About Donna

Here are my story and some Quick Facts.
I look forward to meeting you too!

Why should I read this?

Whenever you choose to work with a coach or instructor, you should check out their background, experience, knowledge and credibility. Make sure it matches your needs and expectations and feel good about investing your time, energy and money to gain new skills and be helped along your path! Many of these fields are not regulated, so it is up to you to determine if a coach is really a coach, or if an instructor has appropriate experience.

I am passionate about sharing information, inspiring others and motivating people to reach their goals. While I have had a career in the Communications field, I’ve made a second career of teaching and coaching tracking, focusing on performance, goal setting and motivation.

What started out as local tracking lessons in 1995 grew to include professional coaching in 2014 with a unique focus on the human end of the tracking line! Spiritdance Tracking offered Canada’s first online tracking lessons and webinars, workshops and lessons, for trackers across Canada and in the United States.

When I studied to become a Professional Coach, I was interested in life coaching. After a few years of honing my skills as a coach for tracking, motivation and goal setting – I am excited to return to life coaching – combined with dog sport! It’s actually a perfect fit!

Through tracking, I have met a lot of wonderful people who have inspired and motivated me. I’ve also been privileged to have mentors including RCMP, Conservation Officers, Search and Rescue, IGP sport tracking plus CKC and AKC trackers

I’ve been teaching and coaching since 1995 and have helped 100s of people across Canada and some in the USA to reach their tracking goals. I specialize in Urban Tracking, Handling Skills and Scent Theory. My foundations were in kennel club tracking and I judge all levels for the CKC. From there I moved on to Schutzhund, now known as IGP. Most recently I am enjoying learning from and working with Search and Rescue trackers.

My own dogs are German Shepherds and Border Collies and three of them are Tracking Champions. I’ve also had two Rough Collies with tracking titles. Over 32 years my dogs and I have trained to many CKC titles at all levels. To read about my K9 partners over the years visit Spiritdance Dogs .



Thunder Bay! This VLOG is a really cute and refreshing look at my home town from a visitor point of view. Check it out! Lots of great scenery and pretty accurate (2020 with everything from the scenery around town, restaurants, Persian donuts (hilarious when he bites into one – OMG it’s delicious!), the waterfront and attractions). And, it’s tracking hotspot with amazing tests and a great tracking and dog community!

I was fortunate to be born and raised in God’s country – northwestern Ontario where my family camped, fished, went cross country skiing, where my dad and grandfather taught me bush lore and my Mom and Estonian Grandparents taught me to pick mushrooms! It seems like tracking was a natural fit. I was lucky enough to attend seminars with Glen Johnson, Tracking Dog author, whose family lived in Thunder Bay too. I met my first tracking mentor in my job with the Ministry of Natural Resources… more below!

Tracking CH Ben poses at Hillcrest Park, Thunder Bay, my hometown


You’re welcome to check out my professional profile on Linked In. I’ve always worked in communications, even though my degrees are in history and political science. I love the communications field! I’ve worked for the Ontario government – Ministry of Natural Resources, Mines and Forestry for 20 years, then for municipal government in Alberta since moving here in 2008. Work helps me hone my website, presentation and writing skills! Oh wait, I should say my hobbies keep my skills sharp for work!


I relocated to Alberta in 2008. Here in Alberta I’ve been privileged to work in areas related to agriculture, oil and gas, environmental protection and new energy and parks, and I’ve seen some spectacular places from desert to mountains. The people here are friendly and kind, and yes, with a wild west untamed spirit! It’s true! It’s an empowering place to live when you see how independent people are, at all ages, in every facet of life, women and men alike. I will always be an Ontario girl but feel more and more like an Albertan over time and have so many to thank for helping feel at home with that western hospitality.


I’ve been blessed and fortunate to have some amazing mentors (and some TOR-mentors) related to dog tracking including many CKC and AKC judges and clinicians, IGP competitor and friend Dan Waters (GSD Club of Calgary, Nationals winner and Worlds competitor), retired head trainer and breeding specialist for the RCMP Jean Blondin, Stockdog (Border Collie sheep herding) world class competitors and clinicians like Scott Glen (who bred my wonderful dogs Jet and Ted) and Calvin Jones and of course the wonderful, late and legendary Bob Vest who encouraged me and gave me strength when I needed it, giving me wings to fly.


