Karen Elliott

Karen Elliott was elected as Mayor of the District of Squamish, British Columbia in October 2018 after serving as a member of Squamish Council from 2014-2018. She moved to Squamish in 2012 after spending six years abroad in Melbourne, Australia. Karen decided to run for elected office because she quickly realized the significant opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for Squamish as it experienced significant growth and big city pressures, despite its small town feel. During her time on Council, Karen chaired the Community Development Committee, Finance and Audit Committee and was the Council representative on the Food Policy Council, the Library Board, and the Community Advisory Community for the Official Community Plan review.

In addition to her Council duties, from 2016 - 2018, Karen served as the first Ombudsperson for Quest University Canada, working with students, staff and faculty to ensure policies and practices were fair and followed the principles of natural justice. In addition, Karen has 15 years of consulting experience as a specialist in organizational effectiveness and leadership development. She supports her clients with strategic planning, team and leadership development, change management and large group facilitation. When she is not at work, Karen is a literacy tutor and enjoys spending time with her family and friends exploring the beautiful environment around Squamish.

3 words to describe Nature?

Inspiring. Evolving. Home

3 things Nature taught you?



Systems thinking - about how everything is connected.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The middle of a prairie

The top of a mountain

Around the campfire

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

I am not an ocean person to be honest. Although I appreciate the ocean’s beauty and vitality, there is something a little unsettling when I look at this vast mass of water. It reminds me that there is a whole world I cannot see.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Like taking a deep breathe and walking quietly.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

It makes me think about the creative power of the earth, about creation and not so much about destruction.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

When I see a sunrise, I am grateful for the day ahead. When I see a sunset, I am grateful for the day I just experienced. Sometimes, I will admit, I am just grateful that the day is over!

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Anticipation. In fact, during a thunderstorm, every time I see the flash of a lightning, I start counting the seconds until I hear the big bang so that I can calculate how far away the impact was. I have been doing this since I was a child and it is habit now.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Like wanting my loved ones to be close, like coming together. It creates in me the desire or instinct to protect.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

I would say mountain and forest because of where I live now but really, I am a prairie person. I love these endless landscapes and the big skies. It is home for me. I am a long term, big picture thinker and the prairie gives you that perspective. You see things from far away, you see them approaching, passing by and leaving, providing you with different perspectives with which to take it all in.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10 because of where we are today. We often say that we don’t appreciate something until it is gone. With the current state of our planet, nature and our relationship to it at risk, we must find our way back to nature and reconnect. The planet can exist without us. But we can’t exist without a healthy planet. It is the only support system we have.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

Paddling with a friend, on a lake in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario late one night and watching the moon rise. Suddenly the trees up on the hills started to turn orange, like they were on fire. For a few minutes we couldn’t understand what was happening. And then this massive moon started to rise. It was like a sunrise! I was speechless and humbled by the incredible beauty of what I was seeing. I was a teenager at the time, and this moment really affected me. It broke through my self-centred teenage attitude and made me realize that I didn’t know it all, and hadn’t seen it all. It shifted my perspective and made me start appreciating many things that I took for granted, or hadn’t taken the time to really see.