Who We Are

About Us

Backcountry Women was founded in 2017 with the vision of connecting like-minded people seeking community and adventure. Today, Backcountry Women has blossomed into a strong community of outdoors people across Manitoba.

Not only does Backcountry Women aim to provide unique, quality outdoor experiences, we also have a mandate to unite, educate, and empower through a variety of workshops and resources.

Backcountry Women believes in a judgment free space for a diverse group of women and marginalized genders to encourage and build each other up through the power of the great outdoors.

We offer a variety of events throughout every season in a positive welcoming space for both members and non-members to encourage continual growth, learning, and connection. We make spending time outside easier, so pack your bag and leave the organizing to us!

Why Choose Backcountry Women?

Our Backcountry Women Advocates (volunteer event leaders & coordinators) bring a wealth of experience, skills, and interests to the events and activities that are created for you. You will notice consistencies among the planning and safety policies to bring you the best quality events possible.

Our Advocate team is composed of certified Field Leaders through the Outdoor Council of Canada which helps us with:

  • Combining the right activity with the right people for both safety and enjoyment
  • Focus on building safe and rewarding outdoor experiences
  • Complex challenges and unexpected situations that can arise while in the outdoors 
  • Environmental responsibility
  • Inspecting venues prior to events taking place

Backcountry Women is Manitoba-born and we know our "backyard" best!

Meet Our Team

Backcountry Women is passionate about representing outdoor leadership and using our skills for building up others through the outdoors. We are supported largely by our volunteer event leaders & coordinators (AKA Backcountry Women Advocates). Get to know more about our team, below!

Ashley Moore Email
Founder of Backcountry Women
Photo Credit: Canstar Community News

Ashley's love for the outdoors began while growing up in a small town where socializing often included backyard bonfires and riding her bike to visit friends. She spent summers with her family camping in a tent trailer around Manitoba. She continued to explore the outdoors through downhill skiing, hiking, biking, and various other outdoor activities as an adult with her husband, Adam. Her love of adventure blossomed while spending time in the Canadian Rockies while living in Alberta for 4 years. 

Although her favorite adventure partner is still Adam, Ashley learned it is hard to bribe unwilling girlfriends to join her on similar adventures. Realizing that other women felt the same and were seeking connection and community, she founded Backcountry Women in 2017.

Ashley is often found at one of the many Backcountry Women activities which is her favourite part of running the organization. She enjoys sharing her skills and experience with others and encourages stepping outside of comfort zones.

Through the Outdoor Council of Canada, Ashley became certified as a Hiking Field Leader in 2018 and completed the winter, paddling and overnight training modules in 2020. Ashley also certified in Wilderness First Aid in 2019.

Christina Hiebert Email
Team Leader

Christina is a country girl at heart. School breaks during childhood were spent on her grandparents farm in Whitebeech, Saskatchewan where she played in the bush, swam in the creek, and helped with farm chores. As a Royal Canadian Sea Cadet during her youth, she took part in wilderness survival training and learned to hike and backpack. 

Through different twists and turns in life, Christina spent less time outdoors as a young adult. She rediscovered camping when she met her husband, Darcy. With a holistic focus on taking care of her mental health, Christina began to hike and backpack again. Nature has provided a space for her to heal and grow.

She is passionate about advocating for mental health and has a desire to help other women see what is possible for themselves through connecting with nature. Christina very much enjoys sharing outdoor adventures with her daughter, passing on skills and knowledge, and is eager to continue learning more. 

Through the Outdoor Council of Canada, she became certified as a Hiking Field Leader with the winter and overnight training modules in 2020. She is certified in Wilderness First Aid as of 2019.

Jessica Burtnick Email
Team Leader

A biophiliac by nature, Jessica has always felt most at peace in the great outdoors. Born and raised in Winnipeg, she’s lived and travelled extensively throughout Canada, having road-tripped, camped, hiked and hitchhiked her way to all three border oceans. She holds a degree in wildlife biology, is a classically-trained photojournalist and the former Photo Editor of Canadian Geographic.

She has guided bear-based adventures for the better part of a decade in the Great Bear Rainforest, B.C. and in Churchill, Manitoba — where she continues to moonlight as an adventure leader and guide for media guests and film crews.

In her free time, Jessica can most often be found hiking through the wilds of Manitoba in thongs — more widely and acceptably known as “flip flops”, so she’s told — with her best hiking buddy, Reggie the Siberian husky.

Jessica holds Professional Adventure Leader, Commercial Bear-Viewing Guide, and Photo Specialist Guide designations and is certified in Wilderness First Aid.

Keli Hutton  Email

Keli grew up camping and instilled the love of the outdoors in her own children. During the years that she camped with them, they worked their way across Canada visiting and exploring every province. Now that her children have grown up, she looks forward to sharing outdoor adventures with her grandchildren. 

