Governing Council

The Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining is an industry-driven organization working with mineral resource companies to improve and enhance the industry, help address its needs for training and education, and conduct applied research to provide solutions to industry issues.

That focus is reflected in the makeup of CNIM’s Governing Council, whose goals are to provide advice to the University for establishing CNIM’s priorities. The majority of the members are from industry.

The Governing Council also provides strategic direction to CNIM. Its expert advice helps CNIM determine what industrial training is needed, what will be required in the future and what resources might be available in the industry to help make that happen.

The council meets quarterly to review plans, and set budgets and priorities.


Brad Thrall
Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Thrall brings over 25 years of experience and accomplishments in mine operations management, environmental management and mine-closure planning and execution and has been involved in the Yukon mining industry for over 18 years. Mr. Thrall holds a B.Sc. in Metallurgical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and an MBA from the University of Colorado. He currently serves as Vice President of the Yukon Chamber of Mines, Chair of the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining and Chair of the Yukon Producers Group

Alexco Resource Corp. (Elsa/Keno)

Sebastien Tolgyesi
Mine Manager, Minto Mine

Tolgyesi brings over 25 years of experience and accomplishments in mine engineering, construction, geology and operations management. He has been involved in north of 60 mining for 15 years. During his time in the Yukon mining industry for the last eight years, he worked with Glencore, Agnico-Eagle, Capstone and  Coeur Mining in increasingly senior roles in engineering, geology and operations. Sebastien holds a B.Sc. in Geology from University of Montreal and a B.Eng. in Mine Engineering from Laval University.

Mike Burke
Geologist, Alexco

Dr. Paul West-Sells
President, Casino Mining Corporation

Dr. West-Sells has over 20 years' experience in the mining industry. After obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Metallurgical Engineering, he worked with BHP, Placer Dome, and Barrick in increasingly senior roles in Research and Development and Project Development. Since 2006, Dr. West-Sells has worked for Western Copper, holding a number of technical and executive positions. Currently, as the President and COO of Western Copper and Gold, Dr. West-Sells oversees the day to day operations of the company.  Dr. West-Sells currently sits on the Yukon Minerals Advisory Board and the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining Governing Council.

Robin Black
Chief Geologist, BMC Minerals

Mr. Black is currently the Vice President of Exploration at BMC Minerals. The company’s focus is the development and expansion of the poly metallic ABM deposit at the Kudz Ze Kayah project in Yukon as well as identifying additional opportunities in the base metal sector. Robin is extensively involved in many areas of the company, but he is primarily responsible for leading BMC’s geology team in all aspects of exploration and resource development. His 15+ years of experience in the mining and exploration industry have seen him participate in base and precious metal projects throughout the Americas and West Africa. Mr. Black believes in an integrated multidisciplinary geoscience approach to resource development that spans from grassroots targeting to incorporating geometallurgy at the early stages of resource development. Mr. Black holds an M.Sc. in geology from Acadia University, is a registered Geoscientist with the Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia and is active on several volunteer boards within the exploration and mining industry.

Maurice Albert
Vice President External Affairs, Selwyn Resources

Catherine Tegelberg
Coffee Project, Goldcorp Inc. 

Catherine Tegelberg has over a decade of combined experience in mining, sustainability and community development that has taken her across Canada, to Latin America and to Africa. She is currently the External & Community Relations Manager, overseeing all aspects of community engagement and aboriginal consultation at the Coffee Mine Project, a proposed open-pit heap leach mine in advanced exploration in the Yukon owned by Newmont. Before Coffee, she joined the Goldcorp (now Newmont) corporate team in 2013, where she directed policy and procedure on topics such as grievance mechanisms and community investments. She also oversaw implementation of the social performance aspects of Goldcorp’s Sustainability Excellence Management System – and had the privilege of visiting and supporting every site in the operating portfolio between 2013 and 2016. Catherine got her start in mining at a nickel/cobalt operation in Madagascar, where she worked in CSR and external relations for two years. Catherine holds a Master’s degree in International Studies from Simon Fraser University. In addition to Madagascar, she has lived in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Catherine was named one of Goldcorp’s Future Leaders in the inaugural cohort in 2017.

