Who We Are


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Katherine Howell, posAbilities

Katherine is native to Alberta, and made the great migration out west in 2005 when she moved to Victoria to pursue a BA of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. Island life was blissful and serene, but she was excited to relocate to the big city – that is, Vancouver – in the fall of 2013 with Thomas, her partner in crime. She joined the Building Caring Communities team in November 2013, and has grown to adore Vancouver and its myriad of eclectic communities. She keeps busy with many things – cooking, crafting, dancing, exploring Vancouver’s streets, singing, board-gaming and just generally being a ‘chatty Kathie’. Katherine is a big advocate for the environment, community inclusion and holistic healing modalities. Friends call her passionate, goofy and big-hearted. She believes there is no better job in the world than that of being a Community Connector. She loves meeting new people and lives by the mantra that welcoming, inclusive individuals and communities are abundant, and that every individual we meet has a gift to be shared. She has been busy as of late putting these principles into action in her own community. She can’t wait to meet you!


Fran De La Luna, posAbilities

Fran De La Luna,
posAbilities

Fran is a “Made-in-Singapore” humyn who moved to Vancouver in 2001. They joined the Building Caring Communities team in November 2013 as a Community Connector. Fran is a visual and performance artist and facilitator who is passionate about social justice and community building. They devotes much of their time engaging in multiple projects surrounding community art, environmental justice, place-making, community development, indigenous solidarity, gender issues, social connections and social justice. They believes in kindness and compassion. In 2008, Fran started a blog about kindness dedicating their energy to raising aware about the importance of living a compassionate life. Some of Fran’s other interests include cat cuddling, tree hugging, water-loving, drumming, crocheting and travelling.


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Brooke Oxley, posAbilities

Brooke has lived in Toronto, Guelph, Cortes Island, Victoria and Vancouver – residing in the Grandview-Woodlands neighbourhood since 2004. Other than the mountains and ocean, her favourite feature about this city is the diversity of people and cultures coming together on Coast Salish land to find home and sense of place with each other. Brooke has a certificate in Permaculture Design from Linnaea Farm and a Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting from Douglas College. She enjoys hearing people’s stories, dancing, swimming and puttering in her garden. A lifelong learner with a curious mind, Brooke believes communities really do have the power to nurture change for the greater good, if we all can all just slow down a bit and start listening to each other.


Christine Townley, Inclusion Powell River

Christine Townley, Inclusion Powell River

Christine to most, Chris to some, Chrissy to only one but her favorite title is by far ‘mom’ or ‘mommy’, for her biggest passion and accomplishment is family.  She’s a happily married,  tomato loving, ‘true gemini’ who loves anything outdoors.  Born with the innate quality of a genuinely good heart, Christine is described as quirky, unique and filled with a intuitive kindness that has often drawn people toward her since time unmemorable. Christine believes in the power of kindness and feels deeply she was put on this planet to help create happiness.


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Nick Janzen, BACI

Nick joined the Building Caring Communities team in January of 2014 after working for many years as a Community Support Worker. He is an incredibly creative and eclectic person, and is passionate about the arts, music and creative collaboration of any kind as his greatest joy comes from connecting with people. After completing his Bachelor of English at the University of Victoria and relocating to Vancouver, Nick brought his passion for community-building to the Building Caring Communities team. He has worn many hats in his adult life: poet, painter, caregiver, mentor, musician, barista, gardener, student, teacher and bearded guy. But he would tell you the most exciting hat of all has been that of Community Connector. It allows him to employ all these passions and strengths to help others create new and exciting opportunities and connections.


Megan

Megan Haliburton, posAbilities

Born and raised in Toronto, Megan is a social butterfly who escaped to the beautiful West Coast in September 2014. She’s lively and fun, and more than anything else, she loves to laugh. Megan has a diploma in Developmental Services Work from Humber College in Toronto, and loves bringing creativity, art, and spontaneity into her work. In her spare time, you may catch Megan running, crocheting, macrame-ing, board-gaming, cooking or spending time with friends and family. When asked, Megan will tell you that her favourite places in the whole-wide-world are wherever the waves crash against the shore along the east and west coastlines of Canada. As an alumni of Katimavik, Megan has spent many hours in and around various Canadian communities, learning more and more about the impact of building connections and relationships in community. Megan has an uncanny ability to connect with others, and her friends find comfort in her reliability. Megan loves to help out whenever and however she can, and you’ll be sure to see her doing it with a big, bright smile.


Linh Pham, BACI

Linh Pham, BACI

At a young age while helping her parents run their business on the roads of Hanoi, Linh developed her love for the rawness of the street and its people. Growing up in a culture where having the sense of community is fundamental, some of her most memorable lessons were stories shared by community members. Linh left home in 2009 to pursue the Bachelor of Science in Economics at the University of Minnesota to better understand the stark divergence of social welfare that she observed first hand. Having had the privilege to work with ethnic minorities, immigrants, refugees and women in marginalized communities, she believes in small changes and big dreams. After exhibiting her superpower in withstanding -40-degree winters, Linh moved to Vancouver in 2014 to further test her power in braving through the incessant rain. She obtained a Master in Economic Development at the University of British Columbia and joined the Building Caring Communities team in 2016. As a community connector, Linh works to honor people’s hidden narratives that push past genres and extend beyond words. Linh may never run for a bus, but she is always willing to go the extra mile for people. In her free time, Linh takes these mantras to the streets. You might have seen her wandering the streets of Vancouver with her cameras, capturing strangers’ faces between strange places. She unwinds by expressing herself through dancing, photography, writing, playing guitar, and teaching mathematics. Linh can’t wait to tell you her stories (in first-person perspective :p) and is looking forward to be inspired by yours.