Her favourite activities are kayaking, snowshoeing, and hiking. She enjoys yoga and playing Pickleball when she is in town. Since Keli's retirement, she has sought out new activities to keep herself active, healthy, and to meet new friends. She enjoys the opportunities offered by Backcountry Women and is excited to be part of the team. 

Through the Outdoor Council of Canada, she became certified as a Hiking Field Leader with the Winter module in 2020.

Kerry St George Email

Kerry is an avid outdoors-woman, who steps foot in a Provincial Park most weekends. In the winter she loves to cross-country ski, and in the spring, summer, and fall she enjoys hiking and backpacking. 

She has taken her love of hiking around the world to places such as Chile, Peru, and on the West Coast Trail. Kerry volunteers leading day hikes for Skyline Hikers of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta.

When she is not outdoors, she is a Physiotherapist at the Wellness Institute. She is enthusiastic about bringing her love of the outdoors to Backcountry Women.

Through the Outdoor Council of Canada, she became certified as a Hiking Field Leader with winter and overnight training modules in 2020. She is also certified in Wilderness First Aid.

Patti Phillips
(Explore Life Coaching)

Patti has extensive experience guiding people to connect with nature in a way that supports their healing and growth journey. She worked with youth at risk for twenty years and it was then that she witnessed the incredible therapeutic value of playing and being outdoors. 

She is Manitoba’s first Certified Forest Therapy Guide. The women’s retreats she offers in Pinawa, where prairie meets the forest, combine nature connection, life coaching, sharing circles, play, and grief recovery.

Brittany Thiessen Email

Brittany is an outdoors lover who enjoys exploring new places in Manitoba. Brittany fell in love with the outdoors at a young age when her family went on regular camping and hiking trips during the summers. She loves hiking in the summer, fall and spring and snowshoeing in the winter.

Brittany also enjoys traveling and has hiked and explored the beauty and diversity of nature in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, BC and the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. She loves photography and capturing the beauty of the places she visits to remember for years to come. 

Brittany enjoys sharing her love for the outdoors with other women and helping others to discover new places around the province. 

Through the Outdoor Council of Canada, she became certified as a Hiking Field Leader with the Winter module in 2020. She is certified in Wilderness First Aid.

Kate Rudge Email

Kate grew up in a farming community in Alberta and spent her youth exploring Alberta parks including Waterton National Park, Crowsnest Pass, Banff, and Kananaskis Country. Post secondary education took her to the University of Lethbridge for a Bachelors of Science and the University of British Columbia for a Bachelors of Education. She decided that her calling was to teach in and about the outdoors and she pursued Ecological Education at the University of Saskatchewan. Kate has since taught outdoor and environmental education, math, and science. 

Kate has hiked and kayaked in some of Canada’s most beautiful places. She loves outdoors-based travel with her husband and has spent time kayaking, snorkeling and hiking in Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and in the USA. Considering all her adventures, her absolute favourite place is Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.

Kate joined Backcountry Women to meet new friends and now as an Advocate for the group, she is looking forward to giving back to the Backcountry Women community. Kate is most excited about helping women who are new to the outdoors get out safely and explore our wonderful province.

Michelle Ip  Email

Exploring nature is still fairly new to Michelle, with her first hike a few years ago in the Banff, Alberta area. She felt a huge sense of accomplishment after hiking Big Beehive. She has since learned more about her abilities and has expanded her hiking knowledge in Manitoba by researching and hiking trails.

Michelle finds connecting with nature to be therapeutic and when being active outdoors, it does not feel like exercise. Her favourite outdoor activities are hiking, snowshoeing, and camping. Michelle is interested in learning to kayak and backcountry camp.

Through the Outdoor Council of Canada, Michelle became certified as a Hiking Field Leader in 2020 in addition to the Paddling module. Michelle is also certified in First Aid and CPR as of 2020.

Chelsea Owasi

Chelsea’s love of the outdoors began while growing up on her family’s farm in Southern Manitoba. Summer weekends were often spent hiking, biking and camping with her cousins at various Manitoba Provincial Parks.

In recent years she has hiked and backpacked many trails across Canada from Vancouver Island to the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland. The most recent trip she took with her husband to Iceland included some extraordinary hiking around volcanoes, glaciers and waterfalls!

Chelsea believes outdoor exploration is possible in every and all stages of life. She is often seen on trail with a baby strapped to her, not only for an extra workout, but to hopefully spark a lifelong love of the outdoors for her son.

She is certified in Wilderness First Aid.

Climb night/belay team
Photo Credit: Raquel Saniuk

Have you seen these ladies at our climb nights? Chances are, you have. They help us make our climb nights next level!

Have you seen the awesome photos that get posted after a climb night? Have you learned a new skill on the climbing wall or received some encouragement? Have you tried a top rope route and needed a belay? This crew of women has been behind the scenes of mostly everything related to climbing.

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