Blog - The Raven Speaks

2018 Instructor Insider

You know them as technical rescue professionals, but Raven Rescue instructors are a diverse bunch spread across Canada and involved with a variety of charitable causes and pastimes.

Here's our annual Instructor Insider scoop, to give you the behind-the-scenes on the "real lives" of your Raven Rescue instrutors (and visit the "our instructors" page to learn more about the professional backgrounds of each instructor).


Walter Bucher: 2017 was a mixed bag for me. While many of our instructors were bringing new family members into the world and their homes, I was nudging my second son out into the world on his own. Overall, now that I'm well into my sixth decade, I am on a mission to work a little less and play a little more. Work-wise, I hope to teach more SRS courses this year. It is a course very near and dear to me. I believe we place a huge amount of value on the technical “hard” skills but often neglect the value of the “soft” people skills. These skills are very critical in ensuring good outcomes in any operational situation and the mark of a true professional.  Looking forward to going biking, paddling, running and skiing with our instructors on their home turf in 2018.



Ron Morrison: While not working I was busy packing in some quality time with my family including a surfing trip to Tofino, Sea Kayaking trip in the Broken Group and many great days in the hills hiking and snowboarding.  I also enjoyed putting some miles on my bike touring the north.   






Dan Kirvan: I will send a few photos, but between splitting time between a new born and a 3.5 year old, things are a little busy.  This has been a watershed year in that I can finally introduce Hazel to the things I (and hopefully "we") love.  This is a picture of Bob Butler (future Raven water and ice instructor) and myself with Isabelle and Hazel on the wall...good times.



Tim Wheeler: 2016 wrapped up nicely....oh....... it's 2018 already? thanks.....  sorry, 2017 wrapped up nicely.  Great things happened and lots was accomplished. Much time was spent outdoors doing different things in fun places with family and friends.  2018 looks much the same, dividing time between family, volunteering and work.  We continue to host our winter Saturday Finnish pancake brunch with friends after some hard nordic skiing in the morning, followed by more skiing, sledding or saunaing in the afternoons. We are looking forward to hosting the Strathcona Nordic Ski Team for the Nordic Ski Nations being held where we live in Lappe, just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario.  With the winter season in full swing planning has started for the first signs of melting snow when the paddling season starts up again.  Professionally I will continue to guide, teach and instruct and am very excited about every opportunity I have to do so.


Craig Gerrard: 2017 was a year full of new discoveries, watching this wee one grow and explore her new world.







Travis Finlayson: 2017 was a very busy year for me here at Raven Rescue. I had the privilege of working in eight different provinces and two territories. I got to visit and work in some very special locations and met many amazing people. For me this is one of the benefits of working full time for Raven. When I'm not leading courses for Raven, I can usually be found out paddling or, once the snow falls, in the backcountry in the hunt for some powder. In August my family and I did a ten day canoe trip up on the Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan. In 2018 we are planning a friends trip on the Blood Vein River, as well as a surf trip to the island of Hawaii. 



Kit Little: My two boys and firefighting with District of North Vancouver, continue to keep me very busy.







Todd Sikorsky: I will be continuing my journey with my new found friend (see photo at left) and trying to make outstanding beer.







Chad Guenter: Non-Raven life includes a lot of paddling (SUP) and ​volunteer time with KCPO. We have an ever increased focus on expanding into BC in 2018 and we are hopeful for NWT as well! One day we'll have events accessible in all reaches of the country!  Keep Calm/Paddle On is a community - we host ​Stand Up Paddle events, races, expeditions and days where we just get out on the water. Why? We do it to bring awareness to the importance of Mental Health and to build a support system for those that need it most! Check out or, and visit us on facebook at



Rob Vance: The Peel Watershed was calling the Vances in 2017 and a trip on the Wind River was in sight.  We hit a small, AMAZING hiccup in the spring - we found out Chloe would be 4 months pregnant at the time of the trip and she would unfortunately have to delay her next journey to the Peel Watershed.  Rob had an amazing week on the Wind, followed by a week relaxing and biking in Whitehorse and then a few days at the head office in Smithers - visiting, fishing and biking.  Quinn Ember Elizabeth was born on November 24th and we're already looking forward to sharing our love of the outdoors and rivers with her.



Fank SwansonToo busy having adventures!


