About CAN


The Community Ascent Network (CAN) is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate for social welfare.


The purpose of CAN is to work alongside small communities in Ecuador, to facilitate development projects and promote sustainability through providing the necessary resources, networking and funding.


Through our projects we intend to create a network of working partnerships by creating connections between communities, private and public partners and sponsors in Ecuador and Canada.


Sustainability is a primary objective of CAN, whereby through our projects the communities with which we work are empowered to continue toward their respective developmental goals in the future.

      CAN Constitution- September, 2018.


Through a network of communities, businesses, organizations and people we aim to bring communities to the forefront of their own development. Because every community has a need and each has something to offer.


Creating a network, globally to work with communities, locally to reach their full potential of education, empowerment and sustainability

Meet the Team

Meet the CAN board of directors, a group brought together by a shared interest to work alongside with communities and a commitment to social welfare wherever in the world they may be.


Allison Stadnyk


Alison Stadnyk is passionate about this project as a result of her travels in South America. While traveling in Ecuador she witnessed the most beautiful culture including music, art and  colourful craftsmanship she had ever seen. She noticed the incredible talent of the Ecuadorean people as well as their welcoming and loving demeanor. It was this experience that inspired Alison to contribute to CAN and give back to the people of rural Ecuador, helping them to have the opportunity to develop their skills and keep their culture thriving. 

Alison is a registered Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and acupuncturist, an entrepreneur currently running her second business, as well as a musician, dancer, and traveler at heart. She resides in Rossland, BC where she  hosts her TCM clinic Pine & Needle Wellness.

Robert Cretien


Robert holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree from Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC and a Diploma in Agriculture from Kemptville, Ontario Agricultural College. Now retired, Robert had a 30 year career with the federal public service. He served as Head of Natural Resources in the Department of National Defence where he was responsible for environmental programs for the department’s lands. Previous to that, as a certified arborist, he served with Agriculture Canada as Supervisor of the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa. Robert is a recycling pioneer, having been a member of Port Moody Recycling, one of the first recycling operations in Canada. Throughout his life he has been an advocate for social justice. As well as President of the Community Ascent Network, he is also a fundraiser and volunteer for Child Haven International. For the past 30 years he has lived in the village of Appleton Ontario. 

Sarah Meunier


Sarah grew up on a farm Quebec but was exposed to Latin culture at a young age while traveling to places such as Honduras and Nicaragua. She received a Diploma in Social Sciences (North-South Studies) from Dawson College in Montreal. She now lives in the Kootenay region of British Columbia and still enjoys traveling to Central and South America whenever possible. Sarah has worked as a coordinator for the Trans Canada Trail organization and is currently working with the Parks and Trails Society in Castlegar, BC. She is interested in exploring the living and working conditions of the developing world and seeking to contribute to the development of sustainable communities lead by the local people. Being part of the CAN is her way of helping people one small community at a time.

Gordon Truscott

Board Member

Gordon has spent 35 years as a pioneer in the natural products industry with experience and expertise in brand marketing, product sourcing, business development and distribution strategies.

Gordon was born in the metropolitan Vancouver area where he has lived, aside from a year in 77 where he met his partner of 40 years, Isabel. He has studied at SFU, UBC and Universite Lyon II in english and french languages and literature. Gordon has been sole-proprietor, part owner and manager of several highly successful marketing companies including Horizon Marketing, New age Marketing, and Indigo Natural Products Management, He currently operates his own consulting firm, GT Consulting. He describes himself as a natural foods life-styler and environmentalist and is an avid soccer player with 30 years as a league player. Gordon has held board positions on various co-op and community organizations from 1980 to present.

Aylen Sanchez

Board Member

 Though Aylen considers herself at home in the Kootenay mountains, she is originally from Córdoba, Argentina and therefore feels deeply connected to the lands and people of South America. Aylen has received her diploma as Social Service Worker and works in the Human Services Field.

"This is why I resonated so deeply with the project CAN, I believed that I collaborate with the projects by bringing in my understanding of the social dynamics that are in play in South America and a professional lens that I have acquired through my studies and work."

Aylen is passionate about social justice and has a strong belief that mutual collaboration between humans in the answer to some of our current social dilemmas.

Simon Cretien

Founder/ Executive Director

Simon was introduced to community development in 2007 through a 6 month youth program in Benin, West Africa with Canada World Youth. Simon now has a joint degree in international development and environmental studies from Trent University, one year of which was spent studying in Ecuador at Universidad Andina and working with rural community organizations on the north border with Columbia. Since, Simon has studied development project management at the E2E foundation in Columbia. 

Simon routinely travels to South America to stay in touch with the communities and friends who he works with there. When he is not fueling his passion for travel and culture Simon coaches circus and youth programs through schools and organizations. He lives near Nelson, BC where he has planted more than half a million trees.

Our Team In Ecuador

To the friends and associates who have supported our project in Ecuador since it's beginnings, a special thanks. This committed team of professionals provide CAN with the community connections and insights that make our our work in Ecuador possible.

CAN’s Values and Beliefs:
Education and Sustainability in Communities

Community sustainability is at the core of our values. We believe that ecology, economy, human rights and connections should all start with community. Each community’s situation is unique, and experiences their own struggles. It is out of this context that a community develops their own ideas and vision for their way forward. To us supporting true sustainability means supporting these ideas and visions and empowering each community with the ability to follow their own path.





As more of the focus of development in our world shifts toward sustainability it is becoming recognized that education is the key we will need to reach this goal and many others.

The United Nations, in creating the global Sustainable Development goals has brought education to the forefront of their programs in order to bolster all other areas of sustainability and well-being. Providing a higher quality and better access to education is effective in eliminating the gaps between wealth disparities, rural and urban economies, and especially in gender inequality.


“A strong education system broadens access to opportunities, improves health, and bolsters the resilience of communities – all while fueling economic growth in a way that can reinforce and accelerate these processes. Moreover, education provides the skills people need to thrive in the new sustainable economy, working in areas such as renewable energy, smart agriculture, forest rehabilitation..., and sound management of healthy ecosystems.”

-World Economic Forum, 2018


In Ecuador there is a struggle to provide many rural areas with either a satisfactory quality of education (trained teachers, supplies etc.) or even access to education altogether. For this reason many children in rural communities do not receive any education beyond primary and many more simply begin to work in labour jobs from a very young age. As access to education falls behind in rural and poor communities, so to does their economic development, creating greater inequality.

As the rest of the country moves forward, poorer communities do not get this chance and this is a powerful factor leading to the death of so many once-vibrant areas.


This is why in our projects we turn our focus to education. Working with communities to better their access to quality and complete education ensures sustainability: in their development, in their economy, their health, gender equality and in their future.


Why Education?

We Need Your Help To Make This Happen

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Simon Cretien, Ex. Director

Email: don.simon.rc@gmail.com

Phone: 250-505-9071

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