Isaac Fage
GroundTruth Exploration

Tony George
VP Project Execution, Victoria Gold


Kurt Dieckmann
President/CEO, Yukon Workers Compensation Health & Safety Board


Karen Barnes
President, Yukon University

Barnes began her career in post-secondary education at NorQuest College where she spent 17 years as instructor, project manager and program chair. In 2002, she moved to Lethbridge College as Dean of Applied Arts and Science where she managed six Schools. In 2008, Barnes moved to the Yukon to become the first Vice President Academic in 15 years. She has her Doctor of Education, University of Alberta 2003.

Shelagh Rowles
Executive Director, Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining, Yukon University 

Rowles joined Yukon College in 1991 and brings 22 years of experience in developing programs with Yukon First Nations, Yukon communities, government and industry stakeholders to the newly established Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining. Throughout her career an instructor, administrator and Dean at Yukon College, Shelagh has endeavored to ensure that programs and training are customized to meet local needs while maintaining national and territorial standards. Shelagh is currently engaged in PhD research that explores which ingredients are needed for economic and social prosperity in the North.

Nicole Morgan
Deputy Minister, Education, Yukon Government

Dr. Bronwyn Hancock
Associate Vice President, Research Development, Yukon University

Dr. Bronwyn Hancock is responsible for the planning, development, and execution of research at Yukon University, and worked to catalyze growth in research and scholarly activity at Yukon College as it transitioned to Yukon University, Canada’s first university north of sixty.

Throughout her work, Dr. Hancock supports the creation of opportunities for northern students to be involved in research. She is passionate about ensuring Yukon University is a place where co-created research serves to advance reconciliation in Canada’s North, and where northern students are empowered to ask and explore questions of their own using multiple forms of knowledge.

Dr. Hancock recently served as a member for Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Expert Panel on Adaptation and Resilience Results and the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Prioritizing Climate Risks, and holds a doctorate in earth sciences from the University of Waterloo.

Clint Sawicki
Associate Vice President, Research Operations, Yukon University

Clint Sawicki has lived and worked in the Yukon for over 25 years. In the course of this time, much of his professional career has been devoted to building research capacity and infrastructure at Yukon University and in the Yukon.  He has worked with communities as a researcher, served on a multitude of local and national research advisory boards, and assisted in the development of various research programs including the Yukon Technology Innovation Centre, Northern Climate Exchange, Yukon Cold Climate Innovation Centre and the Yukon Research Centre (YRC).

Clint has directed our research department, beginning with the Northern Research Institute (NRI), since 1998. In addition to developing and managing various research projects and programs, Clint has been responsible for leading three major infrastructure projects including the YRC research lab and cold storage buildings, YRC administrative space and health care simulation lab renovations and learning commons and electrical upgrade.  Clint has been instrumental in developing the our first campus master plan (2015) and securing the University’s land endowment.

Clint holds a Bachelor’s degree in Regional and Urban Development with a specialty in Community Development from the University of Saskatchewan and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast.

Sidney Schafrik
Senior Advisor - Mining & Strategic Initiatives, Trondek Hwechin

Dr. Schafrik returned back to the Yukon two years ago to join the Tr'ondek Hwech'in. He was the first Aboriginal graduate of Mining Engineering in 2006 and is a Professional Engineer. His master’s work specialized in the Due Diligence in the Evaluation of Social Risk for First Nations Communities. His PhD work was conducted with the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation and focused on the use of packed sphere modelling for airflow and heat exchange analysis in broken or fragmented rock. Dr. Schafrik has worked extensively with both Federal, Provincial, and First Nations governments in almost every aspect of mining and infrastructure.