Garth Lemke: I spent January in Japan teaching avalanche courses for the Canadian Avalanche Association in partnership with Japan Avalanche Network. I made many friends, tried exotic foods, and experienced ‘JaPow’. My summer was extremely busy manning Jasper National Park particularly with the increased visitation from free Canada 150 park passes. The summer was a blur. Travel safe my friends. Garth ‘G-man’ Lemke.





Lalo Ruiz: When I wasn't teaching whitewater rescue, I tried to stay busy playing outdoors.  If I’m not whitewater kayaking, I’m on my mountain bike which has been taking more of my time lately. In the winter, lots of XC ski on the Gatineau hills, and this march I’m heading to Northern Quebec to do some backcountry skiing, on the Gaspei in the chic chocs mountains... and yet I still feel I could use more time to play.





Scott Brady: 2017 was packed with adventure! I spent the cold months warming up my legs on some Eastern hills for a great week skiing in Revelstoke. Once the weather warmed up, it was off to the Grand Canyon for a two week trip on the Colorado River, followed up by a few shorter trips back on the rivers of Quebec. Looking forward to learning about “family” adventures in 2018! 





Chris Burnham: 2017 has been yet another busy year for my wife and I here in Banff. Our whitewater rafting business Chinook Rafting continues to grow. I also a busy first year training and responding as a member of the Banff Volunteer Fire Dept. Currently we’re in the middle of a house renovation, but still finding time to hit the ski slopes, go SUPing in Tofino, and squeeze in some mountain biking. Looking forward to seeing you all on an SRT or IRT course in 2018!





Andre Guindon: 2017 was lots of fun, some good fishing, hunting and canoe trips.  So far winter is snowy... it's been great for ripping around with the dogs.  The plan for 2018 is more of the same.






Jeff Anderson: This past year, I was glued to my jet boat when the salmon were running in the river. I was also busy working in freshwater conservation, where I am tasked with protecting freshwater resources to ensure Canadians always have a place to play. 






Steve Ruskay: 2017 again took me to some of the most remote and beautiful corners of the world. I spent 6 weeks guiding and exploring the incredible Ice Fjords of Northeast Greenland by kayak. And of course, enjoying my own back yard and the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay Ontario. In 2018, I look forward to continuing my service with the local volunteer fire department, more expedition kayaking in Greenland, taking photos, buzzing around in a Cessna, and another fabulous year teaching for Raven Rescue. 




Kirstin Thompson: Keeping busy with this little dude enjoying all the adventures possible.







Paul Carus: We moved houses, and boy was that a mission - now the excitement of renovation, yay! Did some leisurely narrow boat canal cruising over the pond with the family. Whistler winter adventures are showing off the ice caves and exploring the ice cap on snowmobile. Lots of hiking and ski touring are on the cards.






Jordan Thompson: 2017 was a great year for my family.... fishing, camping, hiking, and now skiing. Can’t wait to see what 2018 holds.







Steve Westlake: 2017 was focused and busy with new addition to my family.  Pretty excited to plan future river trips and adventures with my son!







Alle Jan de Vries: Our son arrived in the fall of 2017, and we’ve been enjoying hiking and ski touring with the little guy already this winter. I’m also spending more time at the fire hall as the new Assistant Chief Training Officer for Smithers Fire. 2018 should be another big year, with lots of skiing, climbing and hiking to be done!






Corey Gladish: What’s keeping things busy out East? Some biking, reading mermaid books while being in full character, and… just a little bit of hockey.




Colin SauretteToo busy having adventures!


Jim Douglas: 2017 has been a spectacular year! Watching my two kids lives unfold as they start adulthood, learning new skills in Confined Space Rescue, a great season rafting on the Thompson River, canyoneering Box/Monmouth Creeks, and jet skiing the Squamish/Elaho Rivers.  Lots of great travel on behalf of Raven Rescue, especially a trip to historic Uranium City. Lotsa fun! My peer-support role has expanded this year, when I became one of the Coordinators for the BCEHS CISM Group, which I plan on continuing after my planned retirement as a full-time Paramedic this spring 2018. After that, who knows where life will lead, but I plan on taking advantage of every opportunity.


Adam Joy: This has been a year of injury recovery with the main one being an Achilles rupture. The silver lining is that this has given me a lot of time to work on some projects in my shop. 2017 has been about letting my creative side flourish!






