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In August 2022, Free the Fern Stewardship Society officially incorporated as a nonprofit. We have a talented and diverse board of directors. Directors help with event planning, fundraising, invasive removal and more! See below to learn more about our directors.

Grace Nombrado

Founder & President

Before moving to Champlain Heights and falling in love with stewardship and native plants in 2020, Grace with an elementary teacher specializing in teaching kids with learning disabilities. Now, she uses her teaching skills to plan Free the Fern events and workshops. In addition to planning events, Grace manages the free the fern website, writes emails, applies for grants, trains volunteers, and much more! Grace also works part-time for the Invasive Species Society of Metro Vancouver as their Communications Coordinator. She has a secret passion for photography, and many of her photos can be found on the Free the Fern website and Instagram. In addition, Grace enjoys reading and collecting books, and, in 2021, she created a Free the Fern lending library. Grace has a passion for bringing community together using stewardship and art. She hopes that Free the Fern’s stewardship effort will help restore and protect the Champlain Heights trail system for future generations to enjoy.

Martin Collins

Vice President

Martin Collins has been a resident at Alexander Laidlaw Housing Co-op in Champlain Heights for the past 30-years.  In 2015, he moved to his current unit in the co-op, abutting the public Champlain Heights Trail system. Since that time, Martin has been busy clearing invasive weeds and planting native plants, both in his yard and on and in the public trails. In 2021 Martin joined Free the Fern to work together with other volunteers to steward the Champlain Heights Trail system. Martin’s passion is to reestablish the ecological food web on the trails, so as to improve insect and bird habitat and make the area more resilient to climate change. He is employed by the Province of British Columbia as Regional Planner for the Agricultural Land Commission. Martin is interested in engaging and educating the public about the important benefits of having a healthy ecosystem.

Joe Boyd


Joe Boyd has lived in Champlain Heights for 25 years. He enjoys exploring the natural world around him, by foot and by bike, and has been involved with environmental stewardship initiatives in Everett Crowley Park and the Still Creek and Guichon Creek watersheds. Joe is an active community volunteer. He serves on the board of Free the Fern Stewardship Society as Treasurer and on the board of Still Moon Arts Society as a Director at Large. Joe also works at BCIT, where he is Chair of the Bicycling Committee and a member of the Green Team Executive. Joe has a special skill for turning invasive English ivy into beautiful handwoven baskets. In 2022, he taught several weaving with ivy workshops for the public, and his ivy basket lanterns were displayed at both the Moon Fest (Still Moon Arts Society) and will be displayed at Light up the Night in Champlain Heights (Free the Fern).

Catherine Munn

Interim Secretary

Catherine Munn, originally from Regina, Saskatchewan, is an experienced landscaper. Catherine worked for seven years as a landscaper for Wascana Centre Authority, a large city parkland in Regina Saskatchewan. After moving to Vancouver, Catherine worked, from 1988-2009, as a Horticultural Landscape Technician for several local landscape companies. In 2007, Catherine received training at Gaia College in Burnaby and became a certified Ecological Landscape Steward. Having been a member of the Maple St. Co-operative Garden and the Pinestreet Community Garden in Kitsilano since 1997, Catherine learned how vital community gardens are for building friendships, strengthening organic gardening skills and demonstrating the importance of food security. In 2019, she moved to the beautiful, forested neighbourhood of Champlain Heights. Catherine is passionate about working together with Free the Fern and the local community to remove invasive plants and replant native plants.

Damian Assadi

Director at Large

Damian Assadi is a life-long resident of Champlain Heights, so it is no surprise that his love for plant ecology began as a child playing in this neighborhood’s urban forests. Now, Damian is a Forestry undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia, studying Natural Resources Conservation and learning how we can live in reciprocity with nature. His passion for park stewardship began in 2019, and he has since contributed over 1300 volunteer hours with organizations like the Invasive Species Council of BC and Stanley Park Ecology Society. He is the Chair of the Everett Crowley Park Committee and a Board Director for the Champlain Heights Community Association. Damian eagerly joined Free the Fern in early 2021 to support local stewardship, and has secured two community service grants for these efforts. As a witness of Free the Fern’s roots, he can proudly attest to how the Red Alder Trail has already transformed because of the community. When Damian isn’t wrangling invasive plants, he draws, paints, and also writes heartfelt guitar love songs about trees.

Anne Banner

Director at Large

Anne Banner, a Saskatchewan prairie girl, has been a Champlain Heights resident for 30 years. Volunteering has been a big part of her life. Her neighbourhood volunteer jobs include: Champlain Heights Main School, The Royal Arch Masonic Home, Matheson Heights Co-op and the Evert Crowley Park Committee. She has been a member of Free the Fern since they founded in early 2021.  Before retiring, she was the owner of Salmagundi West Antiques in Gastown. A graduate of Emily Carr University. Anne is the proud mom of identical twin daughters who are career women in Toronto.  You’ll find Anne most days in her home studio painting, writing or playing the piano. 

Erin Knock

Director at Large

Knock is originally from Nova Scotia and has lived in Champlain Heights since 2016. She is a scientist by trade, focused on human cellular biology but with a special place in her heart for plant biology and ecosystems. Her science career has taken her all over Canada and to the UK, working in Montreal, Toronto and Cambridge, England before moving to Vancouver. She is currently the Associate Director of Neural Biology at STEMCELL Technologies, where she leads a team making tools for life science and stem cell research. She became involved in Free the Fern due to the interest of her two children, Liam and Connor, in stewardship events at Everett Crowley Park. Liam in particular has a passion for learning about native and invasive species and is always up for pulling up ivy! Now you can find Erin and her family walking their dog Riker in the park and helping out with weed pulls and planting along the trails.

Robin Poirier-Vasic

Director at Large

Robin Poirier-Vasic has lived all over Canada, including Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario, before moving to British Columbia in 1998. She has been a resident in Champlain Heights since 2015.  In 2021, after meeting Grace Nombrado while walking the trails, Robin became involved with Free the Fern.  She has enjoyed learning about native plants and loves to give back to the Champlain Heights Community.  Now you can find Robin on many weekends pulling invasive species with other Free the Fern directors and volunteers.


Kiki Nombrado

Artist in Residence

Kiki Nombrado has been a resident of Kinross Creek Co-op in Champlain Heights since 2020. By day, Kiki is an informatics nurse. At night, she spends her time crafting and creating art. In January 2021, when Free the Fern first formed, Kiki was an integral force behind the scenes. She created the Free the Fern website, designing the logo, and created signage. In the spring of 2021, Kiki painted hundreds of birds for Free the Fern’s Art for Plant Fundraiser. She also started the Free the Fern Instagram account and continues to manage it today. In December 2022, for Free the Fern’s event, Light up the Night in Champlain Heights, Kiki built butterfly, stained glass, and animal lanterns for display along the Red Alder Trail. She also brought together local artists to teach lantern building skills. In addition to crafting, Kiki also performed the glockenspiel at several Free the Fern events. She likes to always challenge herself to learn new art forms and instruments.

Members & Volunteers

Beyond our board directors, we have a dedicated group of 8 other Free the Fern members who regularly attend meetings, help with event planning and execution.

In addition, Free the Fern has a list of 93 volunteers who have helped with invasive pulls, planting or event set-up/clean-up.