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Our Team

Kristen Miskelly, MSc Biology, RPBio

Kristen is passionate about conservation and ecosystem restoration and particularly enthusiastic about native plants and native plant propagation. She is a biologist with specialty in the botany and ecology of southeastern Vancouver Island and is a co-founder of Saanich Native Plants. She did both her undergraduate work and Master of Science in Biology at the University of Victoria partnered with the Royal BC Museum. Her undergraduate honours work focused on grass taxonomy and her masters research used palynology, the study of pollen grains, to learn more about the ancient vegetation of southern Vancouver Island. After University, Kristen decided to start her dream job. Kristen loves her work and embraces collaboration with others to bring restoration projects to life! Away from the nursery, she helps coordinate the Haliburton Biodiversity Project and is on the Steering Committee for the Cascadia Prairie Oak Partnership. Kristen enjoys teaching a range of courses and workshops related to plant identification, botany, restoration, and propagation and currently teaches Ecosystem Design through Propagation of Native Plants at UVic.

James Miskelly, MSc Biology

James Miskelly is a co-founder of Saanich Native Plants and a biologist with expertise in Garry oak ecosystems, plants, insects, and restoration. James completed a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Victoria in 2004 focusing on butterflies and their habitat needs.   James has worked in various capacities specializing on rare plants and animals. He is a research associate at the Royal BC Museum in entomology with a particular interest in Canadian Orthoptera (crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids).  Currently, James works full time with Natural Resources Canada, helping to conserve and restore habitats and rare species on federal DND lands. James helps continually with consulting aspects of the nursery and managing the native seed fields as well as developing specialized seed mixes for customers.  

Josh Aitken

Hailing from rural Australia, Josh joined the Saanich Native Plants team in 2018 as the on-site manager of the native seed field at Fairfield Farm. Growing up working on farms, Josh brings much experience, expertise, ingenuity, and energy to growing native plants for seed. Josh spent several years with Cowichan Search and Rescue and is currently a member of Mill Bay Fire Department. When not working in the field, he can be found running the trails of Vancouver Island in preparation for his next ultra. 

Paige Erickson-McGee, BSc Geography, Diploma Enviro Tech

Paige brings her passion for conservation and enthusiasm for learning about native plants to the nursery officially in 2019 to support content development and media relations as the nursery grows. Paige grew up on Shawnigan Lake exploring nature with her dogs. In 2015 she completed her BSc in Geography at the University of Victoria, as well as the Environmental Technologist diploma at Camosun College. When not at the nursery, Paige works as the Stewardship Coordinator for Habitat Acquisition Trust, co-leads the Pollinator Stewardship for the Haliburton Farm Urban Biodiversity Enhancement and Restoration Project, and is co-chair of the Native Plant Study Group. 

Julia Daly,  BSc Geography, Diploma in Applied Coastal Ecology

With Saanich Native Plants since 2018, Julia has experience in plant identification, species at risk management, ecological restoration, and native plant gardening. She has always been passionate about plants, wildlife, and geography and now shares these interests with her two young children. Julia completed BSc in geography from the University of Victoria in 2012 and a diploma in applied coastal ecology from Northwest Community College in 2008. Julia is one of the friendly faces you will see at the nursery, always offering much-needed advice and guidance. 

Sasha Kubicek

Sasha is an amateur botanist with a special interest in orchids.   In addition to growing orchids, he has been exploring Vancouver Island for native orchid species (especially rare color forms), speaking at orchid societies and garden groups and protecting orchid habitats.  Through his orchid habitat work he has developed a deep passion and knowledge for our remaining wild places on Vancouver Island and the rare plants within them. 

An accountant by trade, Sasha co-manages Sea Bluff Farm with his wife Robin where he oversees the seed saving part of the farm.  The 10-acre certified organic vegetable farm grows over 40 different kinds of vegetables.  Sasha worked with H.A.T. and Saanich Native Plants to establish 600 foot of native pollinator hedge row and is actively rehabilitating the farms Garry Oak grove.  In his free time Sasha is an avid boulderer and explorer of wild places. 

Andrea Simmonds

Andrea holds her BA in Liberal Arts with Honours in Visual Art from Bishop's University.  She has wide-ranging interests from art, travel, and culture to biology, farming, and plants.   She has a respect for place-based knowledge and understanding the unique history of a landscape to inform planting and restoration choices.  To her, native plant gardening is a way of respecting the land and place we call home.  Andrea is a patient listener and helps customers with their project ideas and especially loves designing gardens. She also helps Kristen manage the day-to-day activities of the nursery. 

Daniela Toriola-Lafuente, PhD Ecology

Daniela moved to Victoria in 2012 and has worked with Saanich Native Plants since 2014. She obtained her BSc in natural sciences at the University of Lausanne and her PhD in tropical forest ecology at University of Paris VIShe balances work life with volunteering at the Royal BC Museum herbariumbeing a mother to two children, and enhancing her two-acre property in Metchosin with native plants. She loves propagating native plants and experiences great pleasure knowing these plants will thereafter thrive elsewherereassuring her that her work has a real and positive ecological impact. 


Steve Strybosch

Steve works regularly with Saanich Native Plants on installing native plant gardens and meadow restoration. He is passionate about landscaping and has a lifetime of Horticultural – Landscape experience, born and raised around his family’s landscape nursery business. Steve received a degree as a Landscape Horticulturist at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced learning in Ontario (1987). He is an experienced hard surface and soft landscaper, placing an emphasis on the preservation of the natural landscape, protection of native species, and water conservation. He has worked collaboratively with a variety of experts, including completing a 5-year project with renowned Landscape architects Anne James and Richard Haag from Seattle Washington and Dr Olaf Ribeiro, plant pathologist from Bainbridge Island, Washington.  Currently, he studies under Dr. Bryce Kendrick as an amateur mycologist and serves as a director at large for the South Vancouver Island Mycology Society. 

Beangka Elliott

Beangka Elliott is the daughter of master carver Charles Elliott from Tsartlip First Nation and Myrna Crossley from Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. She has grown up in the Tsartlip community and has been immersed in WSÁNEĆ family, culture and traditions. She is passionate about community work; social action initiatives; indigenous food systems; land stewardship and advocacy for shifting culture through consent-based practices and collective decision making. She grounds her work in her cultural values, social inclusion principles and decolonial learning. 

She has a diverse education and career background and dedicates her time to sharing traditional knowledges of Indigenous foods and medicines through workshop-based learning. She shares her passion for social justice and environmentalism by developing workshops and public lectures that inspire both Indigenous People and Canadian settlers to develop curiosity and understandings of the ongoing impacts of colonization. She strives for a shared vision of health and wellness for communities, and through collaboration, supporting the interests and goals of communities. Beangka started working at Saanich Native Plants in 2018 in propagation as well as providing workshops on a variety of topics. Beangka currently leads a suite of regular workshops at the nursery with a focus on Consent-based practices and Indigenous foods and food systems. 

Saanich Native Plants was the 2016 recipient of Saanich's Environmental Award in Business Achievement!

Read more about our work in this article by Focus Magazine

We are driven by a desire to make native plants and seeds readily available as a step towards conserving and celebrating the unique flora and ecology of southern Vancouver Island.

Students from Scian'ew First Nation (Beecher Bay) in the program Growing Our Futures, Royal Roads University. 

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