Thyren Garde-Jacobs: I'll be starting off 2018 with a bit of a trip to Spain, then back home to finish working on my new shop for all that rescue gear! Plan is to finish everything up from the spring by May when we have a trip to Africa with my parents planned - Safari!! Starting a kayak polo club in Victoria, so hopefully things keep coming along with some interest from local paddlers. Looking at a productive year with some plans to do some more international work in disaster response and training and maybe some whitewater international school programs. Thanks to everyone in the office for a great 2017 and looking forward to another busy and productive 2018!



Scott Brochu: 2017 and 2018 find my family and I working in Wellington New Zealand with Fire and Emergency New Zealand. I am doing a professional exchange to bring a "lessons learned" report back to Edmonton Fire upon my completion of a year-long exchange.






Tyler Dinsdale: While the rivers slowly freeze over here, Swiftwater Rescue instruction is taking a back burner. December 2017 I will finally be writing my final exams for what I have dubbed, “the world’s longest carpentry apprenticeship”.  Once that is behind me, I will be focusing on fun with the family, working like a working man, and gearing up for the 2018 whitewater season. 


Matt Kilback: 2017 was a busy year. I spent most of the summer finishing off construction projects which seems like are becoming fewer and farther between….. yaaaaa. Most of the summer days were filled up with family doing the thing we love to do like biking, hunting, fishing, camping and generally getting out in the wilderness. Late in the summer I went in for ACL surgery and since then have been working on my recovery and getting back to activities which I love doing. For the winter months I will continue to build strength on my knee with hopes of getting in the last couple months of the ski season on the hill.  All in all, I plan on slowing down in 2018 (which for me is not a reality) and spending more quality time with my wife and two boys. 



Kevin Knight: 2017 was a big year for me as my son Luke turned 13 and I turned 50!!!  I got to teach river rescue in the lowest and highest water, as well as snow and ice.  In the spring we took five weeks and went on a family trip hiking among the 8,000m mountains of Nepal and surfing in Sri Lanka.  In the summer, we took some of the 2,000 girl guides who invaded Smithers on some multi-day rafting trip.  I also got to enjoy my son starting to paddle his whitewater kayak - he got his roll down, and paddled some class 3.  I also completed my mountain bike instructor certification, and guided the BC bike ride during their stage in Smithers.  The fall saw my wife Mary and I biking in Moab.  

In 2018, I’m off in a couple weeks to take a five-day advanced avalanche course at a fly-in lodge in the northern Rockies.  In the summer, I hope to do a rafting/kayaking expedition on the Little Nahanni and finish building my ski chalet on our local mountain.


Ryan McLarty: 2017 was a very busy instructional year with the opportunity to meet many wonderful students along the way.  With five growing kids we had a very busy year of outdoor activity camping, biking, hiking and x-country skiing.  As I live in the interior of British Columbia it was interesting times with the fire situation.  The community I live in was heavily involved in the fire situation for the month of July.  I am again looking forward to the spring teaching session with a number of Wilderness first aid and Technical Rope Rescue courses lined up!  Here's hoping everyone has had an execellant 2017, and I look forward to reconnecting with students in 2018!




Jason Wolsky: This coming year, 2018, will see me continuing to work towards the completion of my Emergency and Disaster Management Certification.  I am also involved with Yukon Search and Rescue, and continue to help elevate their training standards and core competencies. I can be found in the winter months at our local ski hill, Mount Sima, supporting my kids as they enter the world of ski racing. 


Mar 23-25

Swiftwater Rescue Technician - Advanced

  • $649
  • Squamish, BC

April 4-7

Technical Rope Rescue - Technician

  • $895
  • Squamish, BC

April 5-7

Wilderness First Responder - Recertification

  • $449
  • Squamish, BC

April 6-7

Ice Rescue Technician

  • $399
  • Thunder Bay ON
See Full Schedule

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The Future Is YOW

January 14, 2019

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Adam Galbraith, Firefighter
Richmond Fire Department

As a full time firefighter in the lower mainland, I have been to many courses, and by far this one was one of the best! Craig Gerrard is born to do this. Not only is he a wealth of important knowledge, he is able to communicate this knowledge without ego, in a positive manner, that harbours a fun, challenging, and useful course.


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