

John Alan Jack was born and raised in the Oceanside area of Vancouver Island. He graduated from what is now Vancouver Island University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Distinction in the interdisciplinary field of Global Studies. John is a three term elected Councillor for the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, a member-nation of the modern Maa-nulth Treaty. He also represents his First Nation on the Board of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, where has has also served as its Chair since December 2016. He lives in French Creek with his wife and two daughters.

Louise Mandell, Chancellor

For three decades Louise Mandell has devoted her professional life to the advancement of Canada’s Aboriginal and Treaty rights. She was one of the founding members of the Mandell Pinder law firm, which began in 1983 with a focus on assisting Aboriginal peoples to achieve recognition of their title and rights and to develop prosperous, sustainable communities. Since then she has devoted her efforts to implementing constitutional change, and has been one of the major conceptual thinkers in the area of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. She has made presentations to Standing Committees of the House of Commons and has been a regular speaker on every aspect of native rights at conferences – both nationally and internationally.

Mandell is an engaging public speaker and writer and is committed to passing on her knowledge through her involvement in continuing legal education workshops and forums. Mandell received a Degree in Education at UBC before graduating from Law School, and was selected by UBC Faculty of Law as one of the two outstanding alumni from each decade. In 2013, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs honoured Louise by creating “The Louise Mandell Legal Research Collection”. In 1997 Mandell was appointed Queen’s Counsel and in 2001 was awarded the Georges Goyer Q.C. Memorial Award for exceptional contribution to the development of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights jurisprudence across the country. On January 1, 2011, Mandell moved out of the day-to-day practice of law – she remains connected in the esteemed capacity of ‘partner emeritus’ to the firm.

Manley McLachlan, Chair

Manley McLachlan served as President for the BC Construction Association for many years. Under his leadership, BCCA developed the Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP) which includes the Immigrant Skilled Trades Employment Program, Step for Women, Aboriginal Skilled Trades Employment Program and the EU STEP program. Prior to joining the BC Construction Association, Mr. McLachlan managed the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA) for nine years. At SCA, he promoted the implementation of information technology solutions for membership and led “Project Cornerstones”, a ground-breaking restructuring initiative designed to address change across the industry. Mr. McLachlan previously worked as an excavation and trenching contractor and a sales manager in both the automotive and communications industries.

Active in his community, Mr. McLachlan is the past Co-Chair of the Vancouver Aboriginal Strategic Employment Partnership ASEP Training Society, director for the Council of Construction Associations, the Canadian Council for Innovation in Construction and a committee member for the Innovation committee and the Human Resource committee for the Canadian Construction Association. He served on several not-for-profit organizations such as the United Way and the Canadian Diabetes Association. Mr. McLachlan holds his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Saskatchewan.

Emmy Manson

Emmy Manson is a proud Snuneymuxw member and the Wellness Administrator of Snuneymuxw First Nation. Previously Ms. Manson was an Indigenous Navigator at Vancouver Island University and a Mental Wellness Advisor with First Nation Healthy Authority. Active in her community, she is an Elected Councillor and Team Caption of the Block Watch for the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Ms. Manson holds a Masters and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria.

Dr. Deborah Saucier, President

Dr. Deborah (Deb) Saucier became President and Vice-Chancellor of Vancouver Island University in July 2019. An experienced administrator, accomplished neuroscientist and devoted educator, Saucier is deeply committed to student success, Indigenous education, reconciliation and community engagement. For more information on President Saucier, please visit


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