Board of Directors

We are a group of neighbourhood (Burnaby and New Westminster) residents who cherish the Cariboo Heights forest. In 100 years, we envision the Cariboo Heights forest to be a thriving mature forest, treasured by the community as a place to connect with nature and learn about our local history—a refuge for both people and wildlife.


Aruna NB KhanAruna NB Khan, Co-President

I was born on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago, surrounded by lush natural beauty.  I moved to Canada in the late 1970’s when I was 8 years old and was mesmerized by the different kind of natural beauty that the Pacific Northwest so majestically showcased. I have witnessed the landscape of Vancouver change over the past 4 decades.

For the past 15 years, I have had the special privilege of having my backyard border onto Cariboo Heights forest. As a mother, an active member of my community and a Realtor®, my goal is to continually strive for sustainable balance. The overall wellness and strength of my community is extremely important to me. Preserving this historic, biodiverse forest is a critical part of our city’s future and all its future generations to come. I am committed to ensuring that this forest will always be a place of beauty, serenity, intrigue and wellness.

I obtained my Bachelor of Commerce Degree from UBC, majoring in marketing, my Diploma in Design at the Blanche MacDonald Institute and then my License in Real Estate Trading Services from UBC’s Sauder School of Business. I am passionate about using art as a vehicle for social change. It was a true honour to be part of our art card project.


Utta GagelUtta Gagel, Co-President

I grew up in Vancouver and have always loved spending time in nature. I studied zoology at UBC, worked as a park naturalist in Jasper and Kootenay National Parks and then began my career as a public school teacher, teaching both secondary and elementary grades.

The Cariboo Heights forest is a natural treasure. I live one block away and walk through the forest almost every day. The native plants, wildlife and birds that live in this forest are a joy! Although I have lived here for 31 years, it was only a few years ago that I learned that the forest was not protected. So, I joined the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society. I am passionate about educating the community about the biodiversity of this urban forest and the benefits of preserving it for future generations. I hope my photographs help people value this special place.


David HodgeDavid Hodge, Treasurer

I was born in England during the short reign of King Edward VIII and grew up in suburban south London during  World-War II. After graduating from high school, the 1950’s found me doing two years of (mandatory) army service. This consisted of being assigned as a clerk in my unit’s accounting office. Being a clerk was preferable to infantry duties, and does perhaps now ‘account’ for my qualifying to serve as this group’s treasurer!

During these years, vacations and weekends would usually find me roaming the English countryside by foot or bicycle. This was the beginning of a life-long love affair with the natural world.

In the 1960’s, seeking opportunity and adventure, I moved to Canada, knowing enough to come directly to BC! I was able to become an established Burnaby home owner but the outdoors always called. Many miles were driven to various parts of the Pacific Northwest, my boots tramped many alpine trails and my tent graced many wilderness campsites. Recently, I have come to appreciate the undeveloped wild areas of Burnaby which literally are on my doorstep. So, I work for its preservation and feel blessed by the  friendships made within the Cariboo Heights Preservation Society. My faith and secular beliefs drive my passion for social justice and environmental protection.


Carol Chrisjohn

The ‘little forest’ for me means sanctuary. I walk there when I need to think. I walk there when I need space. I walk there when technology is just too much and, of course, I walk there to appreciate nature and to exercise my dog, Twix. It renews my spirit. My background is in live theatre where I have been a stage manager and production manager for many years, working in the dark. Now retired, I love to spend time in the light, outdoors mainly in my yard and garden.

In 2019 I was privileged to walk 250 kms of the Camino in Spain and I’m sure my forays through the Cariboo Heights forest helped me get in shape both physically and mentally for that journey.  I’ve walked in the forest now for 25+ years and pray it is there for at least 125 more!


Ron Senko

Ron Senko

I have lived in Burnaby since 1955—then a land of forests and farms. Now it is more cement and glass. I fought to save Burnaby Lake in the 1970’s. We need to protect greenery!

The Cariboo Heights forest needs protection from development as it provides a home to many creatures and tranquillity for humans.



LorraineLorraine Grout

I was born in Penticton, BC and grew up in Vancouver. I worked in the nursing profession for 35 years before retiring in 2018. I currently live in Burnaby with my partner and our collie Maisie.

I became involved with the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society in 2019 after noticing invasive plants in an adjacent forest. I believe strongly in protecting and preserving our forests and other wild areas. With human activity, fires and climate change, our forests are becoming fewer and smaller as time goes on. We need to preserve and restore natural habitat in order to support native plant and animal species.

The Cariboo Heights forest is a precious piece of wilderness in a busy urban setting which we, as local citizens, can help support and protect for the benefit of all.


ClaireClaire Preston

I grew up in Metro Vancouver and as a child always had green spaces like the Cariboo Heights forest available to me so I know how important they are for a community. I worry about the dwindling amounts of green space in Metro Vancouver neighbourhoods and the effect it has on people’s physical and mental health. It is important that we balance residential with green spaces for the sake of both our health and that of the ecosystem.

I joined the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society in January of 2019, after they had reached out to me while I was running for Burnaby City Council. I was moved by their passion and saw how vital the work they were doing is to the Cariboo Heights community. I consider my role within this society as assisting with advocacy with the City and raising awareness with residents in the community.


Benny OgdenBenny Ogden

My interest in the environment comes from a concern over sustainability. I have previously been involved in diverting food waste from landfills—a program that reduced CO2 emissions comparable to taking about 100 cars off the road. I have also had a hand in building a cob house in Stanley Park. I am currently involved politically and the environment is one of my top issues.




Matthew Syvenky
I moved to Burnaby when I was 5, and since then have been strongly influenced by the city’s parks and natural spaces. I am an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University, where I am studying Resource and Environmental Management. The forests of British Columbia have always been where I felt most at home, and the Cariboo Heights Forest is a unique example of this. I can take a quick walk from my front door and find myself surrounded by towering trees and thriving wildlife in minutes. This forest is being encroached by urban development, yet I easily forget this is the case when I walk through the trails and find myself lost in thought watching the woodpeckers or admiring the spring wildflowers. I aspire to maintain the health and biodiversity of this uniquely urban yet wild ecosystem, and hope to inspire others to do the same.