Our Consultants


Bear Smart BC consultants have brought together a group of personnel that can efficiently complete any wildlife conflict management project. We also have a cadre of specialists that we can draw upon for more complex projects. In addition, we provide the opportunity for students seeking a career in the natural resource field to particpate in the development of hazard assessments and management plan projects.


Crystal McMillan, MA

Executive Director


Crystal McMillan, founder and Executive Director of Bear Smart BC Consulting, Inc., is an award-winning leader in community bear management. She is well known for her ability to build high efficiency teams, and develop strong inter-governmental and First Nations partnerships. Ms. McMillan holds a Masters Degree in Leadership from Royal Roads University (Victoria, BC); specializing in problem solving, systems thinking, conflict resolution and organizational change. Crystal’s Leadership Major Project titled “Bear Smart in BC - An Interim Analysis of Effectiveness”, was sponsored by the BC Ministry of Environment. Ms. McMillan is also the author of several municipal bear hazard assessments and human-bear conflict management plans, all of which have been successfully implemented.

Crystal is highly experienced with local/provincial government policies and procedures with regard to effectively implementing sustainable wildlife conservation programs. She is a skilled educator using appropriate methods, media, and formats to generate a greater understanding of the core issues, and is experienced and successful at fundraising from official bodies, non-governmental organizations, the community, and the general public. Crystal’s success lies in her ability to motivate, empower, inform and inspire organizations and others to build healthier human-bear relationships that are critical to reducing conflict. Ms. McMillan also explores and understands the philosophical foundations of important research methods and their relation to leadership and knowledge creation. Crystal is the recipient of the 2006 Citizen of the Year Award (Ucluelet) and a Premier’s Award for Excellence and Innovation (2008) for her efforts in this role. Crystal also has 26 years experience in small business management, a diploma in Holistic Nutrition, and is a certified Yoga Instructor.  


Rhy McMillan, PhD Candidate
Pacific for Isotopic and Geochemical Research
Department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
University of British Columbia

Director of Human Dimension Research, Environmental Scientist
 
Rhy's primary interest is helping archaeologists and palaeontologists better understand, describe, evaluate, and explain temporal relationships both within and between assemblages of exhumed osseous objects. As a multidisciplinary researcher, he takes a taphonomic approach to this objective by focusing on the stratigraphic provenance of excavated bones, their preservation states, and their values of both relative and numerical time. This requires closely examining fossilisation within the Quaternary, including the relationships between the diagenetic alteration of Pleistocene bone, its sedimentary context, and its degree and type of fossilisation.

During his undergraduate degree at Vancouver Island University (Anthropology/Earth Science), he completed two senior projects from this perspective. At Scladina Cave, Belgium, he analysed the spatial relationships of differentially altered bone (meso-scale) in relation to their stratigraphic contexts as part of the development of a new tool for archaeologists and palaeontologists to evaluate the relative ages of out-of-context objects. He then supported the concept further by collecting geochemical data via LA-ICP-MS on the same material and used it to assess the attributions made during the meso-scale study. Both projects yielded a high enough degree of success to prompt additional analyses.

His research at UBC under the supervision of Dr. Dominique Weis and Dr. Marg Amini will explore the same subjects; he will be analysing the chemical and isotopic characteristics of fossilised bones and their surrounding sediment with LA-ICP-MS to further our understanding of their application to provenance studies, as well as to support the newly developed meso-scale method that has been developed for archaeological and palaeontological analyses​​

Rhy was a member of the VIU Research Ethics Board in 2012, and is TCPS2 certified for ethical conduct during research involving human subjects. This qualifies him to direct the human dimensions research for Bear Smart BC, Inc., which is necessary for understanding the risk (hazard x consequence) of wildlife-human interaction and conflict. Also, because of his education in the Earth Sciences, Rhy is an essential part of the field team at Bear Smart BC and is integral during the interpretation of observations made of the natural environment.


Deb Van Rijt

Administrative Assistant


Coming from Canmore, Alberta, Deb’s interest in bears comes from many years of living next to the Rocky Mountains and experiencing their natural beauty while gaining a healthy respect for the local wildlife – including the black and grizzly bear. This knowledge comes from years of experience in the tourism industry in Canmore, offering travellers information on how to explore the area safely so that they might enjoy the natural beauty while respecting the wildlife within the local ecosystem.

Deb’s experience in the tourism industry in the area surrounding Canmore comes from her twelve years of owning and operating a family run bed and breakfast, the Kiska Inn.  She was responsible for both the administrative and operational aspects of the business. She oversaw the day-to-day activities of the business, employing time management and organizational skills to prioritize tasks to maintain operating efficiency.  This also included managing staff, financial operations, and marketing for the business.

Now having the opportunity to live on Vancouver Island, Deb has become deeply concerned with, and connected to, the regional environment and its sustainability.  She recognizes a need for the public’s education on such matters and is very excited to be a part of the Bear Smart BC team, offering her skills as Administrative Assistant within the organization.