Matt Carpenter

Matt Carpenter, BACI

Matt is a creative jack-of-all trades. He ventured to Vancouver from the plains of Alberta in 2008 to pursue a career in makeup art for TV and film. Several years and a change of heart later he re-focused himself towards working with and for people. This trajectory has led to Matt facilitating outdoor and leadership activities for people of all ages in urban and natural environments, from canoeing on the ocean to snowshoeing in the mountains. He is currently a Community Connector with the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion and is in the process of obtaining a degree in Child and Youth Care Counselling at Douglas College in Coquitlam, BC. Matt is passionate about making visual art, playing music, being emerged in nature, staying connected to his friends, family and community.


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Julian Avelino, Simon Fraser Society

Julian was born and raised in Coquitlam. As a lifelong resident of the “burbs” you can find Julian launching his kayak from the many different beaches and launch spots around the lower mainland. He is also an avid martial arts geek, spending a lot of his time watching combat sports. To further his martial arts passion, Julian trains and teaches classes at a Muay Thai Kickboxing gym in North Burnaby, you can catch him there most nights of the week. He is also a committed dog owner, taking his large German Sheppard for off leash adventures every day, rain or shine. Julian currently facilitates a Youth Leadership Council, where council members learn important leadership skills as they transition to different stages in their lives. After graduating from SFU in December 2015 with a degree in Philosophy, he began working as a Community Support Worker. But at the root of it all, Julian embodies what it is to be a student, having a passion for learning and the growth. His friends consider him to be open to new ways of thinking, as he always welcomes fresh perspectives. As one of the newest Connectors, Julian couldn`t be more excited to be a part of the BCC Team!


Christine McPhedran, posAbilities

Christine McPhedran, posAbilities

Christine was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario or as some Windsorites like to call “South Detroit”. When Christine was ten years old her sister was diagnosed with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, and Christine became intrigued about learning and interacting with people with diverse abilities. She began volunteering at a sibling support group as a teenager and later on decided to pursue a career in social work. Christine competed a bachelor degree in Social Work and (dis)Ability Studies at the University of Windsor in 2014, and she is currently studying her masters in social work part time.  In August 2015, she and her partner Wes decided to make the big move out west to the beautiful city of Vancouver. Close friends and family of Christine know her as a dancer, cat owner, knitter, yogi, Rubik’s cube solver, hiker, creative, intuitive, empathetic, authentic, determined, and passionate individual. In March 2017, she joined the Building Caring Communities team as a community Connector. Christine can’t wait to meet you to learn about your story and what you’re passionate about!


Lisa Smessaert, posAbilities

Lisa Smessaert, posAbilities

Lisa is a globetrotter and has had the fortune to live and work in Tanzania, Kenya, Nicaragua, St. Lucia and Italy. She completed both her Bachelor and Masters of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo and moved to Vancouver in 2011 to begin her PhD in Forestry, focusing on the impacts of forest loss on biodiversity, livelihoods and food security among Mestizo communities in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua. Realizing academia wasn’t her true calling, she directed her passion for sustainable development into learning about and supporting the social enterprise scene in Vancouver. While hunting for her next opportunity, she noticed a lack of a centralized location for people looking for work with social enterprises in the city and decided to form the social network and job board Vancouver Changemakers Work, now with over 1000 members.

Lisa is a child at heart, loves games, camping, crafting, trip planning, campfire songs and cooking outdoors, all of this fostered from spending most of her youth (14 years) as a member of Girl Guides of Canada. A resident of East Vancouver since 2012, she feels blessed that she can call such a diverse, dynamic and delicious community home. Alongside community connecting, she works closely with TEDxEastVan to help curate speakers, develop partnerships and enhance event sustainability. Lisa’s greatest passion is turning ideas into reality, she always has a new project on the go and another one up her sleeve. She can’t wait to meet you to swap stories and share ideas!


Jen Gomez, Inclusion Powell River

Jen Gomez, Inclusion Powell River

Jennifer Gomez was born and raised in Powell River, BC. She attended Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC and in 2009 obtained her Bachelor of Arts with a major in History, and a minor in English. She moved home to Powell River in 2011 because she missed the small town, coastal lifestyle. For the last five years, Jennifer has volunteered with Powell River Special Olympics as a 5-pin bowling scorekeeper and fundraiser.  Jennifer’s friends describe her as having a dry wit which she often uses to disarm stressful or adverse situations. In her downtime, you can usually find Jennifer reading books with her cats, planning her next trip to far off places, hiking the beautiful back country trails, or exploring the tidal pools of Powell River’s rugged coastline. While Jennifer is very new to the BCC team, she is excited to craft unique and inventive opportunities within the community.


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