In 2013 I had an opportunity to study coaching and grabbed it by the horns, signing up for Erickson College’s world class Art and Science of Coaching. It’s International Coach certified. I completed all five modules and started my coaching business in 2014. Coaching is a word used loosely by a lot of people, but true coaching skills are very different from ‘instruction.’ You’ll know it when you experience real coaching! Not instruction, not cheerleading, not mentoring – but facilitating grown and skills, and building on what you already know and can do! Challenging, keeping you accountable and holding your hand when needed along the journey.

*Currently expired and will be renewed


Double Honours BA in History and Political Science from Lakehead University! I wanted to be a Minister in high school, when I was President of our high school Inter School Christian Fellowship, but my guidance counsellor (in the 70s) said I couldn’t be and to choose another goal! Today I am still passionate about history and it applies to everything we do! It even applies to my current studies at Ambrose University as I pursue my Masters in Leadership and Ministry – finally living out my dream to follow ministry, but it will be in a different role combined with Four Winds Outdoor Leadership and our love of God’s creation and nature.


My goals are to combine my passions for coaching, the outdoors, tracking, faith and living life to its fullest into an amazing new business meeting the needs of wild women who want more out of life.

Coaching’s goal is for you acquire skills to cross the river and feel independent and empowered. It is not about floating down the river forever, never reaching the other side. My biggest reward is when people fly off, and no longer need me. But I’m always here of course!


Four Winds Outdoor Leadership provides outdoor experiential learning that helps people to acquire new skills and confidence, find new paths during life transitions and provide insight into your own journey and how to achieve your dreams. Dogs and tracking will always play an important role, but there will be more! Sometimes we don’t even know what we will love or what we need until doors are opened or new experiences are unveiled. I am excited about setting up weekends, camps and retreats. Watch for news and updates!


If you’ve had cancer, it does become part of your mentality. I am not into ‘Woundology’ (check Catherine Myss) but it is a dividing line in your life to have had it, and realize life is precious, life is short and it’s important to live it to the full. My mom died of cancer when she was only 58, It is an absolute privilege to get ‘old’ – or shall we say, grow wise and go for what makes us happy. I am happy to say that I was cancer free in 2007, and have continued to be at every milestone check up. Thank you God!

My big boy Thorn didn’t leave my side as I recovered from Cander, 2003-07 Happy to say I’ve been Cancer free since 2007! That was a great milestone.


Long walks, the smell of the forest in the fall, photography, teaching and speaking, helping others, reading, sketching, trying to paint (!), road trips, playing piano, Van Morrison and a host of other singers, but he gets special mention; CBC radio; a bit of a foodie – Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey, My family, my heritage (Estonian, Irish and Welsh!) and stories I learned from my grandparents. LOVE the water – swimming, paddling, being near it – having grown up on the shores of the great Lake Superior. Camping! Grand Marais Minnesota -I love that town just south of Thunder Bay, Sunsets (especially in Maui the only time I’ve been) and the whispered hush of conversations at sunset in campgrounds, when everyone is building campfires and breaking out the snacks. Did I say dogs? I love dogs, especially my dogs!

My History Studies and the Fur Trade Era

I had to pull this out of Academic Stuff – aside from the outdoors and tracking – don’t get me started about history, the fur trade and my respect for the Indigenous people in Canada.

I almost became an archaeologist – I had a job offer, but opted for work at the historic site in Thunder Bay – the recreated fur trade post Fort William. From there I learned to love fur trade history and developed a strong respect for Canada’s Indigenous people.

More About the Fur Trade!

(I told you it was my passion!)

I focused my thesis and writing on relationships between the fur traders and native people, and on the establishment of the boundary between Ontario and Minnesota.

I fell in love with David Thompson and have been so excited to find places he lived here in Alberta. Some of my work was cited by Peter C. Newman in his book Caesars of the Wilderness.

This work led me to my work at Ministry of Natural Resources, writing a background piece for the new LaVerendrye Historic Waterway Park – which goes right through Quetico Provincial Park where my family camped throuhout my childhood! I also helped with the opening of Ontario;s largest natural environment park – Wabakimi Provincial Park, and designed the caribou antler logo! It was a favourite fishing spot for my Dad.

I was very lucky to paddle the voyageur route between Ontario and Minnesota.

I have to edit myself and stop here, but if you ever have a hankering to talk about history, I am your go to!

That’s it!

Can you tell I am chatty?

Keep up with the latest updates, photos and events

Copyright Notice

All content copyright, Donna Brinkworth, Four Winds Outdoor Leadership – Spiritdance Coaching & Tracking